I was born in Salt Lake City, so for me it’s always felt a smidge disloyal to entertain the idea that another ski mecca in the U.S. can hold a candle to the Rockies in Utah. However, even as a Utah native, I’ll admit that if you’ve got your eye on Jackson Hole as a potential destination, you’re in for a treat. Jackson Hole has its own flair of Western charm, outdoorsy options galore, and stunning snowbird scenery.
A week out west gave me a great snapshot into all that Jackson has to offer as a winter destination. However, given I was 6 months pregnant at the time, I focused more on the non-adrenaline expeditions, and relied on my husband to provide his perspective on the skiing and snowmobiling excursions. He has pretty high standards himself, given he’s from the Canadian Rockies.
This ultimate family vacation guide to Jackson Hole includes the best tips for planning your own Jackson Hole winter escape; whether you’re looking for some adventure, kid friendly activities, or just some R&R, Jackson Hole has something for everyone to enjoy!
Know Before You Go:
- Direct flights to Jackson Hole can be quite pricey in the winter given few airlines fly there. The other option is to fly into Idaho Falls (1 hour away) or Salt Lake City (5 hours away) and drive, but with unpredictable snow conditions and road closures, this may come with its own hassles. Now’s the time to use those airline points you’ve saved!
- If you do fly into Jackson Hole, you’re only 15 minutes from town, and 30 minutes from the slopes. You’ll also be treated to spectacular views of the Tetons as you fly in.
- Drink TONS of water. 6,300 feet above sea level + low humidity = a recipe for altitude sickness.
- Jackson Hole and Jackson do not refer to the same location: Jackson refers specifically to the town, while Jackson Hole refers to the entire valley.
- If you’re staying in the town of Jackson (vs. slopeside at Grand Teton Village), plan for a 20-30 min trip to the mountain.
- You’ll want to come prepared for cold temperatures (February average lows at 9 degrees and highs at 33 degrees). Check out my ski packing list before you depart.
- Don’t feel like schlepping your winter gear? Use luggagefree.com to take some of the hassle out of the equation.
- If you’re bringing infants or toddlers, consider renting gear from Jackson Hole Baby Gear. I traveled with my 1 year old niece, and this company had the crib, stroller, high chair, and toys ready for us to use at the house when we arrived.
- Despite being cold, it can also be quite sunny. Bring sunscreen, lip-balm, and sunglasses.
- It’s best to rent a car, but if needed, the START public bus system is efficient and affordable.
- Yellowstone National Park — it’s so close, yet so far: It may be tempting to try to cram sightseeing at Yellowstone into the itinerary, but road closures make it hard to access from Jackson Hole in the winter. You can snowmobile there with this company, or rent a snowcoach; however, it may be a better idea to explore Grand Teton National Park and save Yellowstone for another, warmer visit.
- You’ll want to skip the nighttime strolls. Why so? I spy with my little eye…bison, eagles, black bears, grizzly bears (eeeeek), elk, pronghorn, coyote, wolves, moose, and cheetah. No, not cheetah — just making sure you’re reading carefully. 🙂
Luxury family accommodations in Jackson Hole:
We stayed at a family friend’s house for our winter trip. The property was cozy and perfect for our extended family, but unfortunately it’s not available for rent. However, Jackson Hole offers plenty of spectacular accommodation options.
Disclaimer: Unlike my regular posts, I do not have first hand experience staying at the below accommodations as a guest, but these properties caught my eye and are on my must-visit list when we return one day. Amangani is at the top of my lodging bucket list, with its focus on wellness, luxury and relaxation. I’ve already started my Amangani piggy-bank saving for a future visit. If you prefer something closer to the slopes and town, there are numerous highly acclaimed hotels throughout the valley.
- Amangani — for luxury pampering and relaxation
- Four Seasons Jackson — for mountainside luxury and convenience
- Teton Mountain Lodge and Spa — for mountainside comfort
- Hotel Jackson — for downtown hip and boutique
Best Restaurants for Families in Jackson Hole:
Nestled in the remote corners of nature, Jackson Hole brings its “A” game, both in terms of quality of food, and diversity of options. Here are some favorites:
- Persephone Bakery — we became obsessed with the baked goods, savory lunch options, and even the ceramics sold on site.
- Cafe Genevieve — their tomato soup and grilled cheese will hit the spot on a cold, wintery day.
- Bunnery — known for their onsite delicious bakery (and long lines).
- Thai Plate — a local hole in the wall that has modest interiors, but bold authentic flavors.
- Snake River Grill — a local favorite in downtown Jackson that offers iconic American West flavors.
- Fig — An upscale Mediterranean establishment located in the Jackson Hotel.
- Handle Bar – head here for some delicious warm-your-bones food, while taking a break between ski runs.
- Westbank Grill – treat yourself to a special night out at the Four Seasons.
- Local suggestions to try next time: Mangy Moose (bar), Ascent Lounge (Apres-Ski), Spur Restaurant, Piste (at the top of Bridger gondola), and Corbet’s Cabin for delicious waffles (ride the tram to locate this one).
Winter Family Activities:
Now it’s time for the main attraction! You’ve flown all this way to Jackson Hole and so chances are skiing is #1 on your list. Have fun hitting the slopes, but also know that there are plenty of other activities to pencil in as well.
- Option 1 — Jackson Hole Mountain Resort is a phenomenal choice for skiers who like more of a challenge. My husband’s weigh in: expect quick, steep runs. Skiers can also take the Aerial Tram to the top of Rendez-vous peak for access to backcountry terrain. For beginners and intermediate skiers, there are more manageable slopes closer to the bottom. Here’s more info on ticket prices and packages.
- Option 2 — Snow King Mountain is a great option for families, and a local favorite. They also offer night skiing and snow tubing. Check out their website for more info and ticket prices.
- Before heading to the slopes, make sure to read up on new COVID-19 procedures for each of the above resorts.
Snowmobiling to Granite Hot Spring
- Skiing may be at the top of your winter activity list, but this snowmobiling excursion is absolutely worth your time — it was a favorite for my family. First, you’ll snowmobile for 20 miles through the Bridger Teton National Forest, until you come to the Granite Hot Spring. Next, take a quick dip in the Granite Hot Springs. Finish up with a snack before heading back. Even though your body will be warm in the hot spring, your hair may take on a Queen Elsa Frozen look (à la my lovely sister-in-law). Check out this company for local tour options
- An important reminder: bring your own bathing suit, towel, and bag for wet items.
- There are half and full day options available.
King Tubes Park
- Snowtubing is a fun-filled activity for the whole family to enjoy.
- If you’re already headed to Snow King Mountain, King Tubes Park is nearby.
- Note: Kids must be 42” to ride, and only one person allowed/tube
Wildlife Winter Safari
- Carve out some time to explore the wild side of Jackson Hole! Your tour with Jackson Hole Wildlife Safari starts with a stop at the National Elk Refuge, and then into Grand Teton National Park for more sightseeing.
- There are frequent stops for photo-ops, and be on the lookout for elk, bison, moose, wolves, and bald eagles.
- You’ll enjoy the views from the warmth and safety of a large Suburban. We hopped out frequently for photos and our guide was very knowledgeable about the area and wildlife.
- Jackson Hole gets an average of 109 inches of snowfall a year! That’s a perfect recipe for a day of snowshoeing. Locals have suggested Snake River Dike as an easy, beginner path. Also, check out Grand Teton National Park, which has numerous paths and options for all snowshoeing levels. Jenny Lake and Swan Lake are beginner levels, while Taggart Lake Trail is a steeper climb. One of the other local favorite trails is Teton Pass. For more details on some of these trails (and other favorites), check out this post too.
- Read up on snowshoeing etiquette! Oftentimes, snowshoe trails cross paths with cross-country ski tracks. Do not walk on the ski paths, and yield to faster skiers.
- Maintain a safe distance (100 yards) from wildlife.
- For up to date trail info and map, check out Friends of Pathways.
- For ideas on guided tours, check out these companies.
- Be sure to check the local avalanche forecast before heading out the door.
Shopping — Town of Jackson
- The town of Jackson may seem quaint and small upon first glance, but you can easily spend a few hours exploring the different shops. There are Western themed stores, art galleries, jewelry stores, clothing boutiques, and toyshops for kids. You won’t find name brand chains; instead, the focus is on supporting local businesses and unique brands.
- Don’t forget to take a photo under the iconic Elk Arches!
Shopping — Grand Teton Village
- Located at the base of Jackson Hole Mountain, GTV is home to many ski rental and clothing stores. If you need to stock up on any gear, stroll the shops at the base of the mountain.
- Doesn’t a wintertime sleigh ride sound right out of a movie?
- The tour is 45 minutes, taking you up close and personal with the elk at the National Elk Refuge.
- Cost is $23 for adults and $15 for children 5-12. Under 4 ride free!
- Make a reservation ahead of time
If you’ve been to Jackson Hole, please leave your own tips below!
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