Northwest Wyoming puts on quite a show when it comes to geological drama. Beyond Yellowstone’s simmering volcanic basin, multiple mountain ranges converge, rising to jagged heights and harboring thick forests and wilderness areas. At the center of it all, there is, quite literally, a hole—a narrow, enclosed valley covering about 400 square miles, within which you can step back and behold all the surrounding majesty. This is Jackson Hole. The Continental Divide is just east of here, and the Snake River runs right through, fed by streams that pour down from the mountaintops. The Bentwood Inn is located in Wilson, a town of 200 equidistant from Jackson and Teton Village.
Just six miles from the inn lies the hiker’s paradise of Grand Teton National Park. Here, pine-covered slopes rise steeply from the edge of Jackson Hole, and gem-like glacial lakes mirror snowy pinnacles. The highest peak, Grand Teton, tops out at 13,770 feet.
East of the Tetons, the Rockies smoothe out into rippling hills, meadows, and marshlands. In 1912, the U.S. Congress set aside this land as a winter refuge for elk, whose considerable populations were compromised when the growth of Jackson cut off their migratory path. Thousands of elk still flock here every winter, to the great delight of visitors.
The world’s first national park and home to about half of the planet’s geothermal wonders, Yellowstone has no parallel. Rainbow-colored mineral pools, erupting geysers, and gurgling mud pots are the showstoppers, but the unusual landscapes carved by glaciers and lava are magnificent too. The park is about an hour away by road.
The town of Jackson is eclectic and alive, teeming with a vibrant mix of outdoor enthusiasts and art lovers, ski bums and foodies—and yes, even a few cowboys. With a population of about 10,000, the town is a hub of culture, adventure, and cuisine, with its roots still decidedly in the Old West.
Nestled at the foot of Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, Teton Village is a launching point for outdoor activities of all kinds, from horseback riding and mountain biking to skiing. An aerial tram from the village lofts visitors some 4,000 feet to the top of Rendezvous Mountain.
Granite Hot Springs lures visitors and locals no matter the season, offering a soothing soak with a stunning view. The springs are located in the Gros Ventre mountain range about 30 miles south of Jackson, and just a short walk away from the impressive Granite Falls.
The many protected forests and wilderness areas around Jackson Hole harbor lodgepole pines, spruces, and cottonwoods, and the ubiquitous aspens of the American West. Wildflowers of every color and form abound in the summer, including delicate Indian paintbrush and big, frothy blooms of beargrass. These landscapes are home to moose and buffalo; elk and mule deer; bison and bald eagles; and in the more remote places, black bears and grizzly bears. Rainbow, brown, and cutthroat trout fill the waterways here.
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