In Jackson Hole, the CTS cuts through a Wyoming Valley filled with wildlife, wondrous peaks, and Western charm.
It was Jackson Hole that converted me. I’m a coastal guy. But this valley in western Wyoming is so spectacularly picturesque that I’ve become a mountain guy too. Not that I’m a convert to snow. Summer is even more popular than Jackson’s renowned winter ski season, locals tell me, and summer is when I always go. The season is not long, bookended by a muddy spring and early snows, but from June to August I’ve been rewarded with mountainsides blanketed by evergreens, the peaks of the Teton Range cutting into a clear sky, and flat, easy driving on the valley floor alongside bison and elk, gray wolf and black bear.
The best way to think of the valley, driving-wise, is as a left-handed hook. The tip of the hook is the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort (aka Teton Village). Roughly 16 kilometres south and east of this recreational area (via Routes 390 and 22) is the upscale-cowboy town of Jackson, and from there it’s a straight shot north on 89 past the Jackson Hole Airport (the only airport in America that’s located in a national park), and into the jaw-dropping landscape of the Grand Teton mountains.
I roll up into the parking lot of Jackson Hole Mountain Resort in the CTS Sedan, and the stopping power of the 4-piston aluminium Brembo® front brakes reminds me that this machine is a true sport vehicle. With its long, lean profile and inlaid hood it delivers looks and performance—a devastating combo.
It’s good policy in mountain destinations to head up high at the start of a trip to take in the lay of the land. As Bridger Gondola climbs to more than 2700 metres, the whole valley comes into view—the Technicolor-green herringbone patterns made by the fir, blue spruce, and the lodgepole pine of the subalpine region. To the west, there’s the Teton Range; to the east, the Gros Ventre Range. The bright Snake River, true to its name, twists and turns along the valley floor. An easy hiking loop is accessible from the gondola’s landing, and I’m loving the crisp, clear air up here, which is about 11 degrees cooler than at the base of the mountain.