Summer is coming to an end (boo) & we are busy gearing up for the start of another school year. We had a lot of adventures this season but my favorite was our first trip to Jackson Hole and Yellowstone National Park. I’ll be the first to tell ya, we aren’t your typical outdoors-y family. We don’t frequent the trails by our house or go on annual camping trips. Most of our vacations are planned around good food, nice accommodations, and all things Disney. This was a step outside our comfort zone for sure, a giant leap. But we planned a pretty solid trip and got to see some of the most beautiful places in the country.
We started our trip in Salt Lake City for a few days, joining Bobby on a business trip. We got to hang around town, visit the Salt Lake Temple, and spent lots of time at the pool since it was 100 degrees. From there, we made the 5hr drive into Jackson Hole. We didn’t mind the road trip because everything we saw was brand new. We drove through Utah, then straddled the Wyoming & Idaho border for a bit, making a pit-stop for lunch in Afton Wyoming. Afton has the world’s largest elkhorn arch.
First things first, I have never seen more elk antlers in MY LIFE. I was horrified, doing a mental calculation of how many majestic elk had to die to create these shrines. Until I learned that elk shed their antlers every spring. So, we good now Wyoming.
After our elk lesson, we finally arrived at The Rustic Inn. Lord knows how many visits to the website I made ahead of time, eyeballing every update & photo my brain could process. Before we booked a place, I was looking for something a little different than the typical hotel. I knew we’d be spending a lot of time in our room as our itinerary for Jackson Hole was pretty open. After seeing The Rustic Inn I knew we’d found the perfect place. Each room is it’s own little cabin, with a private little patio up front. They have fire pits all over the grounds with a bridge leading to a tee-pee (complete with fire pit inside) crossing over the Snake River.
This was ours, Room 106. After reading several (all) reviews, I opted to ensure we were right on the river by upgrading to the Creekside King Room. If we hadn’t of done that, there was a chance that our view would have been the parking lot. The main draw to this place was a picture in my head I had of sitting on the patio, drinking my morning coffee with a view of the mountains & river. If you want that, UPGRADE. Included with your stay is their daily breakfast buffet, including eggs, bacon, sausage, cereals, and french toast to name a few yummy items.
My favorite part of the inn were the fire pits & lounge chairs spread throughout. When we went, they were almost never crowded and we were able to have a fire pit to ourselves. Grab a s’mores roasting kit from the bar before you head over, the fire puts turn on automatically around 7pm.
We roasted marshmallows for Aubrey’s last night as a 6 year old. It was a super special time for us, something I’ll never forget.
Jackson Hole is the *cutest* town. The Rustic inn was less then 10 minutes walking distance to the town square, where four elk antler arches surround the center. Town square is a mix of shopping (don’t miss their store MADE, where it’s basically tons of Etsy shops IRL), yummy food, and visitor information. In the summer time, it’s also home to their nightly shootout. Their shootout has been going on since 1957, and you can find out more information on it here. Try and get there a few minutes early to secure a spot. Our favorite restaurant we ate at was The Merry Piglets, incredible Mexican food and great service. Summertime in Jackson Hold is crowded, so be prepared to wait for a table almost everywhere you go & plan to eat at off-peak times to avoid the crowds.
While we were here, we took a short drive over to Snow King Mountain to try out some of their summer activities. We rode the Cowboy mountain coaster where you control the speed (Aubrey said Mom went faster than dad), Aubrey tried out their trampoline, and as a family got stuck in their maze for 30 minutes. I can’t remember the last time I was as frustrated as I was trying to get out of that damn maze.
Bobby & Aubrey also rented some tubes to go down the Snake River at The Rustic Inn. Tube rentals were $20 for the entire day, but I think they only ended up using them 2 times.
For Aubrey’s birthday dinner, we celebrated with Bar T 5, an authentic western adventure. We traveled by covered wagon into Cache Creek Canyon until we got to camp for dinner. On the way, they had some bandits try and take over our wagon. At camp, we were served a home cooked meal of chicken, roast beef, beans, salad, rolls, and corn on the cob. YUM. Following dinner the show started with some upbeat music from the Bar T 5 band. Aubrey got to go on stage to help sing “She’ll be comin’ around the mountain”. For something fun & a little different, I’d 100% recommend doing this.
Finishing up in the Jackson Hole area, we took a 4 hour tour at dawn of Grand Teton National Park with Brushbuck Tours. This was a major highlight of the trip for us. Our guide was so knowledgeable + the open air safari style van was pretty cool too. There were two other families with us in the van & they provided us with cold beverages, chips, fruit, and trail mix throughout the day. During our trip we also visited Mormon Row & Schwabachers landing for an easy hike and the quintessential Wyoming photo ops.
Mormon Row was very easy to find from Jackson hole, just drive north from Jackson on highway 191 past Moose Junction and turn right onto Antelope Flats Road. Follow the road about 1 ½ miles until you see a north-south running dirt road marked by a distinctive pink stucco house on the left with a small dirt parking area (more info here). Schwabacher Landing was easy to find as well and well worth the trip. Go north on I-89 for about 16 miles. There’s a small gravel road on your left, where you’ll see a wooden sign: “Schwabacher’s Landing Road.” This road dead-ends in a gravel parking lot, and the trek to the famous vantage point is a stone’s throw from your car. We traveled a bit further in, where you’ll find various trail heads with easy hikes.
The Grand Tetons are now my favorite thing of life. I want to hike and be outside as much as I can because being there re-energized me. It calmed me. I live with anxiety everyday. But here, I wasn’t scared or afraid or anxious. I was present. We’ve already made more of an effort to get outside since we’ve been back, and I *might* even think about getting the old tent out.
Lookout for my post about Yellowstone coming up!