1. Where to Stay
Stay walking distance from downtown Jackson’s shops and restaurants at the Rusty Parrot Lodge (from $360). Whether you’re a lifelong angler or a rank beginner, the staff here can arrange for a fishing guide ($490 for full-day guided trips for two) who will pick you up and plan the entire day. Work the casting kinks out of your back with a four-handed massage ($215/hour) in the Body Sage Spa.
Book a northwest-facing, Western-themed ski-condo-style room at Spring Creek Ranch (from $340) to enjoy the kind of panoramic Teton Range views that inspired Ansel Adams. The large units are outfitted with hutches on the porch to hold rods and waders, and you can request a charcoal grill to cook your catch of the day.
Get a taste of Jackson’s less glitzier days at the Buckrail Lodge (from $143), a series of connected log cabins made of Western red cedar and decorated entirely with white-pine furnishings. Though it’s a no-frills option, you’ll still get air-conditioning and flat-screen TVs, and the town square is only five blocks away.
2. Where to Eat
Head to the Snake River Grill, widely considered Jackson’s best restaurant, for locavore-friendly dishes like cornmeal-crusted trout served with “Wyomatoes” and niçoise potatoes grown in Idaho ($24). Take advantage of the restaurant’s wood-burning oven by ordering the steak tartare pizza with aioli, red onion, and capers ($19).
Get a heavy dose of western kitsch at local favorite the Gun Barrel Steak and Game House, where taxidermy fills the room. Tuck into an elk chop ($34) or a plate of buffalo ribs ($29), but if game meats aren’t for you, the menu offers a satisfying mesquite-grilled, bone-in ribeye ($31) and Rocky Mountain rainbow trout with a mushroom crab stuffing ($21).
Bite into fluffy-crusted slices at Mountain High Pizza Pie, where the mountain air and water lend a unique texture to the pies. Skip the more straightforward options for one of the specialty pizzas (from $12.95); the BBQ chicken pie with red onions and bell peppers and the Thai Pie with chicken, peanuts, cilantro, and sesame sauce are both good options.
3. What to Do
Cast for world-class brown trout on the South Fork of the Snake River, just across the border in Idaho, and one of the planet’s true trophy fisheries for big browns. World Cast Anglers’ Victor, Idaho, outpost is home to some of the river’s best guides ($495 for full-day guided trips for two), and they’re equally helpful to beginners and more experienced sport fishers.
Face the challenge of catching rainbow trout on the Henry’s Fork, where the fish are as technically challenging as any trout you’ll encounter. Henry’s Fork Anglers offers excellent local guides ($490 for full-day guided trips for two), who will help you make the right cast and presentation to pick up a fat, healthy eighteen-inch specimen.
Take the scenic route for wild cutthroat trout on the Snake River. If there’s a prettier way to spend the day than floating in the shadow of the 12,605-foot Grand Teton, you’d be hard-pressed to find it. The fishing isn’t bad, either. Wild native fish of any kind are rare these days, and the cuttys you’ll encounter here are some of the most prized and beautiful sporting fish on the planet. The Orvis shop in Jackson can make arrangements for you to go with a guide.
4. Insider’s Tip
Flying into Jackson is relatively expensive, and there are no nonstops from New York (the best routes are through Chicago or Denver). Save money by flying to Salt Lake City and make the five-hour drive to Jackson. The stretch beginning at Montpelier, Idaho, runs past Bridger National Forest, where you can stop to take in the gawk-inducing scenery.
5. Oddball Day
Start a marathon outdoor-adventure day off the river with a sunrise hot-air-balloon flight ($250 per person) over Teton Valley in Driggs, Idaho, 45 minutes from Jackson. After returning to town, fortify yourself with a spinach-feta bagel ($1) and raspberry-pineapple smoothie ($4.50) at Pearl Street Bagels (145 W. Pearl St.; 307-739-1218). Then drive half an hour to gin-clear Jenny Lake, in Grand Teton National Park, for a six-mile hike to Inspiration Point, which overlooks the water. Rest your legs before heading ten minutes back toward Jackson to refuel at Dornan’s Pizza & Pasta Company, where the food is good (try the buffalo Bolognese pasta, $14), but the view of the Tetons is spectacular. Next, have an afternoon horseback adventure at Jackson Hole Trail Rides ($55 for two hours); the jaunts up Snow King Mountain offer vistas of the town and the entire Jackson Hole valley. For dinner, reward your hard work with a slab of ribs ($16) and the all-you-can-eat salad bar ($8) at Bubba’s Bar-B-Que, then finish your day at the Jackson Hole Rodeo ($15; Wednesday and Saturday nights only), arguably the town’s most charming Old West tradition, where you can see real-life calf roping and bronco busting.
Catch-and release laws are strict, so refer to the Wyoming Game and Fish Department for guidelines on which rivers you’re allowed to keep your catch from.
The National Park Service hosts comprehensive information on Grand Teton National Park, including what kinds of wildlife you can spot.
The Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce offers the most thorough town guide, with information on hotels, restaurants, and activities.