Five days in Wilson, WY

Bugsy hiking to Table Mountain in the Tetons
Bugsy on the trail to Table Mountain

We had a plan for the Tetons: spend a couple days in Grand Teton National Park and do some hiking in the park, then move to the Jackson Hole area for a couple days to check out Jackson and hike with Bugsy outside the park. (Did you know? Jackson Hole refers to the entire valley, home to Jackson, Wilson, and a few other smaller communities. I thought it was just another name for the city of Jackson.) But we quickly realized there’s so much to do around there and we loved those stinking mountains so much that we kept pushing out our departure date, so Two Days in Wilson, WY became Five Days in Wilson, WY.

Bugsy and the antler arch in downtown Jackson

Jackson is a popular base for outdoor adventurers, with its mountain neighbors and busy downtown commercial area. Downtown Jackson has sort of a fancy cowboy feel to it (it reminded me of downtown Santa Fe actually), and it’s cute and all… but (you know what’s coming) it’s WAY too crowded with tourists. We only went into Jackson once for eating and drinking and were completely turned off by the scene, so beware. I did really like the Whole Grocer store in Jackson, though, for restocking the trailer.

Wilson is much smaller, with great food and fewer people, and we were happy to be based there. Nearby Driggs, ID and Victor, ID had sweet little main streets and may also make good bases for exploration.

Campground

After two nights at Signal Mountain Campground in the heart of Grand Teton National Park, we moved to Fireside Resort in Wilson, WY. It’s a posh place, with a drive lined with adorable glamping cabins and the RV area tucked in back. The RV services were lacking, however. I typed out my complaints and the story was too long and boring so I’ll spare you, but make sure they don’t try to jerk you around with under-construction water and sewer lines and a broken dump tank. Obviously we were happy there overall, since we kept not leaving, but come on. Although maybe I should be thankful for everything being broken because maybe people cancelling is how we got to stay extra days.

a moose in the campground!
a moose family in the campground!

The absolute best thing about Fireside is that the location between grassy meadows means moose sightings are common IN THE CAMPGROUND! We had yet to have a good moose viewing and were gearing up for one last attempt in the cold rain on our last morning in Wilson, when A FAMILY OF FOUR MEESE WALKED PAST OUR BREAKFAST TABLE. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Hiking and walking

All the hikes we did in Grand Teton National Park are in our GTNP post. Below are the dog-friendly hikes and walks we did with Bugsy outside the national park. Remember to take your bear spray hiking!

Hikes

Table Mountain

Bugsy on top of Table Mountain in the Tetons

Hiking to the Table Mountain summit was our #1 goal for non-national park hiking. It’s a tough 11-mile hike with insane views of the Tetons, in dog-friendly Caribou-Targhee National Forest.

We did the loop counter-clockwise, taking the Face Trail up (BRUTAL) and the longer Huckleberry down, with a brief stop on the crazy windy and cold summit. It was an exhausting day but we totally loved it. We started mid-morning on a weekday and only saw about 15 other hikers on the trail. The parking lot was pretty full when we finished, though.

Face Trail sign at Table Mountain hike trailhead

Goodwin Lake

Bugsy fetching a stick in Goodwin Lake near Jackson

The fairly easy 6.2-mile hike to Goodwin Lake is in the Bridger-Teton National Forest, and to get there you drive through the National Elk Refuge (we didn’t see any elk). The last part of the drive is bananas–only try it with a high-clearance vehicle! Before the bananas part there were several pulloffs that could fit small RVs and would be super scenic boondocking spots; definitely scout without a trailer before taking a trailer up there. On a weekday, we only saw five or six other people on this trail.

To do: Angle Mountain, 4.5 miles in Bridger-Teton NF

Walks

After the humans hiked in the dog-unfriendly national park, the dog still needed entertainment. Luckily, we found two fantastic dog-walking places near our campground; Bugsy recommends both!

Bugsy strolling the Snake River Dike

A trail follows the Snake River levee for a couple miles in each direction; we preferred the less-traveled southwest side of the trail. There’s a small parking lot on the right just before the bridge heading from Wilson to Jackson, and from there hike away from the bridge. Off-leash is allowed! You may see a moose in the marsh! (We didn’t.) It’s a fun and convenient place to take your dog.

Bugsy at Rendezvous Park, Wilson

Rendezvous Park is even closer to the campground, and it’s gorgeous and full of wildlife (of course we saw zero moosies). Dogs are only allowed on the 1-mile perimeter trail, but that trail is very nice and passes an off-leash area with a pond by the levee. Yes, the same levee, but the northeast arm–so you can add distance to your walk there if you’d like.

Eating

Several days without water and sewer hookups means you let other people wash dishes for you, so we’ve got a bunch of restaurant and bar opinions to share.

Wilson restaurants

Calico is next door–walking distance–to the campground. It’s a neat old place, serving Italian-American food, with dog-unfriendly outdoor seating. We had yummy pizza and local huckleberry cocktails, and the service was outstanding.

tacos and fries at Streetfood in Wilson

Streetfood is in “downtown” Wilson and we loved the scene there! The dog-friendly yard is strewn with picnic tables, and the food–tacos, bowls, sandwiches–is fab. Streetfood is attached to Stagecoach, a dive bar that’s a longtime local with favorites, and seemed like a cool spot to hang out if there were no Covid. The beer selection was quite bad when we visited, alas. Streetfood/Stagecoach seems to be a hub for downhill cyclists catching shuttles up Teton Pass, and it was really fun to watch them prepping for their wild rides back down or rehashing trail adventures.

eating a Pearl Street Bagel on the Table Mountain hike

The original Pearl Street Bagels is in Jackson, but the Wilson outpost has been around for 25 years and is much more convenient for picking up bagels to eat on the trail. We stopped there twice on the way to hike for tasty bagels and lattes.

Jackson restaurants

We only ate one meal in Jackson. See rant above for more details. That meal was at Snake River Brewing, and it was nothing special. J will tell you more about Snake River Brewing in the Beer section below.

Teton Village restaurants

Bugsy getting fed from the table at Spur restaurant in Teton Village

Teton Village is a ski resort about fifteen minutes from Wilson. We thought it would be fun to check out, and our friend who lives in Wilson had recommended Spur Restaurant, so off we went for dinner and a drink one evening. We sat at a little outdoor table where Bugsy could join us (call ahead if you’re bringing your pup as I’m not sure all the outdoor seating is dog-friendly), and the food and service were top-notch. The menu is meat-heavy, but the veggie dish I had was phenomenal.

Other recommendations

We couldn’t eat at ALL the places we heard about; these were also recommended by friends and the internet:

In Jackson: Glorietta’s for Italian, Snake River Grill for upscale dining, White Buffalo Club for happy hour drinks and burgers… although it’s described as a speakeasy, which doesn’t sound very Covid-friendly

In Wilson: Nora’s for diner-style breakfast, Persephone Bakery for breakfast or a light lunch (they also have a location in Jackson)

In Teton Village: Osteria for Italian, Teton Thai

Drinking

Beer

Here’s J with his beer smarts:

There are three breweries walkable to one another in downtown Jackson: Snake River Brewing, Melvin Brewing, and Stillwest Brewery and Grill; and a fourth, Roadhouse Brewing, just south of town. Unfortunately, given the crowds in the city when we were there, we were only able to go to Snake River.

Snake River Brewing restaurant

We had drunk Snake River’s Earned It Hazy NE IPA in Grand Teton National Park and liked it, so were keen to go there first. Unfortunately, the brewery had the vibe of just any old popular and touristy restaurant, with servers who didn’t seem like beer people, and a cheesy gift shop offering up Christmas ornaments in October. And they don’t allow flights except in groups of eight beers. Still, they had that one decent IPA. Lauren also sort of liked their horchata cream ale and their barrel aged blackberry Belgian “quadruple sour” but found both too strong, the former in flavor and the latter in ABV (12%). Anyway, decent beer but we won’t be in a hurry to get back there.

a beer in the yard at Grand Teton Brewing

Following a hike west of town, we also hit Grand Teton Brewing Company, which is just over the Idaho border. We didn’t love their beers, but enjoyed sitting outside in their open field overlooking the mountains. 

Cocktails

a drink outside at OYG in Teton Village

Before dinner at Spur in Teton Village we (including Bugsy) did some people-watching in the grass with cocktails from Old Yellowstone Garage. The drinks were good, the entertainment (people-watching) was fun, and the food menu at OYG looked delish too.

In Jackson, we enjoyed a cocktail at Gather. It’s a block off the main square, so more peaceful, and was a nice place to exhale after dodging the crowds all evening.

Drinks we did not drink, but read about: sloshies, the local frozen cocktail craze; and fancy cocktails to go from The Rose in Jackson (alcohol is allowed in to-go cups in some areas)

hiking down from Table Mountain in the Tetons
Hiking the Huckleberry Trail down from Table Mountain

Have I mentioned that I kind of like those mountains? I suspect we’ll be back to the Jackson area. Let us know if you have favorites that we should check out!

5 Replies to “Five days in Wilson, WY

  1. You were indeed in some beautiful country in that part of Wyoming.. Matter of fact I actually thought of staying in Jackson to work for the winter when I left Yellowstone in 1961.. But my thumb was restless and hitchhiking had a thrill all its own… Anyway, if you didn’t visit the Million Dollar Bar in Jackson you didn’t actually go to Jackson, (rumor has it they changed the name of the dump to the Silver Dollar bar a/c the silver dollars making up the entire bar) but you did appear to do some really interesting and fun stuff in the area.. (Have a great Thanksgiving with the family—we’ll miss you)..

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