A winter visit to Jackson Hole—that inevitably includes a healthy amount of skiing—can undoubtedly be expensive between airfare, lift tickets, ski rentals, lodging and the like. And while “free” is not a word one tosses around easily in Jackson Hole, it’s not impossible to partake of some great gratis activities during, after, or instead of a day on the slopes. Below are 5 such gems.
1. Ice Skate on Town Square or in Teton Village
Winter on Town Square features an outdoor skating rink, named "Winter Wonderland." If you have your own skates, you can glide across the ice under the twinkling lights of the square and elk antler arches at anytime day or night for free. If you don't have skates, the rink is manned from 4:30 to 9 p.m. Tuesday to Friday and noon to 9 p.m. on weekends. During these times, skate rentals ($15) are available in the Stage Stop building. Hot chocolate is free at the Stage Stop, too!
Teton Village's skating rink in the Village Commons at the base of Jackson Hole Mountain Resort is open daily from 3 to 9 p.m. No fee to skate and skate rentals ($15) are available in the warming hut next to the rink.
2. See a Ski Flick
Teton Gravity Research has a retail store on Town Square that includes a 30-seat theatre where nightly at 7 p.m. you can see the TGR-produced feature film "Far Out," for free. Also, every hour on the hour you can marvel at their 25-minute ski flick "Wild Jackson." The store location is 50 W Broadway in the Pink Garter Plaza. Visit TGR's website at tetongravity.com.
3. Listen To Music on the Mountain
During and after your Saturday ski day at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort this season, you will be treated to free music slope side to pump you up for your next set of runs, or help you get into the après ski spirit.
• Billing itself as "ski bum music," the Tram Jam is stationed at the bottom of the Bridger Gondola (or the Aerial Tram) from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Saturday throughout the winter. For 30 years, the band—fronted by Jackson Hole music legend, Peter “Chanman” Chandler–has been jamming out roots and rock-reggae beats no matter what the weather.
• Music Under the Tram is a free spring concert series. Great bands entertain the crowds starting at 3 p.m. every Saturday in March in this unforgettable, sunny location under the tram.
• The annual Jackson Hole Rendezvous Festival is a thrilling two days of free concerts and one of the highlights of the winter. Jackson Hole's big music fling is held late March/early April at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort and on Jackson's Town Square. Read our story on the festival by clicking here.
4. Stargazing With Experts
Wyoming Stargazing offers free, year-round, public stargazing events on the first Thursday of each month at the Stilson Parking Lot (Village Road Transit Center) in Wilson, when the temperature is above zero degrees Fahrenheit! There is a $10/person recommended donation.
Join Wyoming Stargazing in the northwest corner of the lot behind the bus hut where there are no lights. Astronomy educators will use a large aperture telescope to show you planets, stars, planetary nebulae, galaxies and more. There will also be several iPads with the Star Walk application installed on them so you can explore the heavens while others are looking through the telescopes. Throughout the night, astronomy educators will tell you everything you want to know about the objects you are viewing.
There is no need to reserve your spot in advance; just come and go as you please.
5. Stop By the National Fish Hatchery
Jackson Hole is home to the National Fish Hatchery and this little-known local attraction is fascinating. Located four miles north of the town of Jackson and adjacent to the National Elk Refuge, the National Fish Hatchery welcomes visitors for free tours from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily (except on federal holidays) for a close up view of Snake River cutthroat trout. Observe fish in several indoor tanks and view photographic displays of spawning and stocking.
• Visit Grand Teton National Park for almost free ($5 entrance fee). The road is open to the Taggart Lake Trail where you can cross-country ski or snowshoe, or just poke around, take in the awesomeness and get some amazing selfies! Here is the park's "10 Tips For a Winter Visit."
• "Raptors On the Refuge" is a free, informal program held every Friday between 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the National Elk Refuge and Jackson Hole & Greater Yellowstone Visitor Center, where families can meet and learn about various birds of prey from the Teton Raptor Center. This fun winter program is available through March 31st. Birds are put away promptly at 1 p.m.