Jackson Lake Lodge was built in 1955 and, in keeping with the resort’s historical significant and atmosphere, the cottages and rooms are not luxurious. But they are comfortable. You won’t find a TV, A/C, wifi, an ironing board (yay!), fridge or plastic shampoo bottles in your room. But you will find comfy beds, Adirondack porch chairs, a pesticide-free environment , water-filling stations, a free shuttle to take you to other lodges and an outstanding view that demands many photos each day.
The lodge is owned by the Grand Teton National Park and operated by Vail Resorts, which is laser-focused on making sure the park is accessible and fun for all visitors while preserving its historic significance and atmosphere.
Jackson Lake Lodge Food
The Mural Dining Room is the upscale dining experience at Jackson Lake Lodge, with a western flavor. The menu included two meals I had never tried: elk loin (delicious and not game-y at all) and buffalo carpaccio – also delicious and tender.
Chef Vishu is committed to sustainability and buys much of the food he serves locally including the meat, the after-dinner moose (not mousse!) chocolates that are made by a local woman in Jackson, and local organic beer, OB-1.
Pioneer Grill is a 50s-style diner that serves sandwiches, salads and soups. We enjoyed the turkey croissant sandwich more than the lettuce wraps.
If you prefer a more natural setting, take the dinner cruise on Jackson Lake that includes a scenic ride to Elk Island where you disembark for hike to a panoramic view of Jackson Lake and the surrounding mountains. A cowboy dinner is served on the island and the menu includes steak, local trout, corn on the cob, beans and huckleberry cobbler. The food is good (especially the cobbler); the only thing missing is umbrellas at the picnic tables–eating in the sun gets hot!
NOTE: Bring bug spray – the strong stuff because at dusk mosquitoes make up for those long winters and are very aggressive. Don’t worry, if you forget yours, the wranglers on the island are prepared with bug spray.
What to Do at Jackson Lake Lodge
This is an outdoor place, filled with opportunities for outdoor adventure.
Horseback Riding: The corral has a horse for every rider including major beginners (READ: city folks like me). NOTE: Don’t wear shorts. My horse, Jill, took good care of me so I wasn’t too sore afterwards.
Hiking: My 14-year-old daughter and I joined a free hike with Grand Teton National Park ranger Jamie Rae for a 3-mile hike around Swan Lake. Jamie Rae has a unique way of explaining the gorgeous scenery – she incorporated idioms such as “big things come in small packages” to explain the serotinous pine cones that release their resin only in the event of a fire. I highly encourage a ranger-lead hike for their knowledge of the trail and the area. Plus they carry bear spray and they know how to use it! Pack plenty of water – you can dehydrate in high elevations.
Float trips: The activities desk clerks at Jackson Lake Lodge are knowledgeable and full of great ideas for enjoying Grand Teton National Park. We took a float trip down the Snake River that was stress free (no rapids), scenic and fun.
Other Places to Stay in Jackson Lake
Among the other lodging options:
Jenny Lake Lodge is an all-inclusive. The property is historic looking, but it offers new luxurious cabins and gourmet meals at the 4 Star restaurant on property. The cabins are the epitome of cozy – handmade comforter, log walls and suites with a wood burning stove.
Coulter Bay Lodge puts pioneering into perspective with 166 authentic homestead cabins from the 1800s that are available to rent. Don’t worry – they have the necessary modern amenities such as heat and comfy bedding but otherwise they are basic. Still, each homestead cabin is lovely and it comes with a story about its previous owners and where it was located. This is not really roughing it but it is a great way to show your kids how their ancestors would have lived.
If you really want to rough it, you can live like a cowboy–a very spoiled cowboy–by opting to stay in a tent/cabin. These are part log cabin, part canvas tent and they are pretty rustic. It’s a very economical way to enjoy the parks and each tent-cabin sleeps six and comes with bunk beds, cots, a wood stove and fire pit. You can bring your own bedding or rent it from the office. You can also stay like a “real” cowboy at one of the 112 campsites. If you forgot your sleeping bag, you can rent one when you get there. Everything is priced well for the budget minded.