© Jackson Hole Mountain Resort
Think experiencing Yellowstone National Park requires a two-week-long road trip? Think again. You can experience Yellowstone, Grand Teton National Park and Jackson Hole in just five days and even stay at a four- or five-star hotel the duration of your stay.
In comparison to most areas of Western America the towering Teton mountain range has changed relatively little since Lewis and Clark’s expedition party first set foot in the area in 1807. Between the protected Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National Park and the general remoteness of the area, northwest Wyoming is still the Wild West the way Western-movie lovers imagine it. Nearly 3 million people pass through Yellowstone National Park entrances every year and most of those visitors come during the summer months. What many of these visitors don’t consider is that Jackson Hole, the No. 1 ranked ski resort by SKI magazine, and all of its world-class hotels and condos are just 55 miles from the park’s south entrance.
Basing a Yellowstone trip out of Jackson Hole Mountain Resort or downtown Jackson gives tourists the opportunity to enjoy modern amenities and experience a piece of Wyoming’s cowboy history in downtown Jackson. Outdoor adventurers can also explore Grand Teton National Park, which is just a couple miles’ drive from Jackson.
We tapped Mountain Travel Expert Cindy Bruce to provide helpful tips on how to maximize your Yellowstone vacation.
Mountain Travel Expert Since 2004
Day 1: Fly into Jackson Hole Airport
Serviced by non-stop flights from nine U.S. cities, Jackson Hole Airport is located just 15 minutes from downtown Jackson and 35 minutes from JHMR. You’ll want to rent a car, suggests Cindy. With so much to do and see, all of which requires some traveling, having a car allows you to be flexible and enjoy all the sites on your own schedule.
Both Jackson Hole Mountain Resort’s Teton Village and downtown Jackson have their lodging merits. Staying at Teton Village, which sits at the base of the ski area, provides easy access to all the resort’s summer hiking and biking trails and scenic tram rides.
But if you’re looking to be within walking distance to Jackson’s historic watering holes and restaurants, you’ll want to stay smack in the middle of this famed cowboy town. Cindy suggests staying at the Wort Hotel.
“It’s a very convenient location, right in the middle of town and charming, too,” says Cindy, “The Wort Hotel has nicely upgraded rooms and it’s attached to the restaurant, Silver Dollar Bar & Grill, which is great for any meal.”
© Jackson Hole Mountain Resort
Day 2: Explore downtown Jackson Hole
As you meander through leather goods shops and old-fashioned candy stores you’ll really feel like you’ve been transported back to the good ol’ cowboy days. The downtown area is littered with quaint historical buildings that house Native American and Western-inspired art and crafts. If you’ve worked up a thirst be sure to saddle-up to the bar (literally) at The Million Dollar Cowboy Bar to wet your whistle. The bar is bedecked in genuine cowboy antiques and artwork, including genuine saddles for bar stools, and with nightly line dancing it’s easily the most fun you’ve had in a museum.
Be sure to swing by Town Square at 6 p.m. for the daily Shoot-Out, a fun re-enactment from Old West days. Don’t forget to take a photo under the antler arches!
Complete your day of cowboy fun with dinner at the Gun Barrel Steak & Game House, located at 862 West Broadway.
“You can enjoy buffalo and other game meat on the menu for that authentic experience,” says Cindy.
Day 3: Hike in Grand Teton National Park
Located just 1.5 miles from Teton Village and 13 miles from Jackson, Grand Teton National Park features peaks rising as high as 7,000 feet from the valley floor, making it one of the most awe-inspiring places in North America. Leave the rental car and explore hundreds of miles of hiking trails on foot. Be sure to have your camera ready to snap photos of wildlife, like elk, moose, bison and more.
Day 4: Float or raft the Snake River
Relax on the water surrounded by the Snake’s dramatic limestone cliffs. You may spot a bald eagle, marmot, beaver or even a moose on the riverside! If you like thrills, book a white-water adventure down the Big Kahuna rapids. If you’re rafting in June or early July get ready for an especially exhilarating ride, as that’s when the snowmelt makes its way to all the rivers.
“If you’re staying in Jackson be sure to grab a hearty breakfast sandwich from Pearl Street Bagels before your river adventure,” suggests Cindy.
© Jackson Hole Mountain Resort
Day 5: Drive into Yellowstone National Park
Enter through south entrance and explore the rare eco-system supported by an ancient supervolcano. From the abundant wildlife to the dramatic geysers, Yellowstone is a place that has to be seen to be believed.
Yellowstone National Park is 3,468 square miles full of dramatic geysers, lush alpine forests, turquoise lakes, green meadows and rarely seen wildlife, like wolves and buffalo, but there are several don’t-miss sights that Cindy suggests you make some time for.
“Check out the Old Faithful [geyser] and be sure to go inside the Old Faithful Lodge, which is an incredible historical hotel,” says Cindy.
If you’re looking to see as much wildlife as possible Cindy suggests a guided tour with the Teton Science School’s Wildlife Expeditions.
Cindy, or any of our other Mountain Travel Experts, can help you customize and book your flights, rental cars, lodging and more on your Yellowstone summer vacation. Call, or chat, with one of them now! You can also customize and book your vacation using our online booking services.
Director of SEO + Content
Originally from the icy trails of New Jersey, I moved West to pursue powder and a career in writing and editing. Now living in Aspen, Colo. and working for Ski.com as Director of SEO + Content, I've been able to combine a litany of skills, passions and interests. You'll find me skiing at Aspen Mountain or Aspen Highlands in the winter and mountain biking at Snowmass in the summer.