The often-unpredictable weather in the Northern Rocky Mountains can sometimes offer up all four seasons in a day! Though Jackson Hole’s summer climate can be challenging to the uninitiated, a little know-how and the right gear will go a long way toward keeping you toasty and safe during your adventures here. With that in mind, we've assembled some summer packing advice that will keep you warm, well equipped and confident.
Given Jackson Hole's high-altitude and dry climate, temperature swings can be 40 to 50 degrees from early morning to the heat of the day so you need to dress in layers. Layering is the name of the game here, and it starts from the inside out. We have included some call-outs to Jackson Hole's homegrown brand, Stio.
1. Base layer: Instead of cotton, you will want to pack moisture wicking T-shirts and long sleeve shirts made of synthetic materials like Polypro and Capilene, especially for hiking and other athletic pursuits. Cotton shirts are fine for sightseeing and such. We like Stio's Divide Tech Tee (Men's & Women's).
2. Insulation layer: Bring a fleece jacket or vest that's packable enough to keep in your knapsack on long hikes. Because fleece continues to insulate while wet, the material is brilliant for use in rugged conditions and for our chilly mornings and late evenings. See Stio's Pinion Down Vest (Men's and Women's) or Alpha Alpine Pullover (Men's and Women's).
3. Wind/rain shell: Afternoon thunderstorms are not an anomaly in Jackson Hole; they are a certainty. Bring an outer shell for blocking the elements (they also come in handy on whitewater or scenic float trips on the Snake River). See Stio's Second Light Jacket (Men's and Women's).
4. Pants: Light weight, zip-off hiking pants (that turn into shorts) are perfect for day use in and around Jackson Hole. A pair of blue jeans and khakis is also packing “do.” See Stio's Coburn Pant (Men's and Women's).
6. Water shoes: A pair of waterproof sandals such Tevas, Chacos or Keens are perfect for watersports and light hiking around area lakes. We like Chaco's Outcross Evo 2 water and hiking shoe.
7. Trail/hiking shoes: Grand Teton National Park is a hiking park. Unless you are doing some bigger hikes, you can get by with your tennis/running shoes; trail shoes are better. If you are going for it, get a sturdy pair of hiking boots made from a breathable but waterproof fabric (like Gore-Tex) so that your feet stay dry and cool.
8. Socks: High-quality socks are critically important for a day in the Tetons. Look for performance socks such as Smartwool that wick water off your feet and are anti-microbial. They will keep your feet dry in your boots and pad your skin against possible blisters.
9. Web Belt: A sturdy belt is useful for holding your bear mace and pants up when in the whitewater! Try Jackson Hole's Mountain Khaki's web belt.
10. Hat: Keep the elements off your noggin and the sun out of your eyes.
11. Sunglasses: A must at altitude. Get some for the little ones too.
Traveler Tip: Jackson Hole is a pretty casual place to be and even five-star dining can be done in sandals. Nevertheless, if you plan to partake in one of the area's many cultural offerings, a nice sundress or tucked in shirt can be nice, too. Just note that if you arrive in full rodeo regalia, locals will immediately sniff you out as a non-local.
1. Small backpack: Bring one that’s spacious and sturdy enough to carry rain gear, flashlights, extra sunscreen, etc., without causing discomfort to your shoulders. We recommend Stio's Basin XT or Camelbak Arete
2. Flashlight and/or headlamp: Buy a durable, LED flashlight or a headlamp for easy, hands free use. Even if you're not camping, it's never a bad idea to keep a flashlight handy in case the sun sets on your hiking trip.
3. Hydration: Dehydration is the No. 1 cause of medical emergencies in Grand Teton National Park, yet is one of the easiest to avoid. A good rule of thumb is that for every 4 to 5 miles you add to your hike, you need to replenish with an extra liter of water. Nalgene water bottles or a Camelbak (hydration bladder) will do the trick.
4. Binoculars or spotting scope: There is so much to see here and sometimes your eyes will need a little help. Binoculars are ideal for wildlife spotting in, on and around the mountain peaks and sage flats. We recommend: Vortix Optics
5. First aid kit: From Band-Aids, to aspirin, to moleskin patches for blisters and hand sanitizer, a tiny first aid kit can do serious good when it comes to safety during your active Teton adventures.
6. Insect Repellent. Try the new Thermacell that clears them out in a 15' x 15 zone. Great to have at the campsite or when you stop for lunch on the trail.
Traveler Tip: While not a must, a Swiss Army pocketknife or a Leatherman (Skeletool is our favorite model) are proven to be very useful not only when camping, but also on hikes.
- Sunscreen: BYO sunscreen or, better still, wait until you arrive and buy a tube of Jackson Hole’s own Trilipiderm broad spectrum SPF 30 sunscreen. Buy on Amazon
- Body lotion: The high altitude in Jackson Hole is “famous” for drying out skin. Trilipiderm’s moisture retention creams and ultra-hydrating oil were formulated in Jackson Hole to help stave off dry, parched skin. Buy on Amazon
- Lip Balm: You'll want to keep those lips coated.
- Bandana (cotton): Toss one of these into your backpack while hiking to clean off your sunglasses, the screen of your smartphone, or camera lens (cotton won’t leave scratches). It also comes in handy to wipe away any sweat and—in case of any emergency—makes a good addition to your first aid kit. A bandana can be worn to protect your noggin’ from the hot sun, too!
What To Buy/Rent Once in Jackson Hole
Bear mace: Jackson Hole and its environs are squarely located in bear country (see “Staying Safe in Bear Country”) thus carrying bear spray while hiking and camping is a must. You cannot fly with bear mace, but you can buy it from the Jackson Hole's premier outdoor retailer conveniently located on Town square JD High Country Outfitters —who additionally carries every outdoor item you could imagine. Or rent a canister of bear spray from Teton Backcountry Rentals.
Locally-made snacks, such as Tram Bars or Bovine+Swine sausages from Bin 22 and Bodega, are good for an energy boost during hikes, adventures on the lakes in Grand Teton National Park or trips down the Snake River.
Mountain clothing: Consider waiting to purchase your outdoor apparel from Stio of Jackson Hole located just off Town Square and in Teton Village. Clothing at Stio not only provides you with the necessities for vacationing here, but also a useful, wearable “souvenir.”
Recommended References and Reading
- Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks - Fodors
- Lonely Planet Yellowstone & Grand Teton National Park (Travel Guide)
- Jackson Hole Total Eclipse Guide: Commemorative Offical Guidebook
- Grand Teton National Park Hiking Map
- Grand Teton National Park Photographer's Map and Guide
- National Geographic Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Park Road Guide
As mentioned, the summer weather in Jackson Hole isn’t as predictable as yours back home. The only trusted source is from our local weatherman, Jim Woodmencey at mountainweather.com/forecast.