The winter scene of Jackson Hole transforms the sagebrush laden valley and evergreen crested foothills into a pristine white wonderland with ample opportunities for incredible experiences. Many venture to this iconic northwestern region of Wyoming between the months of December and April with the definitive goal of going to a ski resort. The Teton Range boasts a seasonal average of 500 inches of snowfall, making it a valuable resource for those who enjoy the craft of skiing and snowboarding. However, if you are looking for additional activities as well and wondering what Jackson, WY might have to offer during this hibernal time of year, check out the ten non-skier activities listed below for some fun ideas!
A family takes in the sights with Jackson Hole Eco Tour Adventures
1) Snow tubing, cowboy coaster and gondola at snow king
Snow King is a ski resort nestled near downtown Jackson and while skiing is certainly its most renowned downhill sport- it offers so much more! If you are still interested in the exhilaration of flying down the slopes minus the skis- check out the Cowboy Coaster and snow tubing right at the base of the mountain. If you prefer less of a speed-related activity, consider a scenic ride up the Snow King gondola. At the summit you will be at 7,808ft and on a clear day this vantage point includes an overlook of downtown and views of the distant jagged peaks of the Teton Range on the horizon. With any of these activities make sure to dress warmly and have snow proof shoes!
Tubing with the whole family! Credit: New Thought Media
2) Dog Sledding
Do you have a penchant for sledding over the snow and through dense evergreen forests while being led by a team of eager, vocal dogs? Fortunately, there are a variety of quality companies that offer this experience to visitors! The Iditarod Dog Sled Tours offer trips into the Bridger Teton National Forest, including a full day adventure to Granite Hot Springs where you can swim in naturally heated spring waters that can be 100-degree Fahrenheit or more. Continental Divide Dog Sled Adventures conducts a variety of half day tours east of Moran, WY near Togwotee Pass where you can expect lots of snow and potential views of the distinctly beautiful Teton peaks. Call of the WYld provides dog sledding experiences near the base of the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. This company offers 1-hour tours on private ranchland along a lovely, groomed trail and the chance to socialize with the sled dogs!
Feel the thrill of dog sledding!
3) Wildlife & Scenic Tour
While the scenery of Jackson Hole in winter remains abundant, it is often surprising to many that wildlife sightings are also often plentiful during this time of year. One grand example would be the National Elk Refuge. Managed by the US Fish and Wildlife Service and established in 1912, this refuge protects vital winter foraging grounds to a seasonal average of 6,000-8,000 elk. Throughout the rest of the valley animal diversity is abundant where moose, fox, otters, eagles, bighorn sheep and if lucky the elusive wolf could be found! If finding animals is the highlight of your visit to Jackson Hole, consider booking a wildlife safari. There are a multitude of local companies that offer private and group tours of both the National Elk Refuge and Grand Teton National Park. These trips include searching for wildlife in their natural habitat, learning fascinating facts about the species from your guide and observing the animals through spotting scopes and binoculars that your guide will provide. There will also be ample opportunity for scenic stops, such as overlooks of the glorious snow-capped Teton Mountain Range. Check out this link for a list of tour providers: https://www.jacksonholechamber.com/things-to-do/tours/
4) Elk Refuge Sleigh Ride & Visitor Center
Beginning mid-December, the Double H Bar Ranch operates horse drawn sleigh rides that will take you as close to the elk on the National Elk Refuge as possible and allow you to gain an intimate perspective of that protected landscape. Your guide will expertly juggle directing a team of draft horses while interpreting the history, value and dynamics of the refuge. Aside from learning about and observing elk, another highlight of this experience is getting to socialize with the horses at the end of the ride! After a sleigh ride, stop in the National Elk Refuge Visitor Center for more enlightening exhibits, gift shopping and to check out what educational free programs the US Fish & Wildlife Service might have to offer during your visit.
Experience the National Elk Refuge by horse-drawn sleigh!
5) Wildlife Art Museum
Just a few miles North of downtown Jackson is the National Museum of Wildlife Art. Founded in 1987, this fine establishment’s mission is to “impart knowledge and generate wonder through art and education” and does so with over 5,000 pieces of nature-oriented art collected from all over the world and all throughout history. This is a wonderful option for those who need a break from the chilly winter climate of Jackson Hole and just need a cozy indoor adventure. However, if you want to brave the cold for a little longer there is a wonderful sculpture trail outside the museum that boasts incredible views over the National Elk Refuge. There is also Palate located within the museum, which is a tasty restaurant that is open for brunch.
6) Snowshoeing or Cross-Country Skiing (tour, rentals, etc…)
Maybe you want to find another way to explore Jackson’s famed outdoors outside of skiing? Great! There are a variety of resources in Jackson Hole for renting gear like snowshoes, cross country skis and fat tire bikes, as well as companies that offer guided tours with such equipment as well. Both Grand Teton National Park and the surrounding National Forest land offer a mixture of groomed and off-piste adventures. In the National Park the western side of the Grand Loop Road will close to vehicles in winter, but is maintained for cross country skiing, snowshoeing and fat tire biking. This route remains relatively level with very few trees along the trail, meaning lots of chances for beautiful Teton Mountain views. If you are feeling a little more venturesome there is also the ungroomed Taggart-Bradley Lake trail system that treks through lovely lodgepole forests and eventually to frozen, glacial lakes at the base of the mountains (just keep in mind fat tire bikes are not allowed on this trail). If you would prefer to stay close to the Town of Jackson, the Cache Creek Trailhead is nearby in the Bridger-Teton National Forest. This trail system is groomed, not very steep and winds through lovely, forested terrain. These are just a few suggestions out of many! Reach out to the Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce for winter equipment rental information, or if you do not want to go solo, consider booking a guided snowy excursion with Hole Hiking Experience, Jackson Hole Ecotour Adventures or Teton Mountain Bike Tours.
Explore the wonders of Jackson Hole by Snowshoe!
7) Yellowstone Winter Tours
A majority of roadways in Yellowstone National Park will be seasonally closed to normal vehicle traffic in winter, this unfortunately includes access to the notorious Old Faithful Geyser. However, starting most years on December 15th the then snow laden roadways will re-open for guided snowmobile and snowcoach tours! This is an incredibly unique way to experience the world’s first national park considering summer is the busiest time of year for visitation. A winter excursion into Yellowstone not only provides more opportunity for solitude but also some of the best wintry wonderland views. Here you can watch Old Faithful erupt into the frigid air with a spout of near boiling water that becomes a column of whirling steam while snowcapped evergreens blanket the surrounding hills. This is a wonderful way to spend a full day with family and friends. If interested, book a winter Yellowstone tour as soon as possible since availability is limited! Scenic Safaris provides both snowcoach and snowmobile tours, Teton Science School offers private snowcoach tours and then there is Old Faithful Snowmobile Tours.
Experience the magic of Yellowstone in Winter. Credit: Jackson Hole Eco Tours
8) Shopping (shop local!) & art galleries
Spend a day in the town of Jackson shopping locally and pursuing through the diverse selection of art galleries on and off the Townsquare. There is no shortage of Jackson Hole themed souvenirs, fine arts, and tasty treats to be found. If you need any maps or recommendations stop by the Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce office just a few blocks off the Townsquare at 260 W Broadway (right beside the Bin22 restaurant).
Shop in downtown Jackson!
9) Hot Springs
Yellowstone National Park is not the only spot with hot springs! Just approximately 20 minutes south of Jackson, WY is the lovely Astoria Hot Springs Park. This park has multiple developed pools that are fed by natural spring waters flowing from the warm depths of the Earth. There are changing rooms and showers available at Astoria, and beverages available to purchase onsite. If planning to visit this geothermal spa visit https://astoriahotspringspark.org/ ahead of time to book a soaking session!
Alternatively, there is the more remote Granite Hot Springs nestled in the Gros Ventre Mountains. This spring is more challenging to access, as you will have to travel over snow for 10 miles to reach it. There are snowmobile and dog sledding companies available to guide you there, or you have the option of renting a snowmobile of your own. If physically fit enough to travel 20 miles round trip on cross country skis or a fat tire bike that is also a possibility!
10) Snowmobiling (tours & rentals)
Aside from Yellowstone National Park and Granite Hot Springs, there is plenty of other terrain fit for snowmobiling both within and outside the valley of Jackson Hole. The Bridger-Teton National Forest has designated snowmobiling zones both on and off trail. These can be accessed by either renting a snowmobile of your own or if you happen to be a beginner and/or just prefer a guide, there are many tour companies that can lead you on a remarkable adventure. There is countryside for all levels of snowmobiling experience, whether you prefer to stick to the groomed routes or want to navigate untouched powder fields. Snowmobiling is a wonderful way to access scenic landscapes, potentially see wildlife and if a novice- learn a new skill! Just obey all safety precautions like wearing protective gear such as a helmet and avoiding high risk avalanche zones.
For more information on activities in Jackson Hole this winter, email email@example.com or call: 307 - 733 - 3316