Vacations used to be all about relaxing. And of course some relaxing is good. But more and more experienced travelers are looking for their vacations to include unique, educational, or challenging experiences. Jackson Hole has no shortage of local-led, authentic, custom experiences that your family will be talking about long after your vacation here is over. Here are a few of our favorites.
JH Wildlife Photo Safari
“All of our safaris have great photo ops along the way, but our custom wildlife photo safaris are geared so you can learn tips and tricks from a professional photographer guide who is also an interpretative naturalist,” says Jackson Hole Wildlife Safaris owner Jason Williams. You’ll get great images of Jackson Hole’s wildlife, historic structures, and the landscape, and end the safari with new photo techniques—totally customized to your group, whether you’re taking photos with your phone or a DSLR—you can use on your next vacation. A half-day photo safari is $765 for up to 4 people and a full-day photo safari is $1,275 for up to 4 people. Jacksonholewildlifesafaris.com
Jackson Hole Writers Conference
You don’t need to be a professional, or even have been published to go to the annual Jackson Hole Writers Conference, which is held annually in late June. (This year is the 28th conference.) “Anyone who loves writing can attend,” says Tim Sandlin, the conference’s founder, a resident faculty member, and the author of many novels including the Gro Vont trilogy. “We get everyone from beginners to multi-published authors. All you need in enthusiasm.” The three- day conference includes panel discussions, manuscript critiques, workshops, seminars, and social events. “Attendees leave the conference ready to write. They know more about the process of writing and the process of publishing. They make new friends. They take away inspiration.” $410 for the entire conference, which is June 27-29, 2019. jacksonholewritersconference.com
Teton Science Schools
Annually Teton Science Schools engages 15,000 learners from toddlers to retirees. Programs includes multi-day summer camps for elementary and high school students, single-night Front Porch Conversations, which offer attendees the opportunity to learn about a wide range of topics in an intimate environment, and private, immersive full-day tours of Grand Teton National Park (GTNP) and the Bridger-Teton National Forest (BTNF). As diverse as its programs and classes are, they have something in common: a place-based, interactive take on their subject. TSS founder Ted Major’s belief was that students learn best about natural sciences out in nature. Go to tetonscience.org website for a full schedule of programs for all ages. Private full-day tours of GTNP and the BTNF are $1,500 for up to 11 people.
National Museum of Wildlife Art
Have you ever done yoga outside while surrounded by statues of wildlife and overlooking the National Elk Refuge? Yoga on the Trail is just one of the many experiences to be had at the National Museum of Wildlife Art, which prides itself on being interesting to visitors whether they are an expert in wildlife art or know nothing about the genre. “Visitors with little or no knowledge about art find the Museum engaging,” says Dr. Adam Duncan Harris, the Museum’s Joffa Kerr Curator of Art. “I think this is in large part because the subject matter is our artworks is so approachable.” For those familiar with wildlife art Harris says, not to miss the Rungius Gallery (as a whole) and a display dedicated to the work of Bob Kuhn. “These two painters are regarded as among the best artists of their respective generations,” he says. “Both have been highly influential on younger artists in the field.” Yoga on the Trail is free, B.Y.O.M. (bring your own mat), and 10 – 11 a.m. Thursdays between July 11 and August 29. The museum is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily through October; tickets $15 (adults), $13 (seniors), $6 (1 child), $2 (additional children), free (4 & under). wildlifeart.org
You can’t learn about the night sky—or even see it—just anywhere. Researchers at Italy’s Light Pollution Science and Technology Institute found that two out of three Europeans and four out of five Americans cannot see the 100-billion star galaxy to which our solar system belongs from their homes. In Jackson Hole you can see the Milky Way though, along with about 5,000 stars. Wyoming Stargazing offers free public programs throughout the summer, or you can kick it up a notch and go out on a nighttime stargazing safari with one of their astronomers. “I love when people look through the telescope and see the rings of Saturn,” says Wyoming Stargazing founder Samuel Singer, PhD. “People get super psyched to see something they’ve only ever seen in photos before. There are lots of ‘Oh my Gods,’ ‘Holy sh8*%,” and other profanities,” he says. Simple stargazing isn’t enough though: “We tell stories about these objects. People are looking at fuzzy spots that are the accumulated light of billions of stars from tens of millions of light years away. That’s looking into the past. That light you’re seeing through a telescope one night in 2019 in Grand Teton National Park took tens of millions of years to get here. We’re literally seeing the universe as it existed millions of years ago. I never get tired of telling this story,” Singer says. Go to wyomingstargazing.org for a schedule of Wyoming Stargazing’s public programs. Private stargazing safaris are $500 for up to 2 people and $175/person for 3-13 people.