While the United States is dotted with magnificent trail riding destinations, I am, by birth and by heart a child of the West. And of all my favorite wide open spaces, none compare to the grandeur of the Jackson Hole, Wyoming area – a haven for outdoor enthusiasts of all kinds, and a true Mecca for ATV riders looking to take a ride through one of the country’s most majestic, wildlife-rich locales.
Although most people immediately associate Jackson Hole with its proximity to Yellowstone, the most stunning view of the area is afforded by the crags of the Grand Tetons that seem oddly out of place as they tower above the valley floor. Recreational riders can enjoy these views via a network of trails that extend throughout the greater Jackson-hole area, via an ATV that they haul to town themselves, or by taking advantage of rental resources available in the area. In fact, several rental services in the area offer not only ATV’s, but side-by-side UTV’s and Jeeps, that are available for guided tours, or independent exploration.
Rentals in the area run between $100 to $300 per day, depending on whether you’re looking for a trai-only ride, or something that is both street and off-road legal. With thousands of acres of public land operated by both the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management dotted throughout the Jackson area, one of those street legal rides may be a good choice. Additionally, as with the areas around most resort towns, guides are available with your rental to avoid the potential for getting lost. However, a series of detailed trail maps are also available from rental operators, and local U.S. Forest Service Ranger Stations for people who have hauled their own rigs to town. In this environmentally sensitive and oft protected area, just be sure to stay on marked trails and respect the boundaries of the National Parks, where ATV riding is strictly regulated.
Aside from truly majestic scenery, the Jackson Hole area is home to a spectacular range of wildlife. And the animals here are truly the icons that talk of the Wild West conjures up. From moose to Grizzly bear and elk to bison, there is an abundance of truly wild life roaming around the Jackson locale. While riding, take care to keep your distance from any wildlife you encounter; this is the kind of place where a random bear will dart across the trail in front of you, or an obstinate moose will block a path as he munches on some leaves. Though fascinating, both are mean, and you will lose any negatively geared encounter, so be prepared with some bear spray, knowledge of how to handle yourself and a good sense of logic.
However, for riders looking to incorporate some wildlife viewing into their ride, check out areas near the Gros Ventre Campground, just outside of town, where moose can often be found simply doing whatever moose do along the side of the road. For scenic photo opportunities, head out towards the Mormon Row barns and enjoy an epic photo op of your family and quads in front of a scenic Western icon. (You’ll recognize these barns the moment you see them!) Outdoor motorsports are an avenue for exploring from the mountains, to the prairies, to the oceans white with foam. And there’s no better place to get a taste of the West on your ATV than in the majestic shadows of the Grand Tetons.