Jackson Hole is a great winter vacation destination that offers a great variety of activities that will entertain the whole family. The vast majority of winter visitors come to ski Jackson Hole, well aware that the skiing here is notoriously epic. Known as one of the tallest, steepest and most varied ski areas, Jackson Hole Mountain Resort was recently rated the #1 ski resort in North America by Ski Magazine. In addition, the Jackson Hole area is also home to two other great ski areas that make for a nice addition to any ski vacation here.
What a lot of winter travelers don’t know is that Jackson Hole is also home to some of the best snowmobiling, wildlife watching, dogsledding, cross country skiing and cultural events in the world! There is so much more to do in Jackson Hole during the winter that you could spend two weeks here, never strap on skis and never run out of things to do. Below is a lost of recommended activities, vendors and places you might want to check out while planning your winter vacation. All of the ideas listed below are just things we like and people we know to do an outstanding job for their clients and guests.
Winter Activities in Jackson Hole
National Park Tours and Wildlife Safaris
Jackson Hole Wildlife Safaris :This guide owned and operated tour company strives to educate, entertain and connect guests with this amazing place we call home. Their mission is to provide you with the highest quality wildlife tours and photo safaris by combining their love for this area with a desire to share this passion with you. They have gained a reputation for providing guests with once in a lifetime experiences and helping them gain a deeper understanding of the geology, history and ecology of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Jackson Hole Wildlife Safaris is owned and operated by Jason Williams, a veteran Jackson Hole guide. He is also the founder of Guide’s Guide publishing and author of this vacation planning guide!
Elk Refuge Sleigh Ride :Join the family owned and operated Bar T 5 Ranch for a horse drawn sleigh ride onto he National Elk Refuge. You will get up close and personal with one of the largest elk herds in the world as they winter in Jackson Hole. This is a must do for everyone coming to Jackson Hole in the winter. The trips leave from the Jackson Hole Visitor center on the north end of town (worth a visit anyway). Tickets are sold at the counter inside or take a Best of Jackson Hole Safari with Jackson Hole Wildlife Safaris that includes the sleigh ride!
Jackson Hole Snowmobile Tours :This family owned and operated company has great guides, equipment and permits that will give you the best snowmobile experience available in Jackson Hole and Yellowstone National Park. Choose between several choices ranging from Granite Hot Springs where you can ride off-trail and soak in natural thermal pools or a Yellowstone National Park tour ranging from 1 to 4 days. They also have permits for the Greys River and Togwotee Pass which are home to some of the best snowmobiling in the world.
Jackson Hole Iditarod Sled Dog Tours :Owned and operated by Iditarod veteran Frank Teasley, Jackson Hole Iditarod is hands down the best sled dog outfit in Jackson Hole. Their base is located at the mouth of Granite Canyon allowing for half and full day trips up into the mountains with a full day option to go 10 miles up canyon to soak in Granite Hot Springs. Make sure to book in advance as this is a popular activity and a popular company that is full most of the winter!
There are 3 ski resorts in the Jackson Hole area. The largest and most famous is Jackson Hole Mountain Resort or ‘the mountain’ as it’s known locally. Recognized as the best ski resort in the United States, this is a must ski for skiers and a must see for everyone else. The most historic, but smallest of the resorts, is the Snow King or ‘town hill’. If you are standing in town looking up at the runs that drop right down into town, you have found Snow King. Depending on conditions Snow King can be a great place to spend a day and is the only resort in the area that offers night skiing. The third ski resort is Grand Targhee or ‘the Ghee’. This mid-sized resort is located just outside of Jackson Hole on the West side of the Tetons. Consequently, being on the windward side of the range, Grand Targhee tend to get quite a bit more snow. The resort also has a lot more moderate terrain making this a great spot to visit for intermediate skiers that want a little more acreage at their level.
Cross Country Skiing
There are countless places to cross country ski in Jackson Hole. From the groomed trails at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort to exploring Grand Teton National Park, there are great options for all experience and fitness levels. Rental skis and boots are available at several specialty outdoor sporting goods stores in both Teton Village and the town of Jackson. Ask the customer service agent on advice and options for where to go based on your ability and fitness level.
Jackson Hole Historical Society Museum :Located right in town on North Cache, the new museum is a great place to learn about the people and history of Jackson Hole. Definitely worth a visit if you want to know more about the pioneers that settled and explored this valley.
Jackson Hole Museum of Wildlife Art :Located just north of town looking out over the National Elk Refuge, the Museum of Wildlife Art is home to one of the most complete collections of wildlife art in the world. There is always a traveling exhibit as well as a gift shop and restaurant. For kids they have a great play area that allows them to try their hand at different art projects while learning about wildlife and the natural world.
Jackson Hole Visitor Center :Located on North Cache on the southern end of the National Elk Refuge, this is worth a visit if you are interested in learning more about Jackson Hole’s ecology and history. In addition this is the jumping off point for the horse drawn sleigh rides into the elk herd and tickets can be purchased from the counter.
Winter is full of great community events open to both residents and visitors. The best place to get updated information on community events is from the Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce or at the Jackson Hole News and Guide Calendar.