You know that feeling you get when you leave a masseuse or a chiropractor and you can breathe deeply again without anything cracking or popping? The feeling that everything is aligned and centered and back to where it’s supposed to be? Now imagine going on a trip and finding somewhere that leaves you with that same feeling. Not a spa or a luxury resort that’s intended to send you away refreshed and rejuvenated, but a place where you get a certain sense of ease just by being there – because the ambience of the area is all around enlivening.
One of the places that gives me that feeling every time I visit is Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Having recently been through a lot of physical and emotional ups and downs, my body and mind were in need of a naturally stress-free environment, and Jackson was the place I was craving. The air is so crisp and clean, and if it’s possible for air to taste like anything, out here it tastes fresh. When landing at Jackson Hole Airport (JAC), you step off the plane directly into pure mountain air. One breath in Wyoming and your lungs will immediately fill up fuller than they have in a long time, and you’ll feel their appreciation upon exhaling. Oh yeah, and you land in the middle of a stunning 13,000 foot mountain range that welcomes you with some of the best views Mother Nature has to offer.
Even though Jackson provides amazing scenery no matter which way you look, it’s not only the landscape that gives me the feeling of relief and relaxation I get from this tiny mountain town, it’s also the open arms of its inhabitants. My aunt and uncle relocated to the place “where the buffalo roam” almost ten years ago, foregoing the hustle and bustle of city life in Atlanta. Every time I visit them, their happiness and love-of-life radiate from their smiles as they welcome me with giant bear hugs. But it’s not just Phil and Betsy’s “live in the moment” attitude, it’s a lifestyle of ‘the west’ that is carried out by its residents, generated by the beauty and abundance of nature here.
The summer days are filled with tubing down creeks, hiking any number of trails, swimming in your choice of lakes, and afternoon game drives through Yellowstone; while the nights start off with silhouetted mountain sunsets and are followed by cookouts, red wine, story-telling by the fire pit, and star gazing. Not to mention the winter ski season is world renowned. It’s an active community – everyone wants to be outside all the time, taking advantage of the natural beauty that surrounds them.
This go round in Jackson, I was lucky enough to spend some time with a few cowboys (my cousins and some of their friends) who took me on a three hour trail ride up to the top of Ivan’s Peak. We enjoyed the view, had a snack, and rode another three hours down, arriving home to burgers on the grill and card games in action. I also got in some major puppy time (with rescue dog Dexter and my aunt’s new puppy, LilyBell), and best of all, I spent hours in my ENO hammock – reading, relaxing, and connecting with nature. I was finally breathing deeply again – centered, aligned and back to where I was supposed to be.
My recommendations for Jackson Hole:
- Cafe Genevieve – this is a local favorite, especially for brunch! Be sure to sit out on the patio in the summer when the morning is just warming up 🙂 (The Watercress and Grapefruit Salad and the Roasted Turkey and Brie Panini are *both* amazing!)
- Pinky G’s Pizza – Ridiculously delicious pizza and wings with a fully stocked bar and live music
- Snake River Brewery – local brewery which has crafted over 50 beers sine 1994. Great food and another patio from which to enjoy sunset! (Must try: the BBQ Bison Burger)
- Teton Thai – located in Teton Village. After two or three visits, the owners will know your name and remember your order! Perfect place to enjoy an ice cold Singha.
- Amangani – okay, I might be a little biased here because my cousin works in Guest Services. It is an absolutely stunning resort! Need proof? Check out this month’s Vogue magazine (August 2014) shot at the Amangani Resort, featuring Blake Lively on the cover. And my cowboy cousin on page five. No, really. He’s the middle cowboy in this image.
- The Million Dollar Cowboy Bar – notice how my link to that sends you right to the Google Image results? That’s because there’s no way to describe this place, you just need to experience it for yourself. I’ve had quite a few good nights here….I think…
For photography of Jackson Hole shot with my Canon 5D MkII (landscapes, buffalo, moose, snakes, mountains, lakes and sunsets), check out Wanderlust Photography’s facebook page or click here to view the album directly.
(all images in this post shot on iPhone 5s – click to view full size in lightbox)
The Wandering Photographer 🙂