For many people, Jackson Hole is synonymous with epic skiing and snowboarding. For this reason, many people are apprehensive about visiting the area in the winter, or even accompanying a friend or loved one. Yet the valley is ripe with potential to get out and see and do much more than just ski. Below is a list describing a number of activities that can be enjoyed all winter long, none of which require a pass at one of the ski resorts. Also listed is any information you’ll need to get started.
With ample trail opportunities throughout the valley and in Grand Teton National Park, snowshoeing is not only great exercise, but also allows you to get away from the roadsides and busyness of the resorts and into the silent snow-covered backcountry. Cache Creek, the Moose-Wilson Road, and the Taggart Lake Trail are just a few ideal places to explore. Need snowshoes? Consider renting from Dornan’s, Skinny Skis, or Teton Mountaineering.
It’s hard to beat Jackson Hole’s awe-inspiring night sky. Thanks to the long winter nights, the stars and cosmic features shine in a dazzling display of wonderment rivaled by very few places in the lower 48. Book online with Wyoming Stargazing, who will take you far away from the town lights and into Grand Teton National Park where they’ll show you the night sky’s greatest features through a large telescope. Blankets and hot chocolate are included. Once you’ve learned a few things about the night sky, head out another night to the Snow King Observatory and Planetarium to feed your astronomy curiosity.
Similar to snowshoeing, cross-country skiing is a fantastic workout that gets you into the snowy backcountry quickly. With an abundance of groomed trails, you’ll easily fall in love with the sport, and possibly even see some wildlife along the way. Check out JHNordic.org for all the trail info you’ll need. Rentals can be obtained from Dornan’s, Skinny Skis, or Teton Mountaineering.
Despite the snow, there’s still plenty of active wildlife throughout the valley. Elk, moose, bighorn sheep, and much more are consistently seen each day during the winter season. It’s one of the primary ways to experience and learn why this valley is so special! Looking for an experienced guide? You can hire me to show you around! I’ve been in the valley since 2008 and have over a decade of professional guiding experience in the area.
For most people, dog-sledding brings up imagery of the Iditorod race far to the north in Alaska. Yet Jackson Hole plays a prominent role in dog-sledding. As the starting line for the Pedigree Stage Stop Race, the hardest race outside the Iditorod, Jackson has deep roots with the sport. Get your taste of the exciting racing adventure at Call of the WYld in Teton Village.
Snowmobiling is a highly active sport for many people in the region. With incredible terrain suitable for epic adventures, there are a few ways to get your fix. One option is to do a guided trip into Yellowstone National Park on a snowmobile. This can be booked through BrushBuck Wildlife Tours. Another is to head up to Togwotee Mountain Lodge for an adventure on Togwotee Pass. Finally, you can also do a guided snowmobile trip to Granite Hot Springs through Teton Tour Company, ending at a sublime hot spring pool you can soak in below the gargantuan Gros Ventre Mountains. This also leads to the next section.
While Yellowstone is known more for its stunning collection of hot springs, there are still plenty to be enjoyed throughout Jackson Hole. As just mentioned, Granite Hot Springs is a great option. More easily accessible is Astoria Hot Springs, located right along the scenic Snake River. Book a reservation through their website. Either option gets you soaking in spectacular springs surrounded by sensational mountain terrain.
The National Museum of Wildlife Art is a must-see for anyone with even a remote interest in the arts. The stunning collection is centered around the region’s unparalleled wildlife and features incredible works from masters both from the past and present. Perched above the National Elk Refuge, it also provides one of the best views available of the tremendous elk herd wintering below.
Elk Sleigh Ride
Each winter, approximately 9,000-10,000 elk migrate into the National Elk Refuge. During peak season, an outfitter offers horse-drawn sleigh rides through the snow for up-close views and visits with the herd. Along the way you’re treated to the history of the refuge, as well as current complications facing the preserve. The ride has become a staple of the region, and tickets can be acquired through the Jackson Hole Visitor Center.
These are only a few of the more popular things to do in Jackson Hole that don’t involve skiing or snowboarding. With a little more digging, you can find even more to do. Likewise, you might find you like one of the above activities so much, that you’ll want to do it more than once!