Fall in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, is magical. Words cannot describe the ultimate beauty of this time of year in the mountains. Aspens shiver in the wind with sparkling colors of yellow and orange, bringing the hillsides to life. The elk bugle.
The shoulder season of mid-September through mid-October is actually a perfect time to visit Jackson Hole as the weather is still dry, the fall colors are changing and the national parks are still open. Our list of summer adventures can be continued in the fall, but with added flair. This includes hiking in Grand Teton National Park, wildlife viewing tours, renting boats for lakes or the Snake River, horseback rides, mountain biking, playing golf, and chuckwagon suppers. In addition, up until early October, you can still take scenic rides to the top of Jackson Hole Mountain Resort and Snow King.
At Abode we’re here to give you local insight into the best ways to experience the season.
COLORS OF FALL IN JACKSON HOLE
The peak of fall colors in the Teton Range varies each year depending on the weather. You could find peak fall foliage between early September to mid-October, and if you’re extra lucky, you’ll be treated to a dusting of snow in the mountains. The contrast between dusty white peaks and brilliant reds, yellows, and oranges make for unbelievable vistas. Outfitters like Jackson Hole Eco Tour Adventures offer tours geared around the fall foliage from photography to biking to wildlife spotting – something for anyone interested in viewing nature’s annual colorful spectacle.
Some recommended areas for prime leaf-peeping are:
- Oxbow Bend and Ditch Creek/Shadow Mountain in Grand Teton National Park
- Snake River Canyon is where some of the most vibrant colors may be found.
- Munger Mountain is home to some of the most extensive aspen systems in the valley.
- Moose Wilson Road yields a bright myriad of colors as well as moose and bear sightings.
JACKSON HOLE FALL ARTS FESTIVAL
The 36th annual Jackson Hole Fall Arts Festival is taking place September 9-20, 2020, and will look a little different, with safety measures in place for exciting in-person events as well as new virtual participation opportunities for at-home participants to be part of the celebration. A full schedule of Jackson Hole Fall Arts Festival events can be found here. All events are subject to change according to the orders and regulations of the Jackson community.
SCENIC SNAKE RIVER FLOAT
Enjoy the fall colors right from the water on a family-friendly scenic river float that winds its way downriver on the picture-perfect Snake River. Look closely and you may spot a family of river otters frolicking in the crisp waters. Amazing fall foliage greets you right along the water’s edge in this relaxing, yet exciting activity.
DRIVE THE UNBELIEVABLY SCENIC FALL CREEK ROAD
Experience the magic of the Teton Range by road along the scenic Fall Creek Road. This stunning fall drive brings you into the heart of the mountains. The first 12 miles offer a paved experience, while the last six are down a dirt road that is suitable for any vehicle in good weather. Along the road, you’ll find access to fishing, mountain biking, and camping. There are plenty of opportunities to get outside and snap a few photos along the way. The round trip of this drive takes around 1.5 hours.
CATCH A GLIMMERING SUNSET AT THE GRANARY RESTAURANT
Soak in the season while sipping on artisanal cocktail and world-class eats while taking in spectacular fall foliage views right from the Granary Restaurant.
GO FOR A STUNNING FALL HIKE
One of the best ways to experience the fall colors in Jackson is to get outside and explore by foot. There are several excellent fall hiking trails to choose from that are suitable for all abilities. Catch dramatic mountain views with vibrant fall colors that make the tranquil mountain valleys feel as if they are alive with color. Remember to leave only footprints and pack your camera for a day out on the trail.
VISIT JENNY LAKE
Hike the two-ish miles from South Jenny Lake to the lake’s western shore or take a ten-minute passenger ferry between the two points. While both hiking and the ferry ride to the west shore show off fall color, a wonderful way to experience Jenny Lake in the autumn is to park at the small boat launch on the lake’s southern end, carry some stand-up paddleboards the 100 feet to the lake, and paddle along the western shore. FYI: any watercraft in Grand Teton National Park must have a permit, which is available at the Moose Visitor Center.
TAKE A MELLOW WALK IN THE PARK
The most easily accessible and family-friendly fall colors in Jackson Hole may be found at Rendezvous Park (also known as R Park). On the Snake River near the intersection of Highways 390 and 22, R Park is a 40-acre natural playground and community gathering space with a thriving wildlife habitat, ponds, meadows, and knolls. There are colorful cottonwoods and aspens along the river and around a central pond. You can drive to R Park or use the valley’s extensive pathway system to get there. The pathway that links the Town of Jackson with Wilson and Teton Village passes right through the park.
DRIVE OVER TOGWOTEE PASS TO DUBOIS
Another excellent scenic drive, the Togwotee Pass to Dubois offers an elevated view of high mountain valleys boasting excellent scenery and wildlife viewing opportunities. Labeled as one of Wyoming’s best scenic byways, this route is easily accessible from Yellowstone National Park. Take the John D Rockefeller, Jr. Parkway then head west on Highway 26/289/189 for unbeatable, high altitude views of the Grand Teton and Breccia Cliffs. The entire drive takes around an hour one way.
TAKE A SCENIC CHAIR LIFT RIDE
A perfect way to spend a fall afternoon is hiking around the resorts around Jackson Hole. Chairlifts run through early October so you have the opportunity to immerse yourself in the changing fall foliage as you glide up the mountain.
- Snow King: September 8 – October 4, 10 AM – 5 PM
- Jackson Hole Mountain: September 1 – October 4, 9 AM -8:30 PM. 9 AM -5 PM Mondays
Each fall, Jackson Hole visitors can enjoy a front-row seat to one of nature’s most wild concerts. The elk mating season, or “rut,” begins each September and is marked by the otherworldly calls of male elk looking for companionship. Known as “bugling,” the male elk’s cry is half-bellow, half-squeal, and unlike anything else you’ll hear in nature’s chorus. Elk bugle from early September through October before migrating out of the high country for the winter. Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks are premium spots to observe the rutting elks and catch an earful of their calls, whether from the roadside during a scenic drive or on a hike or bike ride through the woods. Local outfitters offer a variety of tours centered on this phenomenon and can provide knowledgeable guides.
WOODEN BOAT TOUR
Enjoy a fine dining experience, served at the river’s edge with Jackson Hole Vintage Adventures. Take the wooden boat tour and float down the Snake River for a magical experience that you’ll never forget!
From Jackson Hole’s signature cutthroat trout to the abundance of elk, mule deer and moose roaming the high country, Jackson Hole is a sportsman’s paradise in the truest sense of the term. All major fishing and hunting seasons occur sometime during the fall. The Bridger-Teton National Forest offers practically unlimited opportunities for self-guided hunts and numerous local outfitters offer guided hunting trips into the mountains on foot and horseback. Keep in mind that permits are not guaranteed and that non-residents must apply by January 31st for an elk license, February 28th for a moose license, and March 15th for a deer license.
Fall is a great time of year for both road biking and mountain biking. Temperatures are cool during the day and will begin to drop as the season progresses, but a crisp fall day that takes you through an exploration of color is truly an exciting way to spend a day in Jackson Hole.
And then there’s also Fat Biking. Fat bikes can roll over just about any terrain, from mud to stones to snowy trails, and allow serious bikers to keep riding well into the chillier months. Locals call fall “mud season” because of the constant dusting of snow which creates muddy trails, but the fat bike torpedoes this problem. Whether you’re looking for a leg-burning climb up Snow King Mountain or some mellow curves on the Cache Creek Trails, fat bikes let you ride when the weather would otherwise keep your cycle in the garage. Fat bikes, along with road and mountain bikes, are available for rental and purchase at all of Jackson’s bike shops
OR IF YOU ARE TRYING TO GET AN EVEN CLOSER LOOK AT NATURE’S BEAUTY, TAKE A GOURMET MEAL TO THE HILLS! FOR THE PERFECT PICNIC TO ENJOY AT ALTITUDE, CHECK OUT SOME OF OUR FAVORITE PLACES TO GRAB A PACKABLE LUNCH & GO:
- Jackson Hole Grocer
- Snake River Brewing – grab a growler!
- And don’t forget to grab a sloshie – a Jackson Hole delicacy! There are no less than six places to get sloshies in the greater-Jackson area; the Bodega in Teton Village, Creekside, Liquor Down South, the Liquor Store, Hoback Market and Dornan’s Chuckwagon. Basically, whether you’re heading south, north, or in town, a sloshie is only a stop away.
There’s so much to do during the fall in Jackson, and usually, the crowds have waned a bit, so this is the time to book an Abode and get out into our wide-open spaces with friends and family and enjoy the solitude of being in the mountains while the yellow leaves float down to earth.