Headed to Wyoming soon and looking for all the fun things to do in Jackson Hole in the winter? Grab your snow boots and keep on reading – this Jackson Hole winter guide will have you bundling up and getting ready to explore in no time!
Towering Teton mountains blanketed in snow. Majestic moose and photogenic elk. Riding snowmobiles to steamy turquoise hot springs. World-class skiing and snowboarding. Indulging in waffles at 4,139 feet. Hot chocolates loaded with mini marshmallows by the fire. And so much western flair!
If that sounds like your idea of a good time, then you’ll just love visiting Jackson Hole in the winter. This cozy mountain town in Wyoming really is powder paradise! Plus, who doesn’t love breathing in that crisp mountain air?! It’s kinda a fun mix between Park City, Utah and Santa Fe, New Mexico (two places we’d love to revisit).
I’d honestly never considered visiting Jackson Hole in winter. I always assumed it was more of a summer destination, being so close to the national parks and all (with Yellowstone and Grand Teton only a few miles away). But once I started chatting with one of my favorite childhood friends who lives right in Jackson (hey Li!), she quickly reassured me that Jackson Hole is downright glorious in the winter – and possibly even better than summer!
And just like that, my winter trip to Jackson Hole was born. We booked flights that very night, secured a gorgeous hotel right off the main square, and started researching activities ASAP. It was actually super easy to put together! Finally some snow (since we hardly get a real winter living in the San Francisco Bay Area).
Quick Travel Guide to Jackson Hole in Winter
- Best Time to Go: November through April (however, go January through March if you want to be in town for the best snowfall)
- Visit For: 3 to 5 Days – depending if you’re skiing or not
- Getting Around: Walk, guided tours, Uber
- Where to Stay: Hotel Jackson, Hotel Terra Jackson Hole, Anvil Hotel
- What to Do: Dog sledding, soaking in hot springs, snowmobiling, explore town of Jackson, drinks at Cowboy Bar, wildlife tour, ski/snowboard, snowshoeing
- Eat/drink: Local, Teton Tiger, Million Dollar Cowboy Bar, Persephone Bakery, Cowboy Coffee
Before we get into all the fun things to do in Jackson Hole in winter, I’m sharing some additional information to help make your trip planning as easy as possible!
Logistics of Visiting Jackson in Winter
Jackson Hole vs. Jackson
First things first, is it Jackson Hole, or Jackson, or both?! Don’t worry, I was super confused at first too, and if you’ve never visited before, I assume you are too (no worries)! Both terms are often used interchangeably, but actually refer to different aspects of the same region.
I told a few friends I was going to Jackson, and they were like, “uh, you mean Jackson Hole”, and another friend totally thought I was headed off to Mississippi. HA! Time to settle this once and for all.
Jackson Hole is a MUCH larger geographical area. It’s a valley (about 80 miles long and 15 miles wide) between the Teton Range and the Gros Ventre Range. The term “hole” was a word used by early mountain men to describe a high mountain valley, and it stuck!
So, Jackson Hole is the actual valley (or hole) itself. Within Jackson Hole you’ll find the Teton Mountains, the Snake River, and tons and tons of wildlife! And not to make it even more confusing, but Grand Teton National Park is within Jackson Hole too.
Jackson is a town located in the Jackson Hole Valley (and the largest one in the area). It serves as a gateway of sorts to all the awesome things to do in Jackson Hole in winter and beyond.
So basically, Jackson Hole is a large valley, and Jackson is the major town within the valley. Easy peasy! When people talk about visiting Jackson Hole (myself included!), they’re often referring to experiencing both the town of Jackson and the surrounding natural beauty of the valley.
Where is Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Jackson is a small mountain town located in the northwest corner of the state of Wyoming. And get this – it’s only 15 miles from the border of Idaho (perfect if you’re trying to visit all 50 states like I am, although I made two separate trips to see Wyoming and Idaho).
Wyoming is part of the Mountain West subregion of the Western US – bordered by Montana to the north, South Dakota and Nebraska to the east, Idaho to the west, and Utah and Colorado to the south. Kinda sandwiched in between so many others. Before visiting, I honestly don’t think I could have pointed Wyoming out on the map, and not entirely sure I can now, haha!
Specifically, Jackson is situated in Teton County in the Jackson Hole Valley. And its surrounding by the *stunning* Teton Range (of the Rocky Mountains), AND is not far from both Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park. Meaning, there’s tons of scenic beauty basically anywhere and everywhere you look.
How to get to Jackson Hole
Flying to Jackson Hole
When you fly into Jackson Hole, you’ll be heading to Jackson Hole Airport (airport code JAC) – they really couldn’t have made the name any easier, haha. And the airport is super easy flying into and out of since there’s only a single terminal (it’s a pretty small airport if you haven’t picked up on this).
The airport, albeit tiny, is served by major airlines, although some are seasonal so always check on this before planning your trip.
AND get this – JAC serves complimentary MIMOSAS at the airport! Like what?! Look for the little stand once you get off the plane. I’ve never seen a Chamber of Commerce do that before – you know we started our trip off in style. Talk about a bougie airport. You even walk through an antler arch after landing (so cool!). The whole airport is beautiful and modern and charming — I mean there’s a fireplace right at the gate (don’t think I’ve ever said that before…).
We’re lucky that we have nonstop flights directly from SFO to Jackson Hole (in under 2 hours no less!), but if you’re not coming from a major city, you’ll probably need to connect. All part of traveling!
Whatever you do, look out the window for some fantastic mountain views upon arrival. JAC is the *only* airport in the US that’s located within a national park (Grand Teton National Park), so don’t miss those Teton views. I took way too many photos, haha.
Note you can technically fly into Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC) as well, a much-larger airport with way more domestic flights and even some international ones.
BUT THEN you’ll need to make the (possibly super-snowy) 5-hour, 300-mile drive through the mountains. Sure, you may find nonstop flights to Salt Lake City, but then you’ll undoubtedly need to rent a car and potentially drive through a scary snowstorm. No thanks!
Honestly, it’s just safer and downright easier to fly right into Jackson, even if that means a connection and a higher flight price. Plus, free mimosas!
Getting from the airport to downtown
Once you’ve had your fair share of mimosas (seriously, I saw some thirsty people down a few – no judgements, it’s vacation!), it’s time to make your way into town! And thankfully, it’s super easy no matter where you’re staying.
It’s a quick drive to the town of Jackson (about 20 minutes), or slightly farther to Teton Village (more like 40 minutes).
Uber/Lyft/Taxi: We took an Uber to our hotel right off the main square in downtown Jackson, and it cost us about $30. It felt kinda expensive, but again, this ain’t a cheap area! There’s also plenty of taxis around if you’d rather go that route.
START Airport Shuttle: There’s currently a pilot program underway (winter 2023/2024), that’s gauging demand for public transit from the airport to the town of Jackson. The bus picks up from the airport every hour between 5:40am and 9:40pm for $10 a person. Not tons of savings if you’ve got 2 or more people. If you’re solo this is good way to get to town for cheap!
Hotel Shuttle: A few hotels provide complimentary shuttle service to and from the airport. I was super surprised that ours (Hotel Jackson) did not, and feel this is something that should be required from a 5-star hotel! But check if yours does!
Driving to Jackson
Personally, unless you’re super comfortable and experienced with driving in winter weather, I recommend flying straight to Jackson. BUT if you’ve got experience, know how to put tire chains on and/or have snow tires, have a vehicle with 4WD, and aren’t coming from crazy far away, it may make more sense to drive.
Here’s driving distances from other popular spots nearby-ish:
- Grand Teton National Park (Moose, WY): 20 minutes, 12 miles
- Idaho Falls, Idaho: 2 hours, 90 miles
- Yellowstone National Park (West Entrance): 2 ½ hours, 125 miles
- Bozeman, Montana: 4 ½ hours, 225 miles
- Salt Lake City, Utah: 4 ½ hours, 275 miles
- Cody, Wyoming: 5 hours, 300 miles
- Denver, Colorado: 8 ½ hours, 550 miles
How to get around Jackson in the winter
Rental car: If you feel comfortable driving in snow and have the appropriate winter gear (snow tires, tire chains, etc), you may enjoy the flexibility of having your own rental car. Just ensure your hotel has overnight parking available as public parking garages seem to have some stipulations.
With a rental you can drive up to Yellowstone (bison!), around Grand Teton National Park sans tour, and to Amangani and Teton Village yourself.
Walking: Once you’re in town or Teton Village, you can walk everywhere! Downtown Jackson really is tiny, and you can walk to anywhere in 10 minutes or less – no joke, our hotel was basically a 4 minute walk from everywhere we wanted to go in town, haha.
Guided tours: If you’re itching to go snowmobiling, dog sledding, and/or explore the nearby parks, there’s tours for that! Plenty pick you up from your hotel or right in town, so you don’t need a car for those. We enjoyed having someone else do the driving for sure, haha!
Complimentary hotel cars: If you’re staying in a bougie place, ask your hotel if they offer this. Our hotel (Hotel Jackson) offered free rides anywhere within a 2-mile radius!
Public Bus: In town (and the surrounding areas), the local START bus is your best option for public transit – between Jackson, Teton Village, Teton Valley, and Star Valley. Exact change is required – cash only (fares here) because drivers can’t give change. It’s only $3 from town to the village, so super affordable!
The city even provides free shuttles around the Town of Jackson with their START on-demand service – can’t beat that!
Weather in Jackson Hole in Winter (and when to visit)
I hate to break it to ya, but Jackson Hole winter temperatures are a bit harsh. However, if you’ve stumbled upon this Jackson blog post, there’s a good chance you already realize that Jackson Hole in winter is drastically different than during the summer season.
Surprisingly, winter in Jackson was a bit more crowded than I imagined, although I can’t even imagine the swarms of people come summer (apparently summer sees 7-8x more tourists!).
Jackson Hole is known for its bone-chilling winters with significant snowfall during the winter months. I mean, the area averages about 400-500 inches of snow per year, so you can expect some snow on the ground when you visit, haha. But you probably already knew that.
Snowstorms are frequent, with daytime temps typically below freezing highs (ranging from the teens to the 30s °F and -9 to 4 °C). Expect temps to drop well below freezing at night (think sub-zero temperatures to the teens F, and -18 to -9 °C), so come prepared with all your winter gear for sure.
Winter officially starts in Jackson in late November, and continues all the way through early April. A pretty long season! However, if you’re looking for guaranteed snow (and fresh powder for skiing), visit from late December through March!
Obviously it all depends on the year and month you visit (can’t control nature after all!), but here’s a quick breakdown. However, weather around the world’s been pretty wacky (hello global warming), so who really knows what you’ll end up getting!
- November: Winter starts and snow begins to accumulate (although not as heavy as in the peak winter months.) Jackson Hole Mountain Resort typically has its opening day in late November.
- December: A super fun time to visit with the Winterfest celebration and tree lighting ceremony, but it’s wildly crowded. The colder temps really start, and there’s an increase in snowfall – marking the beginning of the prime skiing and snowboarding season.
- January: A typically slow month (that post-holiday lull’s in full effect), and one of the coldest months of the season. Expect heavy snowfall and excellent conditions on the mountain! Typically such a pretty time to visit!
- February: Beyond packed for ski and presidents week, with more snowfall and prime conditions for skiing, snowmobiling, and other winter activities.
- March: The temps start getting a tad warmer (although still very cold and snowfall continues!), the days become longer, and there’s a gradual transition toward milder conditions. But it still feels like true winter. There’s also some fun events like the Jackson Hole Food & Wine Winter Fest and the World Championship Snowmobile Hill Climb.
- April: Spring starts to make an appearance, daytime highs are well above freezing (30-50°F), and the snow starts to melt. It’s a great time for wildlife viewing and spring skiing.
For reference, we visited Jackson at the very end of January. Apparently we visited during an unseasonably warm winter, because instead of single digits, it was around 25-35°F for the duration of our stay! Which my friend who lives there and all the hotel staff said is not normal at all.
The town did get some snow when we were there (and it was downright magical), but everyone was still waiting for the first huge snowstorm of the year. Thankfully this didn’t affect us much since we’re not skiers, but we heard conditions weren’t the absolute best on the mountain just yet.
Where to Stay in Jackson Hole
You’ve essentially got two options for location in Jackson: the town of Jackson itself, and Teton Village at the base of the ski mountain.
Of course there’s pros and cons to both, but I HIGHLY recommend basing yourself in the Jackson Town Square area, not Teton Village. Why? Because all the best restaurants/bars/shops are in town, and honestly, once you’re in Teton Village, you’re kinda stuck there (there’s really only hotels and a few restaurants there). Sure, it’s only a 20 minute drive away, but so annoying in my opinion.
Unless you’re planning to ski/snowboard every day of your trip, I’d stick to the town of Jackson instead. We stayed in town, and made our way over to Teton Village one morning for some dog sledding and took the tram up for those famous waffles at Corbet’s Cabin.
Just FYI – hotels in both Jackson and Teton Village ain’t cheap. Sure, there’s some less expensive spots nearby, but don’t expect to be walking distance to much. If you can visit midweek you’ll get far better pricing.
The Town of Jackson
Hotel Jackson: We splurged and got a room at Hotel Jackson, and wow, just wow. Talk about mountain chic! Besides the service being absolutely phenomenal (honestly, probably on par with the hospitality in both Bali and Thailand), we had a wood-burning fireplace in our room, warm cookies and a DIY hot chocolate bar every afternoon, and a rooftop whirlpool with views of the snowy mountains.
There’s also in-room Nespresso machines, a gorgeous library where my husband did some work one afternoon, a ski shuttle, and ski butlers!
The hotel’s located right in town so all the shops and restaurants we wanted to go were less than a 10 minute walk away. Sure, we paid up, but like I said, it was my birthday, so well-worth it!
For more mid-range and budget accommodation, check out The Wort Hotel ($$), The White Buffalo Club ($$), Anvil Hotel ($$), Rustic Inn Creekside Resort & Spa ($), Miller Park Lodge ($), Antler Inn ($), and Mountain Modern Inn ($).
There’s also some hotels near the Albertsons on Hwy 191 not far from town (like the Virginian Lodge, The Lodge at Jackson Hole, and the Cowboy Village Resort), but I’d stay within walking distance to the town square unless you’ve got a car.
Teton Village is a small town in Jackson Hole at the base of Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. It’s kinda like a mini Aspen, and kinda a no-brainer for skiers and snowboarders visiting Jackson in the winter.
BUT, pretty inconvenient if you’re not a skier (like myself!) or only planning a few runs on the mountain. It sure is beautiful though!
What to Pack for Jackson in Winter
Visiting Jackson Hole in the winter isn’t for the faint of heart – that is unless you know how to bundle up properly! You’ll need to dress in layers and be prepared for extreme winter conditions. The weather is no joke here!
How to dress: Wear multiple layers on both top and bottom. HOWEVER, not all layers are created equal. You’ll want to layer up on breathable fabrics and waterproof bottoms. I learned on the trip that it’s actually the space between the layers that adds warmth (I don’t actually understand all that, but science schmience, amIright?).
Here’s my winter weather recommendations for what to pack for Jackson in the winter:
- Warm Winter Coat: For those frigid winter days, you’ll really wanna invest in an insulated parka. I’ve got my eye on this North Face parka (I currently wear one from 10+ years ago – it’s about time for a new jacket). Looking for one a bit less expensive? This one’s crazy popular on social media, and with the length and sherpa-lined hood, I can totally see why. However note that it’s only water resistant, not waterproof, so not the best choice for those crazy snowy days.
- Packable Puffer Jacket: I wear this one – it’s lightweight and water resistant, plus comes in a bunch of fun colors and the pockets are super deep (perfect for storing your phone). It packs down to almost nothing in the little included pouch – perfect for travel!
- Fleece Zip-Up: On those absolutely frigid days when you need a little something between your sweater and warm winter coat, a fleece zip-up (like this Columbia full-zip) will come in handy. There’s a reason it’s got 45k positive reviews!
- Base Layers: I’ve been wearing heat tech long sleeve tees ever since I went to Banff a few years back, and they’ve saved me from those frigid temps! They’re super lightweight and perfect to wear under a sweater, and leave you feeling dry and warm without the bulk!
- Fleece-lined leggings: I used to layer two pairs of regular leggings, but now that fleece-lined leggings are a thing, I only wear those! They’re just as comfy as regular leggings, but keep your legs staying warm and toasty. I’ve worn these pairs a few times and they’ve been great, and come in a bunch of fun colors! If you’re looking for something to wear under jeans or snow pants, these come highly recommended (although too thin to wear on their own; more like a base layer).
- Chapstick: Cold and dry air make your lips susceptible to chapping super easily. Ugh, the worst! I’m low-key obsessed with this cocoa butter swivel stick – it makes your lips so super soft and it smells a tad like chocolate! My favorite! It also works wonders on dry, chapped skin. You’ll wanna reapply multiple times throughout the day.
- Power Bank: Batteries die out faster in the cold, so come prepared with a power bank to recharge your stuff on the go. This compact power bank gives up to 10 full charges! I always throw this tiny one in my bag also, just in case, as a backup. My phone is my life-line (especially when traveling solo), so I like to be extra prepared!
- Beanies: I’ve got this fleece-lined beanie (pom pom included) in a few colors, and always bring a thick headband along too for when I want to put my hair up.
- Warm Gloves: I like to take a few pairs of gloves with me – loving these wool-blend mittens and this pair that’s super lightweight and waterproof (good enough to go skiing in). Trust me, cheapie cotton gloves just ain’t good enough – my snowmobile guide practically laughed in my face when I showed him mine… then let me borrow a spare pair he had.
- Scarves: I tend to bring a few, since they’re so easy to accessorize with! This blanket scarf is one of my faves (a great neutral option that matches everything), and chunky-knit infinity scarves are oh so cozy!
- Waterproof Snow Boots: Gotta keep your feet warm and dry! And THESE Sorel waterproof boots are easily the best ones out there – they’re 100% waterproof, seam-sealed, and actually look pretty cute (unlike most snow boots out there).
- Polarized sunglasses: Since the sun reflects off the snow, you’ll need some polarized sunglasses – I’ve been wearing these exact ones for years and I just love ‘em!
- Bathing suit: If you’re planning to soak in some hot springs — gotta bring a bathing suit! Not what you typically think of for a winter trip, so don’t forget it as nudity isn’t allowed in the springs.
Packing advice #1: Invest in warm and waterproof snow boots with a proper grip. When ordering, opt for a size slightly larger than normal, as you want to allow for thick boot socks and toe warmers. If your boots are too tight (and your toes are crammed together), your feet will never stay warm enough… and they’ll just hurt all day, no thanks!
Packing advice #2: HOT HANDS. Enough said. But in all honesty, hot hands saved our frosty fingers on more than one occasion. What are they, you ask? They’re these magical dry packets filled with iron (among other scientific things) that intensify in heat once activated. Basically – super technological hand warmers that stay warm for up to 10 hours. And they are a godsend. You’ll want at least 1 pair a day. Buy on amazon here.
Other FAQs and Info about Jackson in the Winter
- Make dinner reservations in advance. I was legit so surprised, but dinner reservations were 100% needed for most of the restaurants – yes even in winter! And there’s *so much* good food. We didn’t make reservations until about a week before our trip, and thankfully found some tables still available (although not many to be honest!). We did have to eat a bit late some nights since almost everything was booked up already. If you know your dates, just make some ressies now; you can always cancel them.
- Jackson is not a cheap trip by any means. I mean, it’s called the Millionaires Playground for a reason! It was definitely one of our most expensive domestic trips I think EVER (possibly even more so than Hawaii, but we aim to live like locals there), but well worth it for those snowy mountain views. You can definitely choose a less expensive hotel and be picky about activities, but we went for my birthday so felt okay splurging a bit!
- Can I visit Grand Teton National Park from Jackson in the winter? Yup! The Moose Entrance of Grand Teton National Park is only about a 10-minute drive north of Jackson Hole! The park’s home to massive mountains, pristine lakes and rivers, and abundant wildlife (think moose, elk, bison, wolves, and trumpeter swans). Visiting in winter is a very different experience than in summer (for starters it’s way less crowded), but just know that road access within the park is limited. You can even snowshoe or cross-country ski around Jenny Lake in the park!
- What about a visit to Yellowstone National Park? Visiting Yellowstone in the winter from Jackson is a bit more difficult, as the south entrance to the park is closed in winter to regular vehicular traffic. Meaning you’ll need to either take a snowmobile or snowcoach to access the park – not horrible by any means!
- How long to stay in Jackson? I think it depends on how much skiing/snowboarding you’re planning to do – give yourself a few days on the mountain and then an extra day or two to explore town and go snowmobiling and/or dog sledding. If you’re not a skier/snowboarder, I think three days is sufficient! For reference, we stayed 4 nights and honestly felt it was a tad too long since we don’t ski (at all!).
- The area is VERY touristy. Not that I was super surprised or anything, but the entire town is practically powered by tourism. There’s no real “local” spots, and hardly anyone is from Jackson itself. Even my friend who lives there is originally from New York, although she’s lived there for over 10 years so I guess I’d consider her a local at this point!
- Lots of staff aren’t even from Jackson themselves. Hotel chains and companies employ thousands of people on J1 visas for seasonal work and Exchange Visitor Programs (many from Eastern Europe) – meaning the town is super transient. It’s not necessarily a bad thing per say, but just realize all staff probably don’t have the greatest knowledge about Jackson and the area as a whole.
- Days will be relatively short, with approximately 8-10 hours or so of daylight during the winter. In late-January when we visited, the sun rose at around 7:45 am and set just before 5:30 pm, giving us about 10 hours to fill up our days with all the Jackson Hole winter activities we could handle.
- Hydration is key. Due to Jackson’s chilly temps and resulting dry air, you’ll need to make sure to drink lots of water. Our hotel kept us fully stocked on water bottles, and we took them around wherever we went (just make sure to drink them before they freeze!).
A Word on Wildlife in Jackson and Nearby
One of the best things about visiting Jackson Hole in the winter is the abundance of wildlife! I mean, we saw a few moose just hanging out in the snow literally 5 minutes after leaving the airport! Elk, moose, bison, coyotes, wolves, and bears (although typically in hibernation during the winter months) can be found here!
But remember – whether you’re out on your own or with a guided tour, please oh please respect the wildlife.
Observe from a distance (binoculars and scopes work wonders here), NEVER approach or feed wildlife (this can lead to dependency on human food, alter their behavior, and even be harmful to their health), and always stay on designated trails (when skiing, snowmobiling, and snowshoeing) to avoid disturbing nesting areas, feeding grounds, and their natural behaviors.
Remember this is their home – animal sightings are rare and special! They’re generally not aggressive, but I wouldn’t wanna be around if they feel threatened. I mean, have you seen a bison – they’re hella large and powerful animals!
Our Winter in Jackson Hole Itinerary
Here’s what we got up to on our Jackson winter trip! Granted we don’t ski, so if that’s on your bucket list, swap out an activity or two and head up the mountain!
- Day 1: arrive in Jackson midday, wander town, dinner at Local Restaurant
- Day 2: Dog sledding in Teton Village, tram up the mountain, waffles at Corbet’s Cabin, apres ski at Mangy Moose, dinner at Glorietta Trattoria
- Day 3: snowmobiling to Granite Hot Springs, lunch at Jackson Drug, shops in town, dinner at Collette
- Day 4: Wildlife tour in Grand Teton National Park, lunch at Silver Dollar Bar, check out Amangani, dinner at Teton Tiger
- Day 5: relax in town, breakfast at Persephone Bakery, off to the airport to head home!
So let’s get to it – fun things to do in Jackson Hole in the winter, coming right up!
Things to do in Jackson Hole in Winter
There’s a whole slew of things to do in Jackson Hole in winter, but let’s be real… I was most excited to see a moose, haha. Crossed that one off the bucket list a few times!
Winter in Jackson is an entirely different experience than during the crowded summer months, but it’s IMPERATIVE to book activities in advance. Some even sell out MONTHS ahead of time (yeah, this area’s popular!). Once you have your dates set in stone, I’d reserve tours ASAP to ensure you get a spot.
And trust me – if you’re not skiing, you really need to plan a few activities (the town is tiny and takes less than half a day to fully explore). Plus, get out there in the wilderness at least once – soooo much scenic beauty all around.
One of the activities we were most excited for during our long weekend in Jackson was dog sledding! We’re huge dog lovers, and couldn’t wait to learn how to mush and watch the energetic dogs in action. Plus give them all the belly rubs of course (they deserve it)!
After dog sledding in Banff in winter a few years ago, I’ve been itching to go again and show my husband what all the hype’s about!
And what an experience it was – we bundled up in the sled and were whisked away on snow-covered meadows with views of the mountains. But I gotta be honest, I was most focused on the dogs, haha.
There is some question about whether dog sledding is an ethical activity or not. The breeds typically used (Siberian Huskies, Alaskan Malamutes, and other northern breeds – a few of ours were from Greenland!) actually require a ton of stimulation and need to get rid of their energy.
We made sure to choose a tour operator who greatly prioritizes the well-being and care of their sled dogs. After visiting it was apparent the dogs are well-fed, properly housed, given adequate rest (some only do 1-2 rides a day), and receive regular veterinary care. It really was such a wholesome experience learning about the dogs as well as the company’s mission and values.
We had ample time for all the dog cuddles before and after the ride – they were so friendly and loved all the attention (some even rolled over for belly rubs).
There’s a few different options (sledding to hot springs, within Grand Teton itself, a shorter 1-hour ride, etc). We originally wanted to do a full-day dog sled ride to some nearby hot springs, but that was sold out (months before) so thankfully found a different company (highly recommend Call of the Wyld).
I’ll admit, the experience is a bit pricey for a one-hour sled ride. But once you factor in all the expenses (high-quality food for the dogs, caring and training and medical attention for the dogs, adoption efforts for those who don’t fit, and paying the staff a living wage), it doesn’t seem wildly overpriced anymore. We were happy to support.
Out of all the things to do in Jackson Hole in winter, we by far loved snowmobiling the most. We cut through fresh powder in open meadows, dense forests and past waterfalls all through the gorgeous wilderness of Bridger-Teton National Forest. Such a frigid winter wonderland dream (and yes, it was beyond freezing).
I have to be honest – I was a bit nervous at first (and I didn’t even drive – my husband did). But after a few minutes I got super comfy on the back of the snowmobile and OMG it was so much fun. He said it’s kinda like playing a video game (taking his word), and way easier than driving a jet-ski (which we did in Bora Bora many moons ago).
Note that you’ll *really* need to bundle up – and when I say bundle up, I mean it. Staying warm, dry, and comfortable is super important, as you’ll ruin your experience if you’re shivering cold. If you’ve never been on a snowmobile it’s hard to imagine just how cold it really is – that wind is something else. Thankfully the snowmobile handles are heated!
Our rental package included all safety gear (such as helmets), waterproof and windproof snow pants and jackets, warm insulated gloves, and even insulated boots. You’ll probably wanna bring along a few hot hands just to be on the safe side (one girl stuck one in her boots 3 minutes after starting, haha).
Overall, it was super exhilarating and something I’d love to do again. If you choose one activity during your time in Jackson, make it snowmobiling.
There’s quite a few different tours, with some focused on wildlife at Bridger-Teton National Park, to Granite Springs (the tour we chose), through Grand Teton National Park, and even to Old Faithful in Yellowstone!
Soak in some Hot Springs
This was the Jackson Hole winter activity I was most excited for!
Imagine soaking in the steamy warmth of hot springs with icicles and snow piled up high surrounding you in the middle of the Teton Mountains! A true winter wonderland, and super different from the hot springs we soaked in in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico.
Included on our snowmobile tour was a relaxing soak in the natural waters of Granite Hot Springs – and it was totally one of the highlights of our trip to Jackson in the winter! Yes, it’s a man made pool (built back in the 1930s), but considering its location – under huge fir pines along Granite Greek right in the Bridger-Teton National Forest, it still feels quite special. And the water is a scalding 112°F, so feels amazing after shivering in the cold in your bathing suit, haha.
Pro-tip: sit near the rocks bordering the thermal springs – it’s the hottest over here!
In the winter months you can only access Granite Hot Springs via dog sled, snowmobile, or a long cross-country ski trail, so it’s never crazy crowded. Especially if you get there early. We had the springs completely to ourselves for about 15 minutes until the next group showed up, then promptly 5 more haha.
Be exceptionally careful walking down the steps from the changing rooms to the hot spring – it gets icy! And make sure to bring your own stuff (towels, clothes, bathing suit, etc); there’s literally nothing else besides a changing room, a bathroom, and the pool!
Psst – bathing suits are required at local hot springs in Jackson Hole, so this ain’t the place for nudity!
While Granite Hot Springs is by far the most popular of the thermal springs in Jackson, there’s also Astoria Hot Springs (with five different man-made pools to soak in, all different temps) and Kelly Warm Springs (cooler than most hot springs averaging about 80°F, so better for soaking in the warm summer months).
Wildlife Tour in Grand Teton National Park
After going on safari in Tanzania this past summer, we’re all about ethical wildlife activities! So as soon as I heard about wildlife tours in Grand Teton, I knew it was something we’d love – and that we did! We ventured around the park in a heated (thank goodness) 4×4 safari style vehicle, keeping our eyes peeled for the thousands of animals that take refuge in the Jackson Hole valley.
On our tour, we saw hundreds of elk, a half dozen MOOSE, wolves, mule deer, so many bighorn sheep (high up in the mountains), two bald eagles, trumpeter swans, and even a whole bunch of bison. Note that you won’t see any bears (black or grizzly) because they’re all hibernating!
You can typically either choose a tour at dawn or dusk, because this is when the animals are most active! Any tour that departs smack in the middle of the day is a big no-no.
Take Photos at the Famous Antler Arches
On the corners of Jackson Town Square you’ll find the historic elk antler arches – perfect for photos! I mean, did you really visit Jackson if you didn’t snap a few pics under the antler arches? (Nope). Don’t be shy – they’re popular for a reason!
And get this – they’re built *entirely* from local elk antlers, about 2,000 antlers each. You won’t believe it but the arches are held together mostly by friction and gravity, so don’t be pulling any out!
Where do the antlers come from? Every spring, elk naturally shed their antlers, and local Boy Scout troops gather them up from the National Elk Refuge.
Ride the Aerial Tram for Waffles with a View
Before our trip I kept hearing about these famous world-renowned waffles, so I knew we needed to find them. And guess what – you need to ride the Aerial Tram at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort to get there! Yes, all the way to the summit of Rendezvous Mountain (which is a staggering 4,139 feet up)!
Once up there, there’s 360-degree views of the Tetons, Jackson Hole, the Snake River Valley, and Grand Teton National Park. Unfortunately the weather was kinda iffy at the top when we visited (that’s mountain weather for ya), but we saw glimpses here and there of the view.
Be sure to bundle up – it’s absolutely frigid up there.
As soon as you make it up, you’ll see Corbet’s Cabin – literally a cabin on top of the mountain serving freshly made waffles! It’s super casual and packed with skiers (thankfully the line moves fast), with a few options to choose from – we went with the peanut butter bacon (an interesting combo to say the least), and the Belgium with speculoos (my favorite, especially after visiting Bruges a few months ago).
If you’re not skiing, this is probably the most expensive waffle you’ll ever have. Was it worth the $50 roundtrip tram ticket (per person!) to get up there, plus another $15 or so for a waffle and hot cocoa? Probably not, but hey, when in Jackson Hole!
Explore Downtown Jackson
No visit to Jackson Hole is complete without a stroll through downtown Jackson’s famous Town Square! This is where you’ll find the iconic elk antler arches, famous Million Dollar Cowboy bar, and plenty and plenty of western shops.
It’s basically the historic heart of Jackson Hole, and there’s mountain views everywhere. Being super tiny, you can easily explore in a morning or afternoon before/after other activities. Since our hotel was right in town, I had tons of time for leisurely wandering around and popping into all the shops and art galleries.
Don’t be surprised by all the animals hanging on the wall (and yes, they’re all real…) – this is cowboy country we’re talking about!
During our winter weekend in Jackson I think I went into almost every single shop in town (it’s a great way to stay warm, haha). So many good ones, but my faves were: MADE, Habits, Encounter Hat Co, and Beaver Creek Hats & Leather. Whatever you do, don’t miss Kemo Sabe – SUCH a good spot where you can make your own custom hats!
Ski and Snowboard
Jackson Hole is paradise for those looking to hit the slopes. The area is famous for its perfect deep powder conditions and challenging terrain (although don’t worry, there’s a few gentler runs for all you less advanced skiers and snowboarders).
And with all this snow, you can bet Jackson’s a pretty reliable ski destination!
There’s three popular resorts in the Jackson Hole area:
- Jackson Hole Mountain Resort: This is by far the most popular area to ski, nestled at the base of the breathtaking Teton Mountains in Teton Village. Here you’ll find two mountains – Apres Vous and Rendezvous. The Aerial Tram (known locally as Big Red) up to Rendezvous Mountain is super popular (and where you’ll find the famous waffles). It’s actually the largest continuous vertical rise in the country at a staggering 4,139 vertical feet (way higher than the gondola we took during our weekend in Albuquerque!)
- Snow King Ski Area & Mountain Resort: Commonly known as “the town hill” and “Snow King”, this is Jackson’s in-town mountain and the very first ski area in all of Wyoming! It’s super convenient (just six blocks from the Jackson Town Square), and boasts other fun activities on the mountain, like a scenic gondola ride, snow tubing, and even a cowboy coaster! Plus lighted trails for night skiing!
- Grand Targhee Resort: This one’s a bit further away from Jackson (about 45 miles), but with more than 500 inches of pristine powder every year and stunning views of the Tetons, you can’t go wrong! Especially if you want a change of scenery.
Mangy Moose for Apres Ski
What’s better than skiing? Apres ski of course! Mangy Moose has been around since 1967 and is a Jackson Hole classic. It’s one of the more popular spots to grab a beer and nachos at the base of the mountain, and there’s even live music most afternoons.
Have a drink at Amangani
Ohhh the minute I saw a picture of the stunning Aman property in Jackson, I instantly wanted to go check it out. We made the mistake of going too early in the day (before the bar was open, whoops), so we just wandered around and pretended we were staying there!
That pool overlooking the mountains looks heavenly… too bad the view was covered from all the clouds.
Ride a Sleigh in the National Elk Refuge
Finally an activity that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg at less than $40 (hey, I told you Jackson Hole’s expensive)! And a sleigh ride into the National Elk Refuge is by far one of the best things to do in Jackson in winter!
Why? Because winter is the peak season for elk migration to the refuge (late December to early April). Thousands of elk make their way down from the surrounding mountains to the lower elevations where the refuge provides essential food and shelter. There’s just not enough food for them high in the mountains once the harsh winter months and snow come along.
On a horse-drawn sleigh you’re taken right into the heart of the elk herd – getting to see these magnificent creatures up close! If it’s exceptionally cold, bring along some blankets.
We actually decided to skip out on this after our wildlife tour of Grand Teton, and I honestly kinda regret it! Although we did see the elk from afar on our 4×4 safari vehicle, so I’m not beating myself up too much, haha. Because of the light snow so far in the season, there were only a few hundred elk instead of thousands, so it’ll all depend on when you visit!
If you’re visiting over the holidays/ski week, I highly recommend getting tickets in advance to ensure you get a spot – it’s a popular activity!
Where to Eat in Jackson Hole
I could not believe just how much of a foodie spot Jackson was. Despite being such a tiny town (I expected town to be larger for some reason), there’s such a wide variety of cuisines, many using local ingredients.
Some restaurants you really do need a reservation for (especially on the weekend), so make those ressies in advance!
- Jackson Drug: Burgers, milkshakes, and build our own grilled cheeses in a cute retro atmosphere! Such a great spot for lunch.
- Persephone Bakery: One of the most popular spots for a French-inspired breakfast/brunch, and yes, it lives up to the hype. Super trendy with delicious bakery items, artisan breads, and the best brioche french toast.
- Hatch Taqueria & Tequilas: Great margs and Mexican food with a twist (try the tortilla soup on a cold day) and great happy hour deals.
- Local (reservation needed): One of the fancier spots we went to serving locally ranched meats (think elk, bison, etc) and phenomenal truffle fries. Share the M&M plate if you’re with a group to try all the meats and sides!
- Cowboy Coffee: The go-to spot for coffees in the AM with the cutest cowboy cups (and FWIW their sandwiches are amazing too). A MUST STOP IN JACKSON for sure. We went like 3-4x, haha.
- Million Dollar Cowboy Bar: A local favorite in downtown Jackson, with saddles for bar stools and lots of live music. Plus billiards and a funky gift shop!
- Glorietta Trattoria (reservation needed): An upscale Italian trattoria with great flavors but the pasta portions were admittedly kinda small, especially for the price.
- Teton Tiger (reservation needed): Delicious noodles, curries, and other pan-Asian cuisine in a funky atmosphere. Literally everything we ordered was SO good, and such a nice change from all the American food we’d been eating.
- Silver Dollar Bar: A fun Western-themed bar & grill at the historic Wort Hotel. Great spot to grab a quick burger for lunch or later for live music.
- Collette (reservation needed): Traditional western fare with global touches and lots of local ingredients! A super cozy space with the best cocktails. Perfect for date night.
- Hand Fire Pizza: Super creative wood-fired pizza using fresh, local ingredients – the crust is amazing.
- FIGS: A rustic-chic Lebanese restaurant right in Hotel Jackson, with homemade hummus and lots of craft cocktails. If we had another day we would’ve eaten here!
So there have it – a whole slew of things to do in Jackson Hole in winter! Are you headed to the mountains soon?!