It's not a regular event to have a rainy Jackson Hole day during our summer—in fact, the occasional rainy day can be a treat for locals as a break from 80-degree days. Generally, we might have an afternoon rain shower in July and August from monsoonal moisture that clears off and presents a beautiful evening. However, if you happen to hit some lasting rainy weather in Jackson Hole, these are our fail-safe, day-saver recommendations.
1. National Museum of Wildlife Art
Just 2.5 miles north of the town of Jackson and overlooking the National Elk Refuge, this 51,000-square foot facility offers 14 galleries, a sculpture trail, library and gift shop. On May 8, 2008, President George W. Bush signed a Public Lands bill recognizing the NMWA as the "National Museum of Wildlife Art of the United States", so don't miss this cultural icon in Jackson Hole. Great activities are here for kids, too, including a Children's Discovery Gallery. Enjoy a creative lunch with a view at Palate restaurant that complements the museum’s world-renowned art. Sip a glass of rosé on the patio, linger over your meal and peruse the museum’s world-class art collection.
2. Spa Time!
Use the downtime from playing in Jackson Hole and treat yourself to one of the area's many spas, or yoga studios. A massage or a soak is guaranteed to blast those chills away.
3. Craig Thomas Discovery & Visitor Center
As the main visitor center to Grand Teton National Park, The Craig Thomas Discovery & Visitor Center offers a modern interpretative environment that explores the themes of place, people, preservation and mountaineering. Take in the exhibits, gift shop and watch the 24-minute high-definition movie "Grand Teton National Park: Life on the Edge." Be entranced by the breathtaking views (great in all weather) and let the kids loose to pet animal pelts and interact with the exhibits. They can also participate in their very own induction to the Junior Ranger program!
4. Tour the Town Square
Put on your cowboy boots and walk the wooden sidewalks of Jackson's historic Town Square—or shop for said boots! The square features shops, restaurants, galleries and the famous elk antler arches of Jackson's outdoor living room. Luckily for you, there are plenty of places to duck into for an amazing find, a glass of wine, or a warming cup of Joe.
5. Jackson Hole Historical Society & Museum
Founded more than 50 years ago, the Jackson Hole Historical Society & Museum offers a place where "the Old West is still alive." Current exhibits include "Homesteading in the Hole" and "Wyoming Women Historic Photographs." The museum is located at 225 N. Cache, steps from Town Square.
6. Scenic Drives
With miles of big skies and open roads in any direction, Jackson Hole is the perfect place to take a scenic drive. Take a trip from the town of Jackson north on Hwy 89 to the Gros Ventre Juncture and turn right towards Kelly, Wyoming. This takes you along Antelope Flats, where the buffalo roam and the historic Moulton Barn and Mormon Row cabins sit out on the open range. As you approach the highway junction near Moose, either turn left and tour the Craig Thomas Discovery & Visitor Center, or turn right and head further up the road to Moran Junction. After that, turn left and travel for a few miles to return to Jackson via the Inner Loop Road in Grand Teton National Park.
7. Tour the Art Galleries
Jackson Hole is one of the top art towns in the West. Offering everything from Western to contemporary visual art and sculpture, our galleries can keep you enthralled for days. Mostly located in and around the Town Square, pick up a gallery map at your first stop and craft an itinerary from there.
Jackson also boasts a terrific Art Association where you can take a class or two if you are so inclined. The association is located inside the Center for the Arts where it has an art supply store for you traveling painters, sketchers and such to stock up on all you need to capture this glorious area on canvas. Check out the classes offered at artassociation.org.
8. Visit the Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve
Located on the Moose-Wilson Road in Grand Teton National Park, the Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve offers sensory exhibits that highlight the visual, auditory and tactile qualities of the Preserve's plants and wildlife. Sit in the sound room to relax and take in the sounds of nature. Great for all ages. Plus, if the weather allows, the center also serves as a trailhead for several different excursions.
9. Western Shows
If the rain is not letting up, book an evening show with one of our local entertainment providers. A most memorable theater experience is taking in a lively, Western-themed musical show at the Jackson Hole Playhouse.
10. Cowboy Up!
Heck, you came here to ogle our nature, wildlife and the national parks. Get yourself a new rain jacket and go explore! Generally, the rain drives our visitors into town, so take advantage of having Grand Teton National Park all to your lonesome. Normally, we've got 4 million people passing through the gates on any given year, so this kind of alone time is rare. Hike, plan a wildlife viewing tour or check out the park's historic buildings. It's the perfect place to get lost.
Bonus! Where to Read a Book
Nothing like a rainy day to enjoy a great read, but complement that with several cozy places that are very Jackson Hole. Start at the Valley Bookstore on Broadway just off Town Square and ask your friendly local booksellers for a few recommendations. Then, choose from spots like the Jackson Lake Lodge's "Great Room," which takes in sweeping views of the Tetons from the comfort of a lodge and its surrounding restaurants, the Mural Room and the Pioneer Grill. The reading room at the Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve is a more intimate setting and offers the option to take a walk between downpours.
Staying close to town? Get your table, favorite espresso and a tasty pastry all queued up at Persephone Bakery.