From left, Alan Carmichael, Bill Baxter, and our traveling companions, Dawn and Richard Ford.
A fun five-night visit to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, exceeded expectations — especially in terms of scenery, wildlife and food. An extra treat was running in to Knoxville businessman and civic leader Bill Baxter on our second night there. We were enjoying drinks at the Silver Dollar Bar in the historic Wort Hotel, which Baxter owns, when Alan ran into Bill outside the men’s room.
Happens all the time, Baxter said. Former Congressman Zach Wamp was there recently, as was former Governor Phil Bredesen, he said. (I’m guessing that was before election season started!) And former University of Tennessee football coach Bill Battle. For his part, Baxter is in Wyoming only one week a month — except in July when he extends his stay by several weeks. Anyway, we would visit the Silver Dollar Bar one more time during our trip and also take in the other nightspot Baxter owns, the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar.
But, we did more than drink! Follow along and I’ll show you the highlights of a quick trip to Jackson Hole.
Snake River Grill
Celebrating 25 years of being located on the Town Square in Jackson, you gotta go to the Snake River Grill.
A branding iron stacked high with mouthwatering green chile onion rings was the starter for all four of us to share. We had so many, that we passed half of them to the friendly people at the next table!
Richard, the biggest meat-eater of our crew, had no trouble making his selection: the crispy pork shank! (There would be a lot of meat on this trip.)
I was a little surprised by Dawn’s order: a steak tartare pizza! Turns out it is Snake River Grill’s signature dish!
Snake River Grill is a beautiful restaurant. Here’s a shot as the dinner service wound down.
We would see a lot of elk antlers during our visit. But, don’t worry. The elk shed their antlers every year and folks pick them up for various artistic uses. (At least that’s what we were told, which made me feel a lot better about this light fixture.)
Teton Mountain Lodge
Our hotel, Teton Mountain Lodge, was about 15 miles from the Town of Jackson. (The whole area is known as Jackson Hole.) It was beautiful, but pricey at $505 per night. It was closer than downtown to the tours of Jenny Lake, Jackson Lake and Yellowstone National Park we had scheduled, but I think on our next visit, I’d rather stay in town.
The lobby of the Teton Mountain Lodge.
Very cool light fixtures.
Aww. There was a stuffed moose in every room. Which was nice, because we never saw a live one!
We scheduled boat tours on two lakes — Jenny Lake and Jackson Lake — for our second day.
The Jenny Lake tour was all about the Grand Teton Mountains: the names of each peak, how they got their names, and some facts about climbing them.
We were struck by how shifting our location even a little bit completely changed the view of the majestic peaks.
Wow. That sky. One pleasant surprise we got: very low humidity, which was a relief after the sweltering weather we left behind in Knoxville.
It was a fun way to spend about an hour, and it helped us get our bear-ings. (Ha. Pun.)
The beginning of a great day. Both Jenny Lake and Jackson Lake originally were formed by glaciers. They still are considered to be pristine lakes.
Jackson Lake Lodge
Lunch at Jackson Lake Lodge in Grand Teton National Park was delicious. But, probably, the view alone from the Lodge’s “Mural Room” would have been worth the visit.
View from The Mural Room of Jackson Lake Lodge.
My kaffir lime poached chilled prawns served on sun-dried tomato hummus and drizzled with sweet chili oil might have been my “best bite” of the trip. The hummus, which I spread on the homemade yeast rolls that were served with lunch, was out of this world.
Alan loved his spiced “airline” chicken breast served with Armenian rice pilaf, broccolini and mint-cucumber yogurt.
So, huckleberries are a “thing” in Jackson Hole. Dawn’s huckleberry pound cake was served with huckleberry sauce and cinnamon ice cream. She loved it.
The only thing Richard likes as much as a good cut of meat is chocolate! So, we were unsurprised when he ordered chocolate cake with caramel sauce and French vanilla ice cream. He let me have one of the delicious chopped espresso beans used for garnish.
Here’s a better look at that view.
The lodge itself was built in the 1950s. Designed by architect Gilbert Stanley Underwood, it marked a transition in the National Park Service from traditional to modern design. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
After lunch, it was time to board our second lake cruise of the day, this one on Jackson Lake.
That big white spot is the Skillet Glacier, named so because of its frying pan shape.
After this, we freshened up and headed into the town of Jackson for our first visit to the Silver Dollar Bar. That’s where we ran into Bill Baxter.
(Sometimes, Richard thinks he’s John Wayne. He loved the swinging doors.)
The Silver Dollar Bar.
My martini on the Silver Dollar Bar, in which are inlaid uncirculated 1921 Morgan silver dollars. Altogether in the Wort Hotel, there are 4,000 of them.
Dinner at Trio was a block from the Silver Dollar Bar.
Here’s the sign you are looking for!
Trio was crowded.
Richard’s crispy pork belly with plum hoisin, green beans, pickled plums and sesame got his vote for “best bite” of the trip.
Dawn’s peaches and cream dessert. She raved about it.
Alan and Richard both had s’mores for dessert. Alan said it was his “best bite” of the trip.
I loved this painting of three wolves that was hanging in the dining room of Trio. It’s titled, “Trio.” It was for sale for $9,000. I twice visited the studio of the artist in downtown Jackson to see if she had any wiggle room in the asking price. The studio was closed both times. I assumed that was “the Universe” telling me to forget it!
Yellowstone National Park
The next day would be a full one. We had hired a guide through Wild Things of Wyoming to take us on a full day through Yellowstone National Park. We’re talking 10-1/2 hours, folks. Our guide was 35-year-old Colin Boeh, who showed up in a Mercedes SUV with his parents, Dan and Susan, in it! From North Carolina, we found them absolutely charming and we loved sharing the day with them.
I’ll just hit the highlights. Colin’s philosophy was, “No signs; no lines.” This meant we often would drive right by the sights that had cars lined up and Colin would, instead, take us to unmarked places he had discovered.
First stop was a “secret” waterfall Colin knew about. Here he is getting up close and personal with it.
And a rushing stream.
Colin tried to talk his mother into standing with him on an outcropping he called “Lonely Rock.” She didn’t quite go onto that rock, but they got close. You can see it behind them in this photo.
We pulled to the side of the road to watch these two female elk resting on a strip of land in the middle of the water.
We moved on but pulled off again when we saw more elk. Here’s Dawn getting a good look.
We were very close to them.
Here’s an elk butt. This poor thing was trying to get a horse fly off her leg.
We stopped at a beautiful rushing river and saw some cutthroat trout.
And then, farther along, we pulled over when Colin saw this bison swimming across the river.
He started moving in our direction. (Photo by Alan Carmichael.)
And then he darted across the road right near where we were parked causing traffic to skid to a stop to avoid hitting him. (Photo by Alan Carmichael.)
He apparently thought one of the vehicles was an adversary because he suddenly turned around and acted as if he were about to charge! (Photo by Alan Carmichael.)
We did join the crowds at Upper Yellowstone Falls.
Taking a break.
The yellow in the rocks is the result of sulfur, Colin said. Interestingly, Native Americans and European settlers independently started calling the area “Yellow Stone,” he said.
Next, we visited a part of the park marked by hydrothermal activity caused by hidden functions deep in the earth. Heat and gas cause a number of interesting and beautiful features.
Fountain Paint Pot slowly bubbling.
A “bacteria mat” near the Fountain Paint Pot area of Yellowstone. Microbial mats are the earliest form of life on Earth for which there is good fossil evidence, from 3,500 million years ago, Wikipedia says.
A mudpot. Gurgle, gurgle, gurgle.
Finally, Old Faithful. We got there just in time.
Next, a quick stop at the huge Old Faithful Inn to pick up some souvenirs.
Back at our hotel after a full day. From left, Alan, Dan, Susan and Colin Boeh, Dawn and Richard.
We had a late dinner at the Westbank Grill in the Four Seasons Resort near our hotel. We strongly recommend it — if a steak house is what you are looking for. Because, although there is a salmon dish and a chicken dish on the menu, most of the offerings are steak. Of course, Richard was in heaven.
Alan ordered salmon and enjoyed it.
Although Richard loved the huge hunk of beef he ordered, his favorite thing was this cowboy chocolate chip cookie with vanilla ice cream. I loved the presentation in the little cast iron skillet.
The next day was a golf day for the guys and a shopping day for the gals.
This picture of Richard looking for his ball is the only photo I was provided with from the day the guys spent at Teton Pines Resort and Country Club. I know. What are friends for? (Photo by Alan Carmichael.)
But I can tell you more about what Dawn and I discovered!
First of all, Bin 22 in downtown Jackson is an EXCELLENT tapas bar. We had patatas bravas, which are potatoes smothered in good toppings like salsa and aioli that are actually a midnight snack in Barcelona, and homemade mozzarella with basil and tomatoes on toast. Yum-yum.
Then we hit an art fair going on near the center of town. Here’s Dawn with one of the artists, Julianne Van Buskirk of Dolores, Colorado. (We may or may not have done some Christmas shopping.)
We may or may not have enjoyed some canned wine!
We went to the golf club to pick up the guys. This is the lobby of Teton Pines.
After a stop at the hotel to let the guys change, we headed back to downtown Jackson to a cute little Italian spot called Orsetto.
The restaurant has huge garage doors that were fully opened, giving us an indoor-outdoor dining experience.
Dawn had a spritz.
Richard knew what he wanted the minute he sat down: spaghetti and meatballs. Look at the size of those things!
This was Dawn’s “best bite” of the trip — garganelli: pasta with English peas, foraged mushrooms, parsley, garlic and Pecorino.
“Orsetto” translates to “baby bear” in English, and I loved the eatery’s logo.
Million Dollar Cowboy Bar
So, it was Saturday night and the place was packed. Plus, it was clear pretty much from the minute after we paid our cover charge: we were not in the target demographic!
Sign of a rocking good time.
Every pool table was in use.
Dance floor was packed.
The bar stools are actually horse saddles. I would have taken a picture of one, but they all were occupied, and I didn’t want anyone to think I was trying to photograph their bottom!
We headed back to the Wort Hotel and the much more laid-back Silver Dollar Bar. (Note: When you see Dawn drinking a beer, you know it’s been a long day/night!)
Music was by Hogan & Moss. They call their music “scorch folk.”
Jackson Hole Aerial Tram
Knowing that I can get motion sickness from sitting in a rocking chair, I don’t know why I thought riding the Jackson Hole Aerial Tram 4,139 vertical feet to the peak of Rendezvous Mountain was a good idea! But there I was, shelling out $40 to do just that.
Dawn and Richard on the tram. (Alan decided to stay at the hotel.)
View on the way up.
At the top is Corbet’s Cabin, built in 1965. Elevation is 10,450 feet. It is a tradition to have waffles there. I did, hoping it would calm my stomach. It did help a little.
View from the top.
Headed back down.
This was our last day and we decided to head back to Jackson prior to dinner.
I can’t really explain this.
Cafe Genevieve is a sweet little place located in a historic log cabin in downtown Jackson. Happy hour starts at 3. We decided to get happy.
This painting, called “Most Noble Pig,” is famous. I fell in love with it. That eye!
We didn’t eat at Cafe Genevieve because we had dinner reservations at another special place. But I want to eat there the next time we go.
The Granary is located in an area called Spring Creek Ranch, atop a nearby butte.
Here’s what the stop signs look like there! Ha.
The Granary is famous for its food and its views. What’s not to love about that?
View from the bar, where we stopped for a pre-dinner cocktail.
Remember when I said that huckleberries are a “thing” there? This is a huckleberry cosmopolitan. It was delicious.
The dinner was absolutely fabulous.
I adored my seafood cioppino linguini.
Dawn had elk tenderloin and paired it with Elk Cove pinot gris, which we shared.
Here’s Alan’s chicken puttanesca. (Richard had a steak, which looked like, well, a steak!)
It was a fabulous trip. We loved almost everything about it. And, as I said, Alan and I plan to return.
There were just a few negatives:
- It’s hard to get there. We had to take three planes. And, thanks to Delta canceling our first flight out of Knoxville, it took us 13 hours!
- It’s expensive. For the amount we spent, we easily could have gone to Europe.
But the good outweighed the bad, and we heartily recommend a trip there.