Jackson Hole is a well-known winter retreat for ski-loving celebrities, but it’s also establishing itself as a notable creative community — luring musicians, filmmakers, and yes, movie stars.
The Wyoming town is as authentic as it is stunning, with locals cultivating an impressive arts scene in the mountain community of scenic spots and vast wildlife.
Nestled between Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks, the idyllic town just kicked off its inaugural Jackson Hole International Film Festival (JHIFF), held at the National Museum of Wildlife Art on December 8-10.
The 51,000-square-foot building — built into the hillside of the National Elk Refuge — held eight screenings throughout the weekend, keeping the prominent animal artwork exhibit open to guests.
Filmmakers and festival-goers from around the world were given a special Wyoming welcome by board members and local staff, who showcased highlights of the valley—and the village—during their stay.
The Virginian Lodge, which features fire pits, outdoor spas, a diner and bar, hosted a number of activities, including live music every night.
Finn Taylor, writer and director of the closing film of the festival, Avenue of the Giantseven joined a local band on stage to play his mandolin while I’ll be there actress Kaylee Carter, who co-stars in the comedy-drama with Edie Falco, showed off her singing skills as director Brendan Walsh cheered her on.
Artist and musician Nicky Six of Mötley Crüe, who serves on the board of directors alongside his wife, lifestyle entrepreneur Courtney Six, shared how much the new venture means to him as he continues to venture further into the film scene.
“We love the idea of bringing art and culture to Jackson,” Nicky, 65, told PEOPLE about working with JHIFF Chairman Stuart Suna and Executive Director Marnie Walsh.
“We’ve been talking about this for the last year and a half since it’s been underway. There are a lot of really fantastic people involved. This is the first in many years. A great start.”
“We love to call Jackson Hole our home,” added Courtney, who showed guests how to arrange roses at her Bouquet Box floral bar while sampling Wild Common tequila and mecca with Amrita Beverages.
“It is the most magical and perfect setting, not only for showing movies, but our skiing, fine restaurants and spectacular hotels make it the most beautiful and pristine winter wonderland that does not exist in this world.”
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One of the must-stops recommended in Jackson is Dornans Chuckwagon, established in 1922. Located along the Snake River, this bar and restaurant sits on private land at the base of Grand Teton National Park. The family-run establishment’s superb views provide a front-row seat to one of Jackson’s many beautiful landscapes.
In the “village” or town square, a right of passage for newcomers is a visit to the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar, which may be frequented by tourists but is also a favorite of Reba McEntire when she’s in town, according to sources in the live music scene .
The Silver Dollar Bar in the historic Wort Hotel is another western-themed live music venue favored by locals who love to tell the story of Charles J. Worth, a “keeper,” came to town in 1893.
The site, which “boasts a 67-year history of outlawry,” was once an illegal, “but tolerated” gambling den, according to the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
Modern visitors who want to look like an outlaw can stop at the Grit General, which has been visited by Ryan Gosling and Harrison Ford. This is one of the best stores in town for high-end menswear and accessories. Nearby, Mountain Dandy stocks eclectic, handmade home goods.
Although at any given moment there may be a flock of celebrities—and billionaires—walking through the unique town, Jackson Hole doesn’t take itself too seriously.
The rugged terrain recently held a “Ski in Jeans” weekend where skiers attempted to break the Guinness Book of World Records for “the most people skiing and riding in jeans,” according to Jackson Hole Mountain Resort’s website.
In another signature late-summer gathering, Def Leppard drummer Rick Allen joined fellow percussionists in Jackson Hole for a series of events organized by Mindy and Glenn Stearns for the Raven Drum Foundation, which aims to heal and empower people , trauma survivors, veterans and first responders through music and storytelling.
Whether you visit in summer or winter; seeking rest and rejuvenation or seeing an A-list star; visitors are sure to enjoy exploring the magical environment of Jackson Hole.