Originally posted October 2020 ; Revised and migrated May 2021
Travel date July 2020
Jackson Hole is a world-class winter ski destination. But summer in Jackson Wyoming attracts even more tourists for good reason. The nearby national parks, Grand Teton and Yellowstone attract millions of visitors annually and the crowds naturally flow into the town of Jackson. It is an affluent small town with an abundance of good food, beers, and outdoor activities. We’ll guide you to a few of the top things to do in summer in Jackson Wyoming.
Why are rich people moving to Jackson Wyoming?
Teton County, home to Jackson Wyoming, has the highest per capita income of any US location at $252k in 2019. Second highest per capita in the US is Manhattan New York and it is $58k lower than Teton County. The stunning landscape, laid back lifestyle, and favorable tax treatments attract the rich to the area. Wyoming offers the lowest property taxes in the nation, no state income taxes, and one of the lowest sales tax rates in the nation.
The per capita is quite high due to super wealthy residents in the top 1%. The top 1% in Teton county earns over $28M annually. The second richest US county, New York, is substantially lower with the richest 1% earning “just” $8M.
Who lives in Jackson Wyoming?
A few of the richest and famous residents of Jackson include:
Richest Residents of Jackson Wyoming: John Mars (Mars candy fame) – net worth $42B and Lukas Walton (Walmart fame) – net worth $15B
Famous Residents of Jackson Wyoming: Dick Cheney, Bill Gates, Harrison Ford, Tyler Perry, Sandra Bullock, Brad Pitt, Pippa Middleton, Tiger Woods, Uma Thurman, Matthew McConaughey
Why is Jackson Wyoming so expensive?
The majority of land in the valley of Jackson Hole is publicly owned so private real estate is limited. Additionally, the area has attracted a disproportionate amount of wealthy residents who have driven up real estate prices. The median home list price in Teton County was $1.7M in April 2021. When real estate is expensive, the prices of goods and services also increase to cover the costs of higher leases and labor. Don’t expect to find super low prices in Jackson. Do expect to find delicious, upscale food and beer choices.
Is Jackson Hole the same as Jackson?
I know it can be confusing but Jackson and Jackson Hole are not the same but are often used interchangeably. Jackson is a small town in northern Wyoming. It is located in the Jackson Hole valley between the Teton and Gros Ventre (GROH-vont) mountain ranges. Adding to the confusion, the town of Jackson is home to the popular ski destination, Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. Jackson Hole includes the entire valley, the town of Jackson plus the area surrounding it. The town itself is called Jackson not Jackson Hole.
Where should I vacation in Wyoming in the summer?
We spent a month in late summer traveling through Wyoming. To learn more about how we travel full time, read our about us page. The state of Wyoming is very RV-friendly and we enjoyed the unique small towns we visited.
Jackson is by far the most popular summer destination in Wyoming. Cheyenne and Laramie are larger cities but didn’t attract nearly as many tourists as Grand Teton and the Jackson Hole valley.
What is there to do in Jackson Wyoming in summer?
A few of the most popular things to do in Jackson Wyoming in summer are:
- Visit Grand Teton National Park
- Visit Yellowstone National Park
- Summer Boating in Jackson
- Fly Fishing
- Take a Scenic Drive
- Ride the Gondola to Piste for Happy Hour
- Embrace your inner Cowboy
- Dining out
- Visit Local Breweries
Is Jackson Hole good to visit in summer?
Jackson Wyoming is a great summer destination. Summer visitors to the Jackson Hole valley enjoy an abundance of outdoor activities. The nearby Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Park provide unspoiled natural beauty. The town of Jackson is home to multiple ski resorts which transform into a haven for mountain bikers and hikers in summer.
Visit Grand Teton National Park
Grand Teton National Park is located less than ten miles from Jackson Wyoming. There is a paved bike path from town to the park. You shouldn’t visit Jackson without spending at least one day at Grand Teton National Park. Click here for a comprehensive guide to Grand Teton National Park including everything you can’t miss on your first visit.
Visit Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park is located less than 60 miles from Jackson Wyoming via Grand Teton National Park. It is a bucket list location for many visitors. The park is huge and I recommend at least a few days to fully explore the park. We simplify Yellowstone National Park trip planning in this blog.
Summer Boating in Jackson
Kayaking or stand-up paddleboarding is a great summer activity in Jackson. String Lake in Grand Teton National Park is a very popular location. Read our Grand Teton blog to learn more about the requirements for summer boating in the National Park.
The fee system for boating at Grand Teton National Park is set up with locals in mind. It doesn’t really make financial sense for short-term visitors only planning to boat once or twice while at Grand Teton. We really enjoyed kayaking at Grand Teton but next time we’d either rent kayaks to avoid the permitting fees or enjoy a shore-based lake day. Rental boats are available inside the park at both Jenny Lake and Jackson Lake.
Another summer boating option near Jackson is to book a white water rafting trip on the Snake River.
Fly fishing for trout is a very popular summer activity in Jackson and all of Wyoming. We saw several people each day trying their luck in the rivers.
Daily, weekly, and annual Wyoming fishing permits are available if you can’t miss the opportunity to fish in Jackson. Additionally, there are several outfitters in Jackson that offer equipment sales and rentals, lessons, and guided trips.
Summer Hiking in Jackson
Hiking options are abundant near Jackson. We did all of our hikes inside Grand Teton National Park and recommend both Hidden Falls and Taggart Lake. To learn more about our hikes and how we saved 72% on the Jenny Lake ferry, read our Grand Teton blog.
There is an abundance of summer hiking trails in Jackson outside the national park. A few of the most popular are:
- Goodwin Lake in the nearby Bridger-Teton National Forest is a heavily trafficked intermediate 5.7-mile trail.
- Snow King Mountain is a system of cross-country trails through the aspens around the mountain. Trails are shared by hikers and bikers.
- Cache Creek Trail system is located near Snow Mountain and includes miles and miles of trails. Trails are shared by hikers and bikers.
Summer Biking in Jackson
We spent an afternoon exploring bike trails around Jackson. Jackson is a world-class mountain biking destination. There is a variety of trails for all skill levels and abilities. A few of the most popular trails are:
- Snow King Mountain is a system of cross-country trails through the aspens around the mountain. Trails are shared by hikers and bikers. Snow King Mountain is building a downhill bike park and plans to offer a summer gondola service in the future.
- Cache Creek Trail system is located near Snow Mountain and includes miles and miles of trails. The most popular trails in this system are Game Creek, Curtis Canyon, and Flat Creek. Trails are shared by hikers and bikers.
- Jackson Hole Mountain Resort and Grand Targhee Resort offer downhill trails. In summer they are accessed by gondola service. Mountain bike parks at the ski resorts are open from mid-June to early September.
- Jackson Hole Pathways including the Grand Loop Trail are paved trails between Jackson, Wilson, and Teton Village. The paved trails in Jackson also lead into Grand Teton National Park.
We started our ride on a dirt single-track in the Snow King Mountain system, it required a steady and constant climb. It was challenging for a beginner like me. Kevin has more experience but also found the trail to be mostly climbing with little reward for the hard work.
After a couple of miles riding together, we split up and Kevin rode a more technical trail in Cache Creek system. Meanwhile, I chose to continue to the Grand Loop Trail, a paved multi-use path around town. I would highly recommend biking the Grand Loop Trail if you have bikes while in Jackson. It winds between various parks and offers a great way to slow down and see the town.
Take a Scenic Drive
If biking sounds too strenuous, take a scenic drive to explore the area from the comfort of your car. Honestly, it’s difficult to drive out of town and not find yourself on a scenic drive. It seems like the Teton Range is visible around every corner. A few of the most popular scenic drives are:
- Teton Park Drive – 42 mile scenic loop drive through Grand Teton National Park includes several great viewpoints of the Teton Range
- Moose Wilson Road – wildlife spotting possibilities along 8 mile narrow dirt road
- Jenny Lake Scenic Drive – 3 mile one way loop with gorgeous lake views including the Teton Range
Ride the Gondola to Piste for Happy Hour
There are a few summer gondola options near Jackson but the most popular is the Big Red aerial tram at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. The 12-minute ride tram climbs over 4k vertical feet to Corbet’s Cabin and The Deck at Piste. It also provides access to hiking trails and the downhill bike park.
Corbet’s Cabin only serves their famous Top of the World Waffles during winter. But during summer the happy hour views at Piste Moutain Bistro are popular. The Jackson Hole Mountain Resort tram ticket prices vary throughout the season but the tram is always free after 5 pm. Sadly, Piste was closed due to COVID during our visit in the summer of 2020.
Embrace your inner Cowboy
Wyoming is synonymous with cowboys. The state license plates include a silhouette of a cowboy riding a bucking bronco. Per Beef2Live.com, there are more than two cows for every person living in Wyoming. It makes sense that many urban visitors want to embrace their inner cowboy while visiting Jackson.
A few popular options are:
- Attend the Jackson Hole Rodeo
- Take a horseback trail ride
- Have a chuckwagon dinner
- Visit a western shop
Explore Town Square
We enjoyed visiting the quaint Jackson Town Square a few times. We even spent a morning working at a bistro table in the town square since we couldn’t get a decent cellular signal at Gros Ventre Campground. It was a great office view for the day. The square is a nice shaded grassy park that we visited more than once. The square is surrounded by shops and restaurants.
Cheap and Cheerful Eats in Jackson Wyoming
Jackson can be very expensive so finding cheap food isn’t easy. We cooked most of our meals at home but did find a few cheap and cheerful eats.
Ice Cream at Moo’s
While in Jackson, we had made from scratch strawberry cheesecake flavored ice cream at Moo’s Gourmet Ice Cream which was good but I am not sure it lived up to the hype. We waited in line with dozens of others who had probably read the same amazing on-line reviews.
One of their most popular ice cream flavors is wild huckleberry. Check out this blog about my experience with huckleberry ice cream while visiting the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center in West Yellowstone.
Amazing Korean at Bapp
During a separate outing, we had Korean at Bapp. Their drive-thru was open but they were closed to inside dining so we ate at a patio table in their parking lot. The atmosphere wasn’t great but the food was amazing. My banh mi (Korean sandwich with fermented veggies and spicy pork) was the best I’ve ever had and Kevin really enjoyed his spicy pork rice bowl. We even considered going back a second time during our week in the area.
Jackson attracts over 2.5 million visitors each year. Tourism combined with the affluent residents, Jackson is able to support many local breweries. We love trying local craft breweries and we were able to visit both Snake River Brewery and Melvin’s Brewing in downtown Jackson Wyoming.
Snake River Brewery
During our time in Jackson, we enjoyed dinner and beers at Snake River Brewery. The restaurant was very busy but we were able to get seats at the upstairs bar. The bison burger was good but not worth going back. The beers were tasty and we ended up buying some cans to take home.
Melvin’s Brewing has several locations including one downtown in Jackson. The brewpub is collocated with the Thai Me Up restaurant. When we visited during the summer of 2020, they were not serving any draft beers. The beer options were limited to only those available in cans. We had beers on the front patio and shared the spicy Thai chicken wings. The wings were very good and we would definitely go back for them.
Top breweries in Jackson are:
- Melvin’s Brewing – Shares storefront with Thai Me Up restaurant in downtown Jackson.
- Snake River Brewery – Busy restaurant downtown with a good selection of house-brews. Expect to wait for a table.
- StillWest Brewery & Grill – Balcony overlooking the Snow King Mountain.
- Grand Teton Brewery – Located in rural Idaho 25 miles outside of Jackson Wyoming.
Free Camping Near Jackson
Dispersed camping is a great free camping option near Jackson Wyoming. Check out our Grand Teton blog for more details on the BLM spot we stayed.
Camping at Grand Teton
Grand Teton National Park has seven campground options near Jackson. In addition to dispersed camping, we also stayed at Gros Ventre Campground near Jackson. It was a great location within the park but still close to town.
Summer in Jackson Wyoming Summary
Jackson Wyoming is an upscale mountain town located near Grand Teton National Park. With an abundance of hiking and biking trails in the area, it is a great basecamp that has the added benefit of good food and local beer. We would definitely go back to Jackson Wyoming for a summer mountain vacation.