Kudos to you for choosing to celebrate the great American holiday—Thanksgiving—in Jackson Hole. You will now have bragging rights as being one of the first to schuss down the trails at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort or Grand Targhee for the 2023-24 ski season. Your family and friends will also be able to see Santa on the famous Jackson Hole Town Square, spot some moose, bison, elk and other iconic western wildlife in front of the Tetons, visit the country’s National Wildlife Art Museum, maybe take a hike or a snowshoe in Grand Teton National Park and/or soak in the local hot springs park’s pools. And the inevitable, "more"!
THE FEASTS BEFORE THE FEAST
Let there be food! Before Thursday’s obvious, traditional feast, get your stomach warmed up with all manner of yummy gastronomic delights at restaurants in and around Town Square in Jackson and out in Teton Village. Some ideas from us include Kampai (Japanese cuisine), Orsetto Italian Bar and Eatery, The Kitchen, the Mangy Moose and Gun Barrel Steak and Game House (which once upon a time was Wyoming Wildlife Museum and Taxidermy!). You might also ponder a private dining experience for your gathering of family and friends.
SEE SOME WILD THINGS
What could be more Instagram-worthy than a photo of a bison, elk, fox or moose with the Teton mountain range as a backdrop? #classic! You might stumble upon one of these critters on your own as you drive into the town of Jackson from the airport or other neighboring states, but to guarantee a look at some of the wildlife that calls this area home, we strongly suggest taking a half-day (sunrise or sunset) guided wildlife tour through Grand Teton National Park and the surrounding area. Trained and knowledgeable guides/naturalists will provide you with seemingly unlimited information about the fauna and feathered friends here as well as some history of the Hole and geology of the Teton mountain range.
RELATED STORY: Jackson Hole Wildlife Tours: The Essentials
TAKE A TRADITIONAL TROT
One of Jackson Hole's favorite holiday traditions is the annual Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving morning — it's a great way to work up your appetite for the big meal later in the day and perhaps justify overeating by getting in your exercise for the day! This year's trot is a free untimed 5K which starts at 9 a.m. at the Wilson Boat Ramp access road off of Hwy. 22. To sign up in advance, visit runsignup.com.
STARGAZE ON THANKSGIVING NIGHT
Bundle up and add something special to Thanksgiving by turning your sights to the amazing night sky here. Wyoming Stargazing offers weekly, free, year-round, public stargazing events on clear Thursdays beginning approximately one hour after sunset at the Stilson Parking Lot, located off Rte. 22 and the Village Road (Rte. 390), when the temperature is above zero degrees Fahrenheit. Astronomy educators use one of their large aperture telescopes to show you planets, stars, planetary nebulae, galaxies, and more. There are also 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 reserve your spot in advance; come and go as you please. A $10 per person recommended donation is appreciated.
GRAB SOME FIRST TRACKS AT THE SKI RESORTS
While the snowfall by Thanksgiving time may not yet be epic, the skiing in and around Jackson Hole is nevertheless always legendary. Grand Targhee Resort in Alta, Wyoming—approximately an hour’s drive from Jackson, just over the Teton Pass—opens November TBA. Jackson Hole Mountain Resort in Teton Village has its grand opening the day after Turkey Day, November 24th. Both resorts made the top half of SKI Magazine’s list of the “Top 50 Winter Resorts in North America” for the 2023 season. Snow King Mountain in town has its grand opening for 2023-24 on November TBA.
HELP US USHER IN THE HOLIDAY SEASON!
A must-do of your trip to Jackson Hole is to have a photo taken of you and/or your family underneath one of the four elk antler arches on Town Square. This can happen anytime during your visit, of course, but we recommend waiting until the square and the arches are lit up with thousands of twinkly white lights on the evening of Friday, November 24th. Head downtown before 5 p.m. so you don’t miss the arrival of Santa Claus who will drive around Jackson in a firetruck, ringing in the holiday season in his favorite mountain town. At 5, the Town Square lights will come on! Trust us, this is an unforgettable sight.
Here's the full schedule of events:
4:30: Hot cocoa and cookies provided by the Jackson Hole Boy Scouts
4:30: Free holiday concert by the Jackson Hole Community Band
5: Town Square Lighting Countdown
5:05: Santa arrives on a fire truck
5:15 - 7: Santa visits with families
And while you’re on the square—either before or after the lighting ceremony—get silly and take selfies with the various bronze sculptures of iconic wildlife, famous folk of yore and mountain explorers that are located outside the Jackson Hole Historical Society on Cache or in front of Mountain Trails Gallery and Moo’s Gourmet Ice Cream on Center St.
SHOP LOCAL FOR CHRISTMAS GIFTS
Get a head start on your holiday shopping with a purchase of items made and/or sold right here in magical Jackson Hole, such as these incredible knives (pictured above) found at New West Knifeworks. “Small Business Saturday” takes place on November 25th, offering the perfect opportunity to support local small business owners in Jackson, which boasts a large assortment of small stores that will surely have something special for everyone on your list.
SOAK IN A HOT SPRINGS POOL
After a day on the slopes—or maybe instead of skiing—consider sinking your weary bones into an amazing mineral hot springs pool at Astoria Hot Springs Park, located less than a 20-minute drive from Jackson. Located on the banks of the Snake River, surrounded by the hills and mountains of the Snake River Canyon, Astoria Hot Springs is one of Jackson Hole’s most unique outdoor experiences and family-friendly activities, boasting 5 pools that are controlled at different temperatures in each pool, including a dedicated children's pool. Multiple 2-hour soaking sessions are available daily beginning at 9 a.m. Advance ticket reservations are strongly recommended. For reservations, call 307-201-5925 or visit astoriahotspringspark.org.
TAKE A HIKE OR RIDE A [FAT] BIKE
While snow coverage may be a little low in late November, Bradley and Taggart Lakes in Grand Teton National Park are popular destinations for snowshoeing or taking a winter hike to on your own. The hike to the lakes is easy and gorgeous. We're talking jaw-dropping gorgeous. If you’d prefer some expert guidance, starting on or around November 21st, Hole Hiking Experience will be offering various guided snowshoe hikes under the Tetons. We recommend their popular “The Explorer” half-day (4-hour) snowshoe excursion. You can learn about winter ecology and explore the pristine beauty and solitude of the winter landscape. Snowshoe rental, bottled water, snacks and transportation are included. Call 307-690-4453 or visit holehike.com.
Have you ever fat-biked? No? Well, now’s your chance to cross that off your bucket list—even if you didn’t know it was on the list! Explore and experience Jackson’s snow-packed trails, roads and pathways on your own. Teton Mountain Bike’s rental rates are $50 for a half-day (4 hours) and $60 for a full day (24 hours). The company also offers guided tours in Grand Teton National Park. For information, call 307-733-0712 or visit tetonmtbike.com.
One of our favorite tools to use is JH Nordic. Think of it as your personal tour guide to plan your hikes, organize your rentals and guided adventures and even get weekly newsletters with the best that Jackson Hole has to offer. JH Nordic condenses what would be more than 20 open internet tabs into one place, allowing you to conveniently explore hiking, biking and even snowshoe trails. Visit jhnordic.com.
VISIT THE WILDLIFE ART MUSEUM
Did you know that Jackson Hole boasts a world-class, national art museum? The National Museum of Wildlife Art indeed calls the Hole home, and it is a wonderful place to peruse and play in/at.
The museum's architecture blends in perfectly with the butte on which it sits, across from the National Elk Refuge. Outside is a 3/4-mile-long Sculpture Trail featuring lifesize wildlife sculptures of every stripe, including two small, whimsical bison designed especially for the younger set to climb and sit upon. Inside are numerous galleries featuring animal art by prominent artists as well as a fun, hands-on Children's Discovery Gallery. The museum is closed on Thanksgiving and the following day, but is otherwise open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday. You may also want to grab some lunch at the museum's Palate restaurant. For more information, call 307-733-5771, or visit wildlifeart.org.
SIP SOME MADE-IN-JACKSON BEVERAGES
Take yourself on a tasting tour of our local libations one afternoon or evening during your Thanksgiving vacation. Jackson Hole proudly features three incredible craft breweries: Snake River Brewing, Roadhouse and StillWest. Try a flight of your fancy at each! If wine is more to your liking, then head over to Jackson Hole Winery's new tasting room located inside New West Knifeworks ( just off Town Square) on Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday between noon and 6 p.m., and Friday or Saturday from noon to 7 p.m.
Snake River Brewing: 265 S. Millward; Roadhouse: on Town Square; StillWest: 45 E. Snow King