Story & Photos by: Jess Downer, Renata Stone
We love Salt Lake City [nope, we're never going to stop saying it]. But we also love how close it is to other rad shit. Fun fact: Did you know that in less time than it takes to haul down to Zion National Park you could be in four other states? FOUR. The closest one, Wyoming, is a piddly 90 minutes in the old station wagon, and should be on the top of your list.
JACKSON & GRAND TETON NAT'L PARK, WY, 5 hours: Now circle around, children, while we tell you a tale of wonder about our fair sister state to the north(east). It is a place of lore, with towering mountains, wrangling cowboys, raging rivers, endless herds of wild game, and wine in grocery stores. A place with endless possibilities for exploring and limited data coverage. The true Wild West. Getting started is easy: Pack everything you own that is denim and/or flannel, put something twangy and/or folksy on the car radio, hop on I-80 to Park City, and keep the peddle to the floor 'til you get to Evanston, WY. From here, we recommend having directions printed out in advance, as the route we took weaved [beautifully] through numerous back roads and bounced between Utah, Wyoming, and Idaho; all with spotty cell coverage.
Check In: Signal Mountain Campground, Teton Park Rd, Moran, Fireside Resort, 2780 Moose Wilson Rd, Wilson -- Whatever your fancy or budget, Jackson has just the spot to tie yer horse up for the night. Since real mountain livin' was the name of our game, we spent our nights at Signal Mountain Campground under the stars toward the north end of Grand Teton National Park. Sitting on the shores of the stunning Jackson Lake, this dandy offers some of the best views in the park. It also offers plenty of amenities to take the bite off outdoor living, such as a nearby restaurant and general store and heated bathrooms with flushing toilets [the tiniest things truly can be the greatest joys]. But don't be fooled, friends; a love of the finer things runs through our COLLECTIVE veins, and a few nights curled in the lap of luxury was a fitting capstone for our trip. We circled our wagons at the Fireside Resort, which features a selection of cozy modern cabins [built by Wheelhaus, a Salt Lake City company...which we're dying to learn more about!]. Clean lines, rich wood, glass, steel, and swoon. These modern marvels offer everything you'll need for a comfortable stay, including a kitchenette, king size bed, flat screen TVs, and wifi.
Eat Out: Cafe Genevieve, 135 E Broadway, Persephone Bakery, 145 E Broadway, Local Co., 55 N Cache St, Million Dollar Cowboy Bar, 25 N Cache Dr -- Hand-to-heart, meals prepared in a cast-iron skillet over an open flame are the best you'll ever taste. But if your idea of vacation involves other people doing all the hard work for you, Jackson will present more culinary delights than a weekend will allow for. A few of our favorites included Cafe Genevieve for breakfast [quaint log cabin with tasty bites and breakfast 'til 3!], Persephone Bakery for sandwiches [adorable space, Intelligentsia coffee, and divine baked treats], and Local Co for dinner [upscale bistro meets cowboy steakhouse…we could write a country ballad about the elk medallions]. Oh, and you'd be highly remiss if you didn't stop into Million Dollar Cowboy Bar for a nightcap--a tourist trap/cowboy bar that's so over-the-top, it loops back around to being awesome.
Spend Pesos: Mountain Dandy, 125 N Cache St., Mountain Man Toy Shop, 98 N Center St. -- On account of Jackson being a resort town and all, there is a plethora of heart-throbbing boutiques in which to deposit your coins. Many of them take that rustic cowboy Americana we know and love about Wyoming and put a dizzyingly-stylish spin on it. There are so many great spots, in fact, that we may have to return and put pen to paper a few more times to hit all the highlights [oh, the horror]. Mountain Dandy is an expertly curated collection of home wares that will see your wallet parting like the Red Sea. And Mountain Man Toy Shop…I'll admit, I have a knife and axe fetish [what man dudn't?], and this shop put me into a pure frenzy with some of the finest axes and knives from around the world [Council, Wetterlings, etc.], as well as perfectly honed homemade cutlery to boot.