Give Me Five: Reasons To Visit Jackson Hole, Wyoming
by Ian Skellern
1. Stunning scenery
September is my favorite time to visit Jackson Hole because the summer tourists have thinned, the trees are starting to dress for fall, and the animals move down from the mountains to eat in warmer climes. Spectacular mountains, picturesque rivers, and open (but not too open) plains.
2. Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone, the United States of America’s first national park and the inspiration for many others worldwide, is an easy 90-minute drive from Jackson Hole. And you are likely to see elk, pronghorn, bison, and perhaps even moose on the drive. Yellowstone can be a nightmarish pool of people and traffic in the summer, but the queues and traffic jams have largely disappeared by September.
While seeing the Old Faithful geyser is a must for most, and it is undeniably impressive, the most common comment I’ve heard after its eruption is, “Is that it?”
3. Animal life
While the area around Jackson Hole isn’t comparable with a good African game park when it comes to animals, it’s incredible what you can see just by getting up early. Or getting out and about at all.
Elk are so common as not to count, but bison and pronghorn (which are not technically antelope, but pretty close) are also regularly seen, and it doesn’t take much luck to see moose.
We saw a large coyote near the front gate early one morning, and chanced upon a grizzly bear in Yellowstone National Park.
Photographers take a long lens: I had a 200-400 mm and was often wishing for a longer one (and was nearly as often wishing for a shorter lens when when I came upon animals up close).
4. Brakeman burgers
While there are many great restaurants in Jackson Hole itself, one of my favorite places to eat is The Brakeman, a small burger joint in Victor, Idaho, which is around 30 minutes’ drive from Jackson Hole. I was first attracted by the claim of “The world’s best burgers,” and have returned many times since because that may just be right.
And Brakeman Burgers has horological cred: I’ve eaten there with Stephen Forsey, Stephen McGonigle, Felix Baumgartner, Martin Frei, and Peter Speake-Marin.
Note: Save some room for a huckleberry milkshake at the milkshake-fly-fishing-novelty emporium next door; it’s worth a visit to Victor by itself.
5. Aurora borealis
Jackson Hole is on similar latitude to the south of France. And as we all know, the south isn’t known as a hotspot for aurora borealis spotting.
But serendipity struck in Jackson Hole while I was trying to do a time-lapse exposure of the Milky Way, and I discovered that even though the intensity of the Northern Lights will rarely be strong enough to put on a visible show, long exposures can catch what the eye doesn’t. I’ll be explaining more on how to shoot the aurora borealis from lower latitudes in an upcoming article.