Picture this: a 15-year-old girl (a very girly-girl at that time) whose parents spring a skiing vacation on her. Ok, she thought, where to? Vermont? Canada? Lake Placid? Mmmm NOPE, silly girl! How about Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
Yes, and that amazingly beautiful state, my friends, is where I caught the travel bug and realized the U.S. has some pretty great things to offer us. Luckily, it only took be about two hours to realize that I actually was in a really cool city and to quit my teenaged whining and enjoy it!
Unfortunately, since I was in Wyoming a lifetime ago (or, in reality, 9 years ago,) I do not have any photos to share with you travelers. I also wasn’t into my travel photography phase yet, so I really only have two pictures anyways, which are somewhere in my parent’s home.
But, I figured I needed to write this post since it really was the state that started my love of traveling. Before traveling to Wyoming, I had only been to Florida, North Carolina, Georgia and California, mainly to visit family and Disneyland/world (whichever one is in each state.) When I went to Wyoming, it really hit me that there are other cool places out there, I just needed to explore them! The problem with traveling today, like I stated in my “about the journey” page, is that not a lot of people go to them to spread the word about it. If I were to tell you that you had a choice to visit Wyoming or Florida, I’m sure a lot of people would choose Florida because they know what to expect there, and they know that it’s a “trusted” travel spot. More people need to take a chance on the “random” states!
At 15 (during my angsty, emo teenage years) I realized that broadening your horizons and exploring was cooler than planting yourself into a lounge chair on the beach for five days straight. Don’t get me wrong, though, there are great times for relaxing vacations like that, trust me, I love those kinds too. But if that’s the only kind of vacation you ever take, I think you’re doing a disservice to yourself and to the other 49 wonderful states the USA has to offer us! Besides, where else can you see wild buffalo, elk, and coyotes roaming the wild land while you’re driving into town from the airport, which is basically a small building smack in the middle of the base of two mountains (yes, it’s a little scary, and yes, it’s in the middle of nowhere!)
Anyways, back to Wyoming for a quick minute. We stayed in the rustic yet elegant, fantastic, and authentic Snake River Lodge and Spa in the Teton Village. Let me explain the Grand Teton mountain to you: it’s, well, GRAND. Giant, sturdy and stable, it’s the highest mountain in Wyoming’s Grand Teton Park and is beyond anything you have ever seen. When the snowcats were grooming the skiing trails at night (because yes, this is also where you ski) we, at first, thought they were stars or airplanes they were up that high!
The first day was spent acclimating to the new altitude and catching up on some sleep. We used this day to explore the village, which is something straight out of an old Western movie. I think it was here that I found my love for all things Western. And cowboys. Anyways, we walked into different stores, all selling local products that can only be found there, like, for instance, our totem pole and wooden Native American Indian carving that we bought and shipped to our lakehouse as a memento of one of our favorite places. A fun, authentic, and famous place to grab a bite to eat for dinner and see some entertainment is the Million Dollar Saloon. They are known for their truly authentic Western decor, and it’s there, filled with real-life cowboys and cowgirls that it really hits you: you’re in the wild west!
Finally, we started the reason why we traveled cross-country to Jackson Hole: skiing! Jackson Hole is considered one of the toughest mountains in America. Luckily, I skiied this before I tore my ACL, since I wouldn’t have the guts to ski as much of the mountain that I did back then! I will say this: if you are a beginner skier, I would definitely get some sort of tour guide so you don’t wind up lost in the woods or on a double black diamond. Also, please stick to the green circle trails (the easiest,) because even those are pretty tough. The mountain is only 10% beginner, 40% intermediate and 50% advanced, so this really is a mountain for the hardcore skiers! Watch the video under this, and if you think you can’t ski those trails, you might want to stick to the other fun Jackson Hole activities!
The mountain is just beautiful, and the only times I have seen skies as blue as those, was when I was in Colorado, and those skies are even bluer. Aside from skiing, we also took a guided snowmobile tour one day. That was amazing! We snowmobiled on the sides of the mountain, overlooking, well, a giant drop off, and finally made it to the Granite Hot Springs. We were snowmobiling and skiing in negative temperatures, but once you arrive at the hot springs, you go into a giant locker room, change into your bathing suit, and run into the hot spring, filled with natural, and extremely hot water! Where else do you think you can do that?! It’s truly an experience of a lifetime.
I miss Jackson Hole, and would jump at the chance to go back there. Besides the fact that I would actually be excited this time around at the start of my journey, I would love to see if it’s what I remembered all these years later. It was the state and city that started it all for me, and I’d love to go back to have some fun (now that I’m of age,) eat some buffalo and elk meat again (it’s actually deeeeeelicious!) and say thanks for being awesome, Wyoming, you really are like no place on earth.