If you’ve been to Jackson Hole or know someone who’s already been, you likely know that it’s a HUGE ski town. Their busy season is winter because of the ski resorts close by. However, if you’re not a skier, there’s still so much to do in Jackson Hole in winter and I still recommend visiting during this time of the year!
We got back from our trip about a week ago and I’m already planning our next weekend trip down to Jackson Hole to visit again. Coming from Bozeman, Montana, it’s about a four-hour drive through some of the most beautiful parts of the US. When you’re getting close, you’ll start to see the Teton Mountain range that will take your breath away! It’s the perfect distance and scenery for a weekend road trip.
Just to clear things up (because this confused me, too), the town is called Jackson, WY. The valley is called Jackson Hole. So, you can get away with calling this area “Jackson” or “Jackson Hole” and you’ll still sound like you know what you’re talking about.
When you do visit Jackson Hole in winter, here are a few things I recommend doing:
Visit Grand Teton National Park
This one might surprise you because…winter? Well, certain parts of Grand Teton National Park are open in the winter and the landscape is so beautiful covered in snow!
I was especially excited to see Moulton Barn in Mormon Row. I had read that the road leading to this area was closed and it would require hiking. Just as we read, we came to a “road closed” sign and began our two-mile hike to see the barn. Turns out, the road coming from the other direction was open! We didn’t have to hike, but it was such a beautiful walk that we didn’t mind. Either way you do it, I recommend visiting this area. Moulton Barn is such an iconic photo spot and I think the snow makes it even more special.
Teton Park Road is also open in winter. You’ll turn onto this road from Highway 191. It’s only open for a couple miles, but this road has some of the best views of the Teton Mountains that you can get! We slowly drove along it as there weren’t many cars and just marveled at the enormous mountains in front of us.
The road will close at the Taggart Lake Trailhead – another great winter hiking option. You can either get out and hike to the lake, or turn around and go back to Jackson Hole.
If you’re hiking on fresh snow, you’ll likely want to rent snowshoes to avoid expending a ton of energy sinking into the snow. You can rent these from Skinny Skis in Jackson Hole for about $20 per day. We didn’t need them for our hike to Mormon Row, but The Mandagies recommended using them for their Taggart Lake hike.
–> Read: What to do in USA National Parks in Winter <–
Animal Watch at the Elk Refuge
If you’re driving from Jackson Hole to Grand Teton National Park, you’ll likely notice the Elk Refuge along the highway. This is one of 22 Elk Refuges in Wyoming with a goal of helping to feed elk without depleting farmers/ranchers’ personal supplies of hay that wild elk sometimes get into.
The refuge takes up a massive area, so you might not get to see the elk up close and personal, but chances are, you’ll see a group of them at some point. When we drove past, we saw two or three groups laying down near eachother!
There is a pullout to stop and watch them and you can take pictures if they’re close enough to see!
Go Shopping Around the Square
Jackson Hole has some of the best outdoors/western stores as well as some of the cutest boutiques I’ve seen! This is a perfect activity for Jackson Hole in winter because you’ll be inside for most of it. Most of the stores in town are also very close to each other which makes it easy to walk from one store to the next without getting too worn out.
A few boutiques I recommend shopping at are Made (my absolute favorite), Roam, and Wyoming Outfitters. It looks like they also have online stores if you won’t be in the Jackson Hole area, but still want to shop from them!
–> Read more: The Best Holiday Gifts for Travel Lovers <–
Ride the Aerial Tram for Incredible Views
If we had one more day in Jackson Hole, this is what we would have done! There is an aerial tram that will take you up to over 10,000 feet in elevation to get amazing mountainous views on a clear day. This tram is actually the only way to access the famous ski run, Corbet’s Couloir!
If you’re not up for skiing your way down, you can always grab a waffle at Corbet’s Cabin and then take the tram back down.
We road a similar tram when we were in Zakopane, Poland this past year and it was so cool to easily get to the top of the mountain, spend some time up there, and then ride back down!
Visit Yellowstone National Park
If Grand Teton National Park didn’t scratch your national park itch, you can drive just a little further north and visit Yellowstone National Park as well! Just like GTNP, most of the roads in Yellowstone are closed in the winter, but there are still a few options of things to do in the park. You can take a snow coach tour of the area or even a guided tour on snowmobiles! Just make sure you’re booking a tour with companies that are certified to give these winter tours.
You can find a lot more information about visiting Yellowstone NP in winter in this post!
–> Read more: How to spend a weekend in Yellowstone National Park <–
Go Camping Nearby
I know camping in the winter doesn’t sound like the most fun situation to be in, but hear me out! We drove about 2 hours Southeast of Jackson Hole into the Bridger-Teton National Forest and set up camp for two nights and it was such an awesome experience! If you’re reading this blog post in real time, I’ll be writing a post soon about what to bring with you winter camping. The main essentials you’ll need are a tent and something to keep you warm. We used a wood burning stove to heat our tent and it was so warm in our tent that Misha (our husky puppy) couldn’t stand to be in the tent for more than a few minutes!
Keep an eye out for a more detailed post on winter camping as well as how to find free camping spots! For now, comment below with any questions you have that I can help answer.
–> Read More: Winter Camping 101: Everything You Need to Know <–
Helpful Tips for Visiting Jackson Hole in Winter
You’ll want a car
In order to get through all of these winter activities in Jackson Hole, you’ll want your own transportation. Ideally, you’d drive to Jackson Hole from wherever you live if you’re close by. The other option is to rent a car from the airport to get around. There is a bus station in town, but in order to visit Grand Teton National Park, the Elk Refuge, and more, you’ll likely want your own ride.
Pick a hotel close to the square
I’d highly suggest choosing a hotel within a one or two block radius of the downtown square. This made it super easy for us to just park our car at our hotel and walk around town without having to worry about parallel parking our truck every time we wanted to go into a store! We chose the Anvil Hotel which was beautifully decorated and in a good location, but there are a ton of nice hotels in town to choose from.
Give yourself some “wandering around” time
Jackson Hole is such a beautiful town in the winter and we had so much fun just walking around the square and the decorated streets! You’re probably going to love this town just as much as we did.
Let me know in the comments if you’ve been to Jackson Hole and what you thought of this cute little ski town!