In this former cattle ranching capital, the West is still as wild as ever, but that doesn’t mean every meal needs to be prepared over a campfire
Author Sam Polcer Photography Sam Polcer
“WHY DON’T WYOMING DRIVERS USE turn signals?” quipped Wyoming Senate President Jim Anderson a while back. “Because it’s nobody’s darn business where they’re going.”
People in Wyoming, the least populous and 10th largest state in the Union, need their space. Always have. The independent streak Anderson referred to is what drove 19th-century trappers, ranchers and homesteaders through perilous mountain passes to settle Jackson Hole—the name given to a 48-mile-long valley that straddles the Snake River, south of Yellowstone National Park. That fierce determination to go it alone has defined the area ever since.
Ironically, it’s the elements that have kept this place isolated for so long—the rugged terrain, the remote location—that have made Jackson Hole such a draw for outsiders. The area is, quite simply, an adventure wonderland waiting to be discovered. Think dogsled teams padding toward hidden hot springs; rivers full of trout wending past snowdrifts; the majestic Teton Range looming, well, majestically.
But there is an array of less rugged attractions, too. In the town of Jackson, a slew of swanky restaurants and retailers have set up shop in recent years, while the Teton Village ski base has also seen a proliferation of luxury accommodation, dining and shopping options, along with a significant upgrade of nearby skiing facilities.
Tying it all together is an authentic cowboy aesthetic and head-in-the-clouds topography—all of which gives visitors the feeling that they, like the pioneers before them, have happened across something special. Who wouldn’t want it all to themselves?