Close your eyes. Imagine the aspen trees rustling gently, the hot sun inviting you into the cool waters of a perfectly clear alpine lake. The huckleberry ice cream melting in your mouth. The laughter of a very happy child in an oversized T-shirt that reads “ain’t life grand?”
This idyllic scene seems almost too good to be true, but it’s just another summer day in Jackson.
Jackson, situated in the heart of the Wyoming mountains, is the kind of place that people dream about. The big, blue, open sky is perfectly matched by the snowy granite peaks and the yellow flowers popping out in the valley. This place has had cultural significance for hundreds of years, first with Indigenous groups, then mountain men, the founders of conservation as we know it, and now all of us. The town was founded in 1914, with 97% percent of Teton County being public land, which means there’s space to roam here. Jackson is also the gateway to two beautiful national parks: Grand Teton and Yellowstone. Here, you’ll find many opportunities to enjoy wildlife, geological features, and beautiful views.
Jackson is the type of place where abundance reigns; you’ll quickly be surprised by just how much you can squeeze into your days here. There are many ways to have the perfect summer day in Jackson. Here are a few of my favorite.
Start your day outside
Whether it’s your first day in the mountains or your 100th, Jackson is a great place to get outside. Wake up to the smell of fresh pine trees as you sip your coffee on an outdoor patio and feel the growing warmth of the sun as daylight begins to trickle in. Or stretch your legs on a morning walk around the neighborhood and listen to the wildlife in action. Whatever your morning routine is, give it a boost by starting your day outside.
Go for an early trail run
Whether walking the local trails or climbing a mountain, there’s no better way to start the day than by watching the whole world wake up in front of you. One of my favorite ways to be in the outdoors is trail running. I began running a couple of years ago and have found so much joy on the local trails in Jackson. There are trails for every type of runner here: paved trails that follow the creeks or the valley floors, unpaved trails that are wide and flat, single-track trails that go into the mountains, and even trails that require navigation through rocky boulder fields.
Find time to take it easy
Outdoor recreation culture can sometimes focus on objectives that are difficult, long, and inaccessible. But here in Jackson, we just invite you to get out the door.
For those traveling with kids, there are many accessible and family-friendly nature options, including going for a scenic boat ride along the Snake River, an evening drive to spot wildlife, or even sitting on a park bench and watching the trees sway gently in the wind. Some of my favorite memories outdoors in Jackson include catching sunsets, laughing with friends in the grass, or going for a walk with a relative. Days outside don’t need to be difficult to be worthwhile, and the very best activities are those in which everybody can partake, regardless of ability or age.
Go for a swim
After climbing these tall peaks, my perfect day continues with a cold swim to relax my tired body. Some of my favorite places to swim include Jenny Lake in Grand Teton National Park and the Snake River at Emily Stevens Park. The cold waters in both of these places will get your blood rushing and make you feel alive. The icy water is quickly countered by the strong midday sun, creating the perfect combination of cold and hot that will help you reach the perfect temperature.
Take a nap outside
Great places to nap outdoors are the town parks. Grab a few blankets and head to a local park like Miller or Russ Garaman, which welcome you with their soft grass and shady trees. The sound of the leaves rustling above you or the creek running beside you will lull you to peaceful sleep.
After a full day outside, I like to join my friends for an evening picnic. I like to grab fresh pastries and refreshments from Persephone. If I need something with more substance, the fresh salads, sandwiches, and smoothies from Healthy Being or Inversion Cafe leave me nourished and happy.
There’s often an outdoor market to take advantage of, where the shopping experience is half the fun. The Wednesday People’s Market and Saturday Farmers Market are filled with live music, free samples, and delicious goods handmade by our own community members. My personal favorite is the tamales and fresh fruit stand at the People’s Market in the summertime. If you’re on a budget, I suggest going to the local supermarkets to stock up on goodies for your picnic.
Dive into the town culture
Jackson is well-known for preserving the history of the town and the West at large. A walk through town is a walk through time, with a historic downtown full of great restaurants and shops. The Town Square has become a standalone symbol for the West, so be sure to snap a photo under the iconic elk antler arches. For a more formal outing try the museums, including the National Museum of Wildlife Art and the Jackson Hole Historical Society and Museum.
Get a little Western
For more visually active activities, visit the Jackson Hole Rodeo and get a taste of cowboy culture. After catching the sunset at the rodeo, continue your adventure by popping over to a local restaurant or bar and go swing dancing. My favorite place to swing dance is at Bluegrass Tuesdays at the Silver Dollar Bar & Grill, with friendly faces and live music filling the room.
Anyone who visits Jackson in the summer knows the beauty this place holds. The natural beauty of Jackson welcomes all of us, and the long days make all these activities possible. With the Gros Ventre and Teton mountain ranges, the Snake River, the canyon, and the national parks, you won’t run out of new ways to have fun here, and the diverse options for activities offer joy to every single person who passes through.
From awe-inspiring encounters with nature to wild and western activities every kind, Jackson Hole offers once-in-a-lifetime experiences, 365 days a year.
Eager to glimpse your first bear, moose, or wolf? Challenge yourself with a run down black diamonds or class III rapids? Hook an 18-inch cutthroat? Meet a real cowboy? Watch a Teton sunset? This place is full of experiences you won't find that at home, or anywhere else for that matter. In Jackson Hole, wild adventures aren't just possible—they're already here waiting for you.