Jackson, Wyoming

Earlier this month, I went with Brian and my sister-in-law to Jackson, Wyoming.  I highly recommend this vacation destination and already started planning for a ski trip! Our itinerary was very kid-friendly, so I want to come back and do it all again with Cam. He would have loved it!

The trip came together last minute, so I only had a few days to plan. We needed to go to Jackson and we had Southwest flight credits to use, so we ended up flying into Salt Lake City and making a road trip out of it.  Salt Lake City was the closest airport for flying Southwest.

When we arrived, we rented our vehicle: a 2021 Suburban. It was HUGE and I was too nervous to drive/park it, so I was a passenger for this entire road trip. :) 

We used Alamo for the rental, which was a great choice. Many of the other places had unbelievably long lines, so we lucked out with the rental car experience.

We headed straight from the airport to the Land Cruiser Heritage Museum. I had checked the hours on the website before the trip to make sure we could make this one of our stops. It was very neat. This was someone's personal collection and it was so impressive. 

We only had one night in Salt Lake, but if we had more time, I definitely would have put Bonneville Salt Flats on my list. I'll link the airbnb we used below, because it was great and conveniently located downtown. I'll also link the restaurants and bars we visited. The food on this entire trip was AMAZING. 

**My only gripe with Salt Lake City is that there was a very obvious homelessness/drug issue downtown. It wasn't necessarily unsafe, but it felt very uncomfortable walking downtown even during daylight hours. It's what I imagine Skid Row might feel like in L.A. One bartender told us this was a recent issue due to a shelter's closure, and it may have become more prominent due to the pandemic, but I can say that SLC was the one time on the entire trip where I was glad we did not have our five-year-old with us.**

For the route going to Jackson, I chose a slightly longer, more scenic route through Logan Canyon, up to Bear Lake, into Bridger-Teton National Forest. The total trip was right at five hours. 

In Jackson, we stayed at an incredible condo I found on airbnb. I booked it directly through the rental company, Outpost, and saved $200. It was a lot pricier than we would have wanted, but our options were limited booking a week in advance. Also, Jackson is just expensive. We had to accept that we'd be spending an arm and a leg on this trip and just go with it. 

For our full day in Jackson, we rode the alpine coaster that was at the resort beside our condo. We got free tickets from a nice stranger! The ride was fun, but we all agreed we were glad we didn't pay for it. Cam would have loved it. 

We headed to Grand Teton National Park for the afternoon. We had lunch at a pizza place right outside of the park with outdoor rooftop dining. I saw a bald-eagle, which was my only exciting animal spotting.

I took this photo outside of the lunch spot

One memorable moment of this trip is when I very excitedly exclaimed that I saw a bear in the distance only to get closer and realize it was a black cow. 

In the Wyoming mountains....a large black animal in the distance...your first thought is not "cow."

We went to the visitor center at the Tetons and then over to Jenny Lake. Highly recommend this spot! We took a boat to the other side of the lake to hike the Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point trails. They were highly-trafficked trails, so felt very safe and had great views. I would 100% feel comfortable hiking there with my 5-year-old. There were some steep drop offs, but nothing too nerve-wracking. They also had kayak and canoe rentals that looked so fun.

This was only a four day trip, including the travel days, so pretty short given how much there is to do. Ultimately I felt good about the amount of time we spent there. One more day would have been ideal and I probably would have driven up to southern Yellowstone and Montana, but I was thrilled with our choice of hiking in the Grand Tetons.  

In Teton Village, you can take the gondola up to a scenic spot with happy hour specials, but we ended up passing on that since we felt we had pretty much maxed out on the great views from our earlier hikes. We instead chose to stroll around downtown and visit the shops in the town square before dinner.

I had heard that Labor Day weekend would be a busier time than normal, but honestly it was not very crowded at the Park or in Jackson overall. The timing for the weather was perfect. It was a bit hazy from the wildfires in CA, but it cleared up most days. We were in Jackson Hole on a Sunday and Labor Day Monday, but I think Jackson does lack in the nightlife department. Just know ahead of time these two things: 1) you will spend a lot of money and 2) the town shuts down at 10 pm lol. 

Lastly, it was a bit eerie getting back from this trip and hearing the national news story about the missing girl and her boyfriend who traveled from Salt Lake City to the Grand Tetons in their van just the week before us. I've been following that story pretty closely and it feels weird having just been to those places.

Heading back to Utah, we took the faster route through Idaho. With no stops it was under four hours.  For both routes to and from Jackson, we just used our phone GPS and had no issues with service

Here's a list of our stops. It seemed like everything we did exceeded our expectations. I love when things fall into place and this somewhat spontaneous trip seemed to come together magically.

Salt Lake City

Bear Lake

Jackson Hole
Gather  - Best food of the trip and I'm just now seeing this is rated as one of the top 10% of restaurants in the world! Brian gets credit for picking this spot.

Our closest wildlife encounter :)