Snow-capped mountains. Alpine forests. Turquoise hot springs. Horse-drawn sleighs. The snowy, remote valley of Jackson Hole, Wyoming sits at the base of Grand Teton National Park, with Yellowstone National Park neighboring just an hour to the north. Visiting Jackson Hole in the winter is like stepping into a mountain-filled snow globe, complete with cozy lodges, awe-inspiring wildlife, and some of the world’s best skiing and winter sports. Snowboarding, ice skating, and sleigh riding in the clear, crisp air of Grand Tetons… yes, please!
But Jackson Hole is more than just a magical mountain ski town; it’s also filled with majestic elk, wildlife-inspired art, and craft breweries, for instance. We tapped an insider to give us the scoop on Jackson Hole in the winter. Take it away, Emily!
First things first – Jackson, or Jackson Hole? You may have been asking yourself this question, and if so, you’re not alone. Jackson Hole refers to the valley in which the town of Jackson sits. Early settlers used the word “Hole” to refer to a valley surrounded by mountains on all sides.
Due its remoteness and harsh weather, Jackson was only settled by European Americans because of the Homestead Act of 1862, which essentially gave free land to anyone willing to build some stuff and use it for something for a few years.
But the richness of animal and plant resources, as well as the stark beauty of the natural features, have been attracting people here for thousands of years. Indigenous peoples such as the Eastern Shoshone, Bannock, Blackfeet, Nez Perce, and A’aninin nations have been traveling through the valley since the last glaciers receded roughly ten thousand years ago.
Ever since Grand Teton National Park was established in the late 1920’s – a close neighbor to Yellowstone National Park, the very first National Park in the country – this once quiet valley now attracts visitors from all over the world. So pack your warmest socks and your coziest sweaters, and read on for 9 unbelievable things to do in Jackson Hole, Wyoming in the winter!
Psst: Planning a trip out West? Here are some other posts about nearby destinations that you might find helpful:
- Salt Lake City, Utah: The Best Ski Resorts and The Best Breweries
- The Ultimate Montana Road Trip: Detailed 10-Day Itinerary
- Park City, Utah Weekend Getaway Guide
- 9 Awe-Inspiring Things To Do in Zion National Park, Utah: The Ultimate Guide to Zion
Jackson Hole in Winter Travel Tips
With a little bit of preparation and flexibility, traveling to Jackson Hole in the winter should be pretty straightforward. Read the following tips so you can best enjoy safe (and warm) travels.
When should I visit Jackson Hole in the winter?
Although winter temperatures (and sometimes snow) last from October until April, a trip in January, February, or March will allow you to take full advantage of reliable snow and winter activities.
By traveling between January and March, you’ll be avoiding Jackson’s main tourist seasons in summer. The winter tourist season begins around the holidays in December and tapers off in March or early April. And while both summer and winter are fantastic times to visit, winter is definitely the quieter option.
But off season means even fewer crowds – and lower prices. That said, there are certain months which have distinct advantages. October and November are cold and often snowy, but without the festivity that true winter brings. You’ll get the best Jackson Hole in the winter experience in January, February, and March.
How cold is it?
If you’re seeking snow and wintry weather, good news: Jackson Hole gets nice and cold in the winter, with average low temperatures from December through February in the single digits and with highs in the 20s and 30s.
Jackson Hole winters typically bring a lot of snow, but can also surprise you with intermittent, brilliantly sunny days. So don’t forget to bring sunscreen and sunglasses – sunlight reflecting off of the snow can be intense!
Can I visit Yellowstone National Park from Jackson Hole in the winter?
Unfortunately, it’s not very easy to do. The only way to get into Yellowstone in the winter from Jackson is on a snowcoach or snowmobile. I can’t speak for the snowmobile tours, but snowcoach tours are 12+ hours and, in my experience, less focused on wildlife.
Save a winter visit to Yellowstone for another time and focus on enjoying Grand Teton National Park instead!
How to get to Jackson Hole in the winter?
In the winter, the cost of flying directly to Jackson Hole is well worth it. You might be tempted to get a cheaper flight to Salt Lake City and drive the rest of the way to Jackson, but you just never know when an avalanche or blizzard is going to close down a highway.
Play it safe and fly into Jackson Hole Airport – plus, the view on a clear day is an unforgettable bonus.
- Travel Tip: If you will be headed through Salt Lake City, we have a few travel guides to help you make the most of your trip, including a guide to the best ski resorts in Salt Lake City and the best breweries in SLC.
Do I need a rental car?
Depending on your itinerary, you may or may not need a rental car. A lot of destinations in Jackson and Teton Village are accessible by the local START bus, which offers free rides within downtown Jackson. You can also walk almost anywhere downtown or in Teton Village, assuming you’re already there.
However, any unguided trips into Grand Teton National Park will require your own vehicle. If you are staying in town and plan to join tours for all of your outdoor adventures, you might be able to skip the rental car, as many tours offer hotel pickups.
If you do rent a car, be sure to choose one you feel comfortable driving in the snow and request a car with snow tires. Weather can be nasty during Jackson Hole winters – sometimes closing roads – so check conditions and road advisories with the Wyoming 511 app.
- Travel Tip: We recommend using Kayak to compare rates on rental cars and find the best deal.
Respect the Wilderness!
Always respect the wildlife that call this valley home. Winter brings animals like moose, elk, and deer down to lower elevations, and travelers should be cautious driving on roads and walking on trails. Never approach or feed any animals – you should always be at least 3 bus lengths away from any wild animal – and always yield to them.
It’s also important to avoid interfering with their natural habitat in any way and to follow Leave No Trace guidelines.
But it’s not just wildlife that requires awareness and safety precautions. Don’t put yourself or others at risk unknowingly – if you plan to venture out on any unguided adventures, make yourself aware of potential avalanche and weather hazards and plan accordingly – be sure to check the avalanche forecast for the area you’ll be visiting before you leave. If you are planning to downhill ski in the backcountry, you should always carry avalanche safety gear and know how to use it (think about taking a course)!
Avalanche Safety Tips
Backcountry snow sports are surprisingly safe; however, if you are venturing out into avalanche terrain such as backcountry downhill skiing or snowshoeing across a steep slope, make sure to:
- Bring the right gear: you should always have a transceiver, shovel, and probe if you are doing snow sports in backcountry avalanche terrain! Or, play it safe and go with a guided tour – they’ll have it covered.
- Check the forecast: Check both the weather and avalanche forecast before setting out. An avalanche forecast takes into account recent snowfall, snowpack, temperature changes, and other risks that can increase the chance of an avalanche occurring. For example, avalanche risk increases with loose snowpack, temperatures consistently under freezing, and immediately following heavy snowstorms (the first 24 hours afterward are most avalanche-prone).
- Keep a watch out for avalanche terrain: When considering avalanche terrain, look at the slope’s angle and the shape of the slope – avalanches most commonly occur when snow accumulates on slopes angled between 30 and 45 degrees. If you are below a steep slope, try to stay out of the ‘runout zone,’ which is where the snow will fall if it releases
If you do on a very rare chance get caught in an avalanche, keep these tips in mind. For more information and see where you can take recreational avalanche training, check out the American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education.
What to Pack for Jackson Hole in the Winter
Visiting Jackson Hole means being prepared for extremes: extreme cold, snow, and mountainous terrain – and also extreme sports and beauty. Don’t get me wrong, you can still have a relaxing time here, but you’ll enjoy yourself more if you’re prepared!
Packing properly for Jackson Hole is crucial to ensuring not just your safety, but your enjoyment. Ever heard that saying, “there’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing?” When snowflakes are swirling around the mountains you must make sure you’re prepared for any conditions.
In addition to keeping you warm as you explore in town, weatherproof clothing is especially important if you’re going to do outdoor activities like snowshoeing, skiing, or ice trekking. It gets cold AF in Jackson Hole in the winter and, in snowy or icy conditions, frostbite is a real threat. So, be sure to bundle up in your favorite warm wool sweaters, your winter parka, and waterproof winter boots! We’ve got all the details you need.
You’ll want to wear a merino wool base layer underneath your clothing every day during your Jackson Hole winter trip – that means that the layer closest to your skin should all be made from merino wool. Merino wool is super warm, incredibly soft (nope, it’s not itchy) and much more lightweight than synthetic fabrics, as well as being naturally antibacterial, which means you can re-wear it without the re-wear funk.
If wool isn’t your thing, wear an equally insulating base layer, like one made from silk (here’s a silk top and bottom option). Avoid non-insulating fabrics like cotton, and remember that natural fibers are pretty much always better than manmade textiles like polyester.
After your base layer, you’ll need to add on at least one additional layer before your outerwear, like a pair of pants and a sweater. And if you’re doing winter activities, add a waterproof layer as well, like lined snow pants or water-resistant hiking pants.
We have a few specific suggestions for items that are tried an tested:
- Merino Wool Base Layer Leggings: These super comfy 100% wool leggings function just like long underwear. They’re made of soft, super-luxurious wool and make your legs feel like they’re being hugged by an extremely soft sheep. You’ll need to wear these underneath your pants every day during your trip.
- Merino Wool Base Layer Undershirt: Layering is crucial in the cold, and you’ll need to start with a base layer of insulation on top and bottom.
- Wool Socks: Make sure you don’t just have run-of-the-mill acrylic socks for Jackson Hole – they won’t keep your feet warm while you’re out in the snow! Instead, bring socks that are primarily made of soft, heat-regulating wool, like these or these, and don’t be afraid to double up.
- Winter Boots: I recommend boots that can withstand ice or snow, are weatherproof and waterproof, and are comfortable enough to walk in. My favorite winter boots are made from waterproof leather and with a thermal insole to keep your toes toasty warm, and they’re extremely lightweight and foldable so you can stuff them in your bag when you travel. You can read more about them in this round-up of the best travel shoes for women. Note: If you’re bringing along a pair of boots you already own, you can buy the thermal insoles separately. After taking these to the Arctic and snowshoeing in Canada, I swear by them!
- Travel Jeans: My favorite travel jeans have six enormous pockets, are super stretchy and buttery soft, dry quickly even after walking through the snow, and are roomy enough to layer over an insulating base layer (or two). They’re even cozy enough to wear on a plane – and they’re super cute! You can get a pair on the Aviator USA website.
- Lined Leggings: On very cold days, I add an extra layer of insulating warmth by throwing a pair of lined leggings on over my base layer and under my travel jeans or snow pants. I go for ones lined with merino wool.
- Warm Hat: You want a hat that will stay on your head when it’s windy wind and keep your ears nice and warm – bonus points if it’s lined.
- Warm Coat and Packable Down Jacket: Your outerwear is arguably the most important thing you’ll bring to Jackson Hole in the winter other than your shoes. It has a big job – namely, keeping you warm but not sweaty, allowing you to actually move your arms, and letting you explore for hours without feeling heavy or restrictive. Plus, it’s gonna be in almost all of your photos. I bring this cozy fleece-lined coat with me, as well as a lightweight, travel-friendly packable down jacket.
- Gloves: Don’t go outside in Jackson Hole in the winter without gloves on! I have these wool gloves that work with touchscreens, because let’s face it, I have a hard enough time using my phone without wearing gloves. Over those gloves I layer on a thicker pair that’s waterproof for snowball making and such.
- Sunscreen: Bring sunscreen for the sunny days, especially if you plan to spend a lot of time outside. At high elevations, winter sun reflecting off the snow is no joke. Don’t forget to pack sunscreen for your lips too.
- Winter Sports Gear: Bringing a few things can easily be packed in your suitcase will save you cash on rentals. We recommend these goggles and these gloves for snowboarding, and these travel-friendly crampons for extra traction on icy ground.
- Bathing Suit: Not what you would expect., but Jackson Hole has hot springs and you don’t want to miss out!
Whew! That should keep you warm and toasty. For more winter travel packing tips, head over to our Cold Weather Packing Guide.
Oh hey, want a printable version? Just sign up below and we’ll send a winter packing checklist straight to your inbox.
Printable Winter Packing List
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Things to Do in Jackson Hole in the Winter
Dogsled to a Hot Spring
If there is one thing to splurge on during your winter trip to Jackson Hole, make it this dreamy journey – by dogsled – to a picturesque natural hot spring.
Never considered dogsledding? Didn’t think you’d need a bathing suit for your winter vacation? Think again.
Jackson Hole Iditarod Sled Dog Tours leads guided trips up a dramatic, glacially carved canyon surrounded by the snowy peaks of the Gros Ventre mountains. And if the journey wasn’t enough, the destination is a sparkling, turquoise hotspring (!!!!).
Jackson Hole Iditarod Sled Dog Tours is the original dogsledding company in Jackson, operated by an experienced Iditarod veteran. If you’re unfamiliar with dogsledding, the Iditarod is a 1,000 mile sled dog race from Anchorage to Nome, Alaska, commemorating the historical significance of this method of travel in America’s last frontier. While you won’t be traveling a thousand miles – or even a hundred – you’ll learn a ton about the sport from true professionals.
So basically, you drive a team of dogs (with the guidance of professionals, but still) 10 snowy miles up a remote canyon through gorgeous towering granite peaks – to arrive at a hot spring in which you can soak and relax.
Toasty from the pool, you’ll redress and enjoy a hot lunch before heading back down the canyon with the sleds.
Ummm, yes please?
By the way – when it comes to dogsledding, we’re always nervous about the treatment of the dogs as there is not much consensus about whether dog-sledding is ethical. It seems to depend entirely on each individual business. But based on looking through reviews as well as testimonies by my acquaintances, it seems that the dogs are well treated and taken care of here. Please drop a comment if you experience it differently!
- Travel Tips: This tour will take up most of your day (and a good amount of your trip budget), so plan accordingly if it’s something you want to prioritize. While the tour is located about an hour south of Jackson, guides will pick you up so you don’t have to make the long, possibly snowy drive yourself. Check out this blog post on Bon Traveler for more information about what to expect.
Looking for hot springs but not interested in dog sledding? We gotchu!
Soak in a Thermal Hot Spring
Many visitors to Yellowstone National Park are excited to experience its infamous geysers and hot springs. But that geothermal activity can be found throughout Wyoming, and there are two fantastic opportunities for soaking in a natural mineral-fed hot spring right near Jackson Hole!
Taking a dip in a natural hot spring gazing out at the pine trees and mountains while snowflakes swirl around you is one of the most memorable and relaxing things to do in the winter.
If you go, be sure to bring your bathing suit, a quick-drying travel towel, and to make things a little more spa-like, a cozy robe and slippers. And don’t forget a water bottle! Soaking in the hot springs can leave you parched, and cold water is important to help your body get the most out of your soak
- Granite Hot Springs: In the winter, this waterfall-fed, 104-degree soaking pool and thermal-fed swimming pool south of Jackson Hole can only be accessed by snowmobile, skies or snowshoes, or of course, dog sled. But it’s well worth the effort – a mid-adventure hot spring break is one of the most magical things to do in Jackson Hole in the winter! (You may recognize the waterfalls from their cameo in the movie A River Runs Through It, although the movie is actually about Montana.)
- Astoria Hot Springs: This hot springs park is located just south of Jackson Hole in Hoback, Wyoming alongside the Snake River. Here you’ll find a variety of geothermic pools with different water temperatures and views, ranging from leisurely swimming pools to a secluded riverside soaking pool complete with a relaxing natural waterfall.
Important Safety Note: It’s very important to only soak in geothermal pools that are specifically designed and maintained for people to enjoy. Not only does soaking in any random hot spring on the side of the road negatively impact the pool’s flora and fauna, but there’s a pretty good chance that some of that flora and fauna may or may not but definitely do want to eat your brain. Yikes! The two hot springs above, however, are perfectly safe.
Snowshoe in Grand Teton National Park
The most magical adventures await you if you’ve never tried snowshoeing through a winter wonderland. I’m not going to lie – it isn’t easy – but it’s a fun, active way to explore during the winter, and the only way (aside from cross country skis – see below) you’re going to get anywhere on the trail.
Grand Teton National Park averages over 170 inches of snow each year. Let me say that again. Over 170 inches of snow. Each year. If you’re not coming from a similarly snowy place, you’ll feel like a kid as you inevitably flop around in the fluff and hurl snowballs at your travel companions. We’re talking about a lot of snow here, people! All this to say, snowshoes are a necessary piece of gear if you want to hike in Jackson in the winter.
Sign up for a guided snowshoe hike with a local tour company – we recommend this one with Jackson EcoTour Adventures. You’ll get guidance on how to snowshoe, a little natural history, snacks, and very importantly, you’ll be accompanied by a trained Wilderness First Responder!
If you’re up for a full day of winter adventure, take the full day snowshoeing & wildlife tour that combines winter sports with wildlife spotting in this two-for-one all day long winter adventure! You’ll spend the morning snowshoeing through Grand Teton National Park and then relax in a warm tour bus for wildlife spotting in the afternoon.
Self-Guided Snowshoe to Taggart Lake
If you are an experienced snowshoer and winter adventurer, you can rent a pair of snowshoes at a shop downtown (such as Skinny Skis) and head out on your own hike.
Before you go, however, check out some safety tips provided by the National Park service. Winter in Grand Teton can mean avalanches, difficult trail conditions, grumpy wildlife, and extreme cold.
If you do choose this option (and seriously, only forgo a guided tour if you actually know what you’re doing), you can’t beat the trail to Taggart Lake in Grand Teton National Park.
This hike will take you up a small climb, through a dense forest and open sagebrush flats to an absolute jewel of an alpine lake. It’s nestled right at the base of the Tetons and surrounded by a beautiful forest.
While this trail is packed in the summer, during the winter you’ll likely enjoy a pretty quiet walk to the lake. You can’t really pick a wrong day for this activity – if it’s sunny, you’ll have incredible views of the highest snowy peaks. If it’s cloudy, it’s probably also snowing – and if it’s snowing, you’ll feel like you’ve literally been dropped into a sparkling, wintertime fairyland.
Cross Country Ski Along the Base of the Tetons
If snowshoeing isn’t fast enough or difficult enough or you simply didn’t fall down enough, try cross country skiing. Just kidding, everyone should try cross country skiing. It requires a little more technique than snowshoeing but is quick to pick up seriously fun. If you think you’ll be great at it because you’re a bomb downhill skier, think again – the two activities are very different.
Help yourself out and join a tour if you’re inexperienced, like this one. You’ll receive professional Nordic skiing instruction and winter ecology interpretation from a naturalist guide certified by the Professional Ski Instructors of America.
Head out on the groomed Teton Park Road for a flat, beginner-friendly ski. In the summer, this road takes cars through the interior of the park to some of the most scenic places in Grand Teton National Park, like Jenny Lake. But in the winter, the Park Service closes the road to cars, while skiers and snowshoers get to enjoy a wonderfully scenic path.
The groomed road will take you along the base of the Tetons and you’ll have panoramic views of the valley the entire way. The groomed trail continues from the Taggart Lake trail for 15 miles, but I don’t suggest you make that your goal – remember, you have to ski back.
- Travel Tip: I don’t recommend skiing here on a windy day. You’ll be out in the open and while the views can’t be beat, you won’t like skiing into the wind one bit. Pick your sunniest day for this activity!
Take a Horse-Drawn Sleigh Ride
Ever seen an elk up close? Even seen thousands of elk up close? This is your chance – by way of horse-drawn sleigh!
The sleigh ride through the Elk Refuge is something out of a fairy tale. You’ll board the horse-drawn sleigh and cover up with a toasty wool blanket before heading out on your ride.
Jackson Hole is known for being home to huge herds of elk, illustrated by the famous elk antler arches in Town Square or the elk steak on restaurant menus. In the winter, thousands of elk from several different herds converge in Jackson Hole to spend the harsh season at a lower elevation.
Long before the Homestead Act enticed settlers to claim their land in the valley, elk would come down from the surrounding mountains to winter in Jackson Hole, where less snow made it easier for the animals to dig down to the grasses they eat.
When settlers began building big ranches with extensive fencing, the elk couldn’t access enough forage and began dying off in huge numbers – some people even said you could walk miles across the valley stepping only on the backs of dead elk. In response to this problem and with the support of a local wildlife biologist, the federal government set aside land for a National Elk Refuge. This land would be preserved and managed for the animals specifically.
The elk that winter here are wild – that is, they would still be coming here each year regardless of the designated land. Nonetheless, seeing the elk is a unique bucket-list item for visitors and is a major contributor to the tourism economy of Jackson.
Seeing wild animals up close makes this experience special – on foot, humans appear threatening to the elk. Oddly enough, they don’t perceive humans in a sleigh as dangerous, so you can safely view them within a few dozen yards of where you sit.
To make a day of it, you can also combine the sleigh ride with a wildlife tour!
- Travel Tip: The sleigh rides typically last around an hour, depending on where the elk happen to be. Even with the added blankets, you’ll want to dress warmly. You never know when the wind is going to pick up, and you won’t create much heat of your own just sitting in the sleigh.
Visit the National Museum of Wildlife Art
For a taste of Jackson’s lively art scene, visit the National Museum of Wildlife Art, located directly across from the National Elk Refuge. The museum built into a hillside overlooking the National Elk Refuge holds more than 5,000 artworks representing wild animals from around the world.
Perched like a castle looking over the valley, this museum blends into the surrounding environment – complete with lifelike sculptures of Jackson’s native wildlife. The drive up to this museum’s entrance provides spectacular views of the National Elk Refuge below and is also a great spot to look for wildlife.
The museum itself is lovely, featuring several galleries from different eras of conservation and wildlife art. Paintings, sculptures, photographs, and even a giant totem (installed by being lowered through a window on the museum’s roof!) stop visitors in their tracks. Spending a couple of hours in this museum will remind you just how inspiring wildlife – and wild places – can be.
Oh, and if you get hungry for lunch, Palate is an attraction all on its own. Try the Bison Gyro – you’re in Jackson, after all – and enjoy another unbeatable view of the valley.
- Travel Tip: Buy your ticket in advance to avoid lines. I also recommend combining your visit with a sleigh ride, since the museum is located directly across the road from the National Elk Refuge. After a cold sleigh ride, you’ll enjoy the warmth of this cozy museum!
Go Skiing or Snowboarding
It’s probably true that most people come to Jackson in the winter to shred the world-class slopes. Some locals seem to work all summer just so they can ski all winter. So yeah, the skiing is good, and if that’s your thing, you may splurge on a lift ticket at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort.
Jackson Hole Mountain Resort
So what’s so good about skiing at Jackson Hole? First, there are 4,000 vertical feet of skiing and over 130 trails. An aerial tram can take you to the top of the highest peak – experts only, if you plan to ski down though.
Of course, use caution skiing here – this mountain is wild. Cliffs, trees, moose(!), and even avalanches are possible hazards when skiing here. Only 10% of ski runs are rated easy, while half are rated expert.
Oh, and there are waffles at the top of this mountain. Maybe I should have mentioned that first. At 10,450 feet, the resort’s highest peak, you’ll find a snow-covered cabin serving up decadent waffles with bacon, nutella, or lemon glaze. Once you smell the waffles, there’s no leaving without them. Waffles with a view – what more could you want?
If you want to ski but aren’t interested in dishing out a fortune, you might try skiing at Snow King Mountain – the “Town Hill”. Looming over the town of Jackson, Snow King Mountain has the steepest overall grade of any ski hill in North America. It’s also the oldest ski resort in the state of Wyoming. Not bad for the town hill, eh?
While this hill looks totally intimidating, you’ll find a couple of easy and moderate runs in addition to the difficult ones. The nice thing about “skiing the King” is that you have the option for evening skiing, and you can get a discounted pass if that’s all you want to do.
Plus, since it’s located right in town, Snow King is within walking distance of 3 local breweries – Stillwest, Snake River Brewing, and Roadhouse Brewing Co. – so you’ll have no problem finding the perfect apres-ski destination!
- Travel Tip: There’s a third ski resort option that’s lesser-known by tourists (aka has fewer crowds): Grand Targhee. But getting there requires a bit of a drive – albeit an incredibly scenic one – over Teton Pass.
Stuff Your Face
Though a small town, Jackson boasts an impressively diverse culinary scene. Well-known for its extensive ranchland and wild game, Wyoming restaurants often feature beef, elk, and bison on their meat-heavy menus. Jackson, though no exception to the emphasis on steak and game, hosts a variety of restaurants that dress up these staples and add delicious alternatives for vegetarians and vegans.
With a large Latinx population in Jackson, there is no shortage of Mexican influence in the local dining scene – think Elk Quesadillas, Bison Enchiladas.
- Hatch Taqueria and Tequilas: For a delicious Wyoming twist on Mexican food, this modern Taqueria just a block from Town Square boasts a generous bar and a menu to match. Try one of the specialty margaritas as you browse the menu. You’ll notice classic Mexican dishes with a Wyoming spin – honoring both Wyoming’s historical ranching culture and the large Latinx population in Jackson. Try the Elk Quesadillas or Bison Enchiladas.
- Nora’s Fish Creek Inn: Head on over to the small community Wilson (7 miles west of Jackson) early one morning for breakfast at at this charming local spot located at the base of Teton Pass. Nora’s is everything a breakfast establishment should be: cheery, warm, and bustling with happy, well-fed locals. Warm up on a chilly morning with locally roasted coffee, then choose from a well-rounded but not obnoxiously extensive menu – or, save yourself the time and order the biscuits and gravy.
- Persephone Bakery: Stop by this adorable bakery for a morning coffee or afternoon pastry, as well as get some interior decorating ideas for your home (seriously, it’s lovely inside). There are two locations, each with its charms. The downtown location is quite small, but makes a great stop if you’re already walking around town. The newer location is in Wilson and is quite spacious. Both places boast amazing breakfast and lunch options – try the Grown-up Grilled Cheese, featuring bacon, fig jam and carmelized onions – or the classic-but-dressed-up egg sandwich.
- Dornan’s Pizza & Pasta Company: In the summer, it’s a crowded and noisy spot full of hikers, bikers, and paddlers. In the winter, however, Dornan’s is the best place to warm up after a snowy adventure in Grand Teton National Park. Escape the cold and snow for a bit and relax in this cozy restaurant. Grab a 323 local beer and order a pizza – or, if you’re just looking to snack, order the baked brie with berry jalapeno compote. Enjoy your refreshments (or feast) with one of the very best views of the Teton Range – yep, as if the pizza and beer weren’t enough, Dornan’s faces the mountains and has huge windows that take advantage of this incredible location.
Warm Up with a Drink
After refueling on some delicious food, Jackson offers plenty of places to continue to warm up with a stiff drink, and maybe some dancing if your legs aren’t too tired. These famous bars are sure to get your heart pumping with local music and some line dancing!
- Million Dollar Cowboy Bar: If you haven’t already heard about this landmark watering hole, you will see the flashy sign and spinning cowboy in the Town Square beckoning you inside to have a night of western fun. This is the place to be on a Saturday night, especially if you’re into neon-induced, wild west decor. Saddle up at the bar – no seriously, the stools are saddles– and have a drink and wait for the dancing to start. The Cowboy often has live music and plenty of western-style dancing, so it’s not the place to enjoy a quiet drink, but if you want to live it up here’s where the party’s at!
- Silver Dollar Bar: As the name suggested, this bar is famous for its serpentining bar which is inlaid with 2,032 uncirculated 1921 silver dollars which shine under red and blue neon lights. Like the Cowboy, be sure to bring your cowboy boots for some western dancing to local music. This bar, along with the accompanying restaurant, is located inside Jackson’s historic Wort Hotel, which earned a spot on the National Register of Historic Places in 2001 after being open for 60 years. The hotel is an attraction all its own- especially in the winter when twinkling lights dazzle the snow-covered hotel.
Jackson folk love to enjoy a brew after a long day of skiing, and there are plenty of spots in town to warm up and enjoy a locally brewed craft beer.
- StillWest Brewery and Grill is a large brewpub at the base of Snow King Mountain, with an airy, wide-open feel and great views of the town hill. This brewery features a ground floor Tap Room for a quick drink or bite, as well as a full restaurant and bar upstairs.
- Snake River Brewing, just blocks from Town Square, has the feel of a local hangout. Its two floors (and two bars) offer plenty of seating, and there are always some fun seasonal brews on tap. Snake River often hosts events, trivia, game nights, etc., so come here for a lively scene!
- Roadhouse Brewing Co. began with some darn good beer, then expanded to open both a tap room and eatery. The tap room, where the brewing happens, is off the beaten path and a little out of your way if you’re hanging out downtown. For a convenient option, head to the Pub & Eatery, right on Town Square. Here you’ll find not only the beer – quirky options like a sweet potato porter and guava IPA – but a robust food menu as well.
Take a Wildlife Tour
Jackson Hole is still a very wild place, as evidenced by the creatures that call it home. The town of Jackson, as well as surrounding public and private lands, are part of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, or GYE. This 22 million acre ecosystem is one of the largest in-tact temperate ecosystems on the planet, and is home to populations of elk, bison, moose, grizzly bears, wolves, mountain lions, and more.
For thousands of years, humans have lived alongside these animals and respected their presence in this valley. Decades and perhaps centuries of conservation efforts have preserved much of these species’ historical habitat, making Jackson Hole an incredible destination for wildlife watching.
The best chances you’ll have of seeing this incredible wildlife is with a guided tour. There are dozens of guiding companies in Jackson to choose from, though Wildlife Expeditions runs a particularly educational tour and is the only non-profit wildlife tour in town.
Most companies offer a variety of tour lengths to best suit your schedule. You can expect an adventurous day, as no two days of wildlife watching are the same. Be prepared to jump in and out of the vehicle at each stop, and dress warmer than you think you’ll need to. Gloves with fingers are especially great for adjusting the focus on binoculars and scopes. And bring your camera!
Remember, these animals are wild, so as good as your guide might be, no one can truly predict where they’ll be hanging out. Enjoy the journey, and be a patient guest.
Here are a couple of tour options we recommend:
- 4-Hour Grand Teton Wildlife Safari: Hop into a heated safari vehicle and head off into Grand Teton National Park in search of bears, wolves, elks, moose, mule deer, pronghorns, bison, and bighorn sheep, eagles, hawks, and owls. In between stops, you’ll stay warm and toasty as you enjoy panoramic views of the jagged mountains and sapphire lakes. You can either take a dawn or dusk tour, when animals are at their most active.
- Wildlife and Snowshoe Tour: Combine winter sports with wildlife spotting in this two-for-one all day long winter adventure! You’ll spend the morning snowshoeing through Grand Teton National Park and then relax in a warm tour bus for wildlife spotting in the afternoon.
Ice Skate Under Twinkling Lights
Ice skating is one of those things I really wish I could do well. Alas, I can’t, but it’s still tons of fun. There are a number of different places to skate in Jackson, including right downtown. You can rent skates in Town Square and carve it up between the antler arches.
Bonus: This rink is right across the street from the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar, where you can saddle up for a drink after skating your heart out.
The other option is the Village Rink on the Commons in Teton Village. Home to Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, Teton Village is pretty busy in the winter, and does not disappoint with winter festivities.
You can rent skates and hop on the rink under twinkling lights. There’s even a fire pit nearby for when you need to warm up, and snow castles and sculptures to explore. Heck, even if you don’t skate, come check out this festive vibe – the snow castles are fun for adults, too.
After your skate, there are plenty of places nearby to grab a hot cocoa or fun cocktail. The Mangy Moose is a classic, and often has live music. Plus, there’s an actual moose hanging from the ceiling. You can’t get much more Jackson Hole than that.
Where to Stay in Jackson Hole
Jackson Hole is an expensive place to visit, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make it affordable. While there are a few options for places to stay nearby, we recommend staying in Jackson proper.
Although you’ll find less expensive and gorgeous rentals in nearby Idaho, these stays require a commute over Teton Pass to reach any of the activities listed. This steep, winding mountain pass regularly closes due to snow and avalanches and can be an absolute nightmare to drive – save yourself the anxiety.
You’ll also notice a lot of accommodations in Teton Village, which is about 20 minutes away from Jackson and a lot more expensive. Teton Village hotels charge the big bucks for folks wanting to catch the lift without driving anywhere. And while both places have a lot of options, but if you want a more reasonable rate – as well as plenty of shops, restaurants and galleries within walking distance – you’ll have better luck in Jackson.
Here are our recommendations for places to stay:
- Vacation rental: I love this cozy townhouse between Jackson & Grand Teton National Park, complete with Nordic ski tracks and a 10-minute drive to the entrance of Grand Teton National Park. Curl up by the wood-burning fireplace with sweeping Teton views on cold winter evenings – or warm up in the sauna located in the upstairs bathroom! This budget-friendly townhome’s location is close enough to town to be convenient, but you will feel like you are worlds away.
- Boutique Hotel: The Lexington is located in downtown Jackson proper, just blocks away from Town Square and the antler arches – perfect for walking to downtown restaurants and shops. The staff here are incredibly friendly and helpful, and the hotel itself is beautiful and well-maintained. Breakfast is included and they serve the most delicious fresh cookies in the lobby. Plus there’s a free airport shuttle! You can get a room here in the winter months for around $160 per night, as long as you avoid major holiday weekends.
About Our Contributing Writer: Emily Batdorf lives in northern Michigan, along the shore of a gorgeous Great Lake. She is lucky to call such a beautiful place home, though she loves any chance to explore a new place. Her favorite part of traveling is exploring beautiful places on foot. Emily is a writer, educator, and artist, and can often be found with a good book in hand. You can learn more about Emily on her website Emily Carol Copy.
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Are you looking forward to exploring Jackson Hole? Which one of these things to do in Jackson Hole are you most excited about? Drop us a comment below!
Psst: Looking for Winter Travel inspiration? Take a look at some of our other posts.
- How to Plan an Amazing Lake Tahoe Winter Trip
- Weekend Getaway Guide to Park City, Utah
- 12 Epic Things to do in Banff, Canada in Winter
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