Highlands Ranch Travel
Discover the Best of Wyoming
Simply put, Wyoming is larger than life. The peaks are higher, rivers mightier, skies bigger, wildlife more abundant, and landscapes more spectacular. Although the state is sparsely populated, Wyoming captures our imaginative perspective of the American West. It’s a land of fur trappers, ranchers, cowboys, and legendary men like Buffalo Bill and Washakie, the brave 19th-century leader of the Native American Shoshones. Wyoming is also home to the first national park (Yellowstone), first national monument (Devils Tower), and the first national forest (Shoshone). Of all the special places in Wyoming, Jackson is perhaps the best-known. Why? Breathtakingly beautiful views, outdoor adventure options, a sophisticated vibe, and great places to stay.
Discover Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks
Jackson Hole is the ultimate basecamp to explore Grand Teton and Yellowstone, two of America’s most famous national parks. Grand Teton can easily be visited in one day. Start at the south entrance near Teton Village and explore the Laurance Rockefeller Preserve. This interactive exhibit gives you a richer understanding of the park and celebrates the legacy of the Rockefeller family, whose donation of 33,000 acres of land made possible the creation of the present-day park in 1950. After, take the boat shuttle across Jenny Lake and marvel at the Tetons towering above you. Discover beautiful hiking and biking trails, including the path to the shore of Phelps Lake (my personal favorite). From the top of Signal Mountain or Oxbow Bend, you’ll discover indelible views of Mount Moran. Frame herds of bison grazing in open fields with your camera, then raft or kayak down the Snake River as you take in stunning scenery. Finally, don’t miss a visit to the historic Mormon barns, which were built by settlers in the 19th century. Whatever you decide to do, take time to stop and admire the majestic views of the Teton Range—an unforgettable sight.
The world’s first National Park, Yellowstone National Park was established in 1872 and nicknamed “America’s Serengeti” for the abundance of wildlife –elk, bison, bears, wolves, and countless bird species. Because of Yellowstone’s massive expanse (nearly 3,500 square miles), my advice is to break up the journey into south and north loops. Start in the
Jackson Hole Valley, overnight at a resort within the park, and then make your way to Montana and the park’s northern entrance over two or three days. Yellowstone is a land of natural wonders, including Old Faithful, one of the most famous geysers in the world. Get up close and personal with the many geothermal pools throughout the park, especially the multi-colored Grand Prismatic Spring—the largest and most awe-inspiring of all. Other unforgettable sites include the Hayden and Lamar Valleys, the Lower Falls of the Yellowstone River and its eponymous canyon, and Mammoth Hot Springs. What’s more, hike one of many trails that crisscross the park and immerse yourself in this storied wilderness.
From spring to fall, enjoy fishing, biking, hiking, or horseback riding along the Jackson Hole valley floor. Visit Teton Village for the sheer range of ultimate experiences, such as soaring with a professional pilot on a tandem paraglide flight from Rendezvous Mountain (a descent of 3,000 feet in 20 breathtaking minutes); scaling a challenging Via Ferrata with vertical granite walls and suspended bridges; and riding a gondola to the top of the mountain and setting off on hiking trails to hidden peaks and valleys. Jackson Hole is famous for the quality of its ski slopes from November to April, known for “cowboy powder” and challenging terrain, in addition to every other winter sport imaginable. (Tip: Winter is also a magical time to visit Yellowstone via a snow coach or snowmobile).
Culture & Dining
Over time, Jackson Hole has become one of the West’s most sophisticated destinations and one of the top five art markets in the U.S. Explore the galleries in downtown Jackson for original paintings, crafts, and one-of-a-kind photographs. If you visit just one museum, make it the National Museum of Wildlife Art, considered a local landmark. Dining is also a favorite Jackson pastime, with a wide range of options. A few favorites include the Rendezvous Bistro for outstanding seafood and American classic dishes; Coelette for a fresh take on farm-to-table mountain menus, and The Snake River Grill, one of the most celebrated restaurants in western Wyoming and a beloved dining spot of repeat visitors. And if you’re hankering for a great Mexican menu, try the Merry Piglets or Hatch Taqueria (at any time of year advance reservations are a must).
Don’t Forget the Rodeo!
Finally, no Jackson visit is complete without experiencing the rodeo, a local tradition. Rodeo season usually runs from Memorial Day to early September on Wednesdays and Saturdays. After a day of adventure, stop at the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar on Jackson Square for drinking, dancing, and live entertainment. A Jackson institution, the bar has been serving cowboys, presidents, ranchers, and celebrities since 1937.
Where to Stay
Spring Creek Ranch
Spring Creek Ranch is spread out over a vast estate, offering guests the option of inn rooms, townhouses, or stand-alone mountain villas with up to five bedrooms. The décor is luxurious with a rustic western flair, and all accommodations have fireplaces and wonderful views of the Teton Range. The resort is famous for its Granary restaurant, currently being reimagined and reopening this spring. Unwind at the resort’s swimming pool and indulge in a hot-stone massage at Spring Creek’s Spa.