My other half and I love adventurous vacations, which have taken us pretty much all over the world. Several months ago, we decided that we’d stay in our “own backyard”, and explore what the areas of the Grand Tetons, Yellowstone, Mt. Rushmore/Keystone, and Colorado had to offer.
On July 4th, my other half and I embarked on a four-hour flight, and eight-hour Jeep ride (shout out to Avis for the sweet Jeep Wrangler), from Denver Airport, to Jackson Lake Lodge, to begin our eight-day vacation in the Midwest and Rockies regions.
While I’ve driven this part of the country before, my other half had not, which meant stopping for a lot of great photo opportunities!
There were two reasons why I chose the eight-hour drive: 1. I knew the South Entrance into Yellowstone would be the entrance less-traveled, resulting in less heavy traffic 2. Jackson Lake Lodge’s view (see link at the top of this post to see their site) was going to be unparalleled both in the evening, and in the morning as well.
Built in the 1950s as a high-end mountain getaway, celebrities and foreign dignitaries, alike, have stayed there, with plenty of photos and memorabilia lining the walls of the main building to prove it. However, what sold me on staying there for one night was The Mural Room. Hands down, this five-star restaurant (as well as it’s surrounding terraces) has the best unencumbered view of the Grand Tetons, as well as sunset! It is an absolute must on your itinerary! See below for travel tips, from our Day 1.
Recommendations for taking this part of the trip:
- If you are coming from Denver International Airport, I’d suggest taking an early flight in. We landed at 9:15am (local time), and were on the road by 10:30am. We hit no traffic, allowing us to enjoy the drive more.
- A Jeep Wrangler or any SUV is recommended. For 5 days our total came out to just under $500 pre-paid. It was completely worth it to drive around a bit higher up, being able to take in more scenery, as well as feel a bit safer on some of the 85 MPH roads!
- If you choose to go to Jackson Lake Lodge in the summer, make sure to book MONTHS in advance! They sell out quickly, especially for the months of June and July. For one night, our cottage room was a little over $250 for the night.
- The lodge and cottages are rustic from the outside (I felt like I was back at summer camp). Inside, they are beautiful and quite large! They do not have TVs in them, as they assume their guests will only be sleeping there.
- Book the Mural Room for dinner FAR IN ADVANCE. It’s hard to get reservations there. My recommendation is to book it for sunset, and request a window table. Sunset is a little after 9pm in early July. We requested an 8:45pm reservation, which was perfect. (Note: Both the strawberry salad and prime rib were excellent.)
- Eat breakfast in the Pioneer Grill. It’s the original 1950s diner, and you feel like you’ve entered a time capsule. The food is great too (I hear the sticky buns are out of this world)!
- Leave early to get to Yellowstone, but don’t miss the sunrise!