5 Days 125 Miles
5 Exhilarating Days Exploring Jackson Hole and Grand Teton National Park in Winter
Are you looking for inspiration for your next winter holiday? Grand Teton National Park is one of the most treasured National Parks in the U.S.—and not just in the summer.
Located south of Yellowstone National Park and spanning more than 310,000 acres, Grand Teton makes its home in the majestic Rocky Mountains. From glistening frozen rivers to rolling crystal hills, you’ll witness one of nature’s most breathtaking spectacles in the winter months. The area is a largely untouched paradise for nature lovers and photographers, filled with postcard-worthy scenery and abundant wildlife.
Our five-day itinerary will take you through the top scenic landscapes in the area, complete with fun-filled adventures and activities.
Arrival: Jackson Hole
The easiest and quickest way to get to Jackson Hole is by air. Flying above the Rockies is an awe-inspiring event in itself. The Jackson airport is located at the base of the Teton Range, providing newly arrived travelers with breathtaking views from the get-go. During winter weekends, airport visitors are greeted by the “Howdy Partners” — local performers dressed as cowboys and cowgirls. If you’re lucky, you might get a free mimosa! From the airport, car rentals or taxis will take you about 10 miles into the heart of town. Rent a four-wheel-drive vehicle to navigate winter road conditions.
Where to Stay Near Jackson Hole
Nestled in the Teton Range lies the Jackson Hole valley, an early home for settlers and trappers that is now the epicenter of the National Park. It features a wide range of accommodations and dining options, and its central location is the ideal gateway for exploration throughout the duration of your trip.
With expansive views, an inviting Italian restaurant, and vintage-inspired rooms, The Anvil Hotel is the perfect place to hang your hat after a long day of adventure. Close to the Jackson action with a copious dose of Old West mountain charm, The Anvil has contemporary rooms and on-site events such as live music and happy hours.
Looking for something a little cozier? Locals recommend you kick off your snowshoes and enjoy authentic and quaint accommodations at the Sassy Moose Inn. A classic western bed and breakfast set just outside the bustle of Jackson, The Sassy Moose is sure to charm and refresh you between adventures.
If your taste is a little more select, we recommend the Teton Village Hotel or Rustic Inn Creekside Resort & Spa. Both offer upscale luxury and relaxation with outstanding views and rejuvenating accommodations.
Day 1 – National Elk Refuge & Granite Hot Springs
After enjoying delicious pastries from The Bunnery Bakery & Restaurant, get an early start to the National Elk Refuge—located just one mile east of Jackson’s town square—for an unforgettable wildlife experience.
National Elk Refuge
While elks have been roaming the Teton Range area for years, they still have difficulty finding food during the colder months. In fact, during the 20th century, thousands of elks died of starvation due to food competition with livestock. In 1912 the 24,700-acre National Elk Refuge was created. Now, every winter as the temperature drops, between 7,000 and 9,000 elks migrate to the area to munch on alfalfa feeders.
Note: The entrance is located on the southeast corner of the National Elk Refuge at the end of Broadway, East Jackson. It’s free to enter, but if you want to explore the refuge with your own car, you’ll only be able to drive 3.5 miles from the entrance to avoid disturbing the herd.
Guided Sleigh Ride
If you’re up for a one-of-a-kind adventure, take the guided sleigh ride. The rides run from mid-December through to mid-April and last between 45 minutes and one hour. What better way to observe these statuesque animals than from a horse-drawn sleigh snuggled under a warm blanket (bring your own!). As the horses trot in the snow, you’ll be able to take in the peaceful scenery and admire the elks up close. The glacial outwash plain, the white rolling hills, and the narrow, winding creek make for a fantastic backdrop to the herds. The guides offer a wealth of information about the local wildlife and history of the area.
By car or by sleigh, don’t forget to bring your camera! While in the refuge, you’ll most likely see other native animals such as bison, trumpeter swans, coyotes, or bighorn sheep. If you’re lucky, you might even spot a gray wolf.
After your trek through the expansive refuge, we also recommend stopping at the visitor center. A wealth of information, it features an observation deck that is ideal for photography.
Granite Hot Springs
Ready to warm up after exploring? Spend your afternoon at the Granite Hot Springs, located 34 miles east of Jackson Hole. You can reserve a snowmobile or fat-bike ride to one of the many natural hot springs located around the area. Soaking in these gorgeous natural mineral waters is a sure-fire way to relax at the end of an adventure-filled day.
On your way back to Jackson Hole, be sure to stop at Snake River Grill for a delicious steak tartare pizza. Quench your thirst at the popular Million Dollar Cowboy Bar located in the town square of Jackson. The place is famous for its authentic-horse-saddle seats!
Day 2 – Ski Jackson Hole
On the second day of your trip, after a hot breakfast at the Virginian Restaurant, put on your ski boots and enjoy an exhilarating day on the slopes complete with blue skies and 360° mountain views.
Whether you’re an expert or just learning, you’ll find the perfect skiing and snowboarding options. The Jackson Hole area is renowned for its ‘’cowboy powder’’ and features three ski resorts catering to all ski levels.
Ranked as the best ski station in the world, Jackson Hole Mountain Resort is particularly suited for advanced skiers or snowboarders. One of the most famous landmarks of Jackson Hole is the resort’s aerial tram (or ‘’the big red’’ as the locals call it) which can carry up to 100 people to the top of Rendezvous Peak (10,450 feet) in just twelve minutes.
If you’re looking for something slower-paced, hop onto the Bridger Gondola to access the Casper area of the mountain. It will take you to many intermediate and beginner trails within a few minutes. Spectacular scenery on the way is guaranteed!
Once you’ve gotten your thrills for the day, head to Mangy Moose in Teton village, and enjoy a bison burger or some elk sausages with mushroom flatbread. The rustic American tavern is always a hit with visitors and often has great live music.
Day 3 – Grand Teton National Park
What better way to enjoy the beauty of the majestic Grand Teton National Park than with a highly experienced ranger as a guide?
Guided Snowshoe Tour
After spending the morning shopping in Jackson Hole’s designer boutiques, visiting the stunning fine art galleries, and exploring the historic center with its famous elk antler arches, jump in your car and drive to Taggart Lake Trailhead for a picture-perfect snowshoe tour. And as a bonus, you’ll get to hike in historic snowshoes once worn by soldiers training in the area!
While you soak in the fantastic views of the Grand Tetons towering above the snow-covered flag brush flat, your guide will share some facts about the park’s history and wildlife. As you continue on this easy 3.3-mile round trip hike, you’ll come across a creek and forested area before seeing the snow-capped peaks, suddenly rising from the heavens. The trail continues to the edges of the frozen lake, making for a truly magical spectacle. Depending on the weather conditions, you might even be able to walk out on the lake.
The guided tour is completely free, with a modest $5 shoe rental fee. Note that the tallest hill on the trail is around 150 feet, making this hike the perfect way for beginners to get used to walking with snowshoes.
If snowshoeing has built up your appetite, stop by Dornan’s Pasta and Pizza in Moose. The place provides visitors with an array of local beers and delicious wines and features spectacular windows with prime vistas of the Tetons.
Day 4 – Grand Teton National Park
Guided Snowmobile Tour
On the fourth day of your trip, we’ve got more fun in store for you! This time, we’d recommend you fulfill your need for speed by embarking on a snowmobile adventure. Hundreds of thousands of acres of varied mountain terrain and groomed snowmobile trails make Grand Teton National Park one of the best snowmobile destinations in the world.
After breakfast at Persephone Bakery, prepare for your guide from Old Faithful Tours’ to pick you up at 8:30 am, sharp. After a 40-mile van ride through the park, you’ll begin the snowmobile portion of the tour. Jump on your ride and your thrilling adventure begins!
A highly-experienced guide will whisk you across the winter landscape. And as you ride, you’ll experience unparalleled vistas and enjoy the sights of close-up wildlife.
Relax at the Spa
After your wild day, enjoy a relaxing massage at SpaTerre for the ultimate pampering experience. This alpine oasis is a 20-min drive north of Jackson Hole and specializes in Thai body rituals designed to re-energize travelers after a busy day on the slopes or exploring the area.
For dinner, visit the Gun Barrel for authentic Western-style cuisine and atmosphere. Try the Pan Seared Elk Pops with polenta for a meal you won’t forget.
Day 5 – Jackson Hole
For the last day of your trip, why not try fly fishing? A sport extremely popular with the locals, fly fishing in Grand Teton offers sweeping views of the mountains and a dose of calm and tranquility after your busy week. Teton Fly Fishing has half-day trips during the warmer hours of the day. The guide will pick you up at your accommodation and take you fishing in the Snake River, one of the best spots to catch native cutthroat trout and mountain whitefish.
If you’re ready to make one more lasting memory in Jackson, what better way to end your trip than some old-fashioned ice skating on the Town Square. The ice pond opens in the late afternoon through night, making for an enchanting evening skating under the stars.
After skating, head to the Gather for some world-class local cuisine. Whether you opt for the pork buns with wild mushrooms and melted brie, or the pork shank, your taste buds won’t be disappointed.
Now time to pack your bags and get ready to hit the road or fly out in the morning.