Jackson Hole remains one of the most popular destinations in western United States, and for good reason. With unparalleled natural beauty and sporting options, visitors come back to the valley time after time.
Visiting Jackson Hole doesn’t necessarily mean spending all your time outdoors, although it certainly can mean that! Panoramic vistas surround this mountain town which makes it a wonder to behold any time of year, but snowbirds flock to it in the colder months, looking for things to do in Jackson Hole in winter and to take advantage of the terrain.
Ski-driven or not, Jackson Hole can be enjoyed by everyone. Particularly with snow on the ground, how could you not fall in love with Wyoming’s open ranges? Don’t pigeonhole this cozy town either, it has a lot to offer every kind of traveler!
- Most significant landmark – Grand Teton National Park
- Best park – Jackson Town Square
- Best free activity – Go hiking
- Best activity for kids – Winter activities at Snow King Resort
- Best activity for adults – The National Museum of Wildlife Art
- Best food – Gather
- Best nightlife – Stagecoach Bar
- Best all-around accommodation – Rustic Inn Creekside Resort & Spa at Jackson Hole
Best & Fun Things To Do in Jackson Hole, Wyoming
1. Check out the National Elk Refuge
Address: 675 E Broadway Ave, Jackson, WY 83001
Thousands of elk call the National Elk Refuge home during the winter months. When the snow falls, elk find their way back to the area to feed sporting thick winter coats and getting ready to shed their antlers. Visitors to the National Elk Refuge are lucky enough to experience the majesty of the massive herds for themselves, along with the remarkable ecosystem supported by the refuge.
For decades the refuge has been hosting wintertime guests on sleigh rides through the prairie. By sleigh, visitors are able to see the elk grazing from a safe distance without deterring them from coming back year after year. All of the best wildlife tours in Jackson showcase the refuge, as it’s truly a remarkable spot for animal lovers, and it’s so close to town.
In all seasons, the refuge is home to lots of other wildlife that take shelter on the protected land. You’ll likely see some bighorn sheep on the far side of Millers Butte, bison roam the northern side of the refuge, and it’s not uncommon to see eagles and hawks feasting in the open sagebrush flats. From December through April each year the stars of the show at the National Elk Refuge are, aptly, the elk themselves.
See Related: Best National Parks to Visit in November
2. Dog sled to Granite Hot Springs
Address: Granite Creek Rd, Jackson, WY 83001
Just because the Granite Hot Springs is 30 miles outside of Jackson Hole doesn’t mean you have to drive there in a car! Dog sledding tours are part of what makes a trip to Wyoming fun in the wintertime. Spend some time with the pups and head out to the hot springs before enjoying a soothing soak.
Getting to the Granite Hot Springs in winter is actually limited to snowmobiles, dog sled, fat biking, and nordic skiing, so cars aren’t able to get there. That means you better prep yourself for a chilly commute! If you aren’t up for a longer ride, Astoria Hot Springs are closer to town and accessible by car even in the winter.
Granite Hot Springs is a manmade soaking pool fueled by natural mineral hot springs, and it’s a popular destination no matter the time of year. Clearly, the hot springs have their moment in the bitter of winter, even if getting there is a bit tougher than usual.
3. Wander around the Jackson Hole Historical Society and Museum
Address: 225 N Cache St, Jackson, WY 83001
With a visage like the cinematic Wild West saloons we know, the Historical Society and Museum preserve the area’s legacy. Over 11,000 years worth of artifacts presents the history of mankind along the Grand Tetons.
The museum has five permanent exhibit areas with rotating special exhibits throughout the year. Some of their permanent collection include Two Nations: One Reservation, American Indians of the Tetons, and Making a House a Home: Homesteading Jackson Hole.
Besides visiting the museum the historical society also offers walking tours in downtown Jackson Hole. Learn about the history of the town, the folks who lived there, and what they left behind.
See Related: Best Museums in the US You Need to Visit
4. Visit the National Museum of Wildlife Art
Address: 2820 Rungius Rd, Jackson, WY 83001
Over 5,000 works of art depicting wildlife reside in the National Museum of Wildlife Art. Artists such as Georgia O’Keeffe, John James Audubon, and Andy Warhol are represented here. Guests can experience ancient works as well as contemporary ones showcasing how wildlife has been shown throughout time.
Private tours of the National Museum of Wildlife Art ensure that art aficionados get their fill of valley history, and its private tours make it easy to craft a day of sightseeing in Jackson Hole so that you see all of the highlights and hidden gems.
The museum’s sculpture trail, which is a continual work in progress, connects the great outdoors with the art within the museum. Sculptures will beckon guests to see the beauty within nature literally and figuratively.
Some of the museum’s most notable artwork includes Steve Kestrel’s Run River Run, O’Keeffe’s Antelope, and a vast collection of Audubon’s works. In a place like Wyoming, it only makes sense to celebrate nature through art. With so much breathtaking nature all around you, how could you not?
5. Ski Snow King Mountain – the “Town Hill”
Address: 402 E. Snow King Ave, Jackson, WY
Snow may be king at this sporty spot, but the fun is easily a close second. Snow King Mountain offers everything from snow tubing to skiing to their very own Cowboy Coaster. If you’re looking for a hub of winter sports, it’s on Snow King Mountain.
Snow King was the first developed ski resort in Wyoming, and today, it’s known as the “town hill”. You can walk to it from almost anywhere downtown, though parking is easy to find if you don’t feel like hoofin’ it in your snow boots.
For over 100 years, Snow King Mountain Resort has been the destination for wintertime fun. Even if you aren’t into snow tubing, snowboarding, or skiing, this resort has a gondola to show you some of the best views from the mountain’s summit.
Snow King has one of the best mountain sports schools in the country, so if you’re looking to try skiing or boarding for the first time, book a lesson. Group and private lessons are available, and even experienced skiers or boarders will get a lot out of one-on-one time with the King experts.
Snow King is conveniently located, and most of the hotels in town are close enough to walk or drive to the hill. If you know you’ll be spending a few days on the slopes, though, book a room at Snow King Resort and enjoy slopeside views with cozy ski-on, ski-off lodging.
6. Spend time in nature at Grand Teton National Park
Address: 103 Headquarters Loop, Moose, WY 83012
Jackon Hole’s neighbor, the Teton Mountain Range, is unmissable. With snowcapped peaks, these mountains live up to their grand name. Likewise, the massive Grand Teton National Park demonstrates just how majestic nature can be.
Many of the roads leading into the park close for the season during the winter. Highways US 89 and 26 both remain open during the off-season for use. Visitors can rest assured that the park is open all year round.
Wildlife tours of Grand Teton National Park are a huge draw for the park as the area is teeming with critters. Adventurers love the Grand Teton National Park too for its hundreds of miles of hiking trails while history buffs like to see the captured human history on site.
Wildlife spotting in the winter is truly unique. With fewer crowds and shorter days, animals like bison, wolves, foxes, moose, and more are out for longer, plus their coats are easy to find against the stark white snow. You can take a multi-day wildlife tour of Yellowstone and Grand Teton for a bucket-list-worthy adventure.
7. Combine Wildlife And Winter Magic With A Sleigh Ride Tour
How would you like to go dashing through the snow to a steakhouse dinner? Mill Iron Ranch offers a unique twist on the typical Jackson sleigh ride. There is just something particularly romantic about riding in a horse-drawn sleigh, blanketed with your loved ones.
Of course, Elk Refuge sleigh rides are a staple of winter recreation in Jackson Hole. But if you’re looking for a little more than a 45-minute jaunt through the grasslands, outfitters offer full day excursions including the Elk Refuge sleigh ride. With a winter wildlife tour like this, you can experience a variety of ways to see local wildlife and the panoramic scenery of Jackson Hole.
8. Visit Jackson Hole Mountain Resort for Skiing or Snowboarding
Address: 3395 Cody Ln, Teton Village, WY 83025
Snow King is the place to go to learn how to ski for the first time, to get away from the crowds, and to try your skills on some of the steepest north-facing slopes you’ll ever find, but if you’re looking for intermediate or expert terrain, there’s no place on earth like Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. Expert-rated chutes, cliffs, and impressive inbounds terrain like Corbet’s Couloir make up a lot of the acreage here, so be aware of where you’re headed and be prepared for each run.
For brand-new skiers, the resort has a reputable Mountain Sports School. Lessons are available for both children and adults with experts to help you conquer Rendezvous Mountain in style. Reservations are required for lessons. The resort even has lift tickets exclusively for their easier slopes so you don’t end up in terrain you can’t handle.
Rendezvous Mountain has the highest vertical drop of any sports slope in the country at over 4100 feet. That’s one reason why the resort is so popular for winter sports. Between that and over 130 marked trails on the property, there is always so much for sports enthusiasts to see and do.
9. Go Shopping in Downtown Jackson
Jackson’s historic town square is known for far more than just the elk antler arches! The area has blossomed into a boutique shopping extravaganza for tourists of all varieties. Whether you’re looking for fine jewelry, antiquing, or adding to your winter activities kit, there’s something for you.
Just visiting the dozen art galleries downtown is an adventure of its own. Go admire the Western-inspired pieces at Wilcox Gallery or embrace Romanticism at Quent Cordair Art Gallery Painting & Sculpture. Art can make for fantastic souvenirs, particularly when it’s a unique, one-of-a-kind piece.
Downtown Jackson, despite having dozens of shops, still manages to embrace small-town charm. Once you’ve exhausted your shopping, take a load off at Snake River Brewing or grab a burger and shake at the historic Jackson Drug. Both offer a distinctly Jackson experience of entirely different proportions.
Lodging can be pricey and hard to find, but if you’re looking for the best place to stay in Jackson, we’ve got a few suggestions. Close to Town Square, it’s hard to top the elegant Wort Hotel, or the beautiful Lexington at Jackson Hole Hotel. Both properties are within walking distance of Town Square. The Wort is known for its lively Silver Dollar Bar, and the Lexington has spacious rooms on the northern end of town, close to Grand Teton National Park.
A little farther out (and more budget-friendly), the Wyoming Inn of Jackson Hole is an ideal place to relax after time out in the winter weather. Enjoy a cozy breakfast by the fire at The Whistling Grizzly, go explore Jackson Hole, and then pop into the hot tub to end the day.
10. Take a Snowshoe Tour
Snowshoeing tours are an excellent way to see the splendor of nature around Jackson Hole at a leisurely pace. Companies like Jackson Hole Ecotours have half-day tour options that take you around the base of The Tetons with only a few other people. Because of their group sizes, the tours are built around what the group wants to see or experience.
For the more adventurous there are also full-day tours available which include wildlife viewing at Grand Teton National Park. Not to worry you won’t spend the entire day in your snowshoes! The second half of the day will be spent in the company’s safari vehicle to check out the area’s wildlife like foxes, bison, bighorn sheep, and elk.
Anyone new to snowshoeing should know it’s a relatively easy winter activity if you’re on packed-out trails. That said, it is more difficult than hiking even on flat ground, and may leave you sore if you aren’t used to the motion. If your tour guide takes you out to break trail, expect to be exhausted after a couple of miles. But it’s still a lot of fun!
See Related: Best Tours in Jackson Hole, Wyoming
11. Look for Moose in the Gros Ventre area
You can see moose elsewhere in the Jackson Hole area, though one of the places they frequent is near the Gros Ventre River. Many folks head over to the Gros Ventre range, an area off of the scenic route on Highway 89. There are other ways to get there throughout the year, however, Highway 89 is the one that’s reliably accessible during wintertime.
We can’t promise that you’ll see moose hanging out at the river. But if you want to increase your chances of spotting them, head out early in the morning or around dusk. That’s when they are the most active. Even if you don’t see any moose at the river, the views throughout the Gros Ventre range are still wildly magnificent.
As always, if you do see moose, stay away from them. They’re really cute and also really dangerous. It’s unlikely they’ll come after you unless you provoke them, so just keep your distance. They’re enjoying the peace of the river too.
12. Enjoy the delicious Jackson Hole dining scene
Even a place like Jackson Hole with its myriad ski lodges has more to its dining scene than staple comforts. White Buffalo Club is the area’s premiere steakhouse with a speakeasy vibe that keeps it more casual than caviar. You can even enjoy happy hours here and grab a burger if you’re not feeling fine dining.
Cafe Genevieve right off Jackson Town Square is a piece of the town’s history. They’re famous for their pig candy (candied bacon) and for being a casual place to grab a bite. Nearby, The Kitchen is an Asian-inspired, American cuisine restaurant that features entrees alongside an extensive tapas menu.
Gather is another hot spot to grab some great grub. I’d be lying if I didn’t say this was my favorite eatery in town. Mostly serving traditional American fare, you’ll find a few international and fusion dishes on the menu too.
I’ve had a couple of life-changing dishes there, worth every penny. I didn’t think it could get any better after trying the elk bolognese – that was until I got my gums around the bone marrow fried rice. Finding the words to describe just how sensational this was is a tall order.
Should you decide not to venture off the mountain for your eats, there are a handful of restaurants or shops to indulge those cravings as well. From waffles at Corbet’s Cabin to burritos at Casper Restaurant or just a quick snack at The General Store, you don’t have to go far to get something tasty.
After eating your fill, you’ll need somewhere to sleep it off. Also in the heart of downtown Jackson, Hotel Jackson embodies the essence of the town.
An AAA Four Diamond Award winner, this hotel is just steps from the town square and this amalgamation of classic and modern hotel stands out. Its exterior almost resembles The Tetons in the distance, though inside it’s anything but outdoorsy.
Splashes of rustic decor tie the chic interiors with their surroundings. Meanwhile, the rooftop hot tub allows guests to soak in the scenery day or night, or the balconies with fire pits give a more intimate setting for nighttime stargazing.
However you want to take in the sights, Hotel Jackson does it with panache. With ski shuttles and even butlers to handle the equipment for you, the relaxation is practically built-in.
See Related: Best Restaurants in Jackson Hole, Wyoming
13. Take a Snowmobile Tour Through Yellowstone National Park
Snowmobiling through the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem is one way to see much more of the area in its winter wonderland state than any other. Get a chance to see moose and other wildlife at Gros Ventre River, or see the ever-popular Togwotee Pass. Spend a day or multiple on your snowmobile really taking in the scenery.
Old Faithful Snowmobile Tours is the area’s biggest operator of snowmobile tours with a variety of options depending on your needs. Their Wyoming Continental Divide Three-Day Tour showcases some of the region’s most breathtaking vistas. Travelers then get to experience a couple of different local guest ranches on their trip.
If visiting Jackson Hole, Wyoming for you means seeing Old Faithful, a snowmobile tour is the way to go. It’s one of the only ways to get to the geyser in the winter months as Yellowstone National Park closes the majority of its roads just like Grand Teton National Park.
14. Boogie down with some Western dancing
There are a few things that remain year-round favorites in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Among them? Western-style dancing. Live music is abundant in town all year which is the perfect excuse to put on your dancing shoes.
A few places, in particular, are known for people hitting the dance floor: The Wort Hotel with its Silver Dollar Bar and Saloon and The Cowboy Bar to name two. Given the names of the bars, it shouldn’t surprise anyone. Expect to see a lot of cowboy dancing too, even in the winter. Real cowpokes don’t hang up their spurs when the snow falls!
Some places even offer cowboy dancing lessons if you’re interested. At The Cowboy Bar lessons are on Thursdays and Mondays lessons are at the Jackson Lake Lodge. And yes, some of the bars have themed dance nights if you want an excuse to dress up during your trip.
If you want to maintain that downhome feeling, the Rustic Inn Creekside Resort & Spa also embraces the Jackson Hole, Western vibe. Still trading lassos for luxury, this hotel and spa has all the trappings of a top resort.
Complete with a full-service spa and relaxation area with a sauna, steam room, and tubs, you’ll be in heaven. While you’re getting pampered, you’re still surrounded by the scenery only Jackson Hole Valley can provide.
Upgrade your mid-range experience a little further with one of Rustic Inn’s spa suites. These dreamy accommodations include hot tubs, access to the steam and saunas at the spa, and butler service. Plus you get to experience more privacy at the resort. That means more dining options, private check-in/out, and a private bar in the grand lobby area.
See Related: Best Ski Resorts in the US to Visit
15. Go Cross-Country Skiing at Grand Teton National Park
Since the national parks close their roads except for over-snow travel in the winter, finding unique ways to cross the parks becomes a challenge. Luckily activities like cross-country skiing are among travelers’ favorite things to do in Jackson Hole in winter. Cross-country skiers know that two of the prime places for exploring are Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Park.
Both of these national parks in the US are must-sees for any winter vacation. Any time of year their vistas are stunning, though there is little like seeing the snowcapped mountains against the snow-blanketed plains below them. What more could you want for a winter adventure?
Gliding along the manicured trails at Grand Teton, taking a day trip to seek out mule deer, or doing days of scenic safaris. The ski season in Jackson Hole is exhilarating in its own way. But a cross-country ski jaunt through a national park is so much fun on its own too.
16. Embark on a Scenic Gondola Ride
In Jackson Hole, there are two places to enjoy a scenic gondola ride above the winter wonderland below. Both Snow King Mountain Resort and Jackson Hole Mountain Resort have aerial trams showcasing the immense majesty of Jackson Hole Valley.
Enjoy unparalleled views of the Après ski scene even if you can’t partake yourself. See the Bridger Teton National Forest with a bird’s eye view, glimpsing at pine trees shrinking as you climb the mountains. The gondolas are a great way for the whole family to take in the sights from the comfort and safety of the enclosed tram.
The gondola is a longer ride than its competitor, though the scenes differ in each location. If you aren’t a fan of winter temperatures, the gondolas offer a compromise for travelers. From up high you can see Jackson Hole’s panoramic views without the extended exposure to the bitter winter weather.
See Related: Best Christmas Vacations in the United States
17. Hit the Ice!
Ice skating isn’t the most popular wintertime activity in Jackson Hole, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist! What kind of cozy ski resort town wouldn’t have at least one skating rink? Don’t worry, Jackson Hole has six.
You can ice skate for free at the Village Rink on the Commons at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, the pond at Town Square, as well as at the three rinks maintained by Teton County Parks & Recreation: Powderhorn Park, Rodeo Grounds, and Owen Bircher.
The only rink that charges to use the facility is the Snow King Sports and Events Center. You can also watch the Jackson Hole Moose play hockey at that rink as well.
18. Unwind at Jackson Hole Winery
Address: 98 Center St, Jackson, WY 83001 (only in winter)
Founded in 2009, the boutique winery owned by the Scroths embraces the unique nature of the mountain. Because the winery operates at such a high altitude, the wines have their own distinctive flavors. Those flavors regularly win the winery awards such as Wyoming Winery of the Year from the New York International Wine Competition or a gold medal for their Rendezvous Red from the Sand Diego International Wine Competition.
During the winter months, their on-site winery tasting room closes. Instead, they can be found at the New West KnifeWorks & MTN MAN Toy Shop in Jackson.
Jackson Hole Winery is known for its dry wines, so don’t expect any sweet rieslings. You may find yourself loving their Viognier, Alpine Glow (a Rosé de Pinot Noir), or the signature Rendezvous Red (a yummy Cab Franc/Syrah blend.)
See Related: Best Places to Travel in Your 20s in the US
19. Go Stargazing
Some folks might shudder at the thought of hanging out outside in Jackson Hole in the winter. It’s really, really cold. We get it. But Grand Teton National Park is one of the country’s few dark sky locations and you should take advantage if you can.
With groups like Wyoming Stargazing, visitors can enjoy all the splendor the night sky has to offer. A guide, telescope on hand, will be there to show you everything there is to see on any given night across the wide Wyoming sky. For a few hours, you and your group can enjoy views that so few people get in a modern, highly electrified, society.
Even though it will be cold because of the season, the Milky Way is known for being bright and brilliant from Jackson Hole. Plus groups like Wyoming Stargazing can help you learn how to do night photography. While you can’t capture exactly what you see, it can be pretty darn cool anyway.
20. Get out of the cold at the Jackson Hole Center for the Arts
Address: 240 S Glenwood St, Jackson, WY 83001
No matter the time of year you go to Jackson Hole, there’s always something on at the Jackson Hole Center for the Arts. When the winter cold has gotten you down, what better time to head indoors for a few hours?
Film festivals, live theater, music, and more is on the agenda at The Center. They’ve got local work, tours, and certainly something for everyone. Just be sure to check for tickets ahead of time if there’s something you really want to see or do because The Center is a beloved institution.
This stunning building was completed in 2007 and is obviously far from the oldest thing in the mountains. Even so, it’s clear that the community rallied to make sure they had an arts space to call their own.
What to Pack for a Winter Trip to Jackson Hole
- Lots of Layers: As a born and raised Wisconsinite (now Chicagoan, where it can get just as cold) I cannot overstate the importance of quality thermal underwear as a base layer. For mid layers and outer layers, we love Smartwool and Patagonia gear. Whether you’re an outdoorsy person or not, these bad boys will keep you warm all day long.
- Thermal Socks: My feet are always freezing. Wintertime or summertime, they’re ice. Heat Holders thermal socks are the only ones that have ever kept my toes happy against the cold. The super fuzzy interior is so luxurious you might forget you aren’t wearing your favorite fuzzy slipper socks.If you prefer thinner socks, merino wool from Darn Tough or Smartwool are fantastic for hiking and other outdoor adventures.
- Reusable Cups: Trying to be a green traveler can be difficult at times, especially when it comes to disposable drinkware. I’ve tried a slightly ridiculous number of travel thermoses, cups, and mugs through the years but my go-to remains Stojo. A reliable Hydro Flask is also a travel favorite to consider.
- Lens Defogger: Something folks don’t consider when packing for a winter trip is how sudden changes in temperature affect lenses. Glasses, sports goggles, or even ski masks need to get cleaned from time to time. This is why Fog Gone needs to be in your bag the next time you hit Jackson Hole.
Can I visit Yellowstone National Park from Jackson Hole in the winter?
Yes! Many of the roads leading to Yellowstone are closed, however, it is still open and available to visit with outfitters using approved oversnow travel.
Where do celebrities go in Jackson Hole?
For celebs, luxury in Jackson Hole is king. They love places like the Four Seasons, Hotel Jackson, and The White Buffalo Club. More and more celebrities are vacationing in this charming Wyoming town.
How cold does Jackson Hole get in winter?
In Jackson Hole, January is the coldest month of the year. It’s common throughout winter for temperatures to drop below zero degrees Fahrenheit and not go above freezing.
Do I need a rental car in Jackson Hole?
Yes – if you plan to head up to Grand Teton National Park or Yellowstone National Park, a rental car is all but necessary. If you’re just staying in town or in the Village, you can get by with walking, rideshare, taxi, or START bus.