Better known as “Jackson Hole,” this little town is the center of commercial activity for the Grand Teton National Park. Jackson is not a “destination” city. The big draw here is outdoor recreation, including skiing in the winter (there is a magnificent and scary ski slope/life right in town), kayaking, canoeing, rafting, biking and hiking in the summer months; hunting, and even golf.
The park is in a Valley bordering the Easter Face of the Teton Range of the Rocky Mountains. This valley is actually what is called “Jackson Hole.” In the valley sits a nice, small airport, capable of landing jets, the town of Jackson and the tiny communities of Wilson, to the West and Mooseto the North of Jackson (right at one of the official park entrances). There are also a couple very nice ski facilities, including Teton Villages, and a couple nice golf courses. In the bottom of this valley is the Snake River, which appears to have its headwaters just South of Jackson, and empties into Jackson Lake, at the North end of the Park.
Jackson is the “gateway” to the area, and holds the regions’ motels, restaurants and shopping. While there are lodging and restaurants outside of Jackson, the town is quaint and there are many “local flavor” restaurants that are well worth trying out. We had all but one of our evening meals in Jackson, and all of our breakfasts. Specialty restaurants like The Bunnery and Jedediah’s House of Sourdough are known throughout the United States, and often recommended (sadly, very recently, Jedediah’s in town closed—or maybe more accurately stated, changed. The link to Jedediah’s takes you to Café Genevie . There is a small, counter-service Jedediah’s at the Jackson Hole Airport, but it is not the sit-down eating we had been lead to expect at the former downtown location). Not a lot of information is available about this change, but both the Jedediah information on the web and the Genevieve information on the web talk about the rich history of the downtown location (a log cabin built in the 1800’s and part of the National Historic Register), without mentioning the other. Sounds like the parting of the ways may not have been happy. L
We did make it to The Bunnery one morning. My own take on this famous restaurant is that it is a very good bakery and the baked goods looked and tasted fabulous. The rest of the “breakfast foods” were good, but unremarkable (though it may be that I was just looking for something more “traditional.” They are known for their natural granola and pancakes and waffles, which I did not sample, were no doubt very good. Our staple while we were there (serving 90% of their breakfast menu all day) was The Virginian.
For dinnertime dining, there are numerous choices and we obviously could not try them all. The well-known Million Dollar Cowboy Bar has a restaurant in the basement. My advice: Go into the bar and have a drink or two and enjoy the ambiance. We walked in to the bar briefly and saw the saddlery bar stools and the interior of the bar. Pretty darn cool. We went downstairs (and downhill) from there, to The Million Dollar Cowboy Steakhouse. The menu demonstrated to us why the “million-dollar” name was apropos, and the food was again, unremarkable for the million dollar pricing.
Around the corner, however, is another local favorite and pretty well-known location; The Silver Dollar Bar. This bar/restaurant is attached to and part of the famous, traditional Wort Hotel which is right in the middle of the downtown, just around the corner from the town square. Food and drink were very good, and prices, as resort-area restaurants go, reasonable (we were in Jackson during their “shoulder season” – after skiing, but before Memorial Day Weekend — and they had a 2-for-one special going to try to continue to keep things going during off times).
If you are looking for a change of pace from the “cowboy” steaks kind of dining, we found Pica’s, an authentic Mexican family restaurant. The food was both reasonable and excellent! There are other touted fine dining establishments we would have liked to try, like the Snake River Grill and the Gun Barrel Steak and Game house, and many others. There will be more trips.
Jackson is a fun little town to walk around in and see the “sights.” In addition to the ubiquitous T-shirt shops (has anyone else noticed how they are not only the same design and manufacture, but often exactly the same? The “Moose-themed” apparel we saw in a couple of the stores were identical to what was being sold in Bar Harbor Maine!), there are some very neat local flavor shops, including the impressive, three-story gallery of famous Western photographer, Thomas Mangelson, and the law office of (formerly famous) Gerry Spence. There are also some nice local outfitters, and a real, small-town camera shop with actually stocked merchandize (I have to laugh at the “yelp” remarks about how the store is overpriced. Duh–its in Jackson, Wyoming!).
In the middle of downtown is the town park or square. Its most remarkable feature is the “antler-arches” at each of the four corner entrances. It is a very nice place to sit and enjoy a sunny afternoon, to wait while other family members shop, or just to use as a rendezvous point.
As photographers, we have little “down time” on a dedicated photography trip. And, frankly, for shopping, a 2-hour “once-through” and you are done. But as a place with some good restaurants and bars, and a truly “Western” themed feel, it was not a bad place to spend the downtime we did have.