5 Reasons to Visit Jackson in the Winter
Photo courtesy Jackson Hole Resort
Save this article in your Winter Travel Planning file. While Jackson, Wyoming, might be a bit of a trek for many, it's definitely worth the advanced planning. Here's why.
1. It’s Less Crowded
Despite having three ski resorts in the vicinity, winter is off-season in Jackson. As the gateway town to two national parks, Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park, this is a hot spot in the summer.
Avoid the crowds by planning a winter visit. While you may miss out on some of the wide-open vistas that occur in the summer—during our early February visit the Tetons eluded us behind a veil of clouds during our three-night stay—it’s still a wild and beautiful landscape. The real bonus is that during the winter you never have to fight for parking downtown.
2. National Elk Refuge
The National Elk Refuge is a six-mile-wide, ten-mile-long animal refuge that was established in 1912. It borders the town of Jackson and comes alive in the winter. Thousands of elk flock to the refuge during the cold months in order to escape the deep snow in the surrounding mountains. It also attracts all sorts of other wildlife, from birds of prey to the occasional wolf. A herd of around 50 bighorn sheep call the refuge home every winter.
During the winter, you can book a sleigh/wagon ride at the National Elk Refuge. This is the easiest and safest way to get up close and personal with elk in the refuge. Be sure to dress warm and come with a fully charged phone for pictures.
3. Vertical Harvest
Eating farm-fresh veggies in Jackson in the middle of winter may sound improbable, but it’s possible thanks to Vertical Harvest, one of the most unique “farms” I have ever visited. It’s a three-story, hydroponic greenhouse located in a large building in downtown Jackson. Not only does this business grow food in the form of lettuce, micro-greens and tomatoes, it provides jobs for people with developmental disabilities.
Vertical Harvest operates 365 days a year, and they offer guided tours. Check out the tour schedule, and be sure to pick up some fresh veggies in their market when you visit.
4. Piemonte in the Tetons
This incredible culinary event occurs each winter at Spring Creek Ranch. The 2018 event happened over the first weekend in February. Chef Carlos Zarri from Italy and Chef Michael Burke, executive chef at Spring Creek Ranch, work together to great two incredible dinners for guests of Piemonte in the Tetons.
This year, Chef Carlos Zarri presented a Truffles & Hazelnut Dinner with wine pairings, and Chef Michael created a Truffle Wild Game Dinner. Each course is paired with wine, and these elaborate meals last for hours. It’s an unforgettable experience that’s only available at Spring Creek Ranch in the winter.
Spring Creek Ranch has a variety of lodging options from hotel rooms to vacation homes. Keep an eye on their website for information on next year’s Piemonte in the Tetons event.
Photo courtesy Jackson Hole Resort
5. Jackson Hole Mountain Resort
Skiing at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort is a big draw to the area during the winter. This ski resort boasts the longest continuous vertical rise of any ski area in the United States, rising 4,139 feet from the valley floor to the top of Rendezvous Mountain.
My husband skied the resort during our recent trip, and by doing so he was treated to outstanding views of the area. There are 2,500 acres of in-bounds terrain at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, with 50 percent of the runs rated as expert, 40 percent as intermediate and 10 percent beginner. In other words, this is a super fun mountain for a competent skier.
After a day on the mountain, enjoy apres ski with the locals at the 51-year-old Mangy Moose Saloon.
One last piece of advice:
“Jackson Hole” refers to the valley and the ski resort, while Jackson is the name of the town, and it’s all located in Teton County. If you call the town “Jackson Hole,” you’ll be branded as a tourist.