Jackson Hole is easily among the most beautiful and breathtaking places on Earth, with its formidable mountains, exotic flora and fauna, and crystal-clear rivers and lakes. Every time I gaze upon the stunning landscape feels like the very first time I set my eyes upon it: my breath hitches in my throat, my heartbeat speeds up, and I feel an immeasurable sense of awe and gratitude to be able to live in the vicinity of such raw and untouched natural beauty. With the passing of the seasons and the consequent transformation of the landscape, the scenery might change. Still, its undeniable beauty remains constant and shines through on every occasion – be that through the vibrant colors of springtime or the all-engulfing blanket of white snow brought by the frigid winter. Each season brings with it its own flurry of activities. Jackson Hole really is, in every sense of the phrase, an all-year-round destination.
Personally, spring is one of my favorite seasons in the Tetons due to the sheer variety of colors on display and the innumerable activities for families and children to engage in around the Grand Teton National Park. The season brings with it the warmth of not just the sun, but also of witnessing families spending cherished moments outdoors – playing volleyball, splashing about in the clear waters of the park, or simply sunbathing. The arrival of countless visitors who want to engage in sports and activities in and around Jackson Hole is an expected feature of the season. Sometimes, though, there can be so much to do that people find it difficult to pick and choose what’s really worth going for. For this reason, I’ve compiled this handy guide on some of the best activities to partake in Jackson Hole based on my many years of experience of living in the area and interacting with the many families who come down to visit.
For those wondering, spring in Jackson Hole generally starts in the month of April, with ski resorts in the area beginning to shut down and warmer activities opening for visitors and locals alike. Although many often call it the “off-season”, it is anything but – let this guide convince you why with eight of the best activities to do in Jackson Hole during spring!
- Stay at a dude ranch
Looking to immerse yourself in a truly authentic Jackson Hole experience? There’s no better way to obtain it than to stay at a dude ranch! In the past, when Jackson Hole was just beginning to gain popularity as a tourist destination, cattle ranchers would often host visitors at their ranches for weeks on end. These guests came to be termed as “dudes” and, nowadays, this practice has been turned into a veritably profitable business and an insightful experience for those looking for the “working ranch” experience!
There are many benefits to staying at a dude ranch: you can ride horses, go fishing, float down the Snake River, relax in nature, and watch the perfect sunrise. There are few things in life that can provide you with the same level of tranquility.
- Spring skiing and snowboarding
If you’ve never been skiing on “corn snow”, it’s definitely an experience you want to tack on to the bucket list! Corn snow forms during the spring when the hard snow starts to melt and forms little granules of snow that resemble corn – thus the name. Skiing and snowboarding on corn snow could be a new and exciting experience, with the surface being more uniform and providing for faster gliding and smoother turns.
The great thing about skiing in the Grand Teton National Park during the spring is that some of the colder regions that are inaccessible during the winter season open up for cross-country skiing. This is the only time that you can actually venture off the beaten track and explore the hidden parts of the Tetons. You don’t want to miss out on that!
- Visit the national parks
There are some downsides of visiting the Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone during the spring, such as limited accessibility due to mud or snow, but the positives more than make up for it! This time of the year, visitors to the parks are few and far in between, so you can have as much privacy and seclusion as you want as you zip through the parks unbothered on a snowmobile, bicycle, car, or whichever other mode of transport you prefer!
Additionally, it is arguably the best time of the year to witness the emergence of the wildlife as they shake off their winter slumber and return to the parks active and energetic. The bison in Yellowstone are especially active during this time and seeing them move around is a rare and special treat for visitors.
- Wildlife watching
Wildlife watching deserves a category of its own in the springtime – as mentioned, it is certainly the best time of the year to witness the animals as they begin their great migrations from the valley floors and up to the mountains. Many animals also give birth during this time, so the parks are veritably teeming with animals in this period.
If you want to locate the animals in the park, it is advisable to find a knowledgeable tour guide to take you around and point out exactly where you need to go. One trusty guide is Jackson Hole EcoTour Adventures, which has a wonderful team of wildlife experts on board. Their guides will take you exactly where the animals are to be found while pointing out how best the wildlife in the area can be preserved.
Another special occasion that takes place among the Jackson Hole wildlife during the spring is the “Sage Grouse Strut,” which is a display of affection put on by male sages to attract the attention of females. Although difficult to put into words, this event essentially involves the male sages pushing out their chests and strutting around for the benefit of the females – if you’re lucky, you can snag a spot in the viewing parties that take place in the Grand Teton National Park and witness it for yourself!
- Enjoy Elkfest
An event special to Jackson Hole, Elkfest is a festival that commemorates the time of the year when elks shed their antlers and migrate away from the National Elk Refuge. Locals come together to put on the Elkfest, which involves copious amounts of food, merriment, and joy! This year’s Elkfest is set to take place on the 20th of May so plan your travels accordingly.
Elkfest is undeniably the best opportunity to experience the unique historical and wildlife culture of Jackson Hole and get your hands on some of the best elk antlers in the country! The best part? All proceeds are donated to the Elk Refuge and are channeled into preserving elk herds. It’s truly the best of both worlds!
- Indulge in the spring sales
Spring sales in Jackson Hole should be an event in and of themselves because every shop in town will have a special offer on display, regardless of their business. In particular, many ski and winter gear shops heavily discount their items to make way for summer products and you can find many high-quality items at a fraction of their original cost!
Additionally, the spas and wellness centers around Jackson Hole, which are infamous for the efficacy of their treatments, will sometimes put out special treatments at discounted prices, which are the perfect remedy after a long day spent exploring the outdoors.
- Visit the National Museum of Wildlife Art
Jackson Hole is special for many reasons. One of them is the National Museum of Wildlife Art, the only museum in the world dedicated entirely to the appreciation of wildlife in art. This is the place to be for those who are looking for a more cultured experience during their visit.
If you’re looking for a fully immersive and educational experience, heading down to this museum at the start of your trip to the Tetons can be a great idea because it can give you a deeper understanding of the local wildlife for the duration of your visit and allow you to fully engulf yourselves in the Jackson Hole experience.
- Eat your heart out
Due to the fact that spring is considered the off-season in Jackson Hole, many of the best restaurants in and around Jackson Hole advertise special “2-for-1” deals on their menu. One of the best restaurants in the area, Fine Dining Restaurant Group, offers an unparalleled deal, which they term “2-for-$2”. Diners can buy an entrée and get the second one for only $2! Given the delectable quality of food served at the restaurant, this is a bargain deal to try out the restaurant – the best part is, the $2 is donated to local nonprofits!
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