The Best Places to Get Outside

22 Sep 2019

Top Realtor Team Shares Tips for Enjoying Protected Lands Near Jackson

Summer 2019

| Images: Courtesy Sotheby’s International Realty and Scout Guide Ashley Merritt

Local realtors know Jackson Hole inside and out, and sharing the best of the area with clients and prospective clients is one of the best parts of the job. When members of the Huff Vaughn Sassi team at Sotheby’s International Realty aren’t busy helping people find their future homes, they’re outside having fun. Here the team shares their favorite insider tips on how to enjoy the best of Jackson Hole’s protected lands.


Mercedes Huff moved to Jackson in 1972, and she loves stepping away from the busyness of everyday life to enjoy the backcountry. “In my opinion, it’s just such a wholesome way of living—getting to spend time
with each other and hopefully disconnect from our cell phones,” she says. She likes hiking, identifying wildflowers, and enjoying the tranquility of nature. “I don’t ever take it for granted,” she says. “I’m always looking at the sky or the mountains and realizing how beautiful it is and how lucky I am to live here.”

Wildflower Walks: When Huff hikes in the valley, she’s always on the lookout for wildflowers, from bright yellow arrowleaf balsamroot in early summer, to blue and purple larkspur and lupine mid-summer, with magenta-hued fireweed blooming as autumn approaches. Some of her favorite places to hike and wildflower watch are Granite Canyon, Curtis Canyon, and Bradley-Taggart Lakes.

Pathway Biking: The valley has an extensive network of multi-use pathways, and Huff enjoys riding her cruiser bike around the pathways.


Collin Vaughn was born and raised in Jackson, and he likes just about every outdoor activity the area has to offer from hunting and fishing to climbing and skiing, or just floating on a peaceful river. He enjoys many of these activities with his wife and fellow realtor, Laurie Huff.

Fishing Deadman’s Bar to Moose:  Casting a line in the Snake River between Deadman’s Bar and Moose is one of Vaughn’s favorite ways to relax. “It’s one of the most scenic classic fishing sections of water because of the views,” he says. (A Wyoming fishing license is required and regulations apply.)

Hiking Sheep Mountain: Outside the rush of the national parks, Vaughn loves slipping away to hike or trail run Sheep Mountain (a.k.a. The Sleeping Indian). This day hike offers views deep into the Gros Ventre, Wind River, and Teton ranges. “You’re kind of on top of the world,” he says.

Evening Bike Ride to Dornan’s: Hopping on a bike to enjoy the late summer sun is one of Vaughn’s favorite ways to relax after a busy day. He likes to take an evening bike ride from Moose up to Jenny Lake, and then pedal back to enjoy a cocktail and pizza at Dornan’s.


Growing up in Jackson, Laurie Huff, daughter of Mercedes, was on skis before she was two years old. Her childhood was full of ski racing, rock climbing, mountain biking, hiking, trail running, and just about every possible outdoor activity. “I know it sounds cliché, but the possibilities are kind of endless,” she says. “Whether you want to sit by the river and listen to the water or fish, or whether you want to go run the Grand Teton, there’s really honestly something for everyone.”

Rock Climbing: Huff has always enjoyed rock climbing, and she mentions Hoback Canyon’s The Shield and Curtis Canyon as a couple favorite locations.

Mountain Biking: Hopping on a bike and exploring the local mountain biking trails is one of Huff’s favorite ways to enjoy the outdoors.
She recommends the Cache Creek trail system just outside town, as well as the Munger Mountain trail network south of town.

Trail Running: Opportunities to go trail running in the Jackson area are virtually endless. Huff names Phelps Lake, Cascade and Paintbrush canyons, and Jackson Peak as a few of her favorites.


Jill Sassi has sold Jackson real estate for 20 years, and she was named People’s Choice Best of Jackson Hole Realtor in 2019 and Realtor of the
Year in 2015. To enjoy some of her favorite Jackson outdoor activities, Sassi doesn’t even have to get in her car. She just walks straight out her
front door and heads up Snow King Mountain.

Hiking and Biking Snow King: “I enjoy public lands from my house living in town,” Sassi says. She and her 10-year-old son, Rocco, love hiking and biking Snow King. “There’s never a day when the weather is beautiful that I don’t feel the need to hike up that mountain or ride the bike trails behind my house,” she says. “I love that aspect of the lifestyle.” And even after 20 years of living in Jackson, she always takes a picture of the view.

Boating on Jackson Lake, Grand Teton National Park: A sunny summer day spent boating on Jackson Lake is a little slice of heaven for Sassi. “I love that lake,” she says. “My happy place is being on the water all summer.”


The Tetons lured Arthur Corontzes out to Jackson in 2012 after he graduated from the University of Georgia, and he spends every moment he can outside enjoying the mountain lifestyle. Grand Teton National Park is one of his favorite places to explore.

Water Skiing on Jackson Lake: Corontzes likes spending as much time as possible water skiing on his favorite local lake. “What I like to do most outdoors is get out on Jackson Lake,” he says. “It’s a really versatile place.” When the popular spots near Leeks Marina, Colter, and Signal get busy, he heads a bit farther north to Sargents Bay, which doesn’t see as much traffic. “If you’re looking for glassy water to go skiing on, it’s great,” he says.

Backcountry camping on Elk Island: Grand Teton National Park offers a wide array of backcountry camping opportunities (permit required), and one of Corontzes’s favorite spots is truly special: Elk Island, a paddle-in camping destination. “Having a campsite on the lake is really unique,” he says. “You don’t hike in, but boat in, and set up camp for the night and it’s
really phenomenal.”

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