So you’ve booked a ski vacation to Jackson Hole — awesome! Jackson Hole Mountain Resort is world-class and sure to satisfy all levels of skiers. But why come all the way to Jackson Hole and not experience seeing wildlife up close and personal, or visiting the National Museum of Wildlife Art while you’re at it? The Jackson area is also a mecca for those who enjoy cross-country skiing and snowshoeing beneath the Tetons. You really should consider taking a day off the slopes and enjoy some of the other activities that make this area so incredibly special.
Here's a baker's dozen of suggestions.
1 & 2. Go Snowmobiling or Take a Sleigh Ride
There are two activities in Jackson Hole that you won’t find anywhere else on earth: snowmobiling through Yellowstone National Park and taking a horse-drawn sleigh ride on the National Elk Refuge.
Yellowstone National Park is closed to vehicular traffic in winter, making a snowmobile tour on the park’s snow-covered roads a truly once in a lifetime experience. Scenic Safaris’ snowmobile tours are a Jackson Hole must-do. With Scenic Safaris you’ll get to see the park as very few do–with no crowds and no cars. The tour is an all day, 12-hour round-trip adventure and the early morning and early evening hours present some of the best wildlife viewing opportunities while you make your way to and from our country’s first national park.
Sleigh Ride on the National Elk Refuge: Riding on a horse-drawn sleigh is one of the most unrivaled ways to enjoy the winter landscape and to get up close to certain species of wildlife. Cozy up with a lap robe, sip hot mulled cider and enjoy this classic winter pastime as you absorb Jackson Hole's spectacular scenery. You can join the sleigh ride from the Jackson Hole and Greater Yellowstone Visitor Center on Cache—it’s located just a few blocks north of Jackson’s Town Square. You’ll thrill at being surrounded by a herd of wild elk, with your sleigh driver and guide sharing information about the refuge. Elk aren’t the only wildlife you’ll see, either: eagles, coyotes, bison, foxes and even wolves can sometimes be spotted, too! Reservations are suggested, as the sleigh rides are run on a first come, first served basis.
3. Explore Grand Teton National Park on Snowshoe
With most of the roads in Grand Teton National Park closed in the winter, a half- or full-day cross-country ski or snowshoe tour with an outfitter such as as EcoTour Adventures or Hole Hiking Experience offers a truly distinct glimpse into the park's winter habitat. Each company offers a variety of tours, including combo adventures where you can see wildlife, take the sleigh ride on the elk refuge and more.
4. Visit the National Museum of Wildlife Art
When you decided to travel to Jackson Hole for the skiing you probably never guessed that your trip to the northwest corner of Wyoming would include the chance to check out a national art museum. Surprise! Jackson Hole is the proud location of the National Museum of Wildlife Art, a world-renowned collection of wildlife and Western artistic creations. Consistently ranked as one of Jackson Hole’s top attractions, the museum is built into a hillside overlooking the National Elk Refuge. In addition to galleries the museum boasts a gift shop, interactive children’s gallery, Palate café and outdoor sculpture trail.
5. Treat Yourself to a Spa Day
Whether your muscles are shot from non-stop skiing or you’re in search of a rejuvenating couple’s massage experience, a visit to the Body Sage Spa is will help. The Body Sage has long been home to some of the valley’s finest massage therapists and estheticians. Let go of your cares in the light, airy facility. It’s the perfect space to relax and renew with treatments like the Nature Ritual, Revitalize, or Winter Warmer Massage.
6. Watch Winter Wildlife
Though the bears are still hibernating, winter is a good time to see large animals in Jackson Hole and Grand Teton National Park. Elk and moose migrate to lower elevations in winter and the lack of leafy cover combined with the valley's snowpack make for easy viewing. For the best chance of seeing critters of all shapes and sizes, embark on a half- or full-day trip with one of the area's experienced wildlife safari outfitters. Guided by a trained biologist and conducted from the comfort of a specially equipped van with spotting scopes and a large sunroof, you will remember this excursion forever.
7. Go shopping on Town Square
There’s nothing like a little “retail therapy” as well as getting a feel for the town of Jackson by taking a walk on the wooden sidewalks of Jackson's historic Town Square. The Square features shops, restaurants, galleries and the famous elk antler arches of Jackson's outdoor living room. Luckily for you, there are plenty of places to duck into for an amazing find, a glass of wine, or warming cup of Joe. Got kids in tow? Then a must-do while strolling and shopping is a visit to Yippy-I-O candy emporium. Your sweet tooth won't know what hit it!
8. Escape to the Escape Room
If you are craving a cerebral challenge and break from all this majestic beauty Jackson Hole has to offer, check out Exitus Jackson Hole Escape Room. Bring a friend or the “hole” family—up to 10 players at a time can play. Can you keep cool under pressure and use the powers of your mind to escape in just one hour?
9. Ride a mountain coaster, snow tube
Snow King Mountain, known to locals as the "Town Hill," is the oldest ski area in Wyoming, not to mention a fun-filled destination for an afternoon of winter activities.
King Tubes is a guaranteed hit for the whole family and real excitement under the lights until 7 p.m. There are three smooth, groomed lanes; a rope tow takes you up the hill. You'll find the long chutes and giant backstop of the tubing area right at the base of Snow King. Kids must be at least 42″ tall to ride and there’s only one person per tube allowed. The
Town Hill also boasts the only Cowboy Coaster in the state. It zips, twists and turns through nearly a mile of loops, curves and drops—some as high as four stories tall. Open year-round, wind screens are installed on every cart in winter for added protection against the typical seasonal elements. This is a thrill not to be missed as there are very few mountain coasters in the United States!
10. Float Your Aches Away
At Healing Waters Therapeutic Float Center you can float effortlessly in skin-temperature water that is saturated with 900 pounds of Epsom salts. Near-zero gravity allows you to relax, reset and rejuvenate your mind, body and spirit naturally. It’s truly an unparalleled experience.
11. Learn About Jackson's History
Founded more than 50 years ago, the Jackson Hole Historical Society & Museum offers a place where "the Old West is still alive." Current exhibits include "Homesteading in the Hole" and "Beavers, Beads and Bullets." One admission is good for both locations (225 N. Cache and 105 Glenwood).
12. “Pin” the whole family down for bowling!
Hole Bowl is Jackson Hole's hottest "hot spot" for family entertainment. Located in the Powderhorn Mall at 980 W Broadway, it includes—in addition to 10 bowling lanes—a full restaurant called The Pinsetter, full bar, lounge area, two pool tables, air hockey table, arcade games and kids' TV lounge.
13. Tour the Art Galleries
Jackson Hole is one of the top art towns in the West. Offering everything from Western to contemporary visual art and sculpture, our galleries can keep you enthralled for days. Mostly located in and around the Town Square, pick up a gallery map at your first stop and craft an itinerary from there. We recommend you especially visit both Altamira and Turner Fine Art galleries.