One year my husband, Eddie, told me to book just he and I on a trip wherever I wanted. It would be only our second trip with no friends or family in almost 20 years. Thinking I would book Hawaii or London, he was surprised when I booked us on an adventure trip to gorgeous Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Upon arrival at their contemporary airport, I was shocked at how small it was, but the rustic beauty was overwhelming. Eddie and I rented a car and headed out for our first stop, four heavenly days at the Four Seasons Resort.
As we drove into downtown Jackson Hole, we stopped and browsed in a few shops and ate fresh Mexican food at the Merry Piglets. That also included a sampling of their tasty margaritas. The park in the center of the town is very picturesque. I loved the stag antler arches at the park entrances with the statue of Wild Bill welcoming visitors. The shops are very artsy and pricey; I never would have guessed that Jackson Hole was so cosmopolitan. An antler light fixture we saw was around was $4,000. Though we did not partake, taking a ride in a stagecoach around town looked like a lot of fun.
The Four Seasons Resort, Jackson Hole
The Four Seasons Resort was literally gorgeous and employed a pleasant staff. As I stepped into the ambient lobby with blazing fireplaces and animal print furnishings, I was in love. The Four Seasons is up the hill from a ski complex and in the summer months, the lifts double as bike lifts for mountain biking adventure trails. A restaurant sits at the top of the mountain for your convenience.
We were shown to our elegant hotel room. It was adorned with buttery leather chairs, huge built in wood cabinets, an electric fireplace, and a scenic balcony. Our balcony overlooked the site where the hot air balloons were launched daily, which made for some great photos. Outside, the Four Seasons offered a lovely outdoor terrace with fire pits. These deep, comfy chairs allowed guests to enjoy a glass of wine or a cocktail while watching the brilliant orange sunsets behind the Teton Mountains.
The Decadent Outdoors
The Four Seasons pool and deck was one of my favorites of any hotel in the United States. It was designed to offer privacy, with groups of thick lounges scattered throughout and unique swings and hanging beds could be enjoyed as well. A real bonus was the towel warming cabinet that held hot towels for when you stepped out of the pool. Keep in mind, there is snow on the mountain scenery regardless of what time of year it is. Pool attendants were available to serve you food and drinks. I recommend ordering the fig crostini with goat cheese and arugula. Delicious!
Eddie and I both treated ourselves to spa treatments at the hotel, and while the treatments were good, the service at the desk needed improvement. The spa was aesthetically pleasing, but the prices far exceeded the services we received.
Day Tripping to Yellowstone National Park
One day, we ventured out to spend the day at Yellowstone National Park and had the hotel prepare insulated bag lunches for our trip. The bags were waiting for us at the front desk, stuffed with ice packs that would last for several hours. Our drive to Yellowstone was about 40 minutes from the hotel. Lucky for us, it was the last week before the tourists started to arrive in droves for peak season.
Yellowstone was my first National Park visit and I was shocked at all the amazing scenery, but mostly the wildlife. Every time we encountered a buffalo I had to stop and take 100 pictures, which was not sitting well Eddie after the first or tenth time. The fresh mountain air was a bonus!
Bucket List Check: Old Faithful
Witnessing the Old Faithful Geyser was remarkable. They have it down to a science for exactly what times the cone geyser will erupt and huge crowds form to watch it from benches about 300 feet away. Before each eruption, you will see little squirts of water and it will eventually be equivalent to around 185 feet. Driving into the Yellowstone, we crossed the Continental Divide, elevation 7988 ft. My favorite sites in the park were the Elcelsior and Midway Geysers opal and turquoise pools. This is Yellowstone’s largest hot spring, but there are other hydrothermal wonders along the ride. We stopped at a scenic waterfront location to enjoy our Four Seasons lunches, which were orzo salad, a grilled vegetable wrap, fruit, water, and cookie. Those bag lunches were worth every penny.
Later that night we visited a German restaurant, Alpenhof, in the complex outside of our hotel. Service, ambiance, and food were all highly noteworthy. We dined on creamy fondue, a real treat.
My Heaven on Earth: Jenny Lake Lodge
The next three days were spent at my choice of accommodations, the Jenny Lake Lodge. Leaving a ritzy hotel and moving to a rustic cottage was definitely a drastic change, but one that we both enjoyed immensely. Jenny Lake has 16 cottages on the property, with stunning views of the Grand Teton Mountains. Ours was the Buckwheat cottage. Jenny Lake’s lobby is huge and has several seating arrangements and a big stone fireplace in the center. It felt warm and welcoming, decorated with fresh flowers and homey decor. The room rate included breakfast and dinner as well as a huge list of amenities including horseback riding and bicycle rentals. At check-in, Eddie posed the question to the receptionist of whether this resort was really worth the price they were charging. After being there only a few short hours, the answer “yes sir” was obvious because everything was perfect.
Our Buckwheat cottage offered a king bed with flannel sheets and a lovely quilt. The room also had a chest of drawers, 2 flannel chairs with a small table, a tiny closet, and a small bathroom. The WI-FI was patchy and there were no TV’s, but it was fine with us as we were busy outdoors most days. Our cabin offered rocking chairs on our porch and there was a huge fire pit in the middle of the property for all of the cabins. We received cabin service twice a day and ice was delivered in the evenings. Most of the cabin stewards we met were from a sister resort in Jamaica and it was their first time seeing snow. They were very friendly and a pleasure to chat with.
Jenny Lake’s Dining
The onsite restaurant at Jenny Lake was incredibly upscale. I was pleased to learn that a fellow West Virginian was the chef. Being a foodie, I was more than happy with the menu choices as well as the culinary take on the classic dishes. Moose-shaped butter pats, flowers sitting on the tables and around the lobby, and the china contributed to my delights. Be sure to try the huckleberry syrup for breakfast, a Wyoming specialty.
Special Points of Interest in Jackson Hole
If you are traveling to Wyoming, do not miss Inspiration Point, the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River. Have a drink at the Million Dollar Bar or an upscale meal at one of the dozens of upscale restaurants. For a fun outing, Eddie and I hired a private guide to take us fly fishing. Our fishing adventure was on the Snake River, but it was too swift to catch any fish. Still, we had a blast! Even though it did not feel hot outside, we were burned to a crisp. Be sure to wear adequate sunscreen.
When visiting Jackson Hole, one of the most popular things to do is attend a rodeo, and this was my first. Knowing how a typical rodeo works in South America, this was like the Disney G-rated version, but that was fine with me. The Jackson Hole Rodeo has gentle calf roping, bull riding, and bronco bucking. The rodeo sold fun souvenirs and t-shirts and offered delicious concessions. All the action made for a very fun evening. The announcers at the rodeo called out each state for the audience to cheer as to where they were from and nearly every state was represented the night we were there. My favorite event was the kids contest where they had to remove a blue ribbon from a sheep. The kids were running everywhere and it was just cute as can be. This was a really “feel good” night.
My Vacation at Jackson Hole
All in all, I was pleased with our vacation at Jackson Hole and would go back again. I chose the location at random simply based on the resorts and the fact that it was somewhere new. Eddie and I enjoyed the stunning nature and scenery and explored a state that we were not familiar with. We also had our first National Park experience. A unique souvenir to bring home was the chocolates from Atelier Ortega, an artisan chocolatier. Not only were the chocolates beautiful and fun to select for their signature sturdy orange box, but they were mouthwatering.
Have you been to Wyoming and if so, how was your experience? Next up, South Dakota or Montana, help me decide.
Check out my other amazing vacation posts: