It’s not surprising to find yourself immensely popular when you live in Teton Valley, Idaho. Friends and family recognize this Rocky Mountain wonderland as one of the top destinations in the country, and easily one of the most beautiful, in any season. Landing at the Jackson Hole Airport sets the tone immediately for what one can expect to see in this majestic territory, and gives any traveler a sense of arrival difficult to replicate anywhere in North America. After all, and a claim to fame that only Jackson Hole Airport can boast, landing at this facility puts you smack dab in the Grand Teton National Park, the only airport in our country located within a National Park. Seeing the Grand Teton Mountains out your plane window promotes a passenger symphony of Oohs and Aahs.
It’s hard to compete with Teton Springs Resort for accommodations and amenities, even if the particular visitors that recently descended upon the valley are family members. Normally I’m prepared to rustle up as many beds as I can in the home I share with my husband. It’s always been the “B & B” of choice for friends and family coming to the Tetons during our glorious summer season.
However, our guests were hooked on staying at Teton Springs from the moment they did research online. While the suites in the Lodge were their first choice initially, and would have easily worked, as these sumptuous units are equipped with full kitchens, living room, fireplace and large balcony. The two- bedroom unit would have comfortably accommodated this group with room to spare, but once they scrolled through the site landing on the luxury mountain log page, well, safe to say they were hooked. While the resort staff casually refers to these homes as “cabins,” it’s truly a misnomer to assume these homes are rustic one-room abodes scattered throughout the resort property.
The three-bedroom home they settled on was beautiful and offered custom touches that set it apart from every other home in the Teton Springs arsenal of offerings. The resort offers a great mix of 3,4- & 5-bedroom cabins and the affordability of these homes is as enticing as the décor itself. The kitchen was straight out of “Architectural Digest,” but my family never did pull out a single pot or pan. After all, this was a real vacation, right?! Sitting on the patio and taking in the sights and sounds of the resort property was nourishment enough. The Lodge’s cozy Sage Café became our clubhouse of sorts and in between delectable breakfast nibbles, we enjoyed a competitive game of bean bag on the expansive lawn while planning our activities for the day.
Everyone in the party voted to start this vacation with a day trip to Jackson Hole. The drive over Teton Pass is worth the price of admission with staggering views afforded at the 10,000-foot summit, that duly impressed even my gaggle of seasoned travelers. A birds-eye view of the wild and scenic Snake River was first on the agenda, with a walk on Emily’s Pond Levee which parallels the river. It’s an easy trek with virtually no elevation gain. If you’re lucky, you’ll likely spot nesting Bald Eagles, moose grazing on the banks, swans and uninhibited views of the Teton Mountains looming around each bend. Home-made ice cream in neighboring Wilson, Wyoming was well deserved after this trek.
The girls in our group headed into town for the legendary shopping the town of Jackson affords. The stores are filled with delicious custom turquoise baubles, hand stitched cowboy hats, and western boots decorated with every crazy color in the rainbow. The consignment stores in this old west, but well-heeled town, are also well worth pursuing.
It was easy to justify a visit to the Stillwaters Spa & Salon after our shop-to-you-drop Jackson Hole jaunt. The eucalyptus aroma itself as you enter the spa tells you you’ve entered a place of peace and tranquility. It’s truly a refuge from the outside world and all its woes. My sister Diane opted for a therapeutic massage which she claimed was simply the best she ever experienced. As Diane so aptly noted, “it was if Patricia’s (aka “Red”) fingers were attached to my brain; she knew exactly what parts of me needed help.” My other sis, Beth, had her locks dramatically cut by hairstylist Joselyn, who is our newest and incredibly talented member of the salon team, who also specializes in make-up application and nail treatments. I can’t say enough about the quality of the entire staff at the spa.
After hearing about the astonishing experience our former visitors had exploring the valley from above the clouds, this latest crop of relatives was compelled to take in a scenic flight from the Teton Aviation Center in Driggs. They too were flabbergasted at the beauty of Teton Valley, taken from an entirely unique perspective. I highly recommend this activity for the ultimate Wow factor.
After seeing the grandeur of the Teton River from the air, our relatives insisted on floating this Blue-Ribbon tributary. On this excursion, everyone rented a kayak and it was a total blast, topped off by a mother moose and her baby meandering by the bank directly above the take off. I couldn’t have written a better script for an optimum day of fun in the sun. It’s easy to be a hero to visitors when you take them floating on the Teton!
As a fitting conclusion to a fabulous trip, we loaded into the car for a Grand Teton Loop Tour. This junket takes you north thru Teton Valley, an area famous for its trappers, fur traders, mountain men, and Mormon pioneers. Now our modern-day explorers take delight in the incredible recreation afforded them here. Be sure to step off the beaten path, in this case state highway 32, and find yourself in Idaho’s virtual breadbasket, with fields stretching as far as the eye can see of alfalfa, wheat, hay and of course the famous Idaho spud. You’ll travel through hamlets like Drummond, Squirrel and Lamont, once serving as the social hubs of this desolate countryside, eventually crossing over the Warm River into the Caribou-Targhee National Forest.
Cruising on the Mesa Falls Scenic Byway, the anticipation of seeing the Upper and Lower falls is palpable; you’ll hear the thundering curtains of water before you ever see them. The cascading water dumps into the famous Henry’s Fork River and if you’re timing is just right, like ours was, you’ll be greeted by a magnificent rainbow towering over the falls. Be sure to take the short, easy trek along the nature trail connecting two of the last undisturbed waterfalls of consequence in the west.
A final stop on this journey back to Teton Valley is a quick stop in Ashton at the historic “Frostop,” Idaho’s Classic Drive-In, for an order of Idaho’s best tater tots and yummy chocolate malt. The perfect end to an even more perfect day is complete with food and libations on the deck back at our “cabin” at Teton Springs Resort.
It’s with a heavy heart we say farewell to this latest group of friends and family, but sadness tempered by the fact that it’s a given – they’ll be back. The siren song of Teton Valley is impossible to resist.