[our roadtripping soundtrack].
We had no idea it would take us 22 hours. Potentially due to the fact I unwittingly punched the wrong thing into Google maps, but what we thought would take us 15 hours…somehow turned into a whole day and night of roadtripping adventure! An epic, mountainous journey from sunny Santa Barbara, California through Utah, then Idaho and into Jackson, Wyoming – without stopping. Just the way we heroines roll, I guess.
Accompanied by my mountain-loving-photographer-adventuring friend, laden with spicy bravado, and my somewhat-less-mountain-adventuring friend (but what said-friend lacks in adventure she makes up for in wit and vivacity) with cooking skills to rival those of Alice Waters. We were prepared. Well equipped, well fed and with the Chris Robinson Brotherhood to keep us revived. The most perfect roadtripping combination.
The town of Jackson, Wyoming, draws adventurers of many kinds. In a low-lying valley, surrounded by the spectacular Teton Mountain Ranges, and on the edge of Yellowstone National Park, this attractive mountain town is an example of nature at its finest. A winter wonderland. So breathtakingly beautiful, I was completely flawed at every turn. Wilderness lovers flock here for the National Parks and the extraordinary wildlife on offer, and skiers come seeking powder perfection. Jackson Hole Mountain Resort – which opened in 1966 – is known as one of the most formidable resorts in the US. It has abundant steep terrain and one of the highest vertical drops in North America, at 41329ft (1262m). In summer time, these same adventurers return for river surfing (so awesome), paddle boarding and whitewater rafting along the Snake River; mountain biking; hiking through the Tetons, and horseback riding.
Jackson has something for everyone.
Elk, bison, antelope, and raccoons run wild. We saw the lot. Bears, too...but not in winter (thank goodness). Over our three day stay, we snowshoed through the Tetons – “mountains of the imagination” - to remote and peaceful hot springs; we skied the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort; we boot-scooted with local cowboys at the Silver Dollar Bar; we tried our luck in getting rich (and failed) playing “shake-a-day” at the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar; drank local brews at the Snake River Brewery; and kicked up our heels to local favorite all-girl band, The Miller Sisters (not just once, but two nights in a row. Dedicated groupies).
So make sure you hot-foot it to some of these places on your next Wintery escape to Jackson:
1. To caffeinate...
Persephone Bakery: our most favorite option. Persephone serves up Intelligentsia coffee, out of the cutest and most charming, white weatherboard cottage. Cozy, warm and friendly…this is a great place to while away a couple of hours (they offer free wifi). A beautiful bright and welcoming aesthetic, the bakery serves up delicious homemade sourdough breads, pastries and cakes, and offers a substantial breakfast and lunch menu as well. We kept coming back for the ricotta on toast, served with honey and roasted pumpkin seeds. A perfect way to fill up before hitting the slopes. Huge serves.
2. To eat...
Breakfast at Persephone Bakery: see above.
Lunch at Lotus Café: come here for all sorts of healthy and organic goodness – not only vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free, but meat dishes as well - with American, Asian, Indian, Thai and Latin influences.
Dinner at Teton Thai: this cute spot, at the foot of the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort in Teton Village, has been serving up authentic Thai food for over ten years. Real-deal Thai chefs serve up all your favorites: rice-paper rolls, spring rolls, soups, stirfrys, noodle dishes, curries…our local friend especially likes and recommends the Duck Curry. Always busy and bustling, this is a great dinner option.
Dinner at the Q Roadhouse: fun bar/restaurant, with open fireplace and great atmosphere. Order the Korean Breakfast. An unusual name for a dinner menu item, of course, but deliciously wonderful. Think char-grilled marinated Meyer Farms NY striploin, housemade kim-chi, fried rice, and organic sunny side up eggs. So good! We also recommend the braised beef cheek ravioli, with fresh horseradish and san marzano tomato….and the Ballard Farms tokotsu ramen – a pork broth with lemongrass braised pork belly, fresh noodles, nori, bean sprouts, shitakes, snap peas, cilantro, and organic soft boiled egg. Lastly, try the Ebony & Ivory salad (white quinoa, black lentils, spinach, kale, cashews, dried apricots, peanut-lime dressing), and the Buffalo Burger – a juicy, tender beef pattie, tomato bacon relish, smoked gouda and chipotle aioli combo.
Local: a modern American steakhouse and bar – come here to enjoy a good steak, accompanied by local brews, oyster shooters and seasonal cocktails.
3. To drink...
Silver Dollar Bar: a Jackson institution, aptly named because of the silver dollar coins that line the bar top. A great atmosphere – packed full of local cowboys and visitors alike. Live music (we saw the Miller Sisters here), good burgers and brews.
Million Dollar Cowboy Bar: another classic. You absolutely can not miss this Jackson experience. From the street, you will see a big neon sign shaped like a cowboy riding a horse. Inside, funky dive bar meets millionaire cowboys, and more taxidermy than you can poke a stick at, with a bar stacked full of bourbon and whiskey. Check out the life size grizzly bear (which is one of only a few grizzlies to be killed by a man with his bare hands, without a weapon!), timber wolf in pursuit of a bighorn sheep, and a life size mountain lion! Grab a seat on one of the saddle stools at the bar, and watch live swing dancing (6 nights a week). Lastly, you can not leave without trying a round of the Jackson staple “shake-a-day”. A dice game played at the bar. Rules can change from bar to bar, but there are a few consistencies: dice, dollars, drinks and potential payouts. Roll five of a kind and you win the jackpot! The night we were there, the jackpot was up to $500. The catch – you only get one turn.
Snake River Brewing: a more modern-style brewery - great for an afternoon drink (and pretzel) by the open fire, before heading somewhere else for dinner. Busy and fun atmosphere, and friendly service.
Bin22: Jackson Hole’s premier wine bar / bottle shop / tapas bar and specialty grocer. Come here to drink prosecco and other delicious wine varietals, in the lovely wood-planked ceiling surrounds of this elegant tasting room bar.
4. To do...
Ski: Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. As per above, this is one of the most formidable resorts in the US, with one of the highest vertical drops in North America. Plenty of runs to choose from, at all levels. Great options for backcountry skiing as well.
Listen, sing and boot-scoot: to local girl band – The Miller Sisters.
Visit: the National Elk Refuge. Established in 1912 to provide winter habitat and preserve the Jackson elk herd. The Refuge receives almost 1 million visitors each year.
Visit: the National Museum of Wildlife Art. This timeless structure perfectly reflects the natural beauty of Jackson, blending seamlessly into the native terrain. We love how the Museum is perched dramatically on the side of a cliff, overlooking the National Elk Refuge – a perfect vantage point by which to view the area’s wildlife in their natural habitat.
Snowshoe: through the Grand Teton National Park. Breathe in the fresh mountain air, and explore over two hundred miles of trails – passing glaciers, lakes, hot springs and wildlife galore. Spectacularly beautiful.
Catch a film: at the Teton Theatre in town. We love this old-school cinema.