Looking to go deeper during your stay in Jackson Hole? Booking a private or group tour can be a fantastic solution to seeing the valley in a limited timeframe, or getting great ideas for excursions and wildlife spotting on your own time. Jackson Hole tours are learning experiences, ranging from half-day to multi-day commitments. We recommend taking some time to consider what you're hoping to do and learn on your tour before choosing an operator.
- Duration: The most popular tours tend to run for a half day, but full day and multi-day trips are also available.
- Cost: $90 and up; reduced rates for children or free for children under 6—call to check on ages. You may also need a national park pass if you are entering one of the parks for the first time.
- Where? Grand Teton National Park, Yellowstone National Park and other protected wilderness.
- Ages: Check with your chosen outfitter. Most trips are well-suited to families.
- Intensity: Easy to moderate. Many private tours are vehicle-based and can accommodate all ability levels. Others are activity-based with frequent stops.
- Highlights: Getting the inside scoop on Jackson Hole's flora, fauna and history.
Everyone, though not if you're on a tight budget. Group tours of Jackson Hole can accommodate all ages and can be many things: an introduction to the valley, a chance to delve deeper after previous visits, or a learning experience and exposure to unique wildlife and corners of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Half- to multi-day options allow you to work a tour into any itinerary.
Traveler Tip: Take an educational tour at the beginning of your stay to help orient you in the valley and add to your checklist of places to return to.
What are my options?
We're glad you asked. We invite you to explore some of the business profiles of local tour operators to get started. Jackson Hole tours break down roughly this way:
- Wildlife/Naturalist: These tours focus on the unique ecological spectrum of the Jackson Hole region, from popular tours that set off to discover prime wildlife viewing habitat or foster discussions of just how the Tetons were formed 10 million years ago. These trips are experiential and invite you to peer through a high-powered spotting scope at an eaglet or to closely examine a wildflower along the trail. Seek out tours led by trained naturalists and/or biologists who hold degrees or extensive training in the subject at hand. Safety procedures are followed, and wildlife are viewed at a distance with viewing aids.
- Active: From kayaking to hiking to snowshoeing and skiing in the wintertime, these trips get you out of a vehicle and (still accommodated to your ability level) allow you to foray further afield while still gleaning new knowledge about Jackson Hole from valley experts.
- National Park Tours: Most concentrate on just one of the region's two famous national parks. These tours combine sightseeing and major park landmarks with the same chances to learn more about wildlife, history, and ecology.
Don't forget to make reservations! It's a good idea to book these trips as far in advance as possible, though you can always call to see if there have been last-minute cancellations, or check with your hotel concierge.
Snacks, beverages, spotting scopes, and roundtrip transportation are included on most tours. For full-day and multi-day expeditions, meals and lodging are included as well. Be aware that you may need a combined national park pass (Grand Teton and Yellowstone).
When's a good time to go?
For wildlife viewing, spring, fall and winter are the best times to see large herds of elk on the move and moose grazing the willow bushes. Grizzlies and black bears are also active during the shoulder seasons, storing up calories either pre- or post-hibernation.
Primary national park roads close between mid-autumn and late-spring, along with most services, so this affects decision-making for those hoping to pack in park landmarks. Overall, summer remains the most popular season for visitors to experience the Tetons and you will find a range of activities catering to every interest and time of the day. On the other hand, don't write off Jackson Hole's cooler seasons before witnessing their abundance of wildlife and beauty for yourself!
What should I bring?
We recommend dressing in layers and bringing a water bottle and camera. Sunscreen is also a must-have to prevent sunburns in our dry, high alpine climate. While any necessary gear will be provided by your outfitter, you may want to bring a walking stick or any other needed aid. Close-toed shoes are also recommended.
The Last Word
Taking a wildlife, active, and/or national park tour is a fantastic way to get to know the Jackson Hole area! See wildlife that you never could have found on your own and learn about their habits and markings. Discover the difference between a lodgepole pine and Douglas fir tree or unearth the secret behind a thermal pool's brilliant colors in Yellowstone. Whether it's history, in-depth discussion, or a general overview that you're searching for, you can find it in Jackson Hole!
Traveler Tip: Don't forget to tip your guide!