Hannah Drake

Jackson Hole & The Grand Tetons

TravelHannah DrakeComment

When I shared My United States Bucket List last month, one place that was notably missing was Jackson Hole, Wyoming and The Grand Tetons. Yes, I did publish the post the day after our quick trip, but we these two spots have been #1 on my list for a while. My sister Rachel says my mom took us to both places when we did our Yellowstone trip as kids, but I honestly have no recollection of it and I remember being in Yellowstone. (Sorry, mom!)

We decided to do a really short trip while we were back in the States in July and after going back and forth between Santa Fe and Jackson Hole, we ultimately chose the later. It was about a seven hour drive to Jackson Hole from my mom's house in Colorado, plus another hour to where we stayed. (More on that coming soon.) We drove up on Wednesday and back home on Thursday, but I'd say it was worth it.

The drive was long and we were both pretty tired after my brother's wedding the night before, but we managed to make it through the more boring parts of Wyoming only to be blown away by the northwest corner of the state. You guys, Wyoming is pretty awesome. On the way, we stopped in Rock Springs, Wyoming to watch the England-Croatia World Cup game at an Applebee's. It was heartbreaking in the end, but at least I got to go to an Applebee's for the first time in probably a decade. (When did they start serving free chips & salsa?!)

We made it to Jackson Hole in the late afternoon and found some free parking near the rec centre. (Luke couldn't believe everywhere was free parking.) Our first order of business was finding some ice cream, so we stopped in at Moo's for a cone before wandering out to catch a few minutes of a wild west reenactment near the town square.

We ended up wandering around the town square and surrounding streets, getting stopped to ask where we got our ice cream twice and getting turned away from going into a store because of our ice cream once.

There's just something about those old mountain towns with the boardwalks instead of sidewalks, hanging planters outside the shops, and being able to purchase a t-shirt or hoodie with the town's name on it in basically every shop.

We looked for some place to have dinner, before decided on a Thai place off the beaten path called Thai Me Up. (No, seriously.) We split a pad Thai with prawns and it was really delicious. It was a cool spot and we enjoyed sitting on the patio on a not too busy street. After dinner, we decided to finish our journey to our glamping site in Idaho and come back in the morning. 

The next day, we wanted to drive into the park to see the Tetons and go horseback riding if we could manage to do both. Since the horseback riding place wasn't too far off the route back to Jackson Hole, we stopped in to see what time they had rides available. (The trouble with both having UK phone plans was that we couldn't call a US landline.) We went to Willow Creek Horseback Rides and discovered we could do a trail ride at 2:00 that afternoon.

It worked out well for us since we could spend the rest of the morning in town or in the park and then stop at the horseback riding place on our way out of town.

Unfortunately, as we neared the entrance to the park, not too far outside of Jackson Hole, traffic was at a complete standstill. We decided it wasn't worth it to pay to enter the national park for such a sort time when we could just stop at the pull off right outside the entrance and take in the mountain range.

So yes, we didn't even make it into the park. We didn't do any hiking or exploring. We definitely missed out on a lot of what the area has to offer. But I was happy just seeing the beautiful mountains in person. I'm not afraid to admit, after growing up in the foothills of the Colorado Rockies, that those are the most beautiful mountains I've ever seen.

We made another stop to get a little bit off the road, but then headed back into Jackson Hole. With another half an hour or so to kill, we decided to go into the Teton Tiger for a quick drink. I couldn't quite figure out what that restaurant was all about, but it had a cool vibe and the food looked delicious.

Finally it was time for our trail ride, so we headed back to the ranch. We ended up going with a family from New Jersey on the hour ride, but the owner said the two hour ride gives you a great view of the Tetons since they get a lot higher.

Luke had never ridden a horse before and it had been a while since I had, so I think we were both a little nervous, but they assured us there was nothing to worry about. The hour ride was slow, with us bringing up the rear. The horses walked single file along the trail up to a small pond and then back down the other side of the mountain.

There were a few times that some of the horses went off the trail, including Luke's who took what looked like a dangerous detour around a corner and nearly gave me a heart attack just watching. We got ride through beautiful aspen trees with fluttering green leaves, cross a tiny little creek, and then end with going back into the valley with beautiful views all around us.

The ride was absolutely for beginners, but it was a good way to end our trip and a good way for Luke to get acquainted with horses. We were both sore on the way home, but it was worth it.

We had another long drive back home after that. We made a few stops for caffeine and stopped to eat again in Rock Springs (this time Subway). It's not the first time we've done a really quick, but long road trip. In fact, it seems to be our style. But one of these days we'll plan a longer road trip to see a bit more. In fact, I've got one in early planning stages that would absolutely be a dream come true if it comes to fruition in the next couple of years.