Few regions within the United States offer a better view of fall foliage than Jackson Hole. By the end of September, the aspen trees have turned to a beautiful golden hue and cottonwoods are turning orange. In other parts of the valley, the fields are a lighter shade of yellow patched with drying sage, providing a striking contrast to the dark grey Teton mountain range in the backdrop. Furthermore, the weather is still pleasant - slightly cool, but dry, making it a great time to visit the national parks while avoiding the summer crowds. The itinerary below outlines how to enjoy fall in the region for a few days, although I recommend spending more time here!

4 DAY ITINERARY

DAY 1

  • Arrive in Jackson Hole and check into your hotel.
  • The food scene in Jackson is surprisingly more diverse than we were expecting. Some good options for dinner include Annie's Thai Kitchen, Bin 22, and The Kitchen (which has a really good burger), and Everest Momo Shack.

DAY 2

  • After breakfast, get a taste of the wild west with a horseback riding tour at Spring Creek Ranch. They offer one and two hour long rides. We opted for the one hour ride, which was good enough for our group. The one hour ride is $49 plus fees and the two hour ride is $69 plus fees. Check out the Spring Creek Ranch website for more information including timings and logistics.
  • In the afternoon, head on a half day wildlife safari with Jackson Hole Wildlife Safaris. The tour is 4-5 hours long with pickup between 6:30-7:00am for sunrise tours and 3:00-3:30pm for sunset tours (as of September 2020). Timings may change depending on the sunrise and sunset times. We saw antelopes, bears, elk, and many other types of wildlife on our tour.
  • Grab dinner in town and then head to Million Dollar Cowboy Bar. It is open every day until 10pm except Sundays and Mondays.

DAY 3

  • Grab a to-go breakfast at Cowboy Coffee before heading out to explore Grand Teton National Park. The drive to Jenny Lake from the town of Jackson is approximately 30 minutes. You can make a quick detour to the historic T.A. Moulton Barn on the drive to the park. Once you arrive at Jenny Lake, look for parking at the Jenny Lake Visitor Center. This is just a few minutes walk from the Jenny Lake Trailhead and from where you can catch the shuttle boat across the lake.
  • You can hike along the Jenny Lake Trail to get up to Inspiration Point and Cascade Canyon. If you want to cut your hike a bit short, you can take the shuttle boat across the lake which saves roughly two miles of walking (one way). The hike to Inspiration Point is easy. It is 1.1 miles from the dock to the vista point and gently slopes uphill most of the way. Once you reach the top, I recommend continuing into Cascade Canyon. This is an easy hike on a flat trail. It is an out and back trail, so if you don't wish to hike all the way to the end (5 miles or more if you continue to Lake Solitude), you can turn around at any point. Be sure to pack some snack or lunch if you plan on spending most of the day here.
  • In the afternoon, once you finish hiking, drive north to Oxbow Bend for some spectacular views of the park. You can also stop by the nearby Jackson Lake Lodge for a drink or bite to eat. However, I recommend stopping by Dornan's on the drive back to town for some pizza and beautiful views of the Teton mountain range.

DAY 4

  • Grab breakfast at Persephone Bakery before heading to Phelps Lake. Spend a couple hours in the morning hiking the 7 mile long Phelps Lake Trail, and even jumping into the lake from the famous jumping rock if you dare.
  • Spend the rest of the day relaxing at Amangani, enjoying the amenities such as the pool and spa. They have a few easy hiking trails with gorgeous views from the property. They can also organize excursions from the resort if you wish to partake in an activity. You may consider spending an extra day enjoying the resort if you are seeking some true R&R time. The sunrise views from the resort are amazing! Note: due to the coronavirus pandemic, you must be an overnight hotel guest to enter the property.

LOGISTICS

GETTING AROUND

This region requires a car to get around as there is no public transportation option. Plan to rent a car at the Jackson airport if you are not driving into the region.

PARK ENTRANCE FEES

As of September 2020, the entrance fee to Grand Teton National Park is $35 per vehicle. Check the National Park Services website for the most up-to-date information about park entrance fees. You may even consider purchasing the America the Beautiful pass for $80 that will give you access to nearly all national parks for an entire year from the date of purchase.

BEST TIME TO VISIT

Jackson is truly a year-round destination. I have visited in the summer and fall, and loved both visits. However, I do think the fall colors made this visit more enjoyable and would recommend that people visit in the fall (mid to end of September) at least once! Check out the Yellowstone & Grand Teton guide for ideas on how to extend your visit and explore Yellowstone as well.

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