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.”

Leaf Peeping

Jackson Hole, with its expansive evergreen forests, isn’t known as a top destination for fall colors. But for those who appreciate quality over quantity—aspens glowing gold above the irrigated, green pastures of a ranch with the Tetons in the distance—the valley might be one of the best places in the country to catch the season’s changing colors … if you know where to go. An added benefit of leaf-peeping here? Some spots are best visited by car, others via great hikes. You can take a scenic chairlift or boat ride to others, or even stand-up paddleboard. Here’s where we take our friends and family lucky enough to visit in the fall.

A couple of miles north of the tiny community, Kelly, which is entirely surrounded by Grand Teton National Park, Gros Ventre Road heads east off Antelope Flats Road and deep into the mountain range it is named for. The road is paved for several miles before it becomes gravel. There are some washboarded sections of road, but any passenger car can make it the sixish miles to an overlook and interpretive site for the 1925 Gros Ventre Slide, which is one of the largest recorded land movements in U.S. history. While the nearly 100 year-old scar from the slide on the lower flank of Sheep Mountain is impressive, that’s not what you’ve driven here to see. Yes, you’ll want to take time viewing the slide site, but once you’ve had your fill, turn around and drive back towards Antelope Flats and Kelly. This section of the Gros Ventre Road is lined with aspen trees that perfectly frame the snaggly Cathedral Group of the Tetons rising in the distance.

It’s understandable to think that if you hike or ride the scenic chair up Snow King Mountain, five blocks south of the Town Square, you’re doing it for the expansive views of the National Elk Refuge and the mountain ranges that surround the valley. Sure, the Tetons (to the north), the Gros Ventres (to the east and north), and the Snake River Range (to the southwest) are beautiful from “the King’s” 7,808-foot summit, which has almost 360-degree views. But in the autumn, a golden aspen grove on the western side of its summit is the prettiest thing to see. The distant mountains are merely a bonus.

One of the most beautiful autumn drives in the valley is on Fall Creek Road, a rural byway at the base of Teton Pass that heads south from Wilson. (Although most of the road is devoid of shoulders, it offers a beautiful bike ride; Fall Creek Road doesn’t get much traffic.) You can do this as a 20-ish mile out-and-back drive/ride starting and finishing in Wilson, or as a 40-mile loop beginning and ending in the Town of Jackson. Fall Creek Road, itself, is about 17 miles long, and its most intense colors can be witnessed where it passes through stands of cottonwoods of the Snake River bottoms, about eight miles south of Wilson, as well as where it winds its way around Munger Mountain, which might have the valley’s highest density of aspen trees. If you want to drive to Munger, about 11 miles south of Wilson, and then turn around, you’ll see an abundance of vibrant color. You can also take Fall Creek Road about six miles past Munger Mountain to its junction with U.S. Highway 26/89/191. This intersection is several miles south of Hoback Junction; to return to Jackson from here, it’s about 13 miles. For about half of the return to Jackson, the road parallels the Snake River and meanders through additional cottonwood forests.

If you fancy the chance of wildlife sightings along with fall colors, consider floating the Snake River from Wilson to South Park. This is a scenic stretch of river, and it does not have any whitewater. (Although debris in the river and channels can make navigation difficult for those unfamiliar with the area; several Jackson Hole outfitters offer guided trips here.) From the launch at the bridge across the Snake River near Highway 22’s junction with Highway 390 (aka Teton Village Road), the riverbanks are lined with giant cottonwood trees, and the parade of color continues all the way to South Park, where you’ll take out. In addition to admiring the cottonwood’s colors on this float, keep your eyes peeled for Bald Eagles. There are several nests along this stretch of the river.

You can hike the two-ish miles from South Jenny Lake to the lake’s western shore on a newly rebuilt trail or take a ten-minute passenger ferry between the two points. While South Jenny Lake is the most visited spot in Grand Teton National Park and has an abundance of amenities like a ranger station, convenience store, bathrooms, interpretive signs, benches and tables, and a small museum, the lake’s western shore is wild. Aside from a small pier where the ferries dock, the only amenity you’ll find on the west shore is a trail system, which features an ancient dry stone masonry technique that is almost as interesting as the surrounding forest. While both hiking and the ferry ride to the west shore show off fall color, our favorite autumn, Jenny Lake experience is to park at the small boat launch on the lake’s southern end, carry our stand-up paddleboards the 100 feet to the lake, and paddle along the western shore. Almost every time we’ve done this, in addition to witnessing changing colors, we’ve seen moose. (Fair warning: We always do this it early in the morning; even though temperatures can be in the 30s, we find the chill a worthy trade-off to have the lake to ourselves). Know that any watercraft in Grand Teton National Park must have a permit, which is available at the Moose Visitor Center.

The, most easily accessible and family-friendly fall colors in Jackson Hole may be found at Rendezvous Park (also known as R Park). On the Snake River near the intersection of Highways 390 and 22, R Park is a 40-acre natural playground and community gathering space with thriving wildlife habitat, ponds, meadows, and knolls. The park opened to the public in 2014 after three years of reclamation. (The area was formerly a gravel pit.) There are colorful cottonwoods and aspens along the river and around a central pond. You can drive to R Park or use the valley’s extensive pathway system to get there. The pathway that links the Town of Jackson with Wilson and Teton Village passes right through the park.

Grand Teton National Park’s best-kept secret might be the Bar BC Ranch, which was founded in 1912 as the valley’s second dude ranch, decades before the Park, as it is known today, was founded. The Bar BC welcomed dudes until the early 1940s, and today it has colorful stands of cottonwoods everyone can enjoy. The ranch and its guest cabins are tucked on a bench above the Snake River, near Moose. In 1987, when the last surviving family member of the ranch’s founders died, the Bar BC was incorporated into the park that had come to surround it. In 1990, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places. For the past two summers, the Grand Teton National Park Foundation, the Western Center for Historic Preservation, and Grand Teton National Park have been conducting preservation work on two of Bar BC’s most important cabins. Take a picnic lunch or dinner, wander the cottonwood-lined banks of the nearby Snake River, and enjoy the newly conserved cabins.

Jackson Hole’s Best Outdoor Spaces

With summer in full swing, we’re spending as much time outside as possible. Jackson Hole’s summer is so, so sweet, but oh so short. Of course we make the most of it. Locals and visitors alike spend long days outside watching wildlife, biking, fly-fishing, and hiking. The fortunate among us can also enjoy outside time while at home—on sun-drenched south-facing decks, cooking in an outdoor kitchen before settling in to eat dinner in front of an outdoor fireplace, or reading a book while a creek burbles past a few feet away. The luckiest of us have outdoor spaces that, equipped with hot tubs, heaters, fire pits, and fireplaces, can be enjoyed year-round. Here are some of our favorite outdoor spaces from our portfolio of luxury Jackson Hole vacation rentals.

Phillips Ridge

Set on 74 private acres just south of the community of Wilson, there is no shortage of outdoor spaces to enjoy at Phillips Ridge. (Nor of indoor spaces; the 16,000-square-foot log retreat has five bedroom suites, a home theater, an indoor hot tub modeled after the Grand Prismatic Spring in Yellowstone, and a rec room with a two-lane bowling alley.) Terraces surround the home, but the outdoor stars here are the private pond and Fish Creek. The former is big enough to canoe or stand-up paddleboard on and the latter flows through a secluded section of the property. Phillips Ridge guests can fly fish for trout in both the pond and Fish Creek.

Four Pines 6

The more northern of Four Pines 6’s two outdoor patios is proof that outdoor living in Jackson Hole need not be limited to the summer. Accessed by French doors from the home’s combined kitchen/dining/living room, this terrace has a grill and a hot tub, and views of the slopes at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. In addition to two terraces, this 4,800-square-foot home in Shooting Star has five bedroom suites.

Chateau On The Westbank

The 6,400-square-foot, four-suite Chateau on the Westbank has a great room with coffered, cathedral ceilings that are notable for their height, detailing, and plasterwork. As lovely as this room is inside, local architect Danny Williams designed it around the views of outside. These views get even better when you walk out onto the terrace: a private pond in the foreground and the Tetons in the distance. The terrace not only has some of the best Teton views in the valley, but also almost doubles the size of the home’s entertaining spaces.

Cirque View Homestead

The stone terrace at Cirque View Homestead in Teton Village’s Shooting Star neighborhood is just feet from the creek that runs through the home’s backyard. Decorated by KAM Designs, a firm with offices in San Francisco, Scottsdale, and Jackson Hole, it has a fire pit, hot tub, gas grill, and dining table for ten.

Lake Vista

Year-round, this covered, second-floor deck at Lake Vista, a five-bedroom, 8,000-square-foot home in Shooting Star near the base of the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, is one of guests’ favorite spaces. It has a fireplace, grill, bar, and, if you get tired of looking at the mountains, a television.

Lost In The Woods

Lost in the Woods has seven bedrooms and a professional-grade kitchen with French doors that open to a dining porch. Thanks to a stacked stone outdoor fireplace, you can enjoy al fresco dining year-round.

On The Elk Refuge

When enjoying the outdoor spaces at the Elk Refuge retreat, you’ll always have in-your-face views of the Tetons. Many times, the views here will also include wildlife. On a rare inholding on the 25,000-acre National Elk Refuge, this six-bedroom home often has elk and bison walking past its windows (and decks). Also fox, deer, and coyotes. Overhead, it’s not unusual to see eagles soaring on thermals.

Transformational Travel

Vacations used to be all about relaxing. And of course some relaxing is good. But more and more experienced travelers are looking for their vacations to include unique, educational, or challenging experiences. Jackson Hole has no shortage of local-led, authentic, custom experiences that your family will be talking about long after your vacation here is over. Here are a few of our favorites.

JH Wildlife Photo Safari

“All of our safaris have great photo ops along the way, but our custom wildlife photo safaris are geared so you can learn tips and tricks from a professional photographer guide who is also an interpretative naturalist,” says Jackson Hole Wildlife Safaris owner Jason Williams. You’ll get great images of Jackson Hole’s wildlife, historic structures, and the landscape, and end the safari with new photo techniques—totally customized to your group, whether you’re taking photos with your phone or a DSLR—you can use on your next vacation. A half-day photo safari is $765 for up to 4 people and a full-day photo safari is $1,275 for up to 4 people. Jacksonholewildlifesafaris.com


Jackson Hole Writers Conference

You don’t need to be a professional, or even have been published to go to the annual Jackson Hole Writers Conference, which is held annually in late June. (This year is the 28th conference.) “Anyone who loves writing can attend,” says Tim Sandlin, the conference’s founder, a resident faculty member, and the author of many novels including the Gro Vont trilogy. “We get everyone from beginners to multi-published authors. All you need in enthusiasm.” The three- day conference includes panel discussions, manuscript critiques, workshops, seminars, and social events. “Attendees leave the conference ready to write. They know more about the process of writing and the process of publishing. They make new friends. They take away inspiration.” $410 for the entire conference, which is June 27-29, 2019. jacksonholewritersconference.com

Teton Science Schools

Annually Teton Science Schools engages 15,000 learners from toddlers to retirees. Programs includes multi-day summer camps for elementary and high school students, single-night Front Porch Conversations, which offer attendees the opportunity to learn about a wide range of topics in an intimate environment, and private, immersive full-day tours of Grand Teton National Park (GTNP) and the Bridger-Teton National Forest (BTNF). As diverse as its programs and classes are, they have something in common: a place-based, interactive take on their subject. TSS founder Ted Major’s belief was that students learn best about natural sciences out in nature. Go to tetonscience.org website for a full schedule of programs for all ages. Private full-day tours of GTNP and the BTNF are $1,500 for up to 11 people.

National Museum of Wildlife Art

Have you ever done yoga outside while surrounded by statues of wildlife and overlooking the National Elk Refuge? Yoga on the Trail is just one of the many experiences to be had at the National Museum of Wildlife Art, which prides itself on being interesting to visitors whether they are an expert in wildlife art or know nothing about the genre. “Visitors with little or no knowledge about art find the Museum engaging,” says Dr. Adam Duncan Harris, the Museum’s Joffa Kerr Curator of Art. “I think this is in large part because the subject matter is our artworks is so approachable.” For those familiar with wildlife art Harris says, not to miss the Rungius Gallery (as a whole) and a display dedicated to the work of Bob Kuhn. “These two painters are regarded as among the best artists of their respective generations,” he says. “Both have been highly influential on younger artists in the field.” Yoga on the Trail is free, B.Y.O.M. (bring your own mat), and 10 – 11 a.m. Thursdays between July 11 and August 29. The museum is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily through October; tickets $15 (adults), $13 (seniors), $6 (1 child), $2 (additional children), free (4 & under). wildlifeart.org

Wyoming Stargazing

You can’t learn about the night sky—or even see it—just anywhere. Researchers at Italy’s Light Pollution Science and Technology Institute found that two out of three Europeans and four out of five Americans cannot see the 100-billion star galaxy to which our solar system belongs from their homes. In Jackson Hole you can see the Milky Way though, along with about 5,000 stars. Wyoming Stargazing offers free public programs throughout the summer, or you can kick it up a notch and go out on a nighttime stargazing safari with one of their astronomers. “I love when people look through the telescope and see the rings of Saturn,” says Wyoming Stargazing founder Samuel Singer, PhD. “People get super psyched to see something they’ve only ever seen in photos before. There are lots of ‘Oh my Gods,’ ‘Holy sh8*%,” and other profanities,” he says. Simple stargazing isn’t enough though: “We tell stories about these objects. People are looking at fuzzy spots that are the accumulated light of billions of stars from tens of millions of light years away. That’s looking into the past. That light you’re seeing through a telescope one night in 2019 in Grand Teton National Park took tens of millions of years to get here. We’re literally seeing the universe as it existed millions of years ago. I never get tired of telling this story,” Singer says. Go to wyomingstargazing.org for a schedule of Wyoming Stargazing’s public programs. Private stargazing safaris are $500 for up to 2 people and $175/person for 3-13 people.

Urban Living

While a log cabin might be what first comes to mind when you think of Jackson Hole, there are properties here that have a more urban vibe.

Jackson Hole’s Best Bunkrooms

Bunkrooms are popular because they maximize the number of beds in a room. Functional is good. Better though are bunkrooms that kick it up a notch—either with bigger beds, custom bunks, super cozy décor, and/or games. Here are some of our favorite bunkrooms from our portfolio of luxury Jackson Hole rental properties.

Four Pines 9

If the elk antler-bench and row of cowboy hats hanging in the entrance of Four Pines 9 doesn’t clue you in that you’re in Wyoming, the 4-bedroom home’s bunkroom will. The four built-in bunks here are made of hand-hewn, reclaimed timbers. Guests stay warm under Woolrich Hudson’s Bay wool blankets.  

Four Pines 6

Guests lucky enough to snag a bed in this bunkroom in Four Pines 6 might never want to leave—the room is that cozy, even though the home itself is decorated in a more contemporary style than many other homes in the community. “Contemporary and cozy do not have to be mutually exclusive,” says Jackson-based designer Jacque Jenkins-Stireman. And then there’s this bunkroom’s shuffleboard table. Also, this bunkroom, along with a wet bar and adjacent bedroom with two twin beds, is in a wing of the house that can be closed off from the rest of the property. It even has its own entrance by the garage.

Fish Creek Lodge 75

All three of the bedrooms in Fish Creek Lodge 75, including this 4-bed bunkroom, overlook the East Fork of Fish Creek, which runs through the home’s back yard. On the home’s second-floor, the bunkroom is down the hall from a media room with a large 4K TV, which is hooked up to a PlayStation game console. Not that anyone staying here will spend that much time inside; the skiing, biking, and hiking trails of the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort are only a mile away. 

Holly Haus

If Holly Haus, on a gentle hillside just outside the boundaries of the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, is the ultimate cabin in the woods, its bunkroom feels like the ultimate tree house. A window in it looks out to thick groves of aspens, and also lodge pole pines, through which sometimes elk, moose, and bears wander. But, while this bunkroom feels like a tree house, it has easy access to an amenity most tree houses don’t: an outdoor hot tub. 

Cirque View Homestead

On Cirque View Homestead’s second floor, this four bed-bunkroom suite features three built-in, custom twin bunks and one full-size bunk. San Francisco, Scottsdale, and Jackson Hole-based KAM Designs decorated the room to match the rest of the six-bedroom home—it is gracious, sophisticated, and comfortable. Cirque View’s ground floor includes a home theater (with stadium seating, naturally) and a game room with both billiard and card tables and a wet bar.

Royal Wulff Lodge

If the stocked private pond at Royal Wulff Lodge is the property’s best feature, its 4-bed bunkroom (all four beds are full size) might be its second-best. (Although the bunkroom might be tied with the lodge’s great room, which has soaring 25+ foot ceilings and a wall of windows.) Warm and woody, the bunkroom is near Royal Wulff’s rec room, which has a pool table, bar, game table, and ample seating. 

Shooting Star Cabin 4

Hidden inside the gorgeous, rambling stone and timber Shooting Star Cabin 4 is what might be the valley’s best family room. This contemporary cabin near the base of the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort has two bedroom suites with king size beds, a third bedroom with two twin beds, and this 5-bed bunkroom that includes two pairs of trundle beds set into a cozy, light-filled nook ringed by windows and also a queen-size bed in its own alcove at the other end of the room.

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/

Cabins of Jackson Hole

Owning a log cabin can be a lot of work, so why not just rent one when on vacation? We love log cabins in the winter when their woody walls and fireplaces exude cozy comfort and warmth. But spring, when flower boxes hanging beneath windows come to life, is also great for log cabin living. A summer evening spent in a rocking chair sipping wine or whiskey on a log cabin’s porch is tough to beat. And of course, log cabins are idyllic in fall, when you can come home after a hike or ride through golden stands of aspen, make a cup of hot chocolate or tea, and settle into an overstuffed sofa. Whenever you’re planning your dream vacation to Jackson Hole, consider staying in a log cabin or lodge to make your time here even more memorable. Here are a few of our favorites from our portfolio of luxury Jackson Hole rental homes.

The Cabin

The Cabin is a 1940s log home set into a hillside on the lower slopes of Snow King Mountain, which opened as Wyoming’s first ski resort in 1939 (with a single cable tow). Today Snow King is home to a number of summer and winter activities like an alpine slide, the Cowboy Coaster, snow tubing, hiking, mountain biking, skiing, and the Treetop Adventure. Downtown Jackson’s boutiques, restaurants, and bars are within walking distance, as are all of Snow King’s activities, but it’s pretty tempting to spend all your down time in The Cabin’s cozy back yard, which is shaded by tall pine trees and has gorgeous flower beds and boxes.

Inside, The Cabin is the quintessential western log cabin. It has hand-peeled log furniture, antler chandeliers, vintage photos, paintings of western landscapes and wildlife, antique Navajo rugs, oak floors, and a massive double-sided fieldstone fireplace. The Cabin is unique because it has several skylights that make it brighter and sunnier than most log cabins. Its three bedrooms are particularly cozy. There is also a bunk room that allows The Cabin to sleep a total of 10 guests.

Big Sky

Big Sky isn’t technically a log cabin, it’s Western Arts & Crafts style, but feels like one because of its materials palette which include an abundance of natural wood and stone. Three bedrooms and 4,920-square-feet, Big Sky has a master suite with a vaulted, wood-beamed ceiling and a balcony that overlooks an outdoor dining terrace. In the great room is a double-sided, stone fireplace flanked by an overstuffed sofa and chairs.

Four Pines 8

Jackson Hole architect John Carney, who also designed the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort tram building at the base of the ski resort and the Laurance Rockefeller Preserve in Grand Teton National Park, designed Four Pines 8 in the exclusive Shooting Star subdivision so that it had an abundance of natural light and efficient use of space, while still feeling cozy. This contemporary, five bedroom lodge can sleep up to 16 guests.

Four Pines 8’s heart is its great room, which is open to a combined kitchen and dining area, and has views of the ski slopes of the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort and southern end of the Teton Range. Its furniture and décor are sophisticated yet obviously inspired by traditional log cabin style. Artwork throughout the home includes contemporary paintings, and also black and white photos of Native Americans and historic imagery from Yellowstone National Park.

Rocking V

You’d think the views of the mountains from Rocking V’s perch on a forested hillside above the Snake River near Wilson, Wyoming would be its standout feature, but you’d be mistaken. This four bedroom traditional log home has a collection of Western and wildlife art that includes many artists in the permanent collection of Jackson’s National Museum of Wildlife Art (like Nancy Glazier, Ken Carlson, Scott Christensen, and Lanford Monroe). Also, this log lodge comes with the ultimate mountain accessory proximity to incredible fly-fishing.

Phillips Ridge

Set on a private pond in the middle of 74 acres, Phillips Ridge is one of Jackson Hole’s most impressive log lodges. The lodge has five bedroom suites and a 40-foot-tall wall of windows in the great room, and its traditional design and cabin décor give it the intimacy and coziness of a cabin. Thick log walls and beams made from tree trunks are accented by gorgeous stonework while furnishings are overstuffed and colorful.

The great room in Phillips Ridge has to be amazing to compete with the views out of its 40-foot tall wall of windows. Inside, a two-story stone fireplace and elk antler chandelier dominate the room, while new and antique Oriental rugs, fine artwork, and rich fabrics up the coziness factor. Each of this lodge’s five bedroom suites has its own stone fireplace. While much about Phillips Ridge is quintessential lodge, other things are more modern, including a two-lane bowling alley, a fitness center, a movie theater that seats 12, and an indoor hot tub modeled on Yellowstone’s famous Grand Prismatic Spring.

Royal Wulff Lodge

Royal Wulff Lodge has four bedroom suites, most with wood-burning fireplaces and king size beds made from hand-peeled logs, and also a fireside family room and breakfast nook, but many guests at this log estate on the banks of the Snake River find its bunk room to be the coziest space in the house. Each of the four bunks has a full-size bed and custom reading lights. We love the cowboy-themed ceiling light and horseshoes-used-as-decoration.

Yours won’t be the first jaw to hit the ground upon arrival at Royal Wulff Lodge. If there’s as grand an entrance anywhere else in Jackson Hole, it’s at a hotel, not at a private estate that you, your family, and your friends get to enjoy the entirety of during your vacation. This grand colonnade and portico hints at the lodge’s interior, which includes commissioned paintings and sculptures, custom tiles, ironwork, and lighting fixtures, trophy taxidermy, walls of windows, and beautiful natural beams. The on-site team at The Clear Creek Group is here to help plan every detail of your Jackson Hole cabin experience.

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.

Jackson Hole Kids and Saturday Ski

Sure, Jackson kids can ski, but lessons learned on the mountain transcend any sport.