OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES FOR SOCIAL DISTANCING IN JACKSON HOLE & BEYOND
This summer is all about exploring the great outdoors. We are so lucky to have access to many, many wide-open spaces where we can find ourselves socially distanced from others and experiencing solitude amongst the trees. We’ve compiled an extensive list of places in and around Jackson Hole where you can get outside, experience some awe and wonder, and feel safe.
When you visit Jackson Hole, you are lucky to be in the proximity of two amazing National Parks: Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park. In the information below, we’ve outlined some grand adventures you can have at either park from hiking and biking to fishing and swimming.
Below you will find trails in Jackson Hole that are great options for new visitors looking to explore local trails. Many of them are in Grand Teton National Park which contains some of the area’s most dramatic scenery, while others lie in the Bridger-Teton National Forest, which shouldn’t be overlooked for scenery and solitude.
Hidden Falls and Cascade Canyon
As the name implies, this trail accesses a cascading waterfall and a stunning, glacially carved canyon just north of the tallest Teton peaks, and so it’s easy to understand why it’s one of area’s most popular outings. A moderate, mostly flat two-mile hike around the south end of Jenny Lake brings you to scenic Hidden Falls. From there the trail climbs steeply for about a mile to the mouth of Cascade Canyon proper. Then the route flattens and once again offers easier hiking for the next several miles. Park for this trip at the Jenny Lake Ranger Station on the east side of the lake. If you prefer, a boat shuttle carries hikers across the lake every 15 minutes from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m daily during the high season (shorter hours start after Labor Day), dropping you within a half-mile of Hidden Falls. This is a good option for hikers who want to get farther into Cascade Canyon on a day trip.
Bradley and Taggart Lakes
Another classic Teton hike, this area is generally a bit less busy than Hidden Falls, though still very popular. After leaving the parking lot 2.5 miles north of the Moose Visitor Center, the trail soon divides. One route goes to the south and one goes to the north. These paths reunite at Taggart Lake. Hiking either way makes a nice loop of about four miles. The trail meanders through old glacial moraines and creek bottoms. This route is well-maintained and the hiking is fairly easy with a bit of up and down. Along the north route to Taggart Lake, hikers will encounter another trail divide. Heading to the right, this route goes to neighboring Bradley Lake and adds about a mile to the trip.
Teton Pass to the head of Black Canyon
This short hike – slightly less than four miles – has the advantage of starting at nearly 8,500 feet atop Teton Pass, so you don’t have to gain the elevation on foot for a walk high in the mountains. Drive west on Hwy. 22 through Wilson and up to the summit of Teton Pass. Park in the large lot on the south side of the road, and start your hike at the west end of the parking lot by walking up a two-track dirt access road. After a little less than a half-mile, and at the end of a short switchback, a trail will leave the road on the right near a large electrical tower. The trail climbs gradually over another mile and a half through alpine meadows and forest to the head of Black Canyon.
Granite Canyon and Teton Village
The trailhead for Granite Canyon is reached by driving north on the Teton Village Road. After passing the turnoff to Teton Village, you’ll soon reach a park entrance station and the Granite Canyon trailhead is located about a half-mile beyond the station (RVs are not allowed). The trail leads west toward the mountains and, after about a half-mile of hiking, you’ll cross Granite Creek. Hiking another three-quarter of a mile brings you to a junction with the Valley Trail. Go right. After crossing Granite Creek again, turn left at a second junction, which takes you into Granite Canyon proper. The trail climbs moderately into the canyon, following the creek. Hike as far into the canyon as you want before making a return trip via the same route. In addition, this hike can be accessed from Teton Village by walking from the center of Teton Village north, alongside the Teewinot Chairlift, past the bottom of the Apres Vous Chairlift (to its east) and look for the Valley Trail heading off to the right. After roughly two miles, this trail connects with the trail heading into Granite Canyon.
Phelps Lake and Death Canyon
A short day hike from the Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve, starting at the parking area for the Rockefeller Preserve on the Moose-Wilson Road 4.4 miles north of Teton Village. Parking space is limited and usually fills up before noon. A nice three-mile loop starts at the Rockefeller center and follows Lake Creek (the outlet of Phelps lake), approximately a mile and a half to the lake. Trails are very well marked and bridges are built over stream crossings. To lengthen your hike, follow the trail around Phelps Lake (approximately four miles), which makes a complete loop back to your starting point. This gentle trail with some ups and downs is not difficult, but your total roundtrip mileage from the car will be around nine miles. At the far end of the lake, a trail winds up to Death Canyon for those looking to a more moderate/difficult hike, or climb up the switchbacks to Phelps Lake Overlook for spectacular views. Heading back to your car involves a couple of choices from the east end of the lake. You can return on the Lake Creek Trail loop or take the Aspen Ridge Loop or Boulder Ridge Loop. Both of these loops connect back to the Lake Creek Trail which then returns to the parking area.
Swan Lake, Heron Pond & Hermitage Point
Hikers who like to get out early will find that the rolling terrain along this trail is great habitat for a variety of birds and other wildlife, such as moose. The hike starts at the Colter Bay parking area north of Moran Junction. Simply going to Swan Lake and returning is an easy two miles. A loop involving both Swan Lake and Heron Pond requires a little more effort and a three-mile hike. Hiking by both ponds and out to Hermitage Point, a peninsula on Jackson Lake, is a more industrious undertaking, involving about eight miles, though it is all flat terrain.
Two Ocean Lake
For those who want to get away from more crowded areas, Two Ocean Lake is a good option. Located in the northeast part of Grand Teton National Park, the hike features more rolling terrain and distant views of the Tetons. The trailhead is reached by driving through the park’s Moran entrance station and turning right onto the Pacific Creek Road after about a mile. Follow the signs for about four more miles to the parking area. A six-mile loop circles Two Ocean Lake, and a side trip from the west end of the lake climbs about a mile to Grand View Point, where you can see much of the surrounding area. Carry bear-repelling pepper spray due to frequent bear activity in this area.
Paintbrush Canyon and Holly Lake
This hike accesses one of the quieter canyons in the central part of the Teton Range. Like the route to Leigh Lake, the hike begins at String Lake parking area. Follow the route toward Leigh Lake, but take a left and cross the bridge at the junction near the end of String Lake. The lower part of this hike is heavily treed, but eventually you will climb out of the forest for views back toward Leigh and Jackson Lakes. You’ll be able to see the steep alpine terrain above you. This is another hike that can vary in length depending on a hiker’s ability. Go a couple of miles for a moderate hike or spend the entire day climbing roughly 2,500 feet to Holly Lake.
Surprise and Amphitheater Lakes
This ten-mile round trip is a Teton classic, but because it climbs about 3,000 vertical feet over five miles it is considered difficult. An early start is recommended. The parking area is reached by turning west into Lupine Meadows just south of the Jenny Lake area. Then drive to the end of the road. The trail winds 1.7 miles, climbing gradually to a trail junction. Take the uphill trail where the route starts a series of 10 or 12 steeper switchbacks. Surprise and Amphitheater Lakes are carved into a high cirque on Disappointment Peak with the Grand Teton in the background.
Popular for its proximity to the town of Jackson, this hike is reached by driving a rough dirt road to about 8,000 feet (no RVs). Drive out of east Jackson on the Elk Refuge Road. Continue about eight miles until you see a well-used and marked road turning right into Curtis Canyon. Follow this road and, at the only fork, continue straight on the right fork and drive until the road ends at the trailhead’s parking area. Roughly 3 miles of moderate uphill hiking brings you to Goodwin Lake, which is located underneath Jackson Peak. The lake itself makes a nice half-day outing. The outing can be made longer by continuing southeast on the trail toward Cache Peak before returning the same way. Backpackers can do an out-and-back trip to the vicinity of Jackson Peak (no permit required) and this is a great area to take dogs.
Because of its proximity to the town of Jackson and the greater Snow King area, the Cache Creek trailhead in the Bridger-Teton National Forest is the area’s most popular year ‘round recreation destination. Whether your interest is hiking, mountain biking or horseback riding, Cache Creek provides some fantastic summer terrain. There are a number of trails that originate at the Cache Creek trailhead so even if you have limited time there is something for almost everyone. Check out the informative kiosk at the trailhead for more trail options. Dogs are allowed on this trail.
Snow King Summit
In the heart of downtown Jackson, Snow King is a favorite summit hike that locals often tick off during lunch or after work with their dogs in tow. The 1.8-mile trail rises 1,500 vertical feet to the summit through fragrant pine forests. Once at the top, you can gaze out at the Tetons, the distinctive peak of Sleeping Indian, the Elk Refuge, the Gros Ventres, and the town of Jackson snuggled in the valley below.
Cycle and Mountain Bike Trails
Cache Creek Road
This easy two-track dirt trail is perfect for first-time mountain bikers. Cache Creek is easily accessible from downtown Jackson. The trail passes through wildflower-filled meadows along Cache Creek and you won’t believe you’re just minutes from on the Town Square. The Cache Creek trail connects to a wide variety of more intermediate and advanced single-track mountain-bike trails at Snow King Mountain Resort and the surrounding forest, so you can make your ride as long or short as you wish.
Cache Creek Sidewalk & Putt-Putt Trail
This single-track mountain bike trail provides gentle, flowing ups and downs for beginner and intermediate riders. You can make a great loop when connecting this trail to the Putt-Putt trail. Putt-Putt is a single-track mountain bike trail that is gentle enough for beginner riders, but with fast downhill sections, sustained uphill sections, tight corners, and occasional rock gardens, to provide excitement for all skill levels. This trail, which roughly parallels Cache Creek Road, can be ridden in either direction—it is mostly a fast downhill when ridden from the end of the Cache Creek trail back to town, but strong riders can bike uphill from town or the Cache Creek Trailhead for a true leg-burning challenge.
Yellowstone National Park
What better way to experience the park than by bike? Avoid the crowds of summer and come to Jackson Hole in the spring for a one-of-a-kind experience. Keep an eye on Yellowstone’s Bicycling page for up to date information on road openings before heading to the park. Cyclists are urged to respects the rules of the road and ride with caution, as road conditions can be unpredictable. Remember that services are limited in the park, so be prepared with plenty of water and food. And respect wildlife! If you come across bison in the road, consider turning around.
Old Pass Road
This multi-use paved pathway gradually climbs from the Town of Wilson to the summit of Teton Pass, gaining over 2,000 vertical feet from beginning to end. The views from the top of Teton Pass are stunning, and it’s all downhill back to Wilson. This ride is suitable for road bikes or mountain bikes, and Pass Road provides connections to a large network of more advanced downhill mountain-biking trails. After the challenging ride to the top, reward yourself with a beer and burger at the Stagecoach Bar at the bottom of the hill in Wilson.
Jenny Lake Pathway
For amazing views, take your two wheels to Jenny Lake pathway. The path extends all the way from downtown Jackson to Antelope Flat Road near Grand Teton National Park. When you hit Moose Junction, you can follow the path into the park and the beautiful Jenny Lake recreation area. This ride is a must-do for bike enthusiasts visiting Jackson Hole!
Jackson Hole Mountain Resort Bike Park
Jackson Hole Mountain Resort offers a summer mountain biking park for all levels of riders. Explore trails and jumps and ride the lifts up then cruise back down.
Grand Targhee Bike Park
Just on the other side of the Tetons, Grand Targhee Resort offers an award-winning bike park with lift-serviced terrain and gorgeous views.
A Teton Valley local favorite. Big climbs, big descents, deep valleys, and lonely ridgetops with amazing views.
A beginner / intermediate trail network for everyone. Excellent out-and-back and loop ride opportunities minutes from downtown Victor, Idaho. (Mileage will nearly double in 2020).
Containing some of the first mountain bike specific trails on National Forest land in the US and vision of the legendary Teton Freedom Riders. Expert-level freeride and jump trails mixed with pure, unadulterated rocky mountain singletrack.
Backcountry at its best and most raw. Self-sufficiency here is critical as these trails are truly remote. Carry a map. Bring a friend. Plan to be out longer than you think..
A little something for everyone. Excellent riding amongst fall colors and distant bugling elk. Great loop ride opportunities.
With only three roads in and out of Jackson, most locals are happy to tell you about their favorite one as they all lead to extraordinary beauty and magnificent wildlife.
Explore the Moose-Wilson Road
Moose-Wilson Road is an absolute when visiting Jackson Hole. Beaver dams are visible from your car, moose are often spotted and in the fall it’s a hot-spot for bears. Do not expect to drive quickly on this road – it is narrow and in some places dirt. The views though are worth it. Start at the entrance to Grand Teton National Park just north of Jackson Hole Mountain Resort in Teton Village. Follow the narrow road eight miles to the Craig Thomas Discovery & Visitor Center in Moose, WY. Watch for wildlife, you never know what you might see on this road!
Complete the loop: Grand Teton National Park’s Inner & Outer Loop Roads
Drive north out of Jackson towards the small town of Moose. The inner loop road winds through nearly all of the park’s major peaks and is the best way to get as close to the mountains as you can via car or bicycle. This route will lead you to many hiking trails that weave in and around the base of the Teton Range. Want to “hike” with your car? Signal Mountain Road is the only paved road you can climb with your car to the 7,720 summit with 360-degree views of the Jackson Valley. Drive north on the main highway (the Outer Loop) and south on the Inner Loop Road. This way you will be looking directly at the Tetons while you are right underneath them.
Road Trip to Kelly & Slide Lake
Travel seven miles north of downtown Jackson and take a right onto Gros Ventre Road towards the small town of Kelly. Make sure to stop at the turnoff for a beautiful view of the Grand Tetons. Once you are in Kelly, follow the road as it arcs to the left, turn right at the Lower Slide Lake sign and continue. Here you will find a road lined with Aspen trees winding back to the Gros Ventre offering amazing views of this peaceful and pristine area. *You can make a pitstop at the famous Mormon Row that was home to the homesteaders of the late 1800s. The most famous structure of the 27 is the Moulton Barn.
Drive Over Teton Pass to Idaho
Heading seven miles west out of the town of Jackson on Hwy 22, you will come across the base of Teton Pass and the town of Wilson, founded in 1899. The sleepy town of Wilson is a perfect spot to gear up for the day. Continue west over Teton Pass toward Victor, Idaho. As you travel up the pass, watch for a small parking area on your left with a dirt road and sign for Phillips Canyon. This trail leads to a lovely alpine lake about 4 miles round trip and boasts an easy and fun family outing. If you continue driving through Victor to Driggs make a day at Grand Targhee Resort.
Drive from Jackson to Granite Hot Springs and Pinedale through Hoback Canyon
Whether coming or going, the spectacular Wind River Range is your companion much of the way on this less-traveled scenic drive along US 191/189. The route offers peaceful and astounding views of the Hoback River with scenery that is everchanging along the way. Granite Hot Springs Pool is approximately 30 miles south of Jackson just off route US 191/189. Continue to the historic western Wyoming town of Pinedale, 75 miles south of Jackson and enjoy a local Rodeo, the Museum of the Mountain Man, or a delicious meal at the Pitchfork Fondue Company.
Drive from Jackson to Alpine through the Snake River Canyon
The Snake River Canyon runs from the south of Jackson, through Hoback Junction 22 miles to the small town of Alpine, near the banks of the Palisades Reservoir. This scenic route travels along the Snake River and showcases, beautiful foliage, miles of buttes and mountains with many boat ramps and scenic pull-outs. Spend the afternoon fishing off the shores of the river, soaking in the natural hot springs at Astoria Bridge, or having a picnic along the river or at the reservoir.
Semi-private golf course located in Victor, Idaho.
Semi-private course in Jackson, Wyoming.
Find two semi-private golf courses in Thayne and Afton, Wyoming.
Find this public course in Driggs, Idaho.
This public course is located in Jackson, Wyoming.
You might not think of Jackson Hole as being a mecca for water sports, but it actually is! Choose from the Snake River or the plethora of lakes and other rivers in the area to get your feet wet.
The Snake River
The Snake River’s whispering riffles and roaring rapids provide a haven for wildlife and recreation and the 69 miles that wind through Jackson Hole comprise one of the most scenic and pristine stretches of river in America. Close to 300,000 folks float, fish, and paddle the Snake each summer.
Floating on the Snake River can begin at the northern end of Grand Teton National Park, just below Jackson Lake. From here, there are more than 70 navigable river miles, offering something for everyone. The first 60-plus miles consist of swift yet smooth water and one fun, eight-mile whitewater stretch for the finale.
Consider tubing or canoeing on the more mellow parts of the Snake, and if you’re up for an adventure book a white water rafting or kayaking trip and navigate swiftly through the rapids.
The calmest and warmest of the nearby lakes make it a great beginner spot for stand up paddleboarding. It’s also easily accessed from the parking lot, so no lugging the board too far. (But if you want to lug your board, you can portage it over to Leigh Lake which is usually a bit colder & windier)
Just down from String & Leigh lakes, Jenny lake is larger and tends to get a bit of wind.
The largest and likely coldest lake that usually has quite a bit of boat activity and wind (read: rougher water). We’d recommend sticking to the bays and near the shoreline, which is also great for wildlife viewing! Boat rentals are also available at Signal Mountain Lodge, which is located at the southern end of the lake. Spend a day water skiing, wakeboarding, or exploring the many islands and inlets. For those looking to catch up on some summer reading or work on a tan, the many bays and shores on Jackson Lake provide the perfect setting for a “beach” day. You might even forget you are in landlocked Wyoming, as you gaze out over the water… although the towering mountain peaks might give it away!
Wakesurfing is a low impact adventurous sport that’s fun for any age person of average physical condition! Teton Surf Co offers wake surf lessons as well as clinics to locals and visitors alike. They launch into Palisades Reservoir located in the Caribou National Forest.
If you didn’t notice Jackson is pretty much a fishing paradise with endless mountain rivers and wide-open spaces. Walk-in fishing is available for do-it-yourself anglers or those who would like to hire a guide. Make sure you obtain a valid Wyoming fishing license which is required to fish on all public waters. Daily non-resident fishing licenses cost $14 and an annual non-resident license costs $102. For specifics on fishing licenses and regulations, please visit the Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s website.
The following lakes, creeks, and streams all offer tremendous fly-fishing opportunities in pristine Western wilderness:
- Buffalo River
- Flat Creek
- Granite Creek
- Green River
- Grey’s River
- Gros Ventre River
- Hoback River
- New Fork River
- Pacific Creek
- Salt River
- Snake River
- Jackson Lake
- Jenny Lake
- Leigh Lake
The Boiling River in Yellowstone National Park
The Boiling River is located near Mammoth Hot Springs and is probably the most popular spot for swimming. Hot water pours over rocks as it enters the cold waters of the Gardner River, which provides a safe and enjoyable spot for the whole family.
Granite Hot Springs
Granite Hot Springs is about 30 miles South of Jackson. A pool has been built to capture the water but the fresh hot spring water constantly flows through the pool. There is a small fee which you can pay upon arrival. Facilities include a bathroom and changing room.