Hole Hiking Experience Offers Snowshoeing tours in the ‘wild’
Snowshoe hiking tours through Grand Teton National Park and Bridger-Teton Forest allow you to get up close and personal with nature and the spectacular environment of Jackson Hole.
“Joining a guided snowshoe tour allows the natural world to come alive,” says Cathy Shill, founder of The Hole Hiking Experience, which has been providing snowshoe and cross-country ski tours for visitors and residents for the past 25 years.
“As a past client states, ‘anyone can walk in the woods, but understanding the diversity of life makes it special,’” Cathy adds. “Experiencing winter can be thrilling as you learn about animals, tracks, behavior and the wonders of nature.”
Jackson Hole’s Original and Oldest Nature Hiking Company
Cathy created The Hole Hiking Experience —Jackson Hole’s original and oldest nature hiking company — in 1989, offering guided hiking tours in the summer and fall. In 1994 she added snowshoe tours, also led by experts who know where to go to experience the wonders of nature.
According to Cathy, each guide brings personal passion to her interpretation of the winter ecology in Jackson Hole.
“The town of Jackson and Teton Village are just a very small part of our valley,” says Cathy. “Our tours offers you the chance to leave town for the day, take a break from the ski lifts and busyness of the village and go into the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem. It makes your visit to Jackson Hole more rewarding.”
No prior snowshoe experience is necessary and there is a minimal learning curve, says Cathy.
“The biggest misconception is that people think it is a challenging thing, but it is really just winter hiking,” she says. “Anyone who can hike can snowshoe.”
You’re also using poles and are therefore fairly sure-footed, allowing you the chance to go into mixed environments.
Each tour activity level is customized to the group, “so for snowshoeing all you really need is desire to be outdoors,” says Cathy.
With The Hole Hiking Experience’s snowshoe tours, not only will you get an exclusive experience, you’ll also get a great calorie-burning workout.
“By going up and down hills you are using the same muscles as hiking — glutes, quads, calves — and with poles you are getting a more full body workout, burning more calories than just walking or regular hiking,” Cathy says.
Whoever is first or second in line is getting the biggest workout because they are the ones to walk first on and through the virgin snow.
“It is a good workout, especially if you are breaking trail and moving through deeper snow,” she says.
According to Snowshoe Magazine, snowshoeing is the world’s fastest growing winter sport.
Types of tours offered by Hole Hiking Experience
• The Explorer is a half-day (4-hour) excursion for all abilities that offers a taste of backcountry travel. Tours depart at 8 a.m. or 1 p.m. Cost: $360 for one to two people; $180 for three or more people; $160 per child (ages 5-12)
• The Trekker is a 6-hour private tour that is rated moderate to strenuous. Cost: $900 for one to three people; $1,450 for four to five people
• The Sampler (2 hours) departs Teton Village at 10 a.m. and is rated for all abilities. Cost: $525, based on one to three people; $850 four to five people
• The Snowshoe and Wildlife Tour expedition is for all abilities and lasts 4 hours, offering participants a visit to the habitats of bighorn sheep, elk, moose, eagles, Trumpeter swans and more. Cost: $630 for one to three people; $945 four to five people
• Snowshoe and Elk/Sleigh is a 7-hour tour with lunch at historic Dornan’s in Moose. You will end the day with a horse-drawn sleigh ride on the National Elk Refuge. Cost: $$1,050 for one to three people; $1,675, based on four to five people.
*Prices include snowshoe rental.
Where do the snowhoe tours take you?
The touring takes place inside Grand Teton National Park and the Bridger-Teton National Forest, but Cathy says that a lot of that is weather-dependent.
“We tour throughout the valley, so tour locations are based on people’s interests, physical ability, what we have been seeing, snow level and the weather,” says Cathy.
“Beautiful sunny days are spent beneath the Teton peaks, while in stormy weather it might be best in more protected wooded areas. All tours are created and customized to each group.”
The Hole Hiking Experience offers five different tours, from “The Sampler,” at $525 for one to three people, to the half-day "Snowshoe and Wildlife Tour." (See Quick Facts.)
Cathy says the “Snowshoe and Wildlife” tour is the one she gets the most requests for because visitors seem to have a more wildlife focus.
“You are also only snowshoeing for an hour to an hour-and-a-half, going to mixed habitats, and you see a lot more wildlife in winter than in summer,” she says. “It’s an easier hike, so it’s a nice tour that caters to all levels.”
Even though the company gets more requests for the “Snowshoe and Wildlife” tour, the most popular ones are the 4-hour “Explorer” and 2-hour snowshoe “Sampler.”
The great thing about longer tours is that they allow you to get further out into the park, so it’s best to allocate some time and get the most out of the whole experience.
“Go into nature, rejuvenate your spirit, make the most of it, spend some of your vacation having a wonderful, wild excursion activity that gets you into nature,” says Cathy. “It’s a benefit that makes the visit to Jackson Hole so much richer.”
For information and to make reservations call 866-733-4453 or visit holehike.com/reservations.