This past October, my husband and I spent a long weekend in Jackson Hole, Wyoming and had the most wonderful fall vacation. While most people visit Jackson in the winter for skiing or in the summertime for wildflowers, we visited during peak foliage and savored the fall weather. It’s hard to believe that Autumn is the off-season in Jackson, since the leaves are changing, the crisp air is abundant, and there are no crowded restaurants! The most magical thing about Jackson in the fall is that you can experience the cool fall weather with the bright foliage and an occasional snow shower, if you’re lucky. We were lucky! The vacation was effortless and I can’t wait to share some of our highlights below!
How to Travel
Located next to the Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park, Jackson Hole is a dream destination for hikers and explorers. Flying from Nashville, we caught two flights and arrived by noon on a Thursday.
Once we arrived, we reserved and picked up a rental car. Renting a car in Jackson Hole is a MUST if you plan on driving to any of the national parks to hike, see Old Faithful, etc. For 4 days, it only cost us $80 total because of the off-season prices.
Where to Stay
Since we love mountain-style lodges, we were instantly smitten with the small luxury hotel, The Rusty Parrot. Everything about this hotel felt like a small B&B with the amenities of a large hotel, including friendly concierge who spent time planning our vacation with us over the phone and via email with restaurant suggestions, reservations, and national park advice. The Rusty Parrot has won multiple rewards for its customer service and charming mountain views.
Where to Hike
Since Jackson is a ski town right next to the Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks, we planned Friday and Saturday for visiting famous landmarks like Old Faithful, the famously predictable geyser that erupts every 90 minutes. If you plan to visit these parks, be prepared to drive 30 minutes to Grand Tetons and 2 hours to Yellowstone. Once you enter each park, you pay an entrance fee ($35 for a week). We woke up early and hit the road at 6:30am to catch the alpine glow of the sunrise at the Grand Teton.
After we drove a few light snow showers in the Grand Teton park for 2 hours (while stopping at all the overlooks), we arrived at the Old Faithful geyser and watched the geyser in action. There was a chill in the air at 30 degrees F. We bundled up to hike the mile long Observation Point trail in the light snow and took frequent breaks by each geyser to catch the hot air rising.
After a hot lunch at the Old Faithful Snow Lodge, we warmed up and jumped into the car to drive to Grand Prismatic Spring, a thermal spring known for its enormous size and vibrant turquoise colors. Once we arrived, we hiked the 3 mile long Ferry Trail along the countryside and geysers. Since we knew we would be hiking 8 miles the next day, we kept Friday as a light day of only 5 miles total hiking time.
On Saturday, the weather predicted snow showers but that only excited us since we love snow. We piled on all the layers(two pairs of gloves, toboggans, camel baks, parkas, etc) and drove 30 minutes to Grand Tetons National Park to hike around Jenny Lake. We hiked 8 miles roundtrip with a focus on making it up the mountain to Inspiration Point.
We arrived at sunrise to catch the lakeside view of Mount Moran, about 15 minutes into our hike.
Charlie had a field day with capturing the alpine glow of Mount Moran.
Where to Eat
With all of that hiking, we were hungry all the time! We sought out local spots with casual, farm-to-table fare and treated ourselves to one fine-dining experience.
Saturday Dinner and Drinks
Where to Shop & Explore in Town
To Wrap it up…
Jackson Hole is a must-visit city in the fall! Yes, it is during the off-season (no skiing), but the fall colors, alpine mountain views, crisp air, and Aspen trees make it one of the most charming and beautiful places I’ve ever seen. Have you ever visited Yellowstone or Grand Tetons? Let me know and thanks for reading!
P.s. Stay tuned for a What to Pack for Jackson Hole Guide coming up soon!