Live life on a grand scale in Jackson Hole – where you can start the day with a big moose and even bigger geysers; then spend the afternoon whitewater rafting or riding horseback over wild, western country.
Looking west from Jackson, Wyoming, south of Yellowstone National Park, the eastern face of the Grand Tetons are brilliantly lit with early morning sunshine while the city begins to stir. At the base of the mountains, a row of green cottonwoods and shimmering aspens show the location of the winding Snake River. A bull moose wades through the tender young willows growing along the water’s edge. There are wildflowers nearby just opening their blooms, and the air is filled with birdsong. Nature powerfully affect the senses in this dynamic Western landscape.
Jackson Hole is known as the gateway to Yellowstone National Park, which is only twelve miles to the north. It’s a place where the West is still Wild. First inhabited by Native Americans, and then by rough mountain men and trappers, this portion of the Rocky Mountains has maintained an untamed feeling for thousands of years.
Only in the mid-1880’s did any small communities begin to be established here. As more and more people began to develop the land, there was some concern that access to the magnificent landscape would be lost to the general public. Philanthropist and oil baron John D. Rockefeller bought up huge tracts of land simply to preserve it, donating it to the country when Congress voted for the creation of Yellowstone Park. This area was the very first in the United States to be preserved as a national park, and now it attracts millions of visitors every year from around the globe.
Exploring Jackson Hole
As you plan your trip, be sure to visit the impressive geological features such as the Old Faithful geyser, and the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. You can observe a great variety of wildlife such as the grizzly bear, bald eagle, moose, wolf, and bison roaming undisturbed in their native habitats, or fish the many lakes and streams. Spend your days hiking and biking the trails that crisscross the country, and spend your evenings enjoying cultural events such as a Wild West show or an orchestral concert. If you time it right, you can even attend a cowboy rodeo, with bucking broncos, bull riding and barrel racing.
For a rich and memorable experience, get intimate with the land by visiting one of the area’s many ranches. These ranches provide a variety of activities from cattle roundups, to paintball tournaments. You can go horseback riding to the nearest hot springs, practice your roping skills, or try target shooting or archery. Whatever your skill level, the ranch hands are friendly and knowledgeable. At the end of the day, enjoy some good home cooking then put your boots up near a campfire to relax.
If you’re the adventurous type, test your mettle with an afternoon surfing on the Snake River – some 700 miles from the nearest ocean. Since the 1970s people have enjoyed riding the perfect waves at the Lunch Counter Rapids, pitting their skills against the white water. You can also challenge yourself on the rapids aboard a more traditional whitewater raft, or in a kayak. Whatever craft you choose, you’ll find that every turn of the river provides a spectacular new scene, and the adrenaline rush will seal the thrill of it into your memory.
However you chose to fill your time in Jackson you’ll enjoy the quaint hospitality and authentic feel of this internationally appreciated “cow-town.” Most of all, you’ll appreciate the opportunity to tailor each western experience to your specific desires. There is plenty to do but no pressure to do it. Take your time, settle in, and let this dynamic landscape inspire and delight you.
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