Welcome back to Ask a Local, a series of posts in which I interview locals all over the world about what to see, where to go, what to eat, and how to fit in in their city or town.
Today, Jackson local Michael Moeri, the mind behind Jackson Hole Food Tours, is here to give us the insider scoop on stunning Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
First, tell us about you.
I grew up in the midwest. North Dakota is where I call home. I I’ve been living in Jackson since 2010, but also used to work in the Grand Teton National Park during my summers in college (2003, 2004, and 2006).
For my full-time job, I am the assistant station manager at community radio station (89.1 KHOL). I also own and operate a food tour company called Jackson Hole Food Tours where I lead travelers around the town for some delicious food and a bit of Jackson Hole history.
In my free time, I like to hike, bike, snowboard, and enjoy some locally brewed beverages.
If someone is visiting your town/area for the first time, what do you recommend they do and see?
In summer, I recommend hiking in the Tetons. My favorite hike to do with visitors is Paintbrush Canyon or Cascade Canyon. These hikes give you a great feeling of what the Teton Range has to offer. For a more flat terrain, got out to Bearpaw Lake.
If you are exploring Yellowstone, be sure to stop at both the lower and the upper falls. There is also a lesser-known waterfall just after you enter Yellowstone called Moose Falls. It’s the first pullout (labeled “Crawfish Creek”) after you enter the south entrance. This used to be the destination for waterfall jumpers and swimmers, but currently no swimming is allowed.
To get a great view of Jackson Hole without hiking, take the Jackson Hole Aerial Tram up to the top of Rendezvous Peak. Go as soon as it opens in the morning and grab a waffle at Corbet’s Cabin.
What are some of your favorite hidden gems, things that people haven’t heard as much about?
If you are really into exploring, look into doing the Teton Crest Trail. This 40-mile backpacking trip will lead you to some of the most beautiful places this state has to offer. The best way to feed your hunger after a long hike in the Tetons is to head to Leeks Marina for some scrumptious pizza. Leeks is only open during a few months in the summer.
If you are looking for a great non-designated trail hike, go to Avalanche Canyon, which will lead you to a pristine lake at the top of a boulder field. This hike, in my experience, has the most wildlife encounters, so be sure to bring bear spray with you.
For the non-hikers, the most consistent entertainment that takes place in winter and summer includes:
Sundays: The Stagecoach Band at the Stagecoach Bar. This bar brings together longtime locals and visitors for a great night of dancing.
Mondays: The Hootenanny at Dornan’s. This is a chuckwagon dinner and open-mic-night-style entertainment.
Tuesdays: Bluegrass night at the Wort Hotel. The band One Ton Pig is a staple with Jackson locals.
What neighborhoods do you recommend staying in for those who want to get a real taste of the city?
There are a wide variety of places to stay either in the town of Jackson, Teton Village, or the neighboring parks. For a more rustic stay, I recommend the Colter Bay Cabins in Grand Teton National Park. If you want to explore Jackson more, The Wort Hotel (mentioned above), Hotel Jackson, and Antler Inn are good choices for walking around town. In the winter, I recommend the Four Seasons or Hotel Terra located in Teton Village (though keep in mind they’re pricier).
[Editor’s note: We stayed in the Bentwood Inn in Wilson and it was hands down the best place I’ve stayed in the entire USA. I highly, highly recommend it.]
Let’s talk about day trips…what nearby places should people visit?
If you are staying in Jackson and want to explore, the obvious choice is exploring the Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone. The town of Cody just outside the east entrance of Yellowstone has a great museum called the Buffalo Bill Museum. If you like western heritage, this is the place to go.
The Gros Ventre mountain range also offers great hiking. I recommend the hike to the top of Sheep Mountain. The terrain is very different than on the Teton Range. Be sure to bring a detail map when hiking in the Gros Ventre range, as it is not was well detailed with signs like the Teton Range.
What nearby walking paths, parks, or natural areas would you recommend?
There is a great pathways system in Jackson Hole.
Granite Hot Springs is a great place to relax. It’s located about 30 minutes outside of the town of Jackson.
And, if you are traveling with a pup, you can take your dog off leash at Emily Pond near Wilson or on Cache Creek in Jackson.
What local dishes and drinks should people try while in your area? And what are your top five favorite bars and restaurants in your area?
Jackson has an explosive culinary scene. High-end cuts of meat are at the top of the list at most restaurants. My top five are Rendezvous Bistro, Trio, The Kitchen, Snake River Grill, and Snake River Brew Pub (for more casual fare).
My top five bars are Thai Me Up (best beer in town), The Rose (best cocktails in town), Million Dollar Cowboy Bar (best people-watching in town), Stagecoach Bar (in Wilson), and The Bird (with its great deck in the summer).
Any tips for saving money while traveling here?
Colter Bay has shared bathroom cabin rentals. There are only four of them and they are hard to book. You need to call and ask about them to check availability. Colter Bay also has tent cabins if you want to camp, but not in a tent. If you have your own gear, there are plenty of campgrounds that are affordable or you can camp for free in the national forest nearby.
Budget-friendly bars and restaurants in Jackson with good pub food include Pinky G’s Pizzeria, Cutty’s, Eleanor’s, Snake River Brew Pub, Signal Mountain (Trapper Grill), and
An easier way to get to Jackson on a budget is to fly Allegiant Airlines into Idaho Falls, ID. It’s only a two-hour drive and if you can fly Allegiant it is very affordable.
Is there anything tourists do that locals find rude or strange? What can we do to better fit in?
Try not to take pictures in the middle of the road. Only cross the street when you have a signal. Be polite to other people in the national parks. Leave no trace, meaning clean up after yourselves in the parks. Do not leave trash at your camp or picnic site. Do not approach the wildlife. There have been many incidences of humans and animals being harmed by tourists who didn’t act appropriately. Follow the signs in Yellowstone.
Do not leave the path like these guys.
Do not put baby bison in your car because you think they are cold.
For someone staying a bit longer, what is the best way to meet locals and make friends?
Going out in Jackson is an easy way to meet tourists and locals. Tuesday night bluegrass at the Wort and Sunday nights at the Stagecoach are great spots. There are a lot of community events and classes you can take regularly. Yoga, pilates, and dance classes are a great way to meet other people. Check out the calendar on planetjh.com to see events happening throughout the day.
Where are the best places to get a memorable photograph of your area?
The iconic elk antler arches in the town square are a must for anyone visiting Jackson. The top of the Aerial Tram in Teton Village will make for a great shot. And the falls in Yellowstone also make for a memorable photo.
Where can we find good Wi-Fi?
Great cafés and coffee shops to work in include Cowboy coffee, Jackson Hole Roasters, Persephone Bakery, Picnic, and Eleaven.
The Teton County Library also has great work areas and is very quiet.
Anything else you want us to know about your city or the surrounding area?
If you love nature and mountains, Jackson Hole is hard to beat. Many people come to visit and never leave. Make sure to stay for at least three days if you are planning a Yellowstone trip. Drink lots of water. At higher elevation alcohol will hit you faster, so be sure to limit yourself. And weather can change quickly in the mountains, so be prepared for a little afternoon rain shower on summer days.
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