In mid-March, I had the opportunity to spend a week in Wyoming and Idaho exploring the Tetons with my dad and brother. After landing at Jackson Hole Airport (JAC), we were greeted with rustic decor and free mimosas. That pretty much sums up the vibe in western Wyoming. It was perfect. For those visiting the area, I recommend exploring both sides of the mountains if you have time. We spent a few days in Alta, took a day trip to Idaho Falls, and wrapped up our trip back where we started. This spring break travel guide for Jackson, Wyoming includes all the details!
Two Days in Alta, Wyoming
Often overshadowed by its neighboring resorts, Grand Targhee Resort is an affordable and less crowded place to ski out west. Though not as cheap as Wisconsin’s small hills, our lift tickets cost half of what a daily pass at Jackson Hole sells for and gave us way more room on the slopes. I loved how isolated our runs were and appreciated the convenience of our ski-in, ski-out room in the Teewinot Lodge. Note that fog rolls in frequently and suddenly on the mountains here, so be sure to keep your bearings and stay close to members in your group.
Where to Eat in Alta
When looking for the best places to eat near Alta, Wyoming, The Royal Wolf topped every list. Located just across the border in Driggs, Idaho, this place is a local hangout with great atmosphere. It has family-friendly tables as well as a bar. Other than our visit to The Royal Wolf, we ate at the resort restaurants. They were okay, but definitely expensive.
A Day Trip to Idaho Falls, Idaho
As mentioned previously, any commute between Alta and Jackson requires travel through Idaho. With a full day set aside to transition between locations, we took a day trip along the Gem State’s eastern edge and made a pit stop in one of my favorite small towns in the US, Idaho Falls!
What to Do in Idaho Falls
Our first stop was entirely accidental, when just a short way into our Idaho road trip we approached a historical marker on the side of the road. The Teton Dam is known for being a catastrophic failure, but is a unique place you have to visit in Idaho. This outlook provides an incredible vantage point to take in the entirety of the infamous structure.
The Museum of Idaho tells the history of the city, making it a great first stop on a day trip to Idaho Falls. The first floor also had an interactive dinosaur exhibit that was really fun! You shouldn’t leave until you’ve learned all of the names the town had before it was called Idaho Falls. On your way out, the gift shop is a great place to find cool Idaho souvenirs.
We also explored the River Walk downtown, specifically the 2.3-mile Temple Loop, named for the beautiful LDS temple along the river. This is my favorite place to get outside in Idaho Falls. It’s also my top pick for the best riverwalks in the US. The Snake River and actual Idaho Falls are breathtaking; photos don’t do them justice. Trees literally grow in-between the channels of the falls, which cascade perpendicular to the river current. This place also seems like it would be great to visit in the summer, with spots to fish, sit outside, and take in a variety of local events.
Where to Eat in Idaho Falls
We ate lots of great food on our trip, but this was my favorite meal. The SnakeBite Restaurant is a pub-style Idaho Falls classic just a few blocks from the Snake River. I ordered a portobello sandwich with fries… and the sandwich was amazing, but we need to talk about the fries! The home of the potato sure knows what to do with them; these fries were covered with the perfect combination or spices and paired with Idaho’s signature fry sauce, which is one part ketchup, two parts mayo. I don’t even like mayo, but this was so good. They also had an incredible dessert menu! Just a heads-up to bring cash, as the SnakeBite does not take credit cards.
Three Days in Jackson, Wyoming
Jackson, Wyoming is one of those places that feels straight out of a dream. Sure, that’s partially because it’s a resort town, but its natural beauty is what draws all the visitors. Grand Teton National Park coexists with the town of Jackson and offers miles of isolated adventure. Early spring is a great time to visit Jackson and enjoy its many snow sports without the cold winter temperatures.
Where to Stay in Jackson
Living the slopeside condo life for a few days made this whole trip feel even more like a dream. Our rental at The Aspens was so cozy and had the cutest decor! It was in a beautiful little village with incredible mountain views and frequent moose sightings. I loved hanging out there and definitely recommend a condo stay for ski vacations in general, since every place has its own personal touch and and feels like home.
Where to Get Outside in Jackson
Jackson Hole Mountain Resort is the biggest, baddest ski resort this Midwest girl has ever seen! This famous set of slopes in the Tetons truly lives up to its “resort” moniker; everything from the gondolas to the surrounding accommodations are top notch. We didn’t ski its famous backcountry or cliff spots, but did hit up as many of its black and blue routes as we could squeeze into a day. The powder was amazing – and exhausting – but I kept going because the skiing was just that good. I even survived an accidental mogul route!
With good powder comes not only great skiing, but great snowmobiling, too! We set aside half of a day for a tour through Togwotee Pass with Teton Tour Company; the drive in their shuttle is about an hour each way from Jackson, but we spent just the right amount of time on the trails. Most were wide and easy to navigate, though our guide also let us go off the trail in designated areas. My dad and brother loved that, but I’m not one to ride around in circles. Whether you prefer trail rides or plowing fresh powder, though, you’re sure to have a great experience here! The company had a different name when we visited, so the new tours may be slightly different than ours.
A free activity in Jackson, Wyoming that you’ll want to make time for is a drive through the National Elk Refuge. It’s a beautiful 3.5-mile scenic drive through the mountains that, sure enough, are separated by valleys of elk. Early spring is actually the perfect time to make this drive, as the elk move up to higher elevations once the weather warms up to feed on meadow plants and seek shelter in the forest.
Where to Eat in Jackson
If you don’t already know, I’m obsessed with classic American pub food and a good (veggie) burger. Cutty’s Bar and Grill in Jackson was my perfect match. They are known for their Philly cheesesteaks, though I obviously ordered their veggie burger. I still dream about my meal over a year later and I loved that all the tables were covered with maps!
When traveling, I always reach out to friends in the area and try to meet up at a local spot. One of my high school friends is an outdoor educator and ski instructor in Jackson and suggested we meet up at Calico Restaurant in nearby Wilson! This is a more upscale and expensive place, but is definitely a great option if you’re looking for good Italian food. I ordered pasta, but heard that their pizza is great as well!