When we think of the typical haunts of the rich and famous, Wyoming isn’t exactly first on our list. Nevertheless, that’s where Kanye West decided to hold the major release of his latest album, YE, which was recorded in the state. In preparation for the album drop, Kanye flew journalists, music industry executives, and various celebrities to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, to listen to the album. It might sound like a group better-suited to the VIP lounges of LA’s hottest nightclubs, or high-rise Las Vegas penthouse suites, but even celebrities enjoy the great outdoors, right? While Jackson Hole has always been a popular vacation destination, it’s tourism board might owe Kanye a debt of gratitude (the cover of the album, shot by Yeezy himself on his iPhone, also depicts a mountain range in Jackson Hole). Thanks to his album release, Jackson Hole, and Wyoming in general, is getting a ton of attention on social media, and we’ve gotta say — it’s well-deserved.
Ideally located near Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks, Jackson Hole is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. Whether it’s hiking, skiing, wildlife spotting, rafting, or relaxing in hot springs, there’s never a dull moment here. And while it might not be Hollywood, the stars are certainly taking notice. Here are seven things to do in Jackson Hole even if you’re not Kanye West.
Grand Teton National Park
You can’t miss this 310,000 acre park, known for its lakes, snowy peaks, and forests. There are endless opportunities for exploration here, including hiking, mountain-climbing, cross-country skiing, fishing, and more. An abundance of wildlife call the park home, and it’s common to spot moose, elk, and bison — though do keep an eye out for bears and coyotes, too. You can even experience the park by car, driving along the John D. Rockefeller Jr. Memorial Parkway, along the Jackson Lake.
Jackson Hole Mountain Resort
A popular destination for skiers, this resort has it all. There are several hotels on the property, as well as an adventure park, and a variety of dining options. But with over 2,500 acres of ski runs and over 400 inches of annual snowfall, it’s no surprise this resort is considered one of the country’s best ski destinations. In the summer, you can enjoy great hiking, mountain biking, and even paragliding.
National Elk Refuge
If you really want to be sure of spotting some elk, visit the National Elk Refuge. In the wintertime the elk herds have trouble finding food in the wild, so they make their way to this massive sanctuary. You can observe the elk from your car, or go on a guided sleigh ride in winter. To have the best chance of seeing the most elk, a sleigh ride during the peak of winter is highly recommended.
Granite Hot Springs
If you’re burned out from a long hike, or just simply want an afternoon of relaxation, check out the Granite Hot Springs. Located on the side of a mountain, 7,000 feet above sea level, the thermal pool is open during both winter and summer. And as you can imagine, it offers some pretty great views of the surrounding Bridger-Teton National Forest.
Jackson Hole Playhouse
For a break from your rigorous outdoors itinerary, catch a show at the .Jackson Hole Playhouse. Located in the heart of downtown Jackson Hole, this small dinner theater is the oldest building in town. The shows are so high-quality, that many visitors have compared them to those on Broadway. Come for dinner, and watch cast members both serve the food and serenade diners.
On a rainy day, a visit to one of Jackson Hole’s museums can be the perfect way to stay busy. The Jackson Hole Historical Society and Museum will teach you all about the area’s wild west History, through photographs, artifacts, and historical narratives. They also offer a guided walking tour around town. You can also check out the National Museum of Wildlife Art, which is home to over 5,000 works of wildlife art — some pieces dating all the way back to 2,500 BC.
No vacation to the wild west would be complete without whitewater rafting. Most trips will take you down Snake River, a popular rafting river with several thrilling rapids. There are several tour options to choose from, so make sure you select one that’s right for you and your family.