Jackson Hole is a mecca of bike paths and beautiful vistas. There are miles of paved paths or dirt if that’s what you prefer. This post is about the best places to go for a road run, I will write about trail running at a later time. For the past two months I have been training for the Jackson Hole Half Marathon on June 8th. The run starts just outside Teton Village and ends at the base of Snow King Mountain in the town of Jackson.
The run takes place primarily on bike paths so I have been running the Moose-Wilson road bike path (find it on this map) a fair amount to familiarize myself with the course. For those who are looking for a short 3 mile run to a long 10+ mile run this bike path is great. It is flat for the most part and provides adequate shade from the mid-day heat. The only part of the path that I consider difficult is what the local’s call “the windy mile.” The windy mile is the last mile before you reach Teton Village. It stretches a wide open plain where there are no trees to provide shade or block the wind. Wyoming is a windy state and this section of the bike path has earned its nickname. Depending on the length of your run the Stilson Parking Lot is a great place to start. You can run to Wilson for a short 3 miler or you can run up to Teton Village for a 13+ mile run. The distance is marked on the pathway so you can keep track of your mileage.
Another one of my favorite pathways to run on is the Jackson to Gros Ventres Road/Grand Teton National Park pathway, identified as the Wapiti Pathway on this map. This pathway starts just north of town by the Dairy Queen. The path borders the National Elk Refuge and is open from May 1 to October 1. This pathway is best run in the morning or late evening when the sun isn’t strong. There is no shade on the path so it can be especially brutal to run on it during the middle of the day. This path is very popular with bikers so be aware of your surroundings during your run. At mile 3 you reach Fish Hatchery Hill, a steady incline of about a half a mile gains you 200 feet of elevation. If you can make it up the hill you will be rewarded with a stunning view of the Tetons. This pathway continues all the way up to Grand Teton National Park, so you can make your run as long as you want. Just keep in mind that after Fish Hatchery Hill the path tends to be very windy. Also, the pathway runs parallel to Highway 89, a one lane road that tends to see a lot of traffic. If you are looking for serenity this might not be the path for you.
Both pathways provide great out and back run options. Unfortunately, there aren’t many great loop options in the Jackson area. Either way, these pathways provide a great alternative to running on a treadmill. Be sure to try them out when you are in Jackson Hole.
Here in Jackson Hole we have a work hard, play hard mentality. However, our definition of “play hard” may be a little bit different than the average description. “Play hard” in Jackson means getting up at 6AM before work to go hike and ski Teton Pass during the winter or hike Snow King during the summer. It means mountain biking rides or trail runs during lunch breaks. And, similar to the traditional description of “play hard”, it also includes drinking copious amounts of alcohol after you exhaust yourself of the slopes or the trail. Just visit the base of the Tram at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort during a spring afternoon and you will understand that the Jackson Hole locals know how to have a hard day in the mountains and then kick back and have some fun in the afternoons.
The thing that you must understand about Jackson locals is that they are always training for something – a triathlon, marathon, a technical ski descent, summiting a particularly challenging peak, or just training for life in general. I am currently training for a half marathon as well as my goal of summiting the Grand Teton in one day. Jackson is a fit town which can be a particularly frustrating thing. No matter how good you think you are at one thing, someone in this town can do it better or faster than you can. It’s hard to not get discouraged by the abundance of fit individuals in this town but they also inspire you. Articles are constantly being posted about Jackson locals doing incredible things. The professional athletes that Jackson cultivates are rugged and tenacious. They will stop at nothing short of greatness. And if they fail, they acknowledge their mistakes and move on to their next challenge.
Everyone in Jackson is young at heart and has a zest for life. We value quality of life above all else. We have the most overqualified waitresses, bell hops, front desk representatives and bar tenders. Almost everyone in Jackson has a college degree, if not a graduate degree of some sort. That’s why it is so easy to get “sucked into the hole” as they call it. There are so many great outdoor activities to do in the area that you are never bored and there are always enthusiastic people who want to share in the adventures with you. Jackson is unlike any other place that I have ever lived. Jackson has a small town feel to it, where you feel supported by your neighbors. If anything happens to one of their residents the whole town rallies around that person and their family and friends. There is a sense of camaraderie that I find is rare in other towns. Hopefully you get a good feel for the town during your visit to Jackson. We like to try to treat our guests like family so that they can really experience the lifestyle of Jackson Hole. We really love our town and want you to be able to see how wonderful a town it is and fall in love with it too!
Every year April Fools Day brings an onslaught of harmless pranks and tomfoolery across the US. In the “peter pan” town of Jackson Hole, where every resident refuses to grow up, it is only natural that its residents take April Fools Day to a whole other level. At Jackson Hole Mountain Resort the locals descend on to the hill in bright neon onesies, jeans, rear entry boots and snow blades. While we appreciate the skiers who visit our valley, sometime their attire is downright hilarious. Some people feel like if you go skiing once a year, why invest in a good ski jacket and pants? Why not just use an one piece that you bought in the 90s, or a pair stretch pants from the 80s? So in turn, us locals dress up like those visitors. While this day may seem like a jab to our visitors, it really presents an opportunity to escape the rad bro get ups and just have some good old fashion (literally) fun.
The term gaper is derived from the gap present between the goggles and hat or helmet. Unfortunately, this feature is indicative of an individual who rarely skis or who is learning how to ski. It may seem a bit pretentious, but Gaper Day is all about having fun. You get to ski in a pizza, mess around in the lift line and laugh at yourself and others, a lot. The best way to witness this spectacle is to head to the “Thunder Bumps” on the Thunder trail located under the Thunder chairlift. By mid day there will be a party at the top of the trail, people eject out of their skis and drink beers while watching fellow gapers do tricks off of a small jump. To get a taste of what you’re in for check this video out (fast forward to 2:30 if you want to see people skiing off of the jump). Ultimately, gaper day is about having a good time.
After the mountain closes, head to the base in front of the tram. The ridiculousness continues off the hill and into the evening.
As with anything in the ski industry, there is no shortage of alcohol involved, so make sure you partake responsibly. Skiing intoxicated can be quite dangerous. Thanks to the amount of hotels, restaurants and bars who own property in the area the liquor laws extend to the base area. You can walk around with an open container from anywhere, the liquor store, a bar, your backpack, etc. without getting in trouble. Though I will caution you, make sure that if you do drink, DO NOT DRIVE. Take the START Bus. The police are aware of gaper day and they tend to increase their presence on the road. Above all, go have a good time and dress appropriately!
You have decided to come to Jackson Hole with your hunny to celebrate your anniversary or to just get away from it all. Most likely one night you may want to have a romantic dinner, something more than your average pizza and beer dinner date. There are plenty of wonderful places to take your loved one out to eat in Jackson, it just depends on how much money you want to spend.
Last year, Jared and I decided to forgo the typical anniversary gifts and treat ourselves to a nice romantic dinner. We initially wanted to have it at the Snake River Grill but we waited too long so we couldn’t get a reservation on the night of our anniversary. We decided to try something new, the Wild Sage which is located in the Rusty Parrot Lodge, a few blocks from the town square in downtown Jackson. The Wild Sage is Jackson’s only restaurant to receive the AAA Four Diamond award but I think that it is a tie between Amangani and the Wild Sage for the most expensive restaurant in town. While expensive, the food and ambiance is worth it. The restaurant is small – think 40 people max and the rustic decor, fireplace and open concept kitchen make for an intimate setting. We were seated by the window where we could watch the cars drive by and the snow fall. The food was melt in your mouth delicious and the cocktails and wine were a delightful addition to our meal. Our reservations were for 6pm and we stayed until 9pm just sipping our after dinner drinks and talking about our upcoming nuptials. We didn’t feel like we were pressured to leave and the staff was very professional and welcoming.
Possibly my favorite restaurant in town, I love the ambiance that the Grill exudes. Its log cabin interior and center fireplace make this one of my favorite places for a romantic date. The first time that I went to the Grill was when Jared took me there for my birthday and we got a corner booth. Our date was intimate and exciting – their menu boasts an array of unique tapas as well as wild game and fresh fish. They have an extensive wine list as well as some specialty cocktails. The Snake River Grill is also a good place to bring a group to celebrate a birthday or graduation. To this day I still dream about the rare filet of beef that I had for my birthday, years ago. I could cut it with my fork – needless to say, I was in heaven.
Without a doubt the best thing about the Granary is the stunning mountain view. Situated on a butte high above the valley of Jackson Hole, the Granary is part of Spring Creek Ranch. The dining rooms is a little outdated but the large picture windows with a sweeping vista mask that fact. The food is good but not as good as the previously mentioned restaurants. The thing that I remember most from my dinner at the Granary is the sun setting behind the mountains. I encourage you to go early during the winter months (think 6pm reservations) and later during the summer months (think 7 or 7:30) to catch the sunset. While the dinner at the Granary is good, the breakfast is wonderful. I especially love their trout and eggs dish. If you are looking for a cheaper romantic dinner try the lounge at the Granary. Sit at the bar or by the crackling fire and enjoy the same breath taking view with a more economical bar menu. The portions aren’t huge but the bar does offer nightly specials such a $4.50 well drinks, $.40 wings, cheap quesadillas and half of glasses of wine depending on the night. The also have a piano player semi-nightly in the lounge area which adds to the romantic ambiance.
Located at the top of the Gondola at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, the Coulior has a refined atmosphere with a stunning view of the valley below. One of my favorite things about having dinner at the Coulior is the romantic Gondola ride that you take to reach the restaurant. Be sure to ask for a seat by the window when reserving your table, though if your reservation is anytime after 6pm and you have more than 2 in your party it is almost impossible to get one of those tables. The food is delicious, but it is an all inclusive menu, so if you aren’t willing to pay $95 per person for the entire meal (not including drinks) I would urge you to look elsewhere. During the Spring and Fall Coulior will do a 2 for 1 dinner special for season passholders so if you are a passholder be sure that you are on Jackson Hole Mountain Resort’s email list so that you get the heads up when they are offering the 2 for 1s. The food is delicious and the four course meal leaves you satisfied, not stuffed.
Obviously you can have romantic dinners at restaurants that aren’t overly expensive. The options above all offer entrees in the range of $18 to $60. I have had plenty of dates at the Rendezvous Bistro, which is one of my favorite restaurants in town. The Bistro can be a bit loud but you can still carry on a conversation with your sweetheart without having to yell over the table. Another option is Trio, a small restaurant located a block from the town square in downtown Jackson. Trio has a variety of options ranging from pizza to buffalo rib eye and braised short ribs. There are plenty of great restaurants in Jackson so there is no need to limit yourself to this list. Also, please keep in mind that these are restaurants where I have dined and I have not had the opportunity to eat at all of the nice restaurants in Jackson (though I wish that I could!). I hope that you enjoy your romantic dinner wherever you end up!
Jackson Hole Mountain Resort is a relatively small ski resort by western standards. No matter where you are on the mountain you can access the base area in 20 minutes or so. However, on weekends, when the lines in the base area are long, sometimes it is nice to eat lunch up on the mountain. I grew up brown bagging it in New England – my dad would bring a backpack full of sandwiches, chips and cookies up to the top of the Cannon tram and stash it in the corner of the cafeteria. But these days I find myself either stashing a Cliff bar in my ski pants to stave off my hunger until Apres Ski or wandering into one of the three on mountain dining establishments. Each eatery has different types of food and a different vibe.
Located at the top of the tram, it is by far the most scenic on mountain dining option (Couloir is a close second). It also has the most character, located in a small cabin that was built at the 60s, it has pieces of history pinned on the walls and it shares it’s space with the Jackson Hole Ski Patrol. There are not many tables in the cabin so be sure to be one of the first ones off the tram to nab a table. Corbet’s Cabin’s specialty is made to order waffles. They also have an array of snack bars, sports drinks, beer and sweets, but you really go to Corbet’s for their waffles. The have four different types of waffles: brown sugar and butter, strawberry jam and cream cheese, nutella and new this year, peanut butter and bacon. I have yet to try the PB and bacon waffle, though it sounds delicious. They serve the waffles sandwich style wrapped in tin foil. Corbet’s Cabin is a great place to go for breakfast or a midday snack.
Top of the Gondola – Rendezvous and Headwall Pizza, Couloir and Dog House
Located upstairs next to the Couloir, Rendezvous is my favorite place to eat on the mountain. It is easy to access if you are skiing Thunder, Sublette or the Tram via the Marmot lift or you may reach it by taking the Gondola. It can get pretty crowded from noon to 2 so be sure to stake out a table before getting your food. My favorite item at Rendezvous is their Vietnamese Pho. The large noodle bowl is packed with veggies and meat or tofu and filled with a mushroom broth. They are made to order so if you have an aversion to jalapenos, like me, you can ask them to make the soup without. The bowls are large enough to split between two average people or one very hungry individual. Rendezvous also has a delicious salad bar, soup station and grill and sandwich station.
Coulior offers sit down dining for the refined skier who is not in a rush to get back out on the slopes. Headwall Pizza and Dog House is a good place to eat cheaply or grab some grub to eat on the fly (say, on a powder day).
Located next to the Casper chair, the Casper Restaurant can handle a crowd. There are picnic tables outside that you can use on nice sunny days, a fireplace with two couches for those who are looking to sit back and relax as well as multiple tables on the first and second level of the building. They have a grill, soup station and their specialty, Mexican fare. I enjoy their burritos, either pork, beef or vegetarian. The burritos are large enough to share or can be devoured by one hungry individual. To avoid the notorious brick in the stomach feeling I normally split the burrito with a friend. Casper is also the only on mountain cafeteria with a full bar (Couloir also has a full bar). They have wonderful specialty drinks as well as delicious jello shots. Please see my previous blog about apres ski at Casper for details on their drink selection.
So there you have it – each one of Jackson Hole’s on-mountain dining options are unique so you can choose which restaurant best suits your needs. Some days I crave Pho, other days a burrito. Most days I crave a waffle, but I have a sweet tooth so that’s no surprise! Hopefully you get to experience all of the on-mountain dining options so that you may decide for yourself which restaurants are your favorites.
Also, as a side note – I do not believe that brown bagging is banned from any of the on-mountain dining options, but I am not positive. Just be courteous and aware of the situation.
Fondly referred to as “the King,” Snow King Resort is a small little mountain located in downtown Jackson Hole. The first time I visited Jackson Hole I hardly noticed the mountain. Small, by western standards, at only 400 acres and 1571 vertical feet. However, Snow King is a great family mountain. Its steep, long runs also attract many ski racers – from high school race teams to the US Ski Team – who compete winter-long on it’s slopes.
The King offers cheap night skiing as well as snow tubing. As you head from the airport to the town of Jackson Snow King, with it’s 3 lifts and wide trails is unmistakable. It is a great place to go and let your kids explore by themselves while you sit in the lodge with a hot chocolate, watching your kids ski from the big picture windows in the lodge. It is a casual mountain, don’t expect anything fancy! But the mountain has heart.
During the early winter months the King barely sees the sun due to it’s north facing aspect. On chilly January days I pity those on the hill because they must be freezing their toes off! The spring months bring events such as Pond Skimming and the World Championship Hill Climb. These events are really fun to watch and are family friendly events.
Since Snow King Mountain is municipally owned, the public can hike or skin up the mountain at any time, even when it’s open! Though there is an etiquette to hiking and skinning the King when it is open so do some research before just strapping on your ski and skins and climbing up the main trail. You don’t want to be hit by a skier!
Many locals consider Snow King Resort “the town gym.” I am one of those people. During the summer I try to hike up it at least one time a week, if not more. During the winter I like to skin up it in the morning before work. The best thing about it? I can bring my dog, Canyon. He loves to romp around in the snow, getting twice the work out that I do, running up and downhill numerous times. I have witnessed many beautiful sunrises from the mountain during the summer and winter alike.
I would encourage you to give the King a chance. If you are on a budget and looking to ski some steep groomers or narrow trees, spend a day at the King. Or if you are looking for something to do in the evening, try night skiing or tubing. The King has a lot to offer and is a vital part of the Jackson Hole community.
This winter Jackson Hole Mountain Resort has introduced a new “all blue” section of the mountain. Casper has always been a popular area of the mountain for the intermediate skier to visit, however, the triple chair that took you to the top of the area was painstakingly slow. Also, the seat of the chair did not have any cushion so your feet would often fall asleep on the ride up.
This past summer Jackson Hole Mountain Resort replaced the triple with a high speed quad, and boy the new chair is fast! Some skiers complain that the don’t have time to chat on the lift because by the time you get into a conversation you are already unloading. While the speed is great for getting a lot of runs in, it also dumps a lot more skiers onto the hill. Unfortunately, Jackson Hole didn’t think about the amount of traffic that would be frequenting the area.
It can be crowded on the hill, but this past summer they created a new trail that comes down the face of Casper, underneath the lift. They also mellowed out the terrain and did some summer grooming, which makes Casper the perfect place for the beginner skier to try to advance their skills. It is the step up after learning how to ski on Teewinot, the beginner lift.
Casper also has a lodge where you can grab a bite to eat or sit on the deck in the spring and drink margaritas. It is convenient for the beginner or intermediate skier who wants to take a few runs and then take a break, without having to head all the way down to the base.
As much as Casper can be a great place to advance your ski or snowboard skills, be aware of others. The trails are wide but crowded. Always look over your shoulder before deciding to cut across the trail. Also, at the bottom it gets congested where all of the trails funnel into one and there are people trying to cut across the trail to get to the Casper Lodge. Getting injured by colliding with another skier or rider isn’t fun, trust me. The way to avoid this is to always be aware of your surroundings and ski in control.
In addition, for those who enjoy skiing really fast, I don’t recommend that you ski Casper. Ski patrol has been adamant in keeping Casper a learning area and they will not tolerate advanced skiers zipping by learners. They have made appearances with radar guns and will pull you over and give you a ticket (a small fine) if they catch you “speeding.”
Casper is a great addition to Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. It adds a buffer between Teewinot and Apres Vous ski areas for new skiers and riders. The high speed quad will take your breath away and the wide open trails are great for taking smooth turns down. Also, all of the trails at Casper, besides the Moran Woods, are groomed. If you want to see if you are up to tackling ungroomed glades the Moran Woods can be a lot of fun. Jackson Hole is trying to soften their intimidating “all expert” mountain image and I think that the new “all blue” Casper is definitely a step towards that.