Say "Jackson Hole" and skiers immediately think of the steepest, deepest powder runs in the country. But the "Hole"-the 60-mile valley that runs from the south entrance of Yellowstone National Park through Grand Teton National Park to the town of Jackson-is at its busiest during summer. That's when the cowboy town of Jackson is jammed with RVs and ambling sightseers. But venture beyond the streets and sidewalks, and you'll be absorbed into an expanse of wilderness that makes civilization melt away. The great outdoors is just a little greater here-the mountains a bit bigger, the valleys a shade greener, and the air noticeably crisper. Take to the trails by foot or bike and you soon feel connected to the rugged grandeur of the Tetons. Start the day early with a dish of huevos or pancakes at Nora's Fish Creek Inn in Wilson, 6 miles west of Jackson at the base of 8,431-foot Teton Pass. Next door, Wilson Backcountry Sports has trail maps and mountain bike rentals.
Ask for directions to thrilling singletrack riding off the old pass road, a 5-mile, 2,200-vertical-foot paved but car-free ascent. Along the climb are several hiking and biking trail options, including the experts-only Black Canyon trail, a wildflower-lined singletrack that starts with panoramic summit views and ends amid sweeping meadows at the bottom of the pass road. Gentler riding is found on the Dike Road along the Snake River and the dirt roads that wind through the 25,000-acre National Elk Refuge that butts up to Jackson's northern border.
As the afternoon heats up, you may feel like hitting the water. The Snake River, where it meanders from Jackson Lake past town, is perfect for a scenic float trip or for hooking monster cutthroat trout. South of town, rafting becomes a whitewater adventure. For tranquil, technically demanding fishing, try Flat Creek, which runs through the National Elk Refuge. Crowds or no, tooling around the wooden-planked sidewalks of Jackson is a must. Gap and Polo stores are interspersed with art galleries, authentic Western shops, Indian jewelry and purveyors of upscale cowboy chic. Just to say you've done it, grab a bar-side saddle at the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar and celebrate the Wild West with a tall, cold one.
Cap off your day with exquisitely prepared game at the Snake River Grill, The Range, Stiegler's or the Blue Lion. If casual is your scene, Calico Pizza and the Vista Grande, located on the Teton Village Road, share a giant lawn with plenty of room for little ones to romp, big ones to lounge and everyone to take in the views of the snowcapped Tetons.