Jackson Hole is drawing an increasing number of visitors each summer with the lure of wildlife sightings, adventurous activities, and the beauty within nearby national parks and the majestic Tetons. While Wyoming’s paradise is
known around the world, on the west side of Teton Pass is another, arguably just as impressive, area to explore — Teton Valley.
The Idaho side of the Tetons, sometimes referred to as “the quiet side,” offers just as much breathtaking beauty and possibilities for outdoor excursions with a little more breathing room. Here are a few ways to discover the great outdoors of Teton Valley in all its glory, a landscape that has captured the hearts of humans for thousands of years.
Get into the spirit of the Old West by taking in the views on horseback. Several Teton Valley outfitters offer guided rides through national forest, allowing you to connect with nature on a whole new level. There are options for short rides, half- day trips and even overnight pack trips, and a knowledgeable guide can offer insights to the history and natural wonders of the land. Some outfitters also offer horse-drawn wagon rides and barbecue dinners to top off your day at the ranch.
Fly-fishing is another great way to connect with nature and embark upon an activity that has nourished inhabitants for centuries. There are an abundance of rivers, creeks and lakes in the area to choose from offering world-class fishing — find a local outfitter or guide to take you out, or stop by a local shop for gear and a fishing license. Some of the top fishing holes include the South Fork or Henry’s Fork of the Snake River, and the Teton River, all harboring large trout. Add bird watching to the day, as plenty of species of migratory birds call this area home.
There is nothing more serene and relaxing than a hike through some of Teton Valley’s most memorable trails. Take in the views and spot some wildlife — moose, bald eagles, elk, or even bear — in almost near solitude compared to some of the more popular locations in Jackson Hole. Some options to consider are Big Elk Creek Trail or Bear Creek Trail. The Palisades Creek Trail offers a moderate 4 miles up to Lower Palisades Lake or 6.2 miles to Upper Palisades Lake with some of the best mountain views in the Swan Valley region. One of the most iconic hikes is Table Mountain, but be prepared for a strenuous, 11-mile roundtrip hike with more than 4,000 feet of elevation gain. The views on the summit, however, make the trip worth the time and effort.
VISIT MESA FALLS
Two spectacular well-known waterfalls in the West, the Mesa Falls, are located on the Mesa Falls Scenic Byway. Paved trails and boardwalks access viewing platforms at the powerful Upper Mesa Falls, which drops 114 feet to the underlying river below. The Lower Mesa Falls can be seen from the Grandview Campground and Overlook, dropping a still impressive 65 feet.
Although the modern automobile is necessary to choose this adventure, it offers an easy way to cover a broader range of landscape. The Teton Scenic Byway is an almost 70-mile route that can be done in two and a half hours, but plan for more to take in panoramic views of the Teton Mountain Range, waterfalls and wilderness along the way. Stop in Victor, Driggs or Tetonia to explore the quaint towns that make up Teton Valley. Mesa Falls Scenic Byway is another nearby and equally stunning, yet shorter route, offering a trip to the Caribou-Targhee National Forest and the Upper and Lower Mesa Falls.