By Linda McClain, CTA
Do you have a favorite USA vacation? Jackson Hole, Wyoming and Yellowstone National Park, are mine. Did you know that Jackson Hole is a popular destination for corporate retreats and reunions? If skiers, artists, cowboys, and even movie stars are attracted to this area, will this destination have you packing your bags, too?
How do I get there?
United and Delta Airlines offer connecting flights from Albany into Jackson Hole, Wyoming. When flying from the Capital Region, you'll gain two hours, due to Mountain Time zone. Flights on United Airlines can have you there between noon and 2pm. The airport is located at the base of the Grand Teton Mountains. Awe-inspiring views from the plane give way to Jackson Hole's tiny airport, the only municipality within a national park. One can't help but be amused by the size of the terminal and parking area. Albany International Airport would be considered sprawling in comparison. The scenic drive to Jackson is just 10 miles away. En route, one can't miss the 25,000 acre National Elk Refuge. Between 7,000 and 10,000 elk roam the preserve during the winter months, while many come and go throughout the year.
When should I go?
Regardless of the weather, there is a visual and pleasurable advantage with every season. Because the valley floor is 6,200 feet in elevation, the air is dry and thin. Plan to dress in layers and bring sun block whatever the day, regardless of the season.
Summer highs peak in July: 81F and lows 41F.
Fall highs peak in September: 69F and lows 39F.
Winter highs peak in February: 31F and lows 5F. Jackson Hole's winter inversion effect can force cold air to remain at the base of the mountains, while making higher elevations 10 to 20 degrees warmer.
Spring highs peak in May: 61F and lows 31F. Brilliant sunshine can make the atmosphere feel much warmer.
What can I do there?
Jackson Hole is a small western community of about 15,000 people, surrounded by some of the most magnificent scenery in the world. Jackson is located at the southern end of Jackson Hole. Its unique town square is flanked by arches created from shed elk horns. Local boutiques, museums, art galleries and realty offices give Jackson an artistic, creative, "must see" charm. Yet, the rugged mountain back drop and local Silver Dollar bar are reminders that this is cowboy country.
Surrounded by several mountain ranges, the southernmost gateway to Yellowstone National Park is under an hour's drive. Admiring views of the Grand Teton Mountain range give hint to the breathtaking beauty within the world's oldest national park, Yellowstone. Roughly the size of Connecticut, it borders Wyoming, Montana and Idaho and cannot be completely seen in one day.
Jackson Hole Rodeo, summertime tradition. Want to be a cowboy or see one? Kids can participate in a calf scramble, too!
Been there, done that? Book the family on a covered wagon train vacation for 3 or 4 nights.
Alpine Slide - Ride the chairlift to the top. Wind down through 2,500 feet of woods and wildflowers, while you control the speed.
America's Serengeti - Discover the wildlife of Yellowstone on a guided learning adventure. Animals and creatures inside the park: bison, grizzly bear, black bear, big horn sheep, pronghorn, elk, wolf, mountain goat, moose, deer, coyote, marmot, otter, beaver, wild cats, fox, antelope, eagle, hawk, osprey, swan, owl, heron, pika and grouse.
Snake River - Choose extreme or serene while white water rafting or drifting along on a scenic raft float.
Love horseback riding? Home to exceptional equestrian tours, choose from an itinerary along scenic Snake River canyon, ride into the beautiful Gros Ventre mountains or immerse yourself in an authentic dude ranch experience.
Hike or bike - 28-miles of paved scenic biking trails, referred to as Community Pathways. 40 additional miles will soon be added, through Grand Teton National Park.
Rich man, poor man? Split up your stay between an accommodation within Yellowstone National Park, as well as Jackson Hole. Whether it's the great outdoors or great indoors, reserve your space now.
Fishing - season runs Memorial Day weekend-November.
Golfing - challenging, inspiring, rewarding.
Jackson Hole offers some of the most challenging ski trails in North America. The brand new Jackson Hole Mountain resort tram can transport 100 skiers to the top of Rendezvous Peak (4,139 vertical feet), in nine minutes. Ski resorts and condominiums are in high demand during ski season, which runs mid December--early April. If you ski, book months in advance.
Why not celebrate New Year's Eve in Jackson Hole? Torchlight parades and fireworks are just part of the festivities, for both young and old.
Yellowstone Park offers many winter activites: sleigh rides, ice skating, snowshoeing, cross country skiing, guided snowmobile and snow coach tours, to name a few.
• In 1920, Jackson elected the first all-woman town council in the United States, dubbed the "Petticoat Government", by The New York Times.
• The Roosevelt arch is located at the northern entrance of Yellowstone Park. The cornerstone was laid by President Theodore Roosevelt.
• Between 1886-1918, the US Army had a base at Ft. Yellowstone in Mammoth Springs, to protect the area, before its national park was formed.
• Steamboat Geyser (in Yellowstone Park) not Old Faithful, is the largest geyser in the world.
• Famous residents have included Tiger Woods, Dick Cheney, Sandra Bullock and Harrison Ford.
• Nearby Wilson is the original settlement of Jackson Hole and is the wealthiest zip code in the United States.
• Many movies have been filmed in Jackson Hole, including "Shane", "Any Which Way You Can" and "Rocky IV".
If you go, expect to be much happier on arrival than when you leave to come home. For more information visit www.jacksonholechamber.net and www.yellowstonepark.net.
Linda McClain, CTA, is owner of Capital Region based Linda McClain Travel Services "From The Islands To The Highlands, No Dream Is Too Far From Here!" For more information call 372.7657 or visit www.lindamcclaintravel.net. I invite you to contact me for travel assistance to your favorite travel destination.