Skiing and snowboarding are probably the most famous winter activities in Jackson Hole, but there's one more in particular that our beautiful natural environment has become renowned for: snowmobiling. Inspired by the incredible and predominantly empty wilderness in our backyard, snowmobiling in Jackson Hole draws enthusiasts from all over the world, as well as first timers looking to explore the exciting spectacle of true winter wilderness.
Just as in the summer when Jackson Hole is the gateway to thousands of acres of national parks and undisturbed backcountry, a snowmobile expedition in winter creates the same boundless effect. Picture these wilderness areas sitting still under winter's snowy blankets. Wildlife calmly roams and eagles still soar overhead, but with annual road and trail closures due to snowfall, humans can't reach these areas… except by snowmobile. This means a snowmobile can take you places no one else can go. Not to mention that the ride itself is a quite a thrill.
What Are My Options?
Basically, when snowmobiling in Jackson Hole, you first want to consider what type of trip appeals most to you.
Do you want to wind through the woods to spend lunch eating and bathing at Granite Hot Springs? Cruise out to a famous Yellowstone landmark for a peaceful winter viewing vs. a crowded summer photo-op? Zoom along the Continental Divide Trail System on the #1 ranked snowmobile terrain in the country at Togwotee Pass? Or maybe just take out some souped-up powder snowmobiles and dash around in meadows chest-deep with snow.
Don't worry: We know it's hard to pick. Luckily, nobody says you can't go more than once.
Next, you'll want to think about if you prefer a single-day tour, a multi-day tour, or if you'd prefer to just rent the "sled" and go on your own without a guide.
- Single-day tours are mostly full day, early wake-up affairs that make the most of the an entire day of snowmobiling. Lunches are generally provided at the destination.
- Multi-day adventures are exciting because of the huge distances you can cover, usually in Yellowstone. At night, depending on the specific outfitter or tour, you'll generally stay at an inn or hotel in a far corner of Yellowstone.
- Traveler Tip: Self-guided tours are not permitted in either Grand Teton or Yellowstone National Park. If you're interested in a Yellowstone snowmobile tour, check out the park's list of approved vendors. This is important to know, though there are plenty of other areas in Jackson Hole that are open to snowmobiling. Obviously, you'll want to be comfortably familiar with operating a snowmobile before you take it out yourself. They are big machines and riding in powder can be tricky—you can get stuck without proper operating knowledge. Consult your outfitter about your ability level and see what they suggest.
As with most outings in Jackson, calling the outfitters directly to speak about the options is the best way to decide.
What To Bring
Most of all, be prepared to spend the full winter day outdoors, traveling fast. Dressing as you would for skiing or snowboarding is a good place to start. Sun protection for your face will be important with all the UV and glare from the snow. Sunglasses or goggles are a must. You'll also need to bring your driver's license! Two can ride on each snowmobile, however, so those without licenses are, of course, encouraged to come along.
- Boots for deep snow
- Small snacks (Lunch is usually provided, but a stash of snacks never hurt anybody.)
- Cash (National parks have entrance fees, plus, you can use this to tip your guide.)
Provided items: These items are generally provided, but call ahead to double check with the outfitter because they can vary with the type of trip.
- Gloves, layers, and boots for deep snow (we advise to bring your own just in case and for back-up.)
- Lunch and hot beverages
The Last Word
Snowmobiling makes a great outing to break up a ski vacation with a day off the slopes spent looking for wildlife, or checking out Old Faithful without the summer crowds. With hundreds of miles of trails and some of the most beautiful winter terrain in the country to explore, a snowmobile trip in Jackson Hole is a day you won't soon forget.