Saxon Henry Travel Writing
My travel writing credits include Delta Sky, Latitudes, Aishti, Interiors, Cayman Airways, British Airways and other regional publications.
One of the hallmarks of a good travel “story” is exhaustive research and “nailing” the voice of a city, a skill I use in each piece of writing I do.
There’s a reason those Merchant/Ivory films strike a resonant chord, as I learned at Coworth Park, a Dorchester Collection property nestled into the English countryside near Ascot in the United Kingdom. My article for Interiors remains one of my most beautiful clips.
Casta Diva in Lake Como, Italy, was one of my most memorable writing experiences.
Paris is the epicenter of all things romantic, including flowers!
Loved writing this piece about the wildlife surrounding Jackson Hole, Wyoming, for Latitudes.
The Call of the Wild
by Saxon Henry
Ski towns are notorious for hot-dog daredevils on the slopes by day and rousing parties lasting into the wee hours of the night, and Jackson Hole, Wyoming, is no exception. But there’s another type of wildlife proliferating around this tourist destination with fluctuations in visitors ranging from about 3.5 million during the summer to around 250,000 during the winter months, and their natural habitats make for some exciting adventures.
The town’s access to the Grand Teton National Park and the Yellowstone National Park make it a hot spot during the summer for nature lovers but professional guide Jason Williams, owner of Jackson Hole Wildlife Safaris, says don’t dismiss nature’s draw in the wintertime: “Where we are is where the animals want to live during the snowy months: elk, moose, bighorn sheep, bison, bears, deer and wolves leave the mountains where they’ve spent the summers and migrate to our lower elevations.”
Williams comes highly recommended by both the Teton Mountain Lodge and Hotel Terra in Teton Village, and he certainly knows his wildlife. “Wolves tend to shy away from humans but the bighorn sheep are friendly,” he remarks. “It’s not unusual to see massive rams hoofing around town in the winter like they’re our ambassadors!” Though the occasional in-town sighting causes a stir, witnessing wildlife away from the hubbub of human activity provides a mesmerizing peek into their lives. Wolf-watching tours leave Jackson Hole for Teton Park, while the National Elk Refuge is the destination for viewing a variety of species, including the world’s largest wintering concentration of elk and the largest bison herd in the National Wildlife Refuge System, estimated at more than 800.
If photography is your passion, Williams, who is also a professional photographer, heads up creative photography safaris, which are customizable—as are all of his private tours. About half of the excursions he leads are private with seven or fewer participants. Larger mixed groups, which usually number between twelve and fifteen, constitute the other half. Transportation to and from the viewing areas includes roomy passenger vans or sleighs when a sleigh ride is booked.
Though being able to navigate snowy terrain is important during a tour, Williams says the personnel truly matter. “The guide creates the experience,” he explains. “Their expertise is what will make or break the trip.” The Spring Creek Ranch in Jackson Hole agrees, tapping Kurt Johnson, a full-time naturalist, to lead their wildlife safaris to the Grand Teton National Park and a “Best of Yellowstone” safari. The resort also offers a “Wolf Safari Weekend” during which grizzlies, black bears and gray wolves are the stars of the show. If you happen to time it right, bighorn sheep face off in head-butting duels for mating supremacy, and the resort offers stargazing experiences, weather permitting, during which Johnson explains the mythology behind many of the constellations seen from the property’s perch atop its picturesque butte.
Philip and Dianne Frankovic, owners of Jackson Hole Snowmobile Tours, conduct daytrips to the Granite Hot Springs that include a guide who fixes a hearty lunch, like grilled steaks with all the trimmings, to accompany a delicious soak in the steamy water flowing from deep within the earth. Their multi-day trips to Yellowstone include two- and three-day excursions with the Grand Canyon and Old Faithful among the visited sights. Inns within proximity to the different areas of the park on tap for the following days serve as sleeping quarters replete with cocktail hour and dinner ordered from restaurant menus.
If the call of the wild is truly your passion, a team of Frank Teasley’s pups spurred on by an experienced musher-guide can whisk you along on one of his Jackson Hole Iditarod Sled Dog Tours. If the Iditarod team is in town rather than off racing in Alaska, training excursions with Frank at the helm are on the company’s list of offerings. Full-day trips leave at 8:00 a.m. for the Granite Hot Springs, while half-day trips, which have participants back in town by around 1:30 p.m., depart for a campsite halfway to the springs—the trip a panorama of nature wearing its finest wintry dress.
Last winter brought record snowfall to Jackson Hole’s ski resorts, and powder hounds booking excursions with High Mountain Heli-Skiing were in for heart-pounding runs in the backcountry. If you are a glutton for thigh-burning punishment, book the Wilderness Study Area Private Tour, which drops only a few skiers and snowboarders into the deep powder of the Snake River Range for a day of meandering along high-mountain slopes and meadows buried in blankets of pristine snow. The company’s guides are trained in outdoor emergency care by the National Ski Patrol, and are experienced in avalanche hazard forecasting and mountain rescue. The terrain is suitable for only advanced to expert skiers and snowboarders so beginners need not apply!
These adventures are about as strenuous as they come, making the spas that proliferate in many of Jackson Hole’s resorts just what the doctor ordered. The Solitude Spa at the Teton Mountain Lodge offers a Weekend Warrior Poultice Ritual, a massage spiced with turmeric, mint and lemongrass; and the Chill Spa at the Hotel Terra offers a warm Coco Cream Wrap that makes your day spent whizzing your way down a mountain plied with snow nothing but a sweet memory. The Wilderness Adventure Spa, aptly named, at the Spring Creek Ranch offers Reiki, Shiatsu and Rolfing for those achy muscles.
Heli-skiing and heli-snowboarding aside, Williams maintains that most of the adventure excursions in and around Jackson Hole are suited for people with average physical abilities. “I’ve taken my mom and step dad on snowmobile tours to Yellowstone,” he says. “There is so much serenity and solitude for people who are not into heavy physical exertion because fewer people visit Jackson Hole during the winter months, and the ones who come tend to be concentrated on and around the slopes. Communing with the wildlife as we do is quietly but powerfully inspiring.”