6 Ways to Find Outdoor Adventure in Jackson Hole

Richard Taylor
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Squeeze several of these suggestions into a weekend for the most action-packed, unforgettable 48 hours you’ve ever had. Or, do just one and spend the rest of your time relaxing. There are plenty of worse ways to enjoy your down time than in a Crazy Creek chair pointed at the Tetons in one of the free campsites at Shadow Mountain.

1. Enjoy Gravity

Dina Mishev

Riding the Phillips Ridge Trail  will give you 2,000-some feet of flowing, fun downhill through pine forests before you abruptly- watch out for traffic- pop onto Fish Creek Road in Wilson. And one of the best parts about it is that you can let your car do the work for you as you drive halfway up Teton Pass to the Phillips parking lot.

Or, you can park at the bottom of the Old Pass Road and ride up the two switchbacks above Crater Lake. At the end of the second switchback, which runs north, there’s a singletrack trail that breaks off from the old road and heads straight. It shortly pops out at the Phillips parking lot. From this parking lot, cross the road to the north side and start your gratifying, gravity-filled downhill plunge. You climb gently up—to the top of Phillips Ridge—and then get 2,000-some feet of flowing, fun downhill through pine forests before you abruptly—watch out for traffic—pop onto Fish Creek Road in Wilson.

2. Sightsee at a different pace

Dina Mishev

Grand Teton National Park wears its magnificence on its sleeve. Not that we recommend this, but in reality, you don’t have to get out of your car to be awed by the mountain range this park protects. The park’s two roads form a loop offering views of peaks, alpine lakes, the Snake River, and, fairly often, wildlife.

But consider for a moment what it would be like to slow down, and enjoy these views from the seat of a bicycle, as you take on what might be the most scenic metric century ride in the country. Forty miles of it are on a pathway. Throughout, climbing is minimal and food, drinks, bathrooms, and photo opportunities abound.

Knock 24 miles off the ride by starting at ending at Moose instead of downtown Jackson.

3. Climb High

Dina Mishev

Looking to warm up for a climb of the Grand? Or just itching for a half-day of solid Teton granite under your fingers and feet? Baxter’s Pinnacle is a classic Teton rock climb, and its approach is about as short as you can get in this range, leaving you plenty of time to squeeze in another activity or two. Baxter itself is a fun, scenic summit with views down onto Jenny Lake and Jackson Lake and south towards the imposing northern flanks of Teewinot. The five-pitch route has a little bit of everything— hand cracks, stem corners, and face climbing. Placing pro is usually easy and belay spots are generally comfy and convenient. There’s even a way to avoid the hardest pitch, the final one (it’s got a few solid 5.9 moves), with an easy 3rd class downclimb just to looker's left of the face to an exposed ledge. From the ledge you can traverse into the descent gully.

4. Relax and Refuel

Dina Mishev

Whether you’re looking to refuel after an adventure in Grand Teton National Park (say Baxter’s Pinnacle) or looking for some of the best pizza and pasta in the valley along with a margarita, Dornan’s is the place. The bison Bolognese is a favorite. Also, Dornan’s has a second-story open deck where you can reach out and almost touch the Tetons. Briefly tear yourself away from the deck to go inside and ask a downstairs bartender if you can borrow binoculars. It’s not unheard to spot a climber on some summit, most often Teewinot.

5. Take a dip in Goodwin Lake

Dina Mishev

Are you traveling with your pooch and looking for a run or hike to do with her? Meet Goodwin Lake , in the Gros Ventre Wilderness. There’s a wonderfully refreshing lake your dog can take a dip in at the end— don’t be afraid to try it yourself— and much of the 3 mile (one-way) trail is shaded. Of note, half of the beauty of Goodwin Lake is the drive itself: switchbacking up the Curtis Canyon Road is like driving into the clouds.

Once you’re hiking, if you hit the trail before the end of July, enjoy one of the valley’s finest displays of wildflowers. The trail winds through a pine forest for much of the way. Goodwin Lake itself is just below tree line and there are plenty of picturesque picnic spots around it.

6. Have a float in Lower Hoback Canyon

Derek Stal

The Lower Hoback , as a Class III river, is usually done with by mid-June. If you catch it before then, expect long, rolling wave trains with little consequence separated by short sections of flat water. If you catch it after that, it’s Class II, so expect long sections amenable to you enjoying a cold beverage with an occasional small wave or two. Whatever kind of water you catch it in, expect great scenery. One of our favorite things about this float is all the bridges you go under. Through the Hoback Canyon, the river and the highway dance with each other. Sometimes the road is on river left, other times river right. While some of the bridges might look like tight fits, in all but the highest water, kayaks and packrafts can clear them, no problem. Float 11 miles if you put in at the Hoback Campground. Start at Stinking Springs for a shorter 7-mile, trip. You take out just before the Hoback River joins the Snake River.

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