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. 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 ($10) are available in the Stage Stop building. Hot chocolate is free at the Stage Stop, too!
Last winter, Teton Village unveiled a new skating rink in the Village Commons at the base of Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. It is open daily from 3 to 9 p.m. Skate rentals ($12) are available in the warming hut next to the rink.
2. 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 the past 25 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 series of 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.
3. Check Out the Stars With Local Astronomers
Every Friday night this winter, Wyoming Stargazing is hosting free, public stargazing events from 8:30 to 10:30 p.m. at the Center for the Arts in downtown Jackson. Experts from the stargazing organization will set up on the large lawn right next to the Center. During these events, you’ll have access to a giant Dobsonian Telescope with a 20-inch primary mirror to look at planets, stars, 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.
There is no need to RSVP; feel free to show up for whatever portion of the program works for you. And don’t forget to wear a warm jacket!
4. See Raptors Up Close and Personal
The National Elk Refuge and Teton Raptor Center have scheduled a series of "Feathered Fridays" visits this winter at the Jackson Hole & Greater Yellowstone Visitor Center. The free programs, offered each Friday from noon to 2 p.m., run weekly from late December through the end of March.
The “Feathered Fridays” program feature naturalists and educators from the raptor center and the elk refuge, along with a variety of live raptors on the glove. This is an excellent way to learn about the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem through the eyes of live birds of prey. There is no beginning, middle or end to the program during the two hours; the public can stop by at any time to meet with Friday’s fine-feathered friends.
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.