Much has changed in this former mountain-man town, where a clean bed and hot coffee once were the height of luxury. Life and leisure are decidedly more upscale in Jackson Hole, the Teton County valley that surrounds the town of Jackson. If you haven’t visited since a high school camping trip, you can return as an adult for a taste for gourmet meals and plush hotels. Though Jackson Hole remains a popular skiing destination, the August heat elsewhere sends flatlanders to this valley with a 6,200-foot elevation for a preview of fall’s crisply refreshing evenings and outdoor adventures—from cycling to hiking to luxury wildlife tours through neighboring Grand Teton and Yellowstone national parks. Rest assured, some things remain the same: Iconic elk-antler arches still anchor the downtown square.
Take home a small piece of big wilderness from the National Museum of Wildlife Art’s annual Western Visions, an Aug. 17 through Sept. 22 series of special events and sales of jewelry, small-scale paintings, sculpture, and prints. The museum (free to $12) is a family-friendly space that also has revolving exhibits on nature, the American West and, of course, animals. More lithe creatures inhabit the Center for the Arts from Aug. 5 to 10 when the New York City Ballet Moves takes up residence, offering free open rehearsals and lectures, and three performances ($35 to $55).
Mounted wildlife trophies decorate the Gun Barrel Steak & Game House ($17 to $45), where adventurous meat eaters order top cuts of beef, venison bratwurst, mesquite-grilled buffalo, and elk medallions in the former home of Wyoming Wildlife Museum & Taxidermy. Sip Italian wine and dine on wood-fired pizza, Barolo-braised short ribs, or pasta at Il Villaggio Osteria, Hotel Terra’s trattoria that’s open for lunch ($7 to $22) and dinner ($7 to $51). Hearty and seasonal, the choices at the Rendezvous Bistro ($4 to $30) may have you slurping oysters or sharing a charcuterie plate.
The Four Seasons Resort, Jackson Hole ($219 to $6,500) offers outdoor adventure as well as indoor luxury. The on-site wildlife biologist can escort guests in a Mercedes SUV through Grand Teton or Yellowstone national park with gourmet picnics, while other packages pamper during fly-fishing trips or bicycle tours beside the Tetons ($450 and up). The ecoboutique Hotel Terra ($139 to $1,399) touts its low-chemical furnishings and cleaning materials, while the Amangani resort ($725 to $7,500) lets guests soak up the view from its heated swimming pool, or the tub in their suite.
Jackson Hole Airport, Wyoming’s busiest, is served by American, Frontier, Delta, Skywest, and United airlines. Flights from John Wayne Airport connect year-round through Salt Lake City and Denver; seasonally (through mid-October) through San Francisco, Houston, and Dallas.
1. Photograph Provided by Four Seasons.
4. Photograph provided by Amanresorts.
This article originally appeared in the August 2013 issue.