When in doubt, go high… to the tall mountains of irresistible Jackson Hole. Our jet-setting correspondent Rebecca Rooney shares the perfect weekend there, offering an unprecedented view to inspire your visit
Mention Jackson Hole, Wyoming and chances are various images may come to mind. For some, it’s a nostalgic idea of cowboys roaming a grassy valley amidst a backdrop of abundant wildlife. For others, Jackson is a chic resort town nestled in the majestic snow-capped Teton Valley. And as many who have visited might agree, Jackson Hole is a unique mountain getaway that is as wild as it is sophisticated.
Since French fur trappers discovered this valley in the early 19th century, the stunning alpine beauty of the Jackson Hole valley has inspired travelers, explorers and artists alike. Breathtaking in any season, Jackson Hole can be particularly attractive in the fall, especially for the crisp daytime weather and cool mornings and evenings.
FRIDAY, 4 p.m.
Upon arrival, get acquainted with the town of Jackson and its iconic elk-antlered archways leading to the town square. While the Wild West cowboy town of yesteryear might now be a footnote, the valley’s western culture is still present with a sophisticated spin. The myriad art galleries around town, including contemporary, western and wildlife art, are evidence of this growth of culture in Jackson.
A few blocks off the square is the Tayloe Piggott Gallery, a contemporary art and fine jewelry gallery that is both visually exciting and alluring. Piggott and her team are passionate about bringing exceptional and captivating work to their clients through an annual calendar of diverse and rigorously curated exhibitions.
The gallery has an emphasis on contemporary artists that tell a story of our age through their love of material process, whether it is painting, sculpture, or fine jewelry. Artists exhibiting this fall include James Castle and Nicola Hicks who have both exhibited extensively in museums and galleries worldwide. Also showcased throughout the year are ten exceptional jewelry artists, including Nicholas Varney, Gurhan, and Monique Péan, who travel the world to source the most valuable gems, weaving together a picture of modern luxury and timeless style. Tayloepiggottgallery.com
Check into the Amangani Hotel, one of the two Aman resorts in North America. Known for its superior service and exclusivity, the name Amangani means “Peaceful Home,” a fitting description of its special location and understated luxury.
Pre-dinner cocktails on the Amangani terrace. Enjoy the evening sunset with a cocktail-with-a-view over the terrace at the Amangani, whose 2,135 meter elevation overlook captures the scene of verdant pastures of the Snake River Valley, buttes and the Grand Teton in the distance. Or, if it’s an overcast evening, get cozy inside in the great room at a small table with your own private fireplace. Amanresorts.com
Dinner at the Wild Sage. This intimate restaurant is located in the Rusty Parrot, a small boutique hotel in town. The Wild Sage is the only AAA Four Diamond award winner in Jackson. With only 8 tables and a roaring fire as the restaurant’s centerpiece, the log cabin-inspired ambiance offers a cozy and gourmet dining experience. Entrees include game delicacies such as Bison Rib Eye, Tea-Smoked Elk Short Loin and Quail Cassoulet that all pair nicely with the restaurant’s extensive international wine list. Rustyparrot.com
SATURDAY, 7:30 a.m.
Breakfast at Nora’s Fish Creek Inn in nearby Wilson. Favorite to both locals and guests alike, this casual breakfast staple in log cabin ambiance belies it’s fame: Nora’s won the 2012 James Beard Foundation Award in the “American Classic” category, and more recently was featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives for its legendary green chili huevos rancheros and pancakes. Thankfully such acclaim for Nora’s original recipes has not compromised the quality, which the line out the door shows. Arrive early. Norasfishcreekinn.com
Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve. Head into the Grand Teton National Park for fresh air and a hike in the eponymous preserve. Here you will experience a unique landscape of more than 1,000 acres of parkland that was once the private Rockefeller family retreat called JY Ranch. In 2001, Rockefeller donated the final parcel to the park as a way for visitors to experience the beauty of the Tetons by walking through trails of wild sage and running streams along the trail up to Phelps Lake.
After the hike, take time to tour the modern and sustainable architecture and of the Rockefeller Preserve Visitor’s Center. The unique exhibit includes innovative interpretive displays of the native plants and wildlife, all presented in the building’s special ambiance and seamless design. Located four miles south of Moose on the Moose-Wilson road. Nps.gov
Trio Fine Art Gallery. After the Rockefeller Preserve, come back to town to relax and explore the local scenery again – but this time in fine art form – at this gallery. Here you will experience the natural beauty and wildlife of the Jackson Hole valley and the Grand Teton National Park through the eyes of nationally acclaimed local artists Kathryn Mapes Turner, Bill Sawczuk and Jennifer L. Hoffman.
The Trio Fine Art Gallery is special because all three artists and their art subjects are Jackson-based. Inspired by the valley’s stunning wildscapes, the artists spend much time in the natural surroundings of Jackson Hole to capture the beauty and wildlife in fine art form. Kathryn Mapes Turner was born inside the Grand Teton National Park and was raised in Jackson Hole. She and the other artists at the gallery spend all year studying, learning and noticing the nuances of the landscape, which is evidenced in their representational style of painting. Triofineart.com
Dinner at Local. Apropos to a day of viewing the original oils and watercolors of the Trio Gallery artists is to follow with a gourmet dinner here. This newcomer on the town square is Jackson’s take on the modern steakhouse with locally sourced products and a seasonally inspired menu. The owner-operators have successfully brought the in-house butchery to Jackson with dry aged steaks and house made sausages. Yet the menu isn’t limited to entrees in the range variety. The sautéed Idaho trout is “off the hook” and some attest it’s the freshest and best in the valley, and the oysters sourced from both east and west coast are sublime. Localjh.com
After dinner, walk next door for a game of pool, or saddle up to the bar, literally, at the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar. The kitschy cowboy décor isn’t limited to the saddle bar stools: legend has it that the bar’s stuffed grizzly was wrestled to the ground barehanded by the famous hunting guide C. Dale Petersen. Take a western swing or two-step spin on the dance floor to the live entertainment of the evening: a proper send off from Wyoming back to Texas – one legendary cowboy state to another. Milliondollarcowboybar.com
SUNDAY, 10 a.m.
After you arrive back home after your Jackson Hole adventure, it won’t be long before you start making plans for a return visit to this paradise. The beautiful harmony of wilderness and sophistication make for a perfect vacation destination. Whether you bring the whole family or make it a romantic rendezvous, you’ll never forget your time in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.