Home to some of the top ski resorts in the country, many travelers visit Jackson Hole to hit the slopes. But this Teton Mountain destination just south of Yellowstone National Park has more to offer than perfectly groomed runs and fresh powder. Here are six wonderful things to do in Jackson Hole in winter (besides ski).
Each winter, more than 100 inches of fluffy white snow falls on the Rocky Mountain towns that make up Jackson Hole, Wyoming. As a result, skiers and snowboard enthusiasts flock to Jackson Hole ski resorts like Jackson Hole Mountain Resort and Snow King Mountain Resort. But what if you aren’t into skiing? Here are six other wonderful ways to enjoy winter in Jackson Hole (without strapping on skis).
I’ve partnered with Hotels.com to share my recommendations for things to do in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, besides skiing.
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Sage Advice: Find the perfect accommodations for your trip to this winter wonderland with one of these centrally located Jackson Hole hotels.
1. Enjoy Other Winter Activities in Jackson Hole
While it does take a certain amount of skill to successfully descend steep mountain slopes on long, narrow skis or carve out curves on a snowboard, there are several other winter weather activities that nearly everyone can enjoy in Jackson Hole.
Recapture the childhood fun of sledding down a neighborhood hill by spending an afternoon snow tubing on Snow King Mountain. Ride the Magic Carpet up the hill and then slide down one of three perfectly groomed lanes in a giant yellow donut-shaped tube.
For a bigger adrenaline rush, ride the Cowboy Coaster. This nearly mile-long track ride twists and turns past snowy Teton Mountain views as it drops approximately 600 feet from start to finish. You can also sit back and take in bird’s-eye views of Jackson Hole by riding the chairlift at Snow King Mountain or the aerial tram at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort (no skis required).
Or head over to the “heart of Jackson Hole” and ice skate in a winter wonderland. Glide through the elk antler arch on the skating pond in the Jackson Town Square, then warm up with a cup of hot chocolate or cider. If you’re visiting Jackson Hole with your own ice skates, there is no fee to enjoy the rink. Or, skates can be rented for a nominal fee.
2. View the Wildlife
The National Elk Refuge is located on the northeastern edge of Jackson, Wyoming, about a mile directly east of the Jackson Town Square. Over nearly 25,000 acres, the refuge provides a protected habitat for a large herd of elk as well as other native species, including bison, moose, bighorn sheep, mule deer, eagles, and trout.
While the National Elk Refuge is an amazing experience year round, the winter months provide the unique opportunity to view the wildlife from a horse-drawn sleigh.
Sage Advice: For more animal encounters, consider a day trip to Yellowstone National Park. About an hour directly north of Jackson, these are the best spots for viewing animals in Yellowstone.
3. Dog Sledding Tours
Trade a team of draft horses for a pack of winter weather-loving canines and see the sights of Jackson Hole via a dog sled tour. Under the expert direction of eight-time Iditarod veteran Frank Teasley, enjoy a half- or full-day outing through a winter wonderland of Wyoming backcountry. You can try your hand at driving a team of Alaskan racing sled dogs (under the supervision of an experienced musher), or you can just sit back and enjoy the thrilling ride.
If you want a little more horsepower than a team of huskies, you can also see the sights from a snowmobile. Based in Jackson, Wyoming, Old Faithful Tours offers one- and multi-day snowmobile tours throughout the region that are sure to give you a front-row seat to the Rocky Mountain wildlife and postcard-perfect mountain views.
Another snowmobile tour company, Scenic Safaris, offers trips that wind through the Bridger-Teton National Forest or take you to observe Old Faithful erupt while surrounded by snow. And if you’d rather be chauffeured in a warm vehicle, Scenic Safaris also tours the area via luxury van and snowcoach.
Sage Advice: If you’re an experienced snowmobiler, you can rent a recreational vehicle from Jackson Hole Backcountry Rentals and explore on your own.
If you plan on visiting Jackson Hole on a winter road trip, this checklist will help ensure you don’t forget to pack any essentials!
5. Soak Your Stress Away
About an hour southeast of Jackson, Granite Hot Springs is a year-round destination for travelers seeking a soak in the warm mineral waters. While the hot springs are accessible via US Highway 191 in the summer, the road is closed to vehicles in the winter. So you’ll need to rent a snowmobile, mush a team of dogs, or cross country ski your way to Granite Hot Springs in the winter.
As you let your skin drink in the benefits of the calcium- and magnesium-rich waters, bathe a little in the forest by breathing in the scent of the spruce, fir, and pine trees that surround the pool. As relaxing as the experience is, don’t get too comfortable. Visitors are limited to just one hour in the hot spring pool.
6. Enjoy Adult Beverages
If getting to Granite Hot Springs sounds like too much effort, then unwind (and shoo the winter blues away) with a selection of boozy beverages in Jackson Hole. About a ten-minute drive west of the Jackson Town Square, Jackson Hole Winery is a family-owned, boutique winery that produces about 4,000 cases annually using grapes grown on the West Coast. During the winter months, you can sit back and try six of their wines in the tasting room on the Jackson Hole Town Square.
Sage Advice: Be sure to brush up on your wine-tasting etiquette before you head to the Jackson Hole Winery.
If beer is your adult beverage of choice, then mosey over to Snake River Brewing Company. Housed in a converted cinder block building just a few blocks from the Jackson Town Square, this locally owned craft brewery has been recognized as small brewery of the year at the Great American Beer Festival in Denver. Twice. Explore a wide variety of lagers and ales and pair your pint with a delicious nibble or meal from the brewpub.
If you’re seeking something a little stronger than wine or beer, visit Jackson Hole Still Works for gin and vodka made in small batches using locally sourced Wyoming grain and crisp mountain water. Tours and tastings are available year round, but you’ll want to call first to be sure the team is available.
The bottle labels are as easy on your eyes as the spirits are smooth on your tongue. Born to families that appreciate the arts (something near and dear to my heart as the daughter of an artist), Jackson Hole Still Works founders Travis and Chas established an annual contest/fundraiser for the Art Association of Jackson Hole. Each year, artists from the Cowboy State are invited to submit a two-dimensional label art concept. The winner receives a $2,000 cash prize and the chance to see their talent grace gin and vodka bottles for a year.
To Visit Jackson Hole, WY
Where’s Jackson Hole?
Jackson Hole is the name of a Rocky Mountain valley in Western Wyoming. Nestled between the Gros Ventre and Teton ranges of the Rockies, it is about 20 miles east of the Idaho border and about an hour south of Yellowstone National Park.
Are Jackson Hole and Jackson the Same Place?
No. Jackson Hole refers to all of the towns in the valley between the Gros Ventre and Teton mountains. Jackson, Wyoming, is one of the towns in that valley. The town has a population of about 10,000 residents.
Are the Tetons Part of the Rockies?
Yes. Stretching 40 miles along the vertical border between Western Wyoming and Eastern Idaho, the Tetons are a range in the Rocky Mountains.
What Airport Serves Jackson Hole, Wyoming?
The Jackson Hole Airport (JAC) is located in the town of Jackson, Wyoming. It is located in the north part of town, about 15 minutes from Jackson Town Square.
Which Airlines Fly to Jackson Hole Airport (JAC)?
American, Delta, and United all provide daily service in and out of Jackson, Wyoming.
How Many Miles from Jackson Hole to Yellowstone National Park?
From the Jackson Town Square, in the heart of the Jackson Hole Valley, it’s about 60 miles to the south entrance of Yellowstone National Park.
Where are the Best Places to Stay in Jackson Hole?
A fantastic, moderately-priced place to stay in Jackson is The Wyoming Inn of Jackson Hole. It’s safe, quiet, conveniently located, and includes free parking. You can see photos of the rooms and grounds here.
And if you’re seeking a luxurious place to stay in Jackson Hole, Hotel Jackson is mountain chic at its best just a three minute walk from the Jackson Town Square.
Have You Visited Jackson Hole, Wyoming, in the Winter?
What did you like most? Any additional tips and tricks to pass along? Share your experiences in the comments section below.