FOR THE LOVE OF ADVENTURE
Wild & mild options in the Tetons
By Sue Muncaster • Photography by Bradly J. Boner
While planning and executing a wedding is an escapade in itself, don’t let the big day go by without sharing a true adventure with your guests. Whether it’s wild or mild, let down your hair, get some exercise, relax in the area’s natural beauty, and revel in quality time with the people you love.
For the ultimate bachelor/bachelorette party or family reunion, imagine Swiss Family Robinson meets the X Games when considering Jackson’s newest attraction, the Treetop Adventure Park at Snow King Mountain. Built by world-class mountain guides, this aerial adventure park features close to one hundred challenges that snake through the pine forest. After a safety brief, you’ll clip in and ride zip lines, shimmy over suspended bridges, scramble up nets, cross swinging logs, and even ride an aerial skateboard. The course progresses in difficulty, so people (ages seven and up) of all abilities can reach new heights in a secure, natural environment. Spectators can do laps on the new Cowboy Coaster or ride the scenic lift to the summit of Snow King. Gather post-adventure at the base of the course for a catered picnic or zoom down the Alpine Slide together to a private party at Haydens Post in the Snow King Hotel.
What could offer a more authentic Wild West experience than shooting a gun? The top-notch crew at the Jackson Hole Shooting Experience can customize an afternoon for up to forty people. Guests rotate through “shooting stations” and can try out everything from historical rifles to modern, long-range weapons, pistols and revolvers; shoot shotguns at sporting clays; and experience both primitive and modern archery equipment. Whether participants are experienced shooters or neophytes, the coaches guarantee a safe, educational, and fun experience. After leaving the shooting range south of Jackson, consider stopping at The Bird—a favorite watering spot for Jackson locals—or reserving a private room for your celebration at the more upscale Rendezvous Bistro.
While scaling the granite walls of the Tetons may seem like an unlikely group activity, there are a handful of places where people of all ages and abilities can get on a rope. We actually spent a week before our wedding in a group campsite at City of Rocks National Reserve in Southern Idaho, where our friends got to know each other so well that another wedding came out of it! For day trips, climbing at Hidden Falls near Jenny Lake in Grand Teton National Park (where nonclimbers can enjoy the hiking and the boat trip) with Exum Mountain Guides is an obvious choice; other alternatives in the park include Boulder Island on Leigh Lake, which is accessed by canoe or paddleboard (offering plenty of swimming and hiking options), Boulder Town near Jenny Lake Lodge, and Rock Springs Buttress near the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. Relive the day’s adventure and drink in Grand Teton views with a cold beverage and old-fashioned cowboy grub at the Chuckwagon or gooey pizza and fine wine on the rooftop at Dornan’s, both in Moose.
There’s no shortage of outfitters that will take your group down the Snake River scenic or whitewater sections, but a do-it-yourself river float (if you have some experience) or a String Lake regatta will never be forgotten. With a few shuttle vehicles and whatever you can gather—paddleboards, canoes, kayaks, rafts, or dories—you can float the Teton River in Idaho from Bates Road to the Big Eddy or the Snake River from South Park to Astoria Hot Springs. The Teton River is slow; the Snake River, on this stretch, is fast but virtually obstacle-free, and both offer amazing views, good fishing, and almost-guaranteed moose sightings. A beach party along the way with plenty of PBR, Jenny Lake Lager, and fried chicken from Jackson Whole Grocer will make your guests really feel like locals.
Teton Valley’s best-kept secret is out. Whether your guests prefer gentle, banked cruisers (Jolly Green Giants, Greenhorn), twisty singletrack (38 Special, Action Jackson), or gnarly, rock-strewn downhills (Bullwinkle and Sidewinder), the Grand Targhee Bike Park deserves every mountain biking destination award it has won. Kids from six to sixty can explore over 2,200 feet of lift-serviced downhill and over forty-seven miles of high-alpine hiking and biking trails with some of the coolest temperatures and best views in the Tetons. Nonbikers can take a horseback ride or swim. Before heading up the hill to Grand Targhee, you can rent top-notch bikes at Fitzgerald’s Bicycles in Victor or Peaked Sports and Habitat in Driggs. While you are waiting, grab pastries and coffee at Cicero’s or Pendl’s Bakery in Driggs.
The aerial tram at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort ascends 4,139 feet in just twelve minutes, leaving hikers at 10,450 feet among the high peaks while avoiding the 4,000-plus-foot climb to the top. From here, the Rock Springs Loop and Cody Bowl trails traverse lush mountain meadows guarded by soaring red-tailed hawks, curious marmots, and chattering pikas. A late-afternoon excursion might include a cocktail and appetizers halfway down on the gondola deck (Granny can ride up and meet you there). Kids who don’t want to hike can stay at the base and frolic on the Grand Adventure Park ropes course, bungee trampoline, and climbing wall. Relax and rejuvenate afterward in the exquisite rooftop hot tub followed by an essential oil therapy or hot-stone massage at Hotel Terra’s Chill Spa, or toast yourselves at the infamous Mangy Moose.
Sue Muncaster and her husband, Christian, share the title of “Chief Adventure Officer” at the Treetop Adventure Park at Snow King Mountain. When not hanging from trees, Sue writes about adventure, food, sustainability, and parenting in a wild world.
Planning your adventure doesn’t have to be overwhelming—let these experts help:
Ropes Courses/Zip Lines
Treetop Adventure Park at Snow King Mountain:
Grand Adventure: jacksonhole.com