When you’re surrounded by mountains on all sides as Jackson Hole is, sunsets are events. (Sunsets in Jackson Hole are also events because as soon as the sun disappears the temperature can drop 20 degrees!) As the sun dips behind the Tetons to the west, the mountains marking the eastern boundary of the valley, the Gros Ventres, including its most recognizable summit, Sleeping Indian, glow a pinky-orange-purple that make you question the completeness of Crayola’s colors. Not to be outdone, the Tetons throw the shadows of their serrated skyline onto the valley floor as the western skies behind them glow—sometimes an otherworldy shade of green!—with the last rays of the day. There are countless ways to enjoy a Jackson Hole sunset, but here are our top picks, whether you’re looking for something civilized or want to be miles from civilization.
Hardcore locals hike the 3,000-some feet and four miles up to The Deck at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. Saner people avail themselves of a free ride on the 8-passenger Bridger Gondola. However you get there, The Deck serves one of the best margaritas in town, tempura portobello fries, and some of the best views of the valley and Sleeping Indian around.
Near the top of East Gros Ventre Butte, literally hanging off its western flanks, The Granary restaurant at Spring Creek Ranch is the valley’s most civilized sunset spot whether it’s one of the nights Pam Drews Phillips is playing jazz (Fridays and Saturdays) or not. Order the Free Range North American Bison Tenderloin and your evening will be perfect.
Snow King Mountain
Summer or winter, you can ride the lift up to the top of Snow King Mountain, only several blocks from Jackson’s elk antler arched Town Square, for one of the most all-encompassing views of the valley, including the shimmering lights of downtown, the empty flatness of the National Elk Refuge and Flat Creek flowing through it, the Tetons, and the Gros Ventres.
Drive a paved road up to the summit of this mountain in the middle of Grand Teton National Park. More a hill than a mountain—relatively speaking, it’s still 7,720 feet tall—Signal Mountain is separated from the Teton Range by Jackson Lake, allowing for expansive views with glacier-cut mountains in the background and one of the deepest alpine lakes in the country in the foreground.
Skip the 1,500-foot drive up mellow Shadow Mountain just outside Grand Teton National Park in favor of parking at the bottom. With only open sage meadows between Shadow and the Grand Tetons, you can stay on the valley floor, pull out your picnic dinner and accompanying refreshments right away, and still have an unobstructed sunset view.