2:31 pm, April 3, 2024

Finding time in a busy schedule to get away from the hustle and enjoy a well-deserved vacation once in a while is important. When you’re a traveler looking for a refreshing place to discover where you’re free to slow down, relish the moment, and soak up spectacular scenery too, you’ll find every reason to linger in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. This small piece of the Old West still thrives in the modern world much to the delight of guests from near and far. Here, locals and visitors alike will find a place to relax and unwind at their own preferred pace in every season.

Upon arrival in Jackson Hole, you’ll be greeted by gorgeous surrounding mountains paired with lush valley floors totaling a space of around 48 miles long. 19th century explorers were awed by the area’s beauty and today, the sentiment still remains firmly intact. The spirit of adventure and the thrill of new discoveries is also palpable when you visit Jackson Hole which is home to the Snake River and a haven for amazing wildlife.

Of course, if you choose to stay in town, you’ll find plenty to enjoy as well from fantastic saloons and art galleries to charming shops, delicious eateries, annual festivals, and more. It’s hard to overlook the proximity of Jackson Hole to some of the country’s most impressive national parks when you’re here. While destinations like Wind Cave National Park in South Dakota are entirely possible to reach if you’re up for a 7.5-hour drive and Capital Reef National Park in Utah can be accessed in about 8 hours, there are two iconic destinations waiting to be discovered right at your fingertips.

Enjoy Time at Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National Park

Both Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National Park can be explored with ease during your Jackson Hole stay when you’re longing to get out and learn more about the amazing natural world that makes up this area. Both are incorporated into the greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, which is one of the last remaining large and nearly intact ecosystems of its kind in the northern temperate zone of the planet. Across both parks, visitors have access to a stunning array of wildlife ranging from bison and elk to black bears, grizzly bears, moose, and pronghorn. When it’s breathtaking backdrops you’re after, Grand Teton rises 13,770 feet above sea level and beckons to limit-seeking adventurers. The truth is that no matter where you land, the nearby national parks are likely to be a highlight of your stay in Jackson Hole. No matter when you make your way in this direction, Jackson Hole is a remarkably beautiful destination and when you’re up for some national park adventures, this guide is the place to begin.

Make It a Day Trip to Yellowstone National Park

You won’t have to travel far to find yourself face to face with one of the country’s most impressive national parks in the form of Yellowstone National Park the next time you head to Jackson Hole. The park celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2022 and holds the title as the first national park. Yellowstone National Park is truly a one-of-a-kind destination on the map as it is home to a unique collection of landscapes including stunning geothermal pools in beautiful hues, rocky flats, bubbling mud pots, and geysers. In total, Yellowstone National Park is thought to host upward of 10,000 active thermal features.

Yellowstone National Park was established back in 1872, and today, it remains a model for conservation for parks across the map. In many ways, when you visit Yellowstone, you take a unique step back in time as the wilderness is refreshingly untouched and unaltered. It’s sometimes referred to as “American’s Serengeti” and those who are looking to connect with rich and diverse wildlife are often awed by the herds of bison and elk that roam the plains here. Off in the forests and valleys, bears and wolves are able to thrive as well. No matter when you plan to visit, you’re going to want to have your camera in hand. This is a scenic and inspiring stop that’s worthy of capturing on film.

Planning Your Visit

Even if you only do a single day in Yellowstone National Park venturing from Jackson Hole, you’re going to want to set aside at least 12 hours for thorough sightseeing. It takes about one hour and 15 minutes to travel the 53 miles from Jackson Hole to the South entrance of Yellowstone National Park and leaving as early as possible in the morning to beat any and all crowds is highly recommended. As you drive towards the park, you’ll be treated to the sunrise along the Teton range, which is a sight you won’t want to miss. An early morning outing is also a great opportunity to catch glimpses of bison, moose, and elk.

While the entrance fee at Yellowstone National Park is typically $70 for a non-commercial vehicle and $40 if you’re arriving on a motorcycle. If you purchase a seven-day pass to Yellowstone, you can enjoy weekly entrance for just $35. However, be sure to check the National Parks calendar for the select free days they host every year when visitors can make the most of their time at the parks for no cost. To best plan out your day, it’s recommended to download the official National Park Service Yellowstone app as well as the NPS Yellowstone Geysers app before you arrive so you can map out your route and know when eruptions will be happening. You might also want to consider packing a lunch for your day at the park as on-site concessions can be quite crowded especially if you’re visiting in the summer months.

Must-See Landmarks in the Park

A top destination you aren’t going to want to miss at Yellowstone is the Old Faithful Geyser Basin. This geyser can be viewed from a surrounding boardwalk and there’s convenient parking behind the Visitor Education Center. Here, you can learn more about the hydrothermal feature and how life continues to exist in these extreme environments. When Old Faithful erupts, it sends around 8,400 gallons of scalding water 184 feet into the air. The time between eruptions is around 90 minutes so while you’re waiting, you can also take time to tour the historic Old Faithful Inn on-site which dates back to 1904. Afterward, make sure to take a stroll around the West Thumb Geyser Basin where you’ll find a half-mile loop around the shores of Yellowstone Lake which is the largest of its kind above 8,000 feet elevation in all of North America. Along the way, you’ll encounter Thumb Paint Pots and multi-colored pools that have a wonderful way of capturing the mind and imagination. If you prefer to view the thermal features from your vehicle, you’ll want to consider exploring Firehole Lake Drive which is just about 5 minutes from the Midway Geyser Basin and takes you right past a wide variety of springs and geysers across the park.

Yellowstone National Park is also home to some spectacular canyons and the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone is a must-see landmark with its dramatic Lower and Upper Falls. Cascade chasers will also love time at Gibbons Falls which is just 14 miles off Firehole Lake Drive and is served by the Gibbon River as it tumbles over rocks to the ground 84 feet below. In the event you head to Yellowstone National Park in the winter, you can enjoy sightseeing by snowmobile or snow coach. While heading out and exploring on your own is always a treat, making the most of your sightseeing time is often best done in the company of experts. There are a wide variety of local tour companies that offer guided outings including Buffalo Roam Tours and Ecotour Adventures, just to name a few.

Things to Keep in Mind When You’re Here

A highlight of any trip to Yellowstone National Park is wildlife watching, but remembering that the emphasis is on wild animals is important. When you’re in the park, you’ll need to always remain at least 100 yards away from bears and wolves while all other animals require a 25-yard distance maintained at all times. Additionally, if you’re exploring the thermal areas, it’s vital to remain exclusively on boardwalks and designated pathways, and geysers and hot springs reach dangerous temperatures. As you plan your visit, be sure to keep in mind that cell service is limited in many areas. You’ll want to be sure to dress in layers for your day at Yellowstone and definitely have binoculars readily available for the journey.

Take Time to Explore Grand Teton National Park

When you’re ready to expand your national park adventures further, Grand Teton National Park is the perfect addition to your itinerary. Spanning 484 square miles, Grand Teton National Park is a beautiful destination for explorers to check out that can be accessed starting right in the town of Jackson off Highway 89/191. Once you’ve downloaded your park app, you’ll find yourself well within reach of outdoor adventures on the multi-use pathway system or on the Snake River depending on how you plan to enjoy your day. Of course, the Teton Range is often the focal point of the backdrop here with good reason. These inspiring peaks are believed to be around 10 million years old and are the result of earthquakes along fault lines that pushed the ground upward as huge glaciers sculpted the range over time too. At Grand Teton National Park, you’ll likely spend equal time admiring the view and exploring the terrain. If you prefer to do exactly that alongside a local guide, the team over at Jackson Hole Wildlife Ecotour Adventures is more than happy to help you build a custom day in the park where you can make the most of off-the-beaten-path trails alongside an expert naturalist guide.

Landmarks You’re Going to Want to Enjoy

Whether you book your place on a tour of Grand Teton National Park or make your way in this direction on your own, there are stops that you’re definitely going to want to make sure are at the top of your list. Jenny Lake is one of them and is a great place to spend time hiking, wildlife watching, enjoying nature photography, swimming, or fishing in the warm weather months. This is perhaps one of the most visited areas in the park so arriving in the early morning to enjoy the water and views is always recommended. If you’re the type of traveler who loves to lace up your boots and hit the trails, the 7-mile trail around Jenny Lake is a great loop to explore. You’ll find detours off to Hidden Falls from this route as well as an overlook to admire at Inspiration Point. You can also easily access String Lake from the Jenny Lake Trail when you want to have a picnic or you enjoy higher-up views over the water. Either way, you’ll want to set aside at least a few hours in this area to really enjoy the experience to the fullest.

Another Grand Teton National Park stop to enjoy during your visit is Oxbow Bend. Just south of Jackson Lake Junction, Oxbow Bend may seem familiar as it’s typically one of the most photographed areas of the park. The waters here are occupied by river otters, beavers, and white pelicans while the skies overhead frequently host bald eagles and ospreys. It’s not uncommon to spot moose along the shoreline as well. If you happen to be a history buff, this stop can be followed up with time at Cunningham Cabin which is a homestead on-site dating back to 1888. Before you call it a day at Grand Teton National Park, don’t miss out on swinging by the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center in Moose where you can enjoy a variety of interpretive exhibits showcasing locale flora and fauna. This is also where you can ask questions of park rangers and learn more about on-site programs, guided excursions, and events hosted at the park year-round.

Book Your Jackson Hole Journey Today

When travel plans bring you to Jackson Hole, booking your accommodations through Abode Jackson Hole means you can count on luxury and style being part of your experience too. Reach out today to learn more about our property options and to start planning your next trip!

Related Post

Contact Us

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.