Travel Diaries: Fall Getaway in Jackson Hole, Wyoming

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.

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The Jackson Hole airport is right in the middle of the Grand Tetons National Park!

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.

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The front of the Rusty Parrot Lodge
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The wood and stone exteriors of the Rusty Parrot
Our room featured a mountain view and fireplace for chilly nights. (photo via)
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We loved spending time in the Rusty Parrot library, a cozy room with of leather couches, a chimney that housed a constant fire, chess table, and a station with fresh cider, coffee, and tea for anytime of day.
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On the porch off of the library, we had access to a hot tub and couch area with fire pits with beautiful 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.

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We drove past this lake view at dawn and the view took our breath away.

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.

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Seeing Old Faithful in action was equally exhilarating and chilly! Can you spot me with the red backpack?
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The hike through all the geysers at Observation Point felt mystical.  The smoke is from the geysers blowing off steam.

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.

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Grand Prismatic Spring is a must-see in Yellowstone!
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Here was the view along the way to the brightly colored geyser. Two of our hiker friends saw 2 bears off in the distance!
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On our drive back to Jackson after the Fairy Fall hike, we stumbled across Lake Jackson. What a beauty!

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.

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We arrived at sunrise to catch the lakeside view of Mount Moran, about 15 minutes into our hike.

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Charlie had a field day with capturing the alpine glow of Mount Moran.

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For the first 4 miles, the sun was out with a few light snow showers.
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The last 4 miles, the snow was relentless! We loved how the snow blanketed the trail.
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A few miles of the trail were cliffside with stunning views of Lake Jenny.
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See the variation of fall foliage with snowcapped mountains behind? We were in awe of all the colors!
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We had been training for long hikes, so this 8 mile trek was fantastic!

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.

Thursday Lunch

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For lunch, we walked to Local, an American restaurant with the freshest salads, like this one with crispy duck. Charlie ordered a burger and fries.

Thursday Snack/Dessert

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For a late afternoon snack, we stopped in Moo’s Gourmet Ice Cream. Charlie ordered the most delicious and unique flavor: Chocolate Cabernet Ice Cream underneath a scoop of  Raspberry Sorbet. Simply divine!IMG_3282

Thursday Dinner

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The chilly weather called for some bison chili at Snake River Brewing. We washed it down with a local beer, the Jenny Lake lager. We left full and happy, but not before spending some time in front of the outdoor fire pit with our beers.

Friday Dinner

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After hiking all day at Yellowstone, we feasted on smoked chicken barbecue at Bubba’s, a locally recommended place for dinner. They also had a fresh and plentiful salad bar with lots of vegetarian options.

Saturday Dinner and Drinks

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We barhopped to the chicest speakeasy The Rose. If you are looking for a candlelit, romantic date spot, this is it. We ordered craft cocktails that did not disappoint!
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We also ducked into the cozy, western Million Dollar Cowboy Bar, with saddle seats at the bar!
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We both ordered the Teton Amber, a local amber ale with medium body.
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For dinner, we dined at the fine-dining restaurant Wild Sage. From the salt and pepper ciabatta bread to the roasted chicken, we savored every bite of this upscale meal. Be sure to make reservations as you book your stay at the Rusty Parrot, since this restaurant is a small, intimate space! We loved watching the chefs prepare our meal in the open-style kitchen.

Where to Shop & Explore in Town

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If you love coffee shops and trying local coffee, Cowboy Coffee is an absolute must! Be sure to buy a few bags of beans as gifts and souvenirs.
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Charlie loved browsing this men’s shop, the Mountain Dandy.
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The endless stacks of Pendleton blankets
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This antler archway greeted us at the downtown square of Jackson. Do you see the pretty fall foliage in the background?
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Made offers unique and rustic gifts. I found some adorable note pads and Christmas ornaments here.
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Altitude serves up looks with its colorful and warm cold weather styles.

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!

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P.s. Stay tuned for a What to Pack for Jackson Hole Guide coming up soon!

 

 

 

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