Planning a trip that will entertain our entire family can sometimes be tricky when you need to find activities that are fun for a span of children and, in a best case scenario, mom and dad, too. Jackson Hole, WY, fits the bill in every respect, and can be a great getaway on a long weekend from Cache Valley. Here are five our family’s favorite summer activities when visiting Jackson:
1. Enjoying the scenery: You can’t avoid seeing lots of beautiful scenery and wildlife since the city of Jackson is only about four miles south of Grand Teton National Park and about 50 miles from Yellowstone National Park. Still, though, you would be missing out if you didn’t take the time to drive the 42-mile scenic loop around Grand Teton. If you decide to make a longer day of it, you can go into Yellowstone. Old Faithful is about 100 miles from Downtown Jackson.
2. Whitewater rafting: Jackson Hole Whitewater is one of the best rafting companies in the area. They bus visitors to and from the river from downtown Jackson. In the large commercial rafts, children as young as 5 or 6 are able to sit safely in the middle of the boat and teenagers and adults can paddle from the side. Even though the river can accommodate children, adults will be thrilled. Please note that the Snake River can be very cold. Included in the cost at Jackson Hole Whitewater, are full or partial wet suits or splash jackets.
3. Snow King Mountain: Splurge for a Big King pass that gives you unlimited access to a wide variety of activities, and this becomes a fun activity for the entire day. The views of the “Hole” at the top of Snow King Mountain are spectacular. At the top of the mountain, there is a series of tree top ropes courses, and a family could spend three or more hours playing through the courses. My favorite part of the mountain is the Cowboy Coaster, a roller coaster that uses only gravity to quickly zip you down the mountain in individual carts — and you control the brakes. Unlike an Alpine slide, the Cowboy Coaster is on rails, and passengers are belted in. As such, there isn’t the same risk of plowing down full speed that you might be acquainted with from an Alpine slide. (The mountain does have a separate Alpine slide, however). The mountain also features miniature golf and a bungee trampoline.
4. Hiking: Hiking trails are available for essentially any distance and with any amount of elevation climb. If you venture into one of the national parks, seek out a ranger station, and they will help you plan hikes best suited for your group. Our favorite hikes include Jenny Lake, Phelps Lake and Taggart Lake Trail.
5. Dinner and show: Every time we visit Jackson there are two mustsee performances for our family. The Jackson Hole Playhouse, which was built in 1915 and is the oldest building in the city claims to be “the last and the best of the Old West.” They live up to the name as they perform a western musical every summer, complete with a live piano player and an optional dinner before the show. This year’s show is The Unsinkable Molly Brown, a great family comedy with memorable music. The Jackson Hole Playhouse welcomes all ages (including lap-size children). Their talented performers also put on a live shootout dramatization every night, except Sunday, at 6 p.m. at the Jackson Town Square. The Bar J Chuckwagon is our other favorite live entertainment in the Jackson area. Situated on a working cattle ranch, the Bar J Chuckwagon takes you back to the spirit of the Old West with a relaxed atmosphere, a delicious chuckwagon dinner and authentic cowboy entertainment. The Bar J Wranglers entertain the entire family with songs, stories, yodeling, fiddling and more.