Jackson Hole was part of a beautiful vacation we took as a family last summer, which also included Yellowstone and Big Sky Montana. Of the three, Jackson Hole was our favorite and we will most definitely be going back. That’s why we created the hot spots of Jackson Hole. One place you have to experience.
We had dinner with some great friends who took this exact vacation the year before. They said it was the best family vacation they had taken thus far and like us, they have been to a lot of places as a family.
The entire trip was beautiful, fun and even challenged us! (horseback riding for 2 hours with our then 6 and 9 year old–yikes!) But, we did it and with not an iPad to be seen or even ask for.
My parents loved this area, they would go back again and again. Now I see why. You can get culture from Spain or pomp and circumstance from theme parks such as Disney. But, nothing bonds a family more than the outdoors. We truly believe every family should do this as soon as their kids are old enough. On this one, I would recommend the kiddos be at least 6 years old. Our daughter is pretty bold so we were able to get away with a lot.
Beginning with stepping off the plane in Jackson. It was surreal. You walk down the gateway steps onto the tarmac (like old style), turn around and have a breathtaking view of the Tetons. That kicks it off right!
So, I’ll break our vacation into multiple posts: Jackson Hole, the Grand Tetons, Yellowstone and Big Sky.
Here’s the must do here in Jackson Hole.
Take a horseback ride at Mill Iron Ranch. This trail ride is rated the #1 two-hour trail ride in the U.S. This ranch is beautiful. Bordered on three sides of the Teton National Forest. It’s a must do.
We were a little nervous putting our sweet little 6 year old girl up on a horse, but these cowboys knew what they were doing. The horses are tame and sweet and they match you up pretty well, putting the kids on the most docile ones.
After you’re on the horse they give you a crash course lesson on horseback riding. Just because I’m from Texas doesn’t mean I know how to ride one. I was so nervous. But, it was easier than I thought. You definitely want to listen to them and wear jeans and boots though. I didn’t do either and I was a bit sore afterward.
Then, you climb…. and climb. 2,000 vertical feet! Gradually of course into the Bridger Teton National Forest. Views of the Hoback area, Snack River Canyon and the Teton Range are breathtaking.
After you head down to the ranch and you’re all finished, they treat you to a hearty chuckwagon dinner with a (very) big steak, baked potato and a beer!
We all marveled at what we just did and took some fantastic pictures up at the top!
Horseback Ride at Mill Iron Ranch
Mill Iron Ranch
Horse Creek Road
If you’ve never been white water rafting, you’re in for a treat! These guys at Barker Ewing are free-spirits and seriously have the most envious jobs on the planet.
They put us in wet suits and drove us 45 minutes to a launch on Snake River. Again, you get a crash course on rafting. And what to do if you fall out–Gah! One lady actually did, but she was fine and it was all a big laugh afterward. They snap pictures for you, so you can catch the action–or sheer terror– on camera.
You can’t see me in this pic, because I’m hiding behind the lady in the front. They put the kids in the middle so they were safe and had the strong ones paddle.
It was a bit like the River Wild but a total blast!
It wasn’t all raging river. We had some peaceful periods where we saw wildlife, like bald eagles swooping down for fish. Just the coolest.
Barker Ewing – 8-Mile Whitewater Adventure
Barker Ewing Whitewater
945 West Broadway
Our friends told us about a wonderfully peaceful spot on Snake River that has a beautiful view of the Tetons. It’s on public land and as far as I know, it’s not really published as a tourist site. This spot was told to our friends by a waitress at Nora’s. It turned out to be their favorite spot in the Jackson Hole area.
It’s completely off the beaten path. You go on a beautiful drive to get there (apparently past Harrison Ford’s house) and come to a closed cattle gate with a BLM sign (again it’s public land, so you can do this.) Open the gate and drive until the road ends. Then get out of your car and take in the view.
You can walk along the river for a couple of miles for a very easy hike. It was the most peaceful part of our vacation. We snagged this picture below.
By the way, there’s no address. Just G.P.S. coordinates. That’s how off beat it is. Google Maps can guide you.
Walk this beautiful Spot on Snake River
Spot on Snake River
Google Maps 43.407504,-110.829757
Yee-Haw! Can’t miss the rodeo. Even if rodeos aren’t your thing, you should at least go to this one, so you can say you went. This iconic rodeo has been a part of Jackson Hole’s cowboy culture for over 100 years. Trivia: if you squint hard enough you might catch Dick Cheney in the audience. His daughter participates in the rodeo.
Check the schedule. It’s normally Wednesday and Saturday nights. We recommend buying tickets in advance for this one.
Jackson Hole Rodeo
This was our favorite restaurant in Jackson hands down! The food was fantastic, the atmosphere was relaxing and the staff were laid back and friendly. We recommend everyone with a family go to Calico. Try sitting on the patio. There’s a wide open beautiful space where the kids can play and you can watch them with a fantastic drink in hand relaxing after a big day. They have an upscale menu with decent prices and great drinks.
2650 Moose-Wilson Rd
Moo’s is a great break in the afternoon. If you find yourself in the town square of Jackson Hole, stop by Moo’s and grab a scoop of their award winning Wild Huckleberry Ice Cream. Featured on the Food Network, it’s a real treat. All their ice cream and sorbets are made with organic cream and fruit. The line will be out the door, but it’s worth the wait.
Moo’s Gourmet Ice Cream
Moo’s Gourmet Ice Cream
110 North Center Street
Jackson Hole, WY
Eat breakfast at Nora’s Fish Creek Inn. This restaurant is no frills and all awesome. It actually won a James Beard award in 2012 and was featured on Diner’s Drive-Ins and Dives. They’re known for their Huevos Rancheros!
Nora’s Fish Creek Inn
Nora’s Fish Creek Inn
5600 West Hwy 22
Eat a quick french breakfast on the patio at Persephone Bakery. It’s a chic little nook with a beautiful patio and an extensive menu including fantastic pastries.
145 E Broadway
Finally, if you plan accordingly, Jackson Hole is one of the best family friendly vacations in the U.S. Put it on your family bucket list!
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