Hi Guys! My name is Hayden Lynch and welcome to my travel guide on the best things to do in Jackson, Wyoming. I grew up in a small, rural town in New Hampshire. Most of my weekends were spent skating on frozen ponds and picking apples from the local orchard to make apple pie.
My family traveled often when I was young – exploring places like Glacier National Park, the jungles of Central America and the beautiful coast of Italy and Greece. However, my love for traveling came years later when I took a job in Sydney, Australia as a Marketing Consultant.
I had never lived outside of the United States before. My time there was spent meeting wonderfully interesting people, exploring exotic beaches along the east coast and adventuring through parts of New Zealand.
My eyes were finally open to the world of traveling. I later graduated from Dartmouth College and began work as a Data Analyst in Boston for an advertising agency. Though I loved the people I worked with, the job itself slowly crippled my curiosity toward life. I lost my desire for adventure.
At that moment, I knew something had to change. I quit after two years working a desk job. I packed my 70-liter bag with only the necessities to be comfortable and left home – traveling west around the world until I made my way back home a year later. I explored 30 countries in 15 months.
Friends joined me along the way – on my expedition to Everest Base Camp, scuba diving the Great Barrier Reef, journeying from Hokkaido to Okinawa and everywhere in between across Japan, spending a week on a deserted island in Fiji and getting lost in Komodo National Park.
They also joined me for a bus journey through Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand, camping out under the stars in Wadi Rum (Jordan), and cruising the cities of Europe. I spent the last 10 days alone in Arctic Norway – sleeping beneath the Northern Lights. It was the best year of my life!
When I returned home last October, I had one goal in mind: find a way to make traveling a full-time career. So, I began writing about my adventures for magazines and picked up a cheap Olympus mark III camera. I dove into photography immediately, trying to learn everything I could.
From reading light to ISO, aperture, shutter speed, how to compose an image, reading the weather – the list goes on and on. I spent hundreds of hours watching YouTube videos, networking with local photographers, and asking them as many pertinent questions as possible.
Moving to Jackson, Wyoming
Photography quickly became a central focus in my life, while I constantly pondered where I would journey to next. Five months ago, I packed up my car and drove across the country to Jackson, Wyoming. I had only been there once before when I was too young to remember. Yet, I knew this was the place for me – especially as an aspiring photographer.
The dramatic landscape created by the jagged Tetons rising 13,000 feet from flat ground coupled with the incredible community of photographers and videographers living in Jackson made my decision easy.
There are so many reasons I love living in Jackson: the ability to drive 20 minutes from my house each day and watch the sun set behind the incredible mountains, the small-town lifestyle where you quickly become engrossed in the community, and the people – those who desire a life led by adventure over comfort. It was an easy decision for me to move here.
Exploring the Hidden Alpine Lakes of Jackson, Wyoming
In my short time here, I have explored a large amount of the park. From searching for wildlife at Oxbow Bend to climbing the Grand Teton, I have done a lot in a short time. However, there is still far more to explore (I have only spent two days at Yellowstone which is a two-hour drive).
My favorite places are the alpine lakes. Not the ones frequently visited like Delta and Amphitheater lake, but the hidden gems so high up in the Tetons it can take a whole day to reach. It is at these lakes that I’ve found true peace. So remote, few people get the chance to experience them.
These are my favorite places in Jackson, Wyoming without a doubt. The alpine lakes off the beaten path where tourists aren’t likely to stray. They take immense desire and effort to reach, but if you’re willing to push your limits, the reward is simply breathtaking. Below I will outline some more places and adventures that everyone should enjoy in Jackson, Wyoming.
Top 5 Best Adventures in Jackson, Wyoming
1. Hike Two Miles to the Amazing Lake of the Crags
Lake of the Crags is an extremely difficult hike. Though merely two miles long, the unmarked and unmaintained trail winds straight up 5,000 feet of elevation. In my opinion, there is no place better to experience Grand Teton National Park than from this remote and hard to get to alpine lake.
Do remember though that this lake is only accessible for the few months of warm weather during the summer unless you have crampons and ice axes.
2. Camp Under the Stars in The Meadows
The Meadows is another difficult hike that rises nearly 5,000 feet in elevation, bringing you to a grassy valley at the base of Middle Teton and The Grand. You will have remarkable views of both Tetons unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. It is best to get an overnight permit and camp out, as the stars are sure to put on a brilliant show.
3. Stroll along the Lakes Edge at Leigh Lake
Leigh Lake is a beautiful lake that has an easy trail bending through spruce and aspen trees, while keeping you tight to the lakes edge. I prefer to stroll around here early in the morning and in the late evening as the lake’s reflection of the Tetons is as clear as the water and not to be missed.
4. Watch the Sunrise or Sunset at Oxbow Bend
Oxbow Bend is one of the more beautiful places near Grand Teton National Park and a place for wildlife sightings. You may even catch sightings of Grizzly Bears! Arrive for sunrise or sunset and you won’t be disappointed.
5. Take Photos at the Beautiful Delta Lake
Delta Lake is a popular hike and one of the more beautiful landscapes to see. An alpine blue lake nestled below the Tetons makes for plenty of Instagram-worthy photos and in my mind, a view you won’t forget.
It can be very crowded, and has a few difficult sections of scrambling up rocks, so make sure to leave early and be prepared with proper equipment. Now that we’ve covered the best adventures, it’s time to see what the town of Jackson offers for those who want to experience the local culture.
Top 5 Cultural Experiences in Jackson, Wyoming
1. Witness the Historic Jackson Hole Rodeo
Jackson Hole Rodeo is a must-see rodeo that offers a true cowboy experience. It’s held during the summer season from Memorial Day weekend through to Labor Day. This rodeo has been a major part of Jackson’s culture since the first settlers arrived more than 100 years ago.
2. Watch a Jackson Hole Moose Hockey Game
The Moose are the local hockey team here and they have numerous home games where a large portion of the town comes out to support them. The games are physical and entertaining – a great way to mix with the locals!
3. See a Show at the Jackson Hole Playhouse
Jackson Hole Playhouse offers incredible performances throughout the year with a variety of different plays and shows. Often, shows include dinner prior to the performance. Right now, for example, they are performing a special Halloween show that is a must-see in Jackson!
4. Go Shopping in Jackson, Wyoming
There are so many wonderful local shops to discover around town. From cowboy hats and boots to antiques and crafts – there are plenty of stores to stop in and peruse around. Go walking and see what you stumble upon.
5. Bike around the Beautiful Paths
There are numerous bike paths and rental shops around town and throughout Grand Teton National Park. It is a great way to see Jackson and get some exercise. Talk to the locals who can tell you about the best trails.
Adventurous Spirit of the Locals
The culture here in Jackson is one encompassed by adventure. Skiing, mountain biking, climbing, fly fishing – you name it, the list goes on. These activities are why so many people move to this town and never leave.
Now, I’ve only lived here for a few months, so take my opinion with a grain of salt, but Jackson is a true mountain town. It’s not an easy place to live. The temperature will drop to -20 Degrees Fahrenheit and snow will pile up high above your car – and this lasts about 8 months of the year!
Small aspects of your life are significantly more difficult like sending and receiving mail, and finding the groceries you want year round. It is difficult yet rewarding, because living so close to the Tetons is why most of us endure the harsh environment and lack of comfort in our lives.
I have traveled to over 40 countries in my life and the Grand Teton National Park is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen. I feel lucky to live here. Not only is the natural landscape and culture of Jackson, Wyoming amazing but the food scene is something that is another attraction in and of itself. Below I’ll tell you about my favourite restaurants, cafes and bars.
Best Restaurants, Cafes & Bars of Jackson, Wyoming
1. Cultivate Cafe
This place is my go-to spot for healthy food, great coffee and juice. The ambience of Cultivate Cafe is great too. Their buffalo cauliflower is a must try. The restaurant itself is cozy with a warm, Western bar look and feel.
2. Persephone Bakery
Persephone Bakery is a must try for everyone visiting Jackson. It is easily the most popular spot and for good reason. The coffee is superb, but what keeps me coming back are the pastries. Easily the best in Jackson. They are always busy but their service has remained impeccable too.
3. Teton Tiger Restaurant and Bar
Teton Tiger has become my new favorite restaurant. With a cozy, modern bar atmosphere and delicious Pan-Asian cuisine it is a great place for adults to grab a drink and delve into the various dishes on offer. I love the ambiance and it has definitely become a popular spot among the locals.
4. Teton Thai Plate
Teton Thai serves the best Thai food in Jackson. Nestled up near the ski resort, it is a great place when you want to feel close to the mountains and try some delicious Thai cuisine that is a nice break from Western food.
5. Hand Fire Pizza
Hands down the best pizza in town! The restaurant modernized an old movie theater, which gives the dine-in experience a unique ambiance. For all pizza lovers, this is your spot. Enjoy slices from a wood-fired oven.
Amazing Memories Climbing the Grand Teton this Summer
Although I have only lived in Jackson a short time, I feel as though I am beginning to know my way around town and the national park. My favorite experience so far was climbing the Grand Teton this summer with the amazing team at Jackson Hole Mountain Guides.
It was unlike any experience I’ve had in my travels so far – scary and exhilarating at the same time – and I was lucky enough to go with a phenomenal guide. This was my first time rock climbing ever in my life.
Accomplishing such an uncertain feat was an experience I will never forget. It also sparked my love for climbing, which has become a new passion of mine. The climb was extremely difficult, it took us nine hours from base camp and rose over 7,000 feet of elevation. But, standing on top, looking out over the world below, almost had me in tears.
That moment was special because, like all endeavors, it is the journey not the destination. I trained for this climb for six months, working with trainers to develop certain muscle groups that would assist me during the climb. I love challenging myself because even if you fail you still learn.
This was one of my more courageous challenges, and so, it became one of the most special moments in my life. Also, having two great friends climbing alongside me made the experience all the more incredible.
Important Tips for your Visit to Jackson, Wyoming
One thing I would say to people looking to plan a trip to Jackson is be prepared for the elements. Do your research. Know what the weather will be like and be prepared for it to change dramatically at any moment.
There are far too many people who find themselves in Grand Teton National Park without the proper equipment and knowledge of the terrain that have to be rescued. It is a dangerous landscape that is unforgiving. But, if you are prepared, it can also be one of the most magical places.
P.S. Always have bear spray on you when entering the park! For anyone who wants to learn more about Jackson, Wyoming or has additional questions, please direct message me on my Instagram @synchhayds. I would be more than happy to talk and give additional recommendations.