In true Jackson Hole fashion, even the local airport is worth seeing! Jackson Hole Airport (JAC) is the only commercial airport in the United States located inside a national park, in this case, Grand Teton. In addition to picking up your luggage post-flight, you will also need to retrieve your jaw off the ground after it drops there when—upon arrival— you are greeted by the entirety of the majestic Teton Range.
Fodor's Travel has named Jackson Hole Airport as the "Best Tiny Airport" in the United States.
Situated just 10 miles north of the town of Jackson and 20 miles from the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort with nonstop flights from 12 major U.S. cities, Jackson Hole is the most accessible destination resort in the Rockies. The airport is serviced by American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, Alaska Airlines and, in summer only, Sun Country Airlines. These airlines provide direct service to Denver, Salt Lake City, Dallas/Ft. Worth, Minneapolis, Chicago, Atlanta, San Francisco, Houston, Newark, JFK-New York, Seattle, and Los Angeles.
The airport’s terminal is a beautiful timber and stone structure featuring huge, sun-filled windows that frame a spectacular westward view of the Tetons. Complete with a waiting area that includes deep-seated leather chairs with ottomans, gas-powered fireplaces and good, free Wi-Fi, it's no wonder a traveler from Nevada recently wrote the New York Times to say: "It's about the only airport where you get 'angry' when they announce your flight is leaving instead of when they announce it isn't!"
Jackson Hole Airport History
The airport was created in the 1930s when it was determined to be the best place to put an airport in Teton County, Wyoming. It was declared a national monument in 1943 and merged with Grand Teton National Park in 1950.
The runway was extended to its current length in 1959. In the 1960s and '70s, a runway extension to 8,000 feet to allow jets was considered; the National Park Service successfully opposed it. In the late 1970s jets began using the existing runway. The area is noise sensitive and the airport allows no jets louder than stage III.
Once upon a time, the airport had an unusual terminal resembling a pioneer log cabin. Between 2009 and 2014 the terminal was completely rebuilt, with Grand Teton National Park dictating that the height of the terminal building be limited to 18 feet. The new design resulted in an American Institute of Architects honor award in 2014.
Jackson Hole Airport Facts
• Jackson Hole Airport is the only commercial airport in the country located within a national park. It covers 533 acres and only has one runway!
• The airport is serviced by American, Delta, United and Alaska airlines. During peak seasons, Jackson Hole has nonstop airline service from 12 destinations throughout the United States. Here is a link to flight schedules: jacksonholeairport.com.
• Jackson Hole Airport does not have jet bridges to its gates so passengers board aircraft via airstairs on the tarmac.
• The largest aircraft seen regularly is the Boeing 757-200, operated by United and Delta airlines. During the eight years that Dick Cheney was vice president of the United States, it was not uncommon to see Air Force 2 on the Jackson Hole Airport tarmac.
Jackson Hole Airport Services and Amenities
Although it's a small airport, it still has the amenities you’d expect from a major hub. Numerous rental car, shuttle and taxi services, as well as Uber and Lyft, are available for transport to and from the airport. Within the boarding area is an American restaurant-bar called “Jedediah’s at the Airport,” free wireless Internet and an ATM. Also in the waiting area is the Grand Teton Park Book Shop that sells souvenirs, books and magazines; 100% of the store's profits go to the National Park Service.
Drinking fountains, soda and snack machines, and restrooms are also located throughout the terminal and a smaller version of Jedediah's is located next to baggage claim.
The Airport Gets Wild!
A variety of wildlife frequents the airport year-round but is seen most often during the spring and early summer. Not only is the runway area a popular mating ground for the rare sage grouse, but it is also not uncommon to see bison, moose, or even a small herd of elk languishing in the sage flats alongside the entrance to the airport.
Please arrive at the Jackson Hole Airport in plenty of time to check in and get through screening. Most airlines recommend 2 hours prior to scheduled departure. At the Jackson Hole Airport, the person checking you in is the same person loading your bags and boarding you. If you arrive 20 minutes prior to your scheduled departure there is a good chance no one will be available to check you in because they are loading bags. Just because there is no line doesn’t mean you will be helped.
From Tuesday through Saturday you will be greeted by members of the Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce in the baggage claim area between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Pre-Covid precautions weary travelers were offered mimosas or straight orange juice, along with information about the area. Cross your fingers that tradition will return!