Locals Making a Difference

Jackson Hole’s landscape is stunning. The valley is likely one of the most beautiful places in the country, if not the world. But it’s not the mountains, rivers, forests, and lakes here that are most special. “I moved to Jackson for the skiing, but stayed for the community,” is an oft-heard refrain from locals. This valley of about 20,000 is stuffed with people who want to make a difference, whether that difference is saving the life of a hunter injured in the backcountry, providing meaningful jobs to people with developmental disabilities, opening a cute café that serves the best croissants this side of the Atlantic, or sharing a singular sense of style with shoppers. Meet some of the locals making a difference today.

The Teton County Search & Rescue (TSCAR) team is “a tribe of 36 awesome folks that are like family,” says Cody Lockhart, who’s been a volunteer on the team since 2009 and is currently TCSAR Chief. “Getting to be a part of this tribe is an honor.” Lockhart, whose full-time job is as a financial planner, says “we’re all on the team because we want to be there to help our neighbors. Hopefully us being around gives people more peace of mind. They know that if something goes wrong, someone—us—will come help them.”

TCSAR is the state’s busiest SAR team and annually responds to between 70 and 100 incidents. The team is more than twice as busy as the state’s next busiest SAR team, which is usually neighboring Sublette County Search and Rescue. TCSAR is on call 24 hours a day/365 days a year and responds to call-outs for missing, injured, and deceased hunters, hikers, climbers, skiers, rafters, snowmobilers, and bikers. If a backcountry user needs help, TCSAR is it.

“The Jackson Hole community is there for SAR,” Lockhart says. “The amount of money the Teton County SAR Foundation gets from the community is huge and supports a big chunk of real, on-the-ground operations. It is thanks to the community that we have a helicopter here for most of the year. This makes the team feel like the community really values what we’re doing and the time we’re putting in and our skills. It is cool to have this kind of connection with the community. We definitely feel the love.” tetoncountysar.org

Since opening their first store, MADE, in 2010, John Frechette and Christian Burch have gone on to create a bit of a retail empire in Jackson Hole, and to transform the way locals shop. Following MADE, which sells a thoughtfully curated selection of eclectic lifestyle objects from small makers, artists, and artisans across the country, was Mountain Dandy (2014), then Mountain Dandy Showroom (2017). Both of the Mountain Dandys feature wide array of handmade and vintage items with a masculine aesthetic. “We have worked to provide shopping focused on locals,” Frechette says. “We want to provide those who live here access to things we love, and are proud of.” Of course this only works because Frechette and Burch both have a great eye and sense of humor, and sense of style. “We love everything that makes the cut in our shops. Design, craftsmanship, price—there are a lot of things that go into each decision [of what to carry].”

Two summers ago, John and Christian took over the candy shop across Gaslight Alley from MADE, not that they were looking to get into the candy business.  Mursell McLaughlin was their landlord at MADE and “she owned the candy store next to us for almost 10 years, and had been in Gaslight Alley for more than 20 years before that,” Frechette says. “She and her husband John had been really good to us, and were friends.” John passed away from cancer and Mursell herself also got sick. “We had lots of long conversations about how to help her continue the shop; she didn’t know what she would do if she didn’t come to work,” Frechette says. “We finally asked one day, ‘what if we took over the candy store.’ She replied, ‘I thought you’d never ask.’” Thanks to John and Christian, Mursell’s Sweet Shop still sells candies and chocolates from around the world.

Built on the side of a parking garage in downtown Jackson, Vertical Harvest’s footprint is about a tenth of an acre. The vertical farm produces about as much as five acres of land does though—approximately 100,000 pounds of produce annually. Vertical Harvest is essentially three greenhouses stacked on top of one another. Each level is separate and grows different crops. The two lower floors are like traditional, single-level greenhouses. The top and tallest level are like other vertical farms, where rotating carousels—like moving racks at a dry cleaner’s—move the plants so that each plant gets an equal amount of time in natural light. Buy Vertical Harvest produce in a market on its ground floor or at Jackson Hole Grocer, Lucky’s Market, Aspen’s Market, and Pearl Street Market. verticalharvestjackson.com, 155 W. Simpson Ave., Jackson, 307/201-4452

While Vertical Harvest stands out for growing 100,000 pounds of produce annually at 6,200 feet above sea level in an area with an outdoor growing season of maybe three months, its employment model is even more unique than its existence. About half of the farm’s employees are developmentally disabled people with conditions including autism, Down syndrome, seizure disorders, and spina bifida.  Statewide, the unemployment rate for this group is about 78 percent. Twenty-year-old William Dennis has worked at the hydroponic farm for a couple of years. “I love working at Vertical Harvest because I can be myself,” he says. Free, one-hour guided tours of the 13,500-square-foot facility are available several times a week; sign up online at verticalharavestjackson.com.

Jackson-based documentary filmmaker Jennifer Tennican made a documentary about Vertical Harvest’s first 15 months in operation, Hearts of Glass. Produced with help from Slow Food in the Tetons, the film was finished last year and shares the personal and professional lives of Vertical Harvest employees. It premiered at California’s Wild and Scenic Film Festival in January 2019 and has also been shown at the Colorado Environmental Film Festival, American Documentary Film Festival, ReelAbilities Film Festival New York, Princeton Environmental Film Festival, Ashland Independent Film Festival, Julien Dubuque International Film Festival, and the Black Hills Film Festival. The Black Hills Film Festival awarded named it best feature documentary. Watch Hearts of Glass at TK.

Husband-and-wife Ali and Kevin Cohane opened Persephone Bakery as a wholesale-only operation in 2011. (Le Cordon Bleu-trained Kevin is the baker and Ali is manager, designer, and buyer.) In 2013, the couple opened Persephone Café in a historic log cabin one block from the Town Square and the valley’s café culture hasn’t been the same since. Persephone was followed in 2015 by Picnic, which opened in a modern, airy space in West Jackson. This past summer the couple opened Persephone West in the Aspens, and, just this fall started offering dinner here. (Persephone West is the only location to offer dinner.) Whichever location you visit, you’re sure to find a crowd because of the delicious pastries and breakfast and lunch menus. “I hope we have created welcoming places for the community to gather over good food and great coffee,” Ali says. “And with our attention to detail and the quality in everything we do, we have hopefully elevated the café experience in Jackson.”

This summer Persephone was one of the businesses behind the “Save Our Block” campaign spearheaded by the Jackson Hole Land Trust. The goal of the campaign was to protect the block from being bulldozed (so a new hotel could be built) by buying up historic preservation easements. More than $7 million was raised from more than 5,500 individual gifts to preserve the downtown block that is home to Persephone’s original location. (The block is also home to Healthy Being Juicery, Café Genevieve, green space, giant cottonwoods, and a section of Cache Creek.) “We all know Jackson is changing quickly, sometimes only with money and tourism in mind, bypassing the good of the local community and consideration of unsustainable development, so ‘Save the Block’ represents exactly that,” Ali says. “What is a space for the local community to gather, eat, rest, commune, and enjoy a beautiful outdoor setting was going to become a massive building exclusively for visitors. But the town spoke with donations and support to say that that wasn’t the direction we want out downtown to take. It was truly amazing to feel the power of everyone coming together to make something seemingly impossible happen. Saving the Block was a win for the future of Jackson, and our local community, which is why it was important to me, not to mention we get to keep our little café we love.”

Persephone West—Perseph West, informally—brought a new dinner option to the West Bank in October. “We’ve always wanted to offer dinner, but the space downtown is unfortunately too small to make it work financially,” Ali says. “This was just the next step in our long-term plan to offer thoughtful and quality food, mostly locally sourced, in a unique environment. Perseph West was finally big enough to have a full kitchen and enough tables up front to make it work.” Asked if Kevin was involved in the food that extended beyond pastry, Ali says, “He’s always involved in some way or another, although he prefers to stick to the butter-based products.”

Off-Season is the Best Season

Yes, Jackson Hole’s trails are at an in-between stage during April and early May. They’re not yet snow-free or dry enough for hiking or biking. Also, the ski lifts at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort and Snow King Mountain have closed for the season. Still, there’s plenty to do in the valley, including these favorite spring activities of ours. A bonus of the spring off-season? No crowds!

Wyoming Stargazing

Photo Courtesy of Wyoming Stargazing

“We have some of the darkest skies of anywhere in the country,” says Dr. Samuel Singer, the founder of Wyoming Stargazing, which does year-round stargazing safaris. “A few places are darker—national parks in the Southwest, which have drier air and are father from cities—but Jackson Hole still has amazingly dark night skies.” Singer says his favorite moment of every stargazing program is when he parks at the spot he will set up the telescope and the night’s stargazers exit the van. “I turn the headlights off and everyone steps outside under this big, dark sky and they’re just blown away. I think some people get dizzy when they look up. It feels like you’re in a fishbowl.”  

Photo Courtesy of Wyoming Stargazing

“It’s like a wildlife tour, except we go out and see stars,” says Dr. Samuel Singer, who has a PhD in science education and founded Wyoming Stargazing in 2013. “We get people to explore the extraordinary in the ordinary. The sky is always above our heads, we normally just don’t look up, and there is so much cool stuff up there day and night, especially here, where we’re lucky to have pretty dark skies.” The reason dark skies are so hard to find today? Light pollution, a collective term that includes all forms of artificial light, but most conspicuously the perpetual sky glow that hovers over urban areas.

Book a stargazing safari at wyomingstargazing.org, $500 for up to 2 people, $175/person for groups of 3 to 13

National Museum of Wildlife Art

Photo Courtesy of National Museum of Wildlife Art

Most people passing through Jackson Hole do so without realizing the valley is home to the wildlife art equivalent of the Louvre, Hermitage, Metropolitan, and Prado. Included in the National Museum of Wildlife Art’s 5,000+ piece permanent collection is Auguste Rodin’s The Crying Lion—yes, the same Rodin famous for The Thinker. This piece was inspired by a visit Rodin took to Jardin des Plante (the Paris Zoo) in the company of Louis-Antoine Barye, founder of the European movement known as les animaliers (“the animal sculptors”) and also represented in the NMWA’s permanent collection alongside perhaps the most heralded animalier, Rembrandt Bugatti. “Yes, we’ve branched out significantly from Rungius and the Big Four,” says Dr. Adam Duncan Harris, the museum’s Joffa Kerr chief curator of art. “These are the very same artists you’ll find in the Louvre. They’ve been fun acquisitions and artworks that elevate wildlife art to a different level of appreciation and understanding.”

Wildlifeart.org, open 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. Tuesday – Saturday and 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. Sundays through April; May – October, open 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. daily, $15 (adults), $13 (seniors), $6 (first child), ($2) additional children

Jackson Hole Eco Tour Adventures

Photo Courtesy of Jackson Hole Eco Tour Adventures

While many local human residents leave for part of the off-season, it’s a totally different story with the valley’s wildlife. “Much of the wildlife is concentrated in the low valleys where there is little-to-no-snow and spring green-up is beginning,” says Taylor Phillips, a wildlife biologist and founder of Jackson Hole Eco Tour Adventures, which does 4- to 12-hour wildlife tours in and around Jackson Hole. “Spring is amazing in the Jackson Hole Valley. With copious amounts of snow in the high country and bluebirds signing in the valley its a great time to explore Grand Teton National Park for Wildlife.” Specifically in April, “The spectacle is strutting sage grouse,” Phillips says. And also, “If one is lucky then the first bison calves can be seen!”  

Photo Courtesy of Jackson Hole Eco Tour Adventures

During the spring off-season, bighorn sheep haven’t yet migrated out of the valley into the mountains.  Taylor Phillips, a wildlife biologist and founder of Jackson Hole Eco Tour Adventures loves taking clients to the Elk Refuge to see sheep. “The back side of Miller Butte is a great place to go for raptors and bighorn sheep,” he says. “They haven’t made their spring migration to Sheep Mountain [aka Sleeping Indian] yet.”

jhecotouradventures.com, 307/690-9533, 4-hour tours in Grand Teton National Park from $140/person, 8-hour tours from $240/person

Jay Goodrich Photo Adventure

Photo Courtesy of Jay Goodrich

“Even in the mud season, there is so much to photograph here,” says Jay Goodrich, a Jackson-based professional photographer who offers half- and full-day photo tours and whose own work appears in Outside, The Washington Post, Outdoor Photographer Magazine, Mountain Magazine, and Powder. “It’s a matter of honing your eye. There is always something compelling to shoot, you just need to find it.” Goodrich wants to teach you how to find it on a custom photo tour. “I’ll help people go beyond just holding up a camera and taking a photo of a pretty scene. I look at every photo as a design opportunity—think about lines and shape and contrast, and the differences between highlights and shadows.” If this sounds intimidating, “Some people who comes on tours only have their iPhones, so you don’t need to have much experience or expensive equipment,” Goodrich says. “Whatever you’re using to take photos, I’ll help you discover settings that will allow you to take much better photos.”  

Photo Courtesy of Jay Goodrich

“The valley might be muddy and brown, but the peaks all around the valley never look that way,” says photographer Jay Goodrich. “They’ll have snow up on them that usually lasts through mud season. This is the time of year I skip the wide, vast image and instead zoom in and look for dynamic things happening up high.” Goodrich also says he likes to photograph animals in the spring. “They’re starting to migrate, so tight, detail oriented shots of bison or elk are great.” Because each of Goodrich’s half- and full-day photo tours is custom, if clients are interesting in photographing wildlife, he goes to different spots than when clients want to focus on landscapes. “I’ve had clients tell me, ‘I want to find a fox,’ while others say, ‘I want to get interesting shots of the Tetons.’ I like helping people do both.”

Book a photo safari at Jaygoodrich.com or 970/376-8883, From $450/3 people

Biking in Grand Teton National Park

Until May 1, Grand Teton National Park’s Inner Park Loop Rd. is open only to non-motorized travel. This traditional was started in 1977, by then-GTNP deputy superintendent Jack Neckels. At that time, after that park’s road crew cleared the snow from the 11-mile stretch of road between the Bradley-Taggart Lakes Trailhead and Signal Mountain Lodge that is closed to cars all winter, the road surface had to dry for several weeks before cars could drive on it (without damaging it). Neckels—who went on to become the park’s superintendent—decided that someone should be able to enjoy the road during this “drying out” time and a tradition was born.

In the 1980s and 1990s, the road was redone, and even rerouted a bit. When this was finished in 1992, some park workers suggested the road no longer needed to be plowed so early, as the material it was made of it no longer had to dry out. Neckels, superintendent by then, said no to that idea. Biking the Inner Park Loop Rd. had become a rite of spring and would remain. nps.gov/grte/planyourvisit/bike.htm  

Clearing Grand Teton National Park’s Inner Park Loop Rd. this year took longer than in years past. Last spring, it was cleared in 2 days. This year, plowing 16 hours a day (broken into 2 shifts), 2 drivers took about 6 days. At times, they were clearing the epic winter’s worth of snow at speeds as slow as one-tenth of a mile per hour. Cyclists, runners, walkers, roller-skaters, skateboarders—any type of non-motorized activity is allowed on the road. Dogs are also allowed, on leashes no longer than 6-feet. buckrail.com/teton-park-road-open-to-non-montorized-use/

New Eats in 2019

The Phoenix and Dragon

After operating as a pop-up inside Jackson Whole Grocer for almost a year, husband-and-wife owner/operators Eric and Zarina Sakai, who have lived in the valley since 2010, wanted more space and a bigger kitchen. So, like many aspiring small businesses, they launched a Kickstarter campaign. Their campaign was to help fund a remodel of a former restaurant space at 140 N. Glenwood. The couple raised almost double their goal and The Phoenix and the Dragon opened January 9.
The Phoenix and the Dragon serves food inspired by what husband-and-wife owner/operators Eric and Zarina Sakai each grew up eating. Eric, a chef, has a Chinese mom and a Japanese dad and grew up in Oregon. Zarina is 100 percent Filipino but grew up in the San Francisco Bay area. “Our menu is a mash up of our Asian cultures,” they say. Expect beef Pho, several varieties of handmade dumplings, dan dan noodles, and (a favorite from their pop-up), Sichuan spicy lamb and rice. When asked which one of them was the phoenix and which one the dragon, Zarina says, “Depends on the day! We all have a little phoenix and a little dragon in us. There’s a strong belief in both our cultures that there is a balance to everything, like yin and yang. The phoenix typically represents a cooling, soothing energy and the dragon represents a fire element. Each is essential.
145 N. Glenwood St.

Open daily from TK – TK


Comfort food rules at the new lunch and après spot in the tram building at the base of Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. The Backcountry Burger is topped with cream cheese and roasted chilis. The Korean beef bowl—steamed rice topped with roasted Brussels sprouts, kimchi, kale, and beef—proves comfort food crosses international boundaries. You can get sweet potato fries topped with bacon aioli and green chili,  or a cup of the green chili, which is hearty and decidedly not vegetarian.  Sure to become a local favorite is the fried chicken, which is brined in pickle juice and buttermilk, and available on several different sandwiches or as a plate.
RPK3’s specialty cocktail menu is short, but that’s just fine since it includes the best adult spiced hot chocolate we’ve ever had, Fireball spiked cocoa topped with cayenne and whipped cream. If Fireball isn’t your thing, honor local Betty Woolsey and try the Woolsey Woods, scotch and mescal with pine-infused syrup and pineapple. Betty was an early settler to the valley who was an avid skier and competed in the 1936 Olympics, she also founded Trail Creek Ranch at the base of Teton Pass. Oh, and did we mention that all the cocktails are only $10?
In the tram building, on the mountain side

Open daily from 11 a.m. – 6 p.m.


Dustin Rasnick has been one of the valley’s best itamae (sushi chefs) for years at Sudachi on the West Bank. But, “there is so much more to Japanese cuisine,” he says. Rasnick, wife Liz (front-of-the-house manager), Jonathan Cohen (head chef), and ShopCo (the owners of Aspens Market and Pearl Street Market), aim to show you how much more there is to Japanese cuisine at SUDA, which opened in downtown Jackson in late January. SUDA is inspired by izakaya, a type of Japanese restaurant that focuses on simple, good food and often has shared plates … but no sushi. Instead, look for things like kushiyaki, marinated chicken, beef, and vegetables on skewers, and katsu samos, traditional Japanese sandwiches on crustless white bread and stuffed with meat that is somewhere in between a schnitzel and a hamburger. “For us, katsu sandos is a take on hamburgers, being as we are in America,” Dustin says.
In what is sure to be a first for the valley, SUDA serves yakiniku, also known as Japanese barbeque. Order yakiniku and you’ll find a small grill brought to your table so that you can grill your choice of beef and vegetables. While the beef on grills is from Wyoming (either Carter Country Beef, which is based near Tensleep, or locally raised Lockhart Beef), the charcoal in the grills comes all the way from Japan. SUDA imports binchotan, a type of white charcoal made from oak and used in Japanese cooking since the 17th century, directly from Japan. “This is something we will spare no expense on. [Binchotan] has a distinct flavor you can taste,” Dustin says. “But not any ‘bad’ flavors, like those that come from gas or woods that impart their flavors on the ingredient being cooked.”

140 N. Cache

Open Monday through Saturday for dinner in the winter and, in summer, lunch and dinner

Persephone (In The Aspens)

Locals have long dreamed of a second location of Persephone, the popular bakery/café that opened on the Town Square in 2014. This spring, these dreams become a reality when Persephone opens an outpost in the Aspens. It will serve all of your favorite pastries and sweet treats from the downtown location and more. It’ll have “some West Bank specialties as well,” says Ali Cohane, who founded Persephone with her husband Kevin, a Cordon Bleu-trained pastry chef. Inside, “it will still be a mix of rustic meets modern much like [the original] Persephone, but with more of a French cafe vibe,” Cohane says. We can’t wait!
3445 N. Pines Way # 102, Wilson

Open daily, hours TBD

Everest Momo Shack

As of January 9, locals’ favorite Everest Momo Shack finally has its own space in Jackson. The restaurant first opened by sharing space with Down on Glenwood (D.O.G., a walk-up take-away spot known for town’s burliest breakfast burritos). Eventually it got its own space, but in Teton Valley. But now Sange Sherpa and his wife Rita are back in Jackson, serving Nepali food, Thai dishes, and salads. Sange calls the menu “international cuisine” and says everything on it comes from Rita’s recipes.  Rita’s brother Dawa that is the chef; Rita is the manager. We are lucky this one is across the street from our office, lunch meeting anyone?
245 W. Pearl Ave.

Open Monday – Saturday, lunch from 11 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. and dinner from 5 – 9 p.m.

Roadhouse Brewing Company Pub & Eatery

The new Pub & Eatery opened on the Town Square by Roadhouse Brewing Company has regular chicken wings on its menu. But there’s also fried duck wings with plum sauce and spicy mustard. There is a flatbread topped with pomodoro and mozzarella and another topped with prosciutto and apples. And then there’s a Bahn Mi flatbread, which is exactly what it sounds like—a Vietnamese Bahn Mi sandwich (crispy pork, hoisin, slaw, and pickled veggies), but served pizza style, and with white cheddar cheese. Tacos? Of course, and served on fresh, house-made tortillas. A partnership between Gavin Fine (a restaurateur; this is his ninth restaurant) and Colby Cox (a home brewer), Roadhouse takes its food as seriously as its beer. And it takes its beer seriously; it has 60 beers on tap, including many from other area breweries.
Behind glass walls running the length of Roadhouse Brewing Company’s dining room are eight five-barrel fermenters. “This brewing system isn’t just for show, it’s going to let us try more recipes and more styles,” Roadhouse co-founder Colby Cox told the Jackson Hole News & Guide. “You’ll still see nice, big Belgians, and big, hoppy IPAs, but also lots of interesting new recipes. We’re looking forward to lesser-known beer styles from around the world, and even beers from ancient recipes.” While Roadhouse will be using the brewing system in the Pub & Eatery to make session beers, its flagship brews will continue to be produced in a bigger facility in West Jackson.
20 E. Broadway

Open daily 11:30 a.m. – midnight

Stillwest Brewery & Grill

Stillwest opened earlier this winter, and it’s great. But it’s going to be amazing in summer. This brewery and grill is right at the base of Snow King Mountain, aka the “Town Hill,” and has what might be town’s nicest deck. Until the deck opens, Stillwest’s rustic/contemporary interior is a cozy setting for a wide ranging menu that includes a Nashville Hot Chicken sandwich, braised pork shank cassoulet, chicken marsala, Wagyu flank steak, and, during Sunday brunch, Southern eggs Benedict, Dixie waffles, biscuits and gravy, and a smoked bison sausage bowl. And then there’s the beer: year-round Stillwest pours its flagship brews—Kolsch, Malty Red Ale, American Pale, Pilsner, and Baltic Porter. The brewery also does seasonal beers.
45 E. Snow King Ave.

Closed Mondays, Tuesdays – Sundays 11 a.m. – 10 p.m.

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A world-class orchestra calls Jackson Hole home for 7 weeks every summer

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The Artistic Heart

Jackson is a home to stories—many that have been shared repeatedly, and many that have never been told.

Place + Design: A conversation with Architect John Carney, Principal of Carney Logan Burke

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A Creative Frame of Mind

There’s a simple truth to Rocky Vertone’s line of work: Everything looks better in a frame.