In Jackson Hole, November and December are expected to be dark, cold, rainy and snowy. Many Jackson locals enjoy the quiet months at home to train for ski season, swap out their wardrobes, winterize, and enjoy the magnificent landscape without a lot of visitors. Others prefer to swap out the cold in exchange for biking and camping in the Southwest. Either way, most everyone looks forward to winter’s snowy slopes for skiing, touring and playing. But this year’s unseasonably warm temperatures and low moisture have left just a scant amount of snow accumulation in the higher elevations. While the lack of snow delayed the opening of Grand Targhee Resort, Jackson Hole Mountain Resort opened on time with very limited coverage. Fortunately for recreationists, it looks like weather on its way. Here’s to Old Man Winter blowing the cold and snow into our valley!
Local: Winter Wildlife Closures
As of December 1, many hillsides within the Bridger-Teton National Forest close to protect wintering wildlife. Winter is a very stressful time of the year for wildlife with frigid temperatures and limited food sources. Closing hillside terrain helps minimize human disturbances so wildlife can conserve energy. Causing animals to move or run away is never appropriate, but in the winter, it can be the difference between life and death. Please recreate responsibility.
Regional: Wildlife and Raptor Migration
Since snow has yet to accumulate in the valley, wildlife continue to forage and move freely in search of safe winter territories. Keep an eye out for the first elk on the National Elk Refuge outside the town of Jackson, for the arrival of Canadian Trumpeter Swans seeking out free-flowing water for refuge and food, and for rough-legged hawks returning from breeding grounds in the Arctic. They will remain in the valley if they find sufficient food.
The research team at the Teton Raptor Center has been collaborating with the Raptor View Research Institute to tag and monitor Golden Eagle migration in recent years. Their research shows many Golden Eagles come to this region to winter. From the Teton Raptor Center, “The map below shows the migration paths of the 38 Golden Eagles that have been monitored as part of the study from 2018-2021. Summer locations (green circles) and winter locations (blue circles) of each Golden Eagle are also identified on the map.” Perhaps you can spot them this winter.
There are only two days in the year that nothing can be done. One is called yesterday and one is called tomorrow, so today is the right day to love, believe, do and mostly live.
— The Dalai Lama
Thin snow cover snow limits winter recreation but hiking is still an option and most bike paths are clear. For touring, Cache Creek near Jackson is a fun place to explore. The trail to Crystal Butte is clear but muddy. Park trails are open but icy. Choose aspect and time of day to manage mud and ice exposure on the trails. There are lots of wildlife viewing opportunities right now. Wolves were recently seen in Grand Teton National Park! Be prepared and have fun on your next adventures.
- Be aware of wildlife closures in the Bridger-Teton National Forest
- Bears still on the move so carry bear spray and care for trash properly