Jackson Hole Airport, Named the “Best Tiny Airport” By Fodor’s Travel
The Jackson Hole Airport is as stunning as the scenery surrounding it—plus it is the only airport in the country located inside a national park. And, Fodor’s Travel just named it the No.1 “Best Tiny Airport” in the United States.
In true Jackson Hole fashion, even the local airport is worth seeing! Jackson Hole Airport (JAC) is the only commercial airport in the United States located inside a national park, in this case, Grand Teton. In addition to picking up your luggage post-flight, you will also need to retrieve your jaw off the ground after it drops there when—upon arrival— you are greeted by the entirety of the majestic Teton Range.
To enter the terminal and baggage claim area, you’ll need to walk under (and maybe gawk at) an elk antler arch. On weekends during the winter months, you will be greeted by the Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce Howdy Pardners between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Dressed like the cowboys and cowgirls who settled this valley in the early 1900s, the Howdys roll out the red carpet to greet visitors with mimosas, orange juice and hatpins. Welcome to the last of the Old West.
History of the Jackson Hole Airport
The country’s best tiny airport was created in the 1930s when it was determined to be the best place to put an airport in Teton County, Wyoming. In 1943, it was declared a national monument and merged with Grand Teton National Park in 1950.
Once upon a time, the Jackson Hole airport had an unusual terminal resembling a pioneer log cabin. Between 2009 and 2014 the terminal was completely rebuilt, with Grand Teton National Park dictating that the height of the terminal building be limited to 18 feet. The new design resulted in an American Institute of Architects honor award in 2014.
The airport’s terminal is a beautiful timber and stone structure featuring huge, sun-filled windows that frame a spectacular westward view of the Tetons. Complete with a waiting area that includes deep-seated leather chairs with ottomans, gas-powered fireplaces and good, free Wi-Fi, it’s no wonder a traveler from Nevada recently wrote the New York Times to say: “It’s about the only airport where you get ‘angry’ when they announce your flight is leaving instead of when they announce it isn’t!”
This is Truly No Ordinary Airport
Although it’s a small airport, it still has the amenities you’d expect from a major hub. Numerous rental car, shuttle, and taxi services, as well as Uber and Lyft, are available for transport to and from the airport. Within the boarding area is an American restaurant-bar called Jedediah’s at the Airport, free wireless Internet and an ATM. Also in the waiting area is the Grand Teton Park Book Shop that sells souvenirs, books and magazines; 100% of the store’s profits go to the National Park Service. Drinking fountains, soda and snack machines, and restrooms are also located throughout the terminal.
The airport is situated just 10 miles north of the town of Jackson and 20 miles from the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. With nonstop flights from 12 major U.S. cities, Jackson Hole is the most accessible destination resort in the Rockies. The airport is serviced by American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines. These carriers provide direct service to Denver, Salt Lake City, Dallas/Ft. Worth, Minneapolis, Chicago, Atlanta, San Francisco, Houston, Newark, JFK-New York, Seattle, and Los Angeles. During the summer months only, Frontier Airlines offers direct flights between Jackson Hole and Denver.
The Jackson Hole Airport gets Wild!
A variety of wildlife frequents the airport year-round but is seen most often during the spring and early summer. Not only is the runway area a popular mating ground for the rare sage grouse, but it’s also not uncommon to see bison, moose, or even a small herd of elk languishing in the sage flats alongside the entrance to the airport.
And speaking of wild, at the entrance (and exit) of the airport you’ll be greeted by a 15-½-foot-tall bronze sculpture of Wyoming’s iconic state emblem, the bucking bronc and rider. Called “A Battle of Wills,” the sculpture pays homage to Steamboat, Wyoming’s most recognizable steed.
This is truly no ordinary airport and it will start off your trip to Jackson Hole in a most memorable fashion.