Flat Creek Inn

Category: Jackson Hole

Non-Skiing Winter Activities in Jackson

Not much of a skier? We get it. Some people live for the slopes, and other people sprained their wrists on the bunny hill twice in a row when they were thirteen and haven’t had much of a desire to get back out there since. (You know, some people.) For those in the latter category, Jackson Hole still has a lot to offer during the ski season. Come along and we’ll show you a few of our favorite non-skiing winter activities in Jackson.

Snowshoe or Cross Country Ski

Want to get outside without shooting wildly downhill at the mercy of gravity? Try snowshoeing or cross-country skiing. A favorite winter activity in our family, both cross-country skiing and snowshoeing provide excellent opportunities to get fresh air, exercise, and see the winter world from a different point of view. Don’t have your own skis or not sure where to start? Cross-country ski tours are available for all skill levels and ages. Not sure where to go? Here’s a good starting point.

Take a sleigh ride through the National Elk Refuge

Every year, thousands of elk, along with a variety of other animals, fowl, and mountain men (just kidding), migrate to the refuge for the winter. We recently wrote about what you can expect from the sleigh ride experience. Bring a blanket and your camera and get ready to immerse yourself in some of the most stunning winter landscapes the West has to offer.

Visit an art gallery

Need a break from the winter weather? Did you know that Jackson has an internationally renowned art scene? Jackson boasts over two dozen art galleries in town alone, including the famed Wilcox Gallery, which showcases art from some of the biggest names in Western art. But art isn’t limited to just the galleries. Businesses around town strongly support local artists and it isn’t uncommon to come across art displayed in unexpected places. If you somehow manage to make it through all the galleries in town, you can spend a lazy afternoon meandering through the National Museum of Wildlife Art. Founded in 1987, the museum holds more than 5,000 works of wildlife art from prominent artists including Georgia O’Keeffe, Andy Warhol, and John James Audubon. Visit the Palate while you’re there for lunch with an inspiring view of the elf refuge.

Take a dog sledding tour

For the most unique (and awesome) winter experience, try an authentic sled dog tour through some of the area’s most stunning scenery. Several local companies offer tours, including Call of the WYld and Jackson Hole Iditarod Dog Sled Tours. Both companies offer unique experiences that are sure to inspire your next Instagram post and make all your friends and family supremely jealous. 

Ride the aerial tram

In just 12 minutes, the aerial tram ascends 4,139 vertical feet to the summit of Rendezvous Mountain. With an elevation of 10,450 feet, you can enjoy sweeping panoramic views of the Teton Mountains, Jackson, Grand Teton National Park, and the Snake River Valley. For an even more stunning view, stop into Corbet’s Cabin for their Top of the World Waffles. If you find yourself in Jackson through the weekend, there’s a weekly interdenominational worship service (at the top of the mountain), which you can attend on Sundays at 9:30. If you board without ski or snowboard equipment, the ride to the service is free. Snag a complimentary ticket at guest services. 

If you’re not sure where to stay to experience all these winter wonders, don’t worry. We’ve got you covered here at Flat Creek Inn.

Everything You Need to Know about the Jackson Hole Shootout

Did you know Jackson Hole is home to the longest-running continuous shootout in the United States? Yes, that’s a real record, and yes, it’s absolutely true. The Jackson Hole Shootout has been going for more than 65 years, which is slightly longer than the gunfight at the end of the last John Wick movie.  

What can you expect?

If you’re in town and you have a hankerin’ to watch some rascally outlaws git what’s comin’ to ‘em (and you happen to be in town from Memorial Day through Labor Day because after that the outlaws are out skiing), be sure to stop by the town square every night (except Sundays, of course). Spectators can gather on the northeast corner of Jackson’s Town Square starting at about 5:30 pm, and by 6:15, the world’s most punctual outlaws have appeared and the bullets start to fly. It’s free to the public, and no reservations are necessary. 

The performers come from the nearby Jackson Hole Playhouse, and if you stick around you can usually see a Western-themed musical there. And here’s a fun fact: the guns are real, but they’re shooting blanks. 

How did it all get started?

Depends on who you ask. If you want the colorful local legend, the shootout began with the notorious outlaw Clover the Killer, “the meanest, ugliest, no-good hoss-thief this side of Teton Pass,” according to the Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce. No doubt he also cheated on his taxes, kicked puppies, and left the toilet seat up. He went up against the Cache Creek Posse, the good guys, who would drag Clover into Town Square every night in an attempt to hang him. And every night he would escape, thanks to the intervention of his friends, the rope breaking, or some other unforeseen circumstance. At some point, you might think the good citizens of Jackson might have considered replacing the Cache Creek Posse with some more competent law enforcement, but apparently, they all thought it was great fun. (This was also 1956, so maybe the real police were off chasing actual modern criminals.) And then, as the story goes, the shootout just kept happening.

Or, according to another story, the shootout was just a clever marketing stunt to attract visitors to stay in local hotels and motels, eat at local restaurants, and buy souvenir T-shirts from local gift shops. But who believes that story? The other one is way more fun. 

This post is brought to you by Flat Creek Inn.

Featured image credit: Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce

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Ryan Kunz is a copywriter and freelance writer who writes on a variety of topics, including media, the outdoors, and whatever else strikes his fancy. He is sure the first story is historically accurate. 

Tips From a Local: Korinne Bagley Nelson’s Jackson Hole

 

Here at Flat Creek Inn, we consider ourselves locals. After all, we’ve been here for decades in one form or another. And while some employees come and go, many of us have deep roots here in Jackson Hole. Take Korinne, for example, our managing owner. She graduated a few classes after Davey Jackson himself! (Just kidding, Korinne!) We asked her for her insider tips on getting the most from your trip to Jackson Hole this year. 

Tell us about growing up in Jackson Hole. What was it like in those long-ago days?

My memory of growing up in Jackson in the 60s and 70s is that it started snowing in October and the snow didn’t melt until May. Learning to ski was part of the school curriculum, there was one stoplight in town, and only about 3,000 people claimed Jackson as their home.

What are some of your most prominent or amusing memories here?

My family would get together once a week and go do something crazy fun. One of our favorite memories was playing in the mud along the Snake River. We chopped our own firewood and finding a Christmas tree every year was an annual tradition. Visiting String Lake has been a family favorite summertime spot.

And one more tasty memory was “The Barrel.” It was on the Flat Creek Inn property before Flat Creek Inn was born. The Barrel sold hamburgers and the best tall strawberry shakes you’ve ever had. There was a one-room apartment at the top for the employees.jackson hole

How has the place changed since you grew up here?

It seems like when I was growing up there were many families who were descendants of early original homesteaders in the valley. Now there are adventure enthusiasts from all over who live here. What is the same is that the livelihood of most of the people who live here is connected to the tourist industry.

What is the #1 thing you recommend for visitors to do here in Jackson Hole?

Come during the shoulder seasons (spring and fall) and walk around the square and soak in the atmosphere. In the summer there is the shootout every night on the northeast corner of the square, and a farmer’s market around the square on Saturday mornings. In the winter there is skating on the square. It’s our town hub.

Where are some of your favorite places to eat here in town?

Today I had pizza with elk sausage from Yeah Buddy Pizza which was pretty tasty. Another fun pizza place is Hand Fired Pizza located in the historic Teton Theater where I used to go see movies growing up. A good sandwich shop is the Creekside Market.

What’s one thing in town you wish got more attention? 

There are so many fun activities at Snow King but at the base of Snow King is a mountain cemetery, Aspen Hill Cemetery. It’s mostly overgrown but relaxing and peaceful to walk through.

Do you have any “local secrets” you’re willing to impart?

If you are planning a trip to Jackson, one activity that your family will never forget is going on a sleigh ride through the elk reserve during the winter.

Do you have any questions for a longtime local? Let us know in the comments.

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Ryan Kunz is a copywriter and freelance writer who writes on a variety of topics, including media, the outdoors, and whatever else strikes his fancy. he did not grow up in Jackson, but his parents grew up on both sides of the Tetons, which in a way makes him more than local. Don’t overthink it. 

Sleigh Ride through the National Elk Refuge

Sleigh bells ring, are you listening? In the elk refuge, snow is glistening. Winter is upon us and there’s snow place better to be than in Jackson! (We deeply apologize for that pun.) If you’re looking for a magical start to the holiday season, look no further than a sleigh ride through the National Elk Refuge. Sleigh ride national elk refuge

About the Elk Refuge

First, a bit of background. It all started in the nineteenth century when the arrival of settlers in Jackson Hole resulted in a major disruption to elk migrations. Decreased habitat, severe winters, and other factors led to the starvation of thousands of elk. Wanting to preserve large elk populations in the area (but also keep the elk out of their stuff), Jackson locals began feeding the elk through the winters. And so in 1912, the elk refuge was formed and sleigh rides to feed the elk began.

Today, the National Elk Refuge consists of nearly 25,000 acres of winter elk range. And although guests no longer feed the elk, the tradition of winter sleigh rides continues!

Here’s what you need to know (as always, confirm hours and prices before arriving) :

Who

You, of course. If you can’t make it this year, you can always view the elk from the Flat Creek Inn Elk Cam.

What

A magical winter experience surrounded by some of the West’s most stunning and iconic landscapes. Also, the largest migrating elk herd in North America. In addition to elk, you may also see eagles, coyotes, foxes, badgers, bison, deer, wolves, swans, and a whole host of other fowl. Each ride is unique.

When

The 2023-2024 season runs December 16 through April 6, weather permitting. Sleigh rides run from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm daily. Though reservations are not required, they are highly recommended, especially during the holiday season.

Where

The National Elk Refuge in Jackson, Wyoming, in case you missed it the first time. If you need a place to stay while in town, check out Flat Creek Inn, conveniently located across from the elk refuge.

Why

Because it’s cool and fun.

What Else?

Blankets are neither provided nor sold. You are welcome to bring your own and I’m sure you’ll be glad you did. Sleigh rides last approximately 45 minutes to an hour. You’ll need to arrive 30 minutes before your scheduled ride time. Shuttles from the visitor’s center parking lot run every 20-30 minutes.

Come with questions! Beyond just driving the sleigh, your guide is a wealth of knowledge and is ready to answer any and all elk-related questions you can think of.

Have you ever taken a sleigh ride through the elk refuge? Let us know in the comments!

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Breanne Kunz was raised in the Pacific Northwest but grew up spending summers in Idaho and frequently visiting Jackson Hole, Grand Teton National Park, and Yellowstone National Park. She is a wife and mom who likes to write. She thinks a sleigh ride sounds nice, as long as it’s followed by a steaming mug of hot chocolate.


Borgreen, D. (2011). Elk at National Elk Refuge [Photograph]. Flickr. https://www.flickr.com/photos/usfwsmtnprairie/5790547938

What to Do in Yellowstone National Park in the Winter

Yellowstone in Winter
Photo credit: Jeff Gunn from Atlanta, USA

When most people think of Yellowstone National Park, they think of iconic geysers, vibrant hot springs, and the occasional foreign tourist becoming a cautionary tale about why getting close to bison is bad. But there’s a whole other side to this natural marvel that comes out in the winter. After all, there’s something really metal about fire and ice together. If you want to witness steaming geysers and bubbling hot springs framed by glistening snow and pretend you’re part of a Scandinavian rock band, you’re in luck. Let’s take a look at all there is to do in Yellowstone in winter. 

Snowshoeing and Cross-Country Skiing

If there’s one thing we dislike about Yellowstone in the summer, it’s the crowds. Nothing ruins a view like a giant tour bus parked in front of it. But imagine you’re snowshoeing or cross-country skiing through a pristine wintry glade, silent except for the crunch of your footwear against the top layer of snow. That’s Yellowstone in winter for you.

Looking for an easy route to start? Try Old Gardiner Trail, Lone Star Geyser Trail, or Black Sand Basin Trail. Snowshoeing and cross-country skiing deserve a post of their own, so stay tuned. 

Wildlife Watching

While some animals migrate or hibernate during the winter, Yellowstone’s wildlife remains active. Spotting wolves, elk, bison, and other creatures against the snowy backdrop is a photographer’s dream—and indeed, Jackson’s art galleries are filled with that stuff. Here are a few places to try getting a glimpse of wintry wildlife: 

  • Lamar Valley: Grab a four-wheel drive vehicle and head northeast. This place is like the VIP section for Yellowstone’s wolf packs. But it’s not just wolves strutting their stuff here; you can also catch bison, mule deer, and coyotes.
  • Firehole River: You’ll need a guided tour crew, but check out the Firehole River between Madison Junction and Old Faithful, where the trumpeter swans munch on . . . whatever swans eat. (Our research ended there. Find out yourself.)
  • Mammoth Hot Springs: Check out a cold-air hotspot for viewing bison, coyotes, and eagles.
  • National Elk Refuge: We’re particular about this one, where thousands of elk winter every year. You can spy on these majestic creatures from lookout points, or you can hop on a guided sleigh ride through the refuge (check out our upcoming post on the topic! Or just book a room and Flat Creek Inn and bring binoculars. 

Snowcoach Tours

Don’t want to brave the elements? Yellowstone has you covered. Take a guided snowcoach tour—a hulking bus racing along on giant wheels or treads, like something from an oddly chill Mad Max movie. Taking one of these heated vehicles is a comfortable and scenic way to witness the park’s highlights.

Winter Lodging and Hospitality

While several park lodges close during winter, select accommodations remain open, offering a cozy retreat after a day of adventure. And may we suggest Flat Creek Inn . . .

Tips for Your Winter Adventure

  • Pack accordingly: Dress in layers and bring appropriate gear for snow activities.
  • Check for road closures: Some roads may be closed, but many areas remain accessible.
  • Book early: Lodging and tours often fill up quickly, so plan and reserve in advance.

Embrace the Unforgettable

Whether you’re seeking tranquility amidst snow-covered trails or looking forward to a hot meal after your snowcoach rumbles back to civilization, Yellowstone in winter promises an unforgettable experience for adventurers and nature lovers alike.

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Ryan Kunz is a copywriter and freelance writer who writes on a variety of topics, including media, the outdoors, and whatever else strikes his fancy. He hates tour buses and all they stand for. 

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