My First Trip To Jackson Hole

Sixteen years ago I arrived in Jackson Hole with my family for a first family trip out west and had no idea what I was getting into.  I was a veteran flyer and avid traveler, accustomed to navigating my way through airports, baggage facilities, interminable rental car lines and endless airport traffic.  After flying for several hours, including a stop in Dallas with a long delay, by the time we approached Jackson Hole, my wife’s nerves were frayed from her fruitless efforts to keep three young children from de-composing  into a primordial display of pre-adolescent fireworks.  Of course, my attempts to remain in blissful ignorance of their impending explosion, was repeatedly frustrated by continued spousal reminders that I had responsibility for the kids too.

Suddenly, everything changed.  Our plane began its descent and my entire family was mesmerized by the scene that unfolded outside of our windows.  It seemed as if our wings were scraping against the craggy rocky outcrops of the Teton Range.  With a thump, the wheels touched the tarmac and the reverse thrusters roared as the pilot applied the brakes to slow us before we reached the end of the runway.  Far more quickly than at larger airports, the plane slowed to its taxiing speed, and then there was silence.

As always, we gathered our belongings and waited, less than patiently, to move down the aisle and leave the plane for yet another airport ramp.  But it was not to be.  Instead, as I exited the door, I was on top of a stairway that led to the concrete below and before me was a majesty that I had never beheld, nor even contemplated.  The sky was an azure blue, the wind brought the hint of a fresh coolness while the sun warmed my face, but most important of all, the Tetons rose in front of me in a glistening majesty that was magnified by the claustrophobic cabin that I had just exited.  It was at that moment Jackson Hole stirred my soul.  Ever since I have been a prisoner to its beauty, captivated by its wildness and invigorated by the people who live and visit from all walks of life, but who share its common bonds.

A small percentage of people that visit this valley can never get it out of their system and are tortured by the memory until they find a way to live here.  However, it is the rare visitor indeed that visits and is not mesmerized by the beauty that surrounds them.  My goal is give you the perspective of one who one day would like to live here, but because of personal and professional obligations cannot.  Thus, I am not yet a “local” and I focus my time here on enjoying the surroundings, when not working.  As a result I have explored the valley as much or more than many that are residents.   I do not pretend to be able to give you all the local nuances and flavor, but I can provide you with the knowledge I have gained from over 350 days living and recreating in and around Jackson Hole.

If you care to share your first experience in Jackson Hole please do so in the comments section


  1. Mary O. Waid says

    During my summers while in college 55 and 56 years ago, I worked in Yellowstone National Park. While there, I came to Jackson Hole two times. Life in this area was such a fantastic experience that, as I left that last Autumn, I made an X on the ground and said, “When I retire in about 40 years, I’m moving here!” And so I did! I retired and moved from the Washington, D.C. area to Jackson, WY fourteen years ago. Yay!

  2. I have never been Jackson Hole, your blog makes it sound amazing. I am sure you are right. There are some traveling experiences in life, we will remember for ever. I found such experience in Africa and Galapogas islands, I hope we will another memorable one in Jackson Hole.

    Enjoyed your writting, thanks.

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