Off-season in Jackson Hole can be a double-edged sword. It's a time that few tourists are around, making it feel as if the town belongs to the locals again. It can also be frustrating, as businesses close or cut to shorter hours, nightlife grinds to a near-halt, and there's not enough snow for skiing, or there's too much mud for hiking and biking.
But, the April-May quiet time also offers opportunities to do the stuff we might not otherwise -- on account of too many visitors, busy work hours, or distractions like epic skiing and fishing. In fact, the off-season can be the BEST time to be in Jackson Hole.
Things to do while it's mud season:
1. Two for one specials: Jackson Hole is known for its culinary flair, and the off-season is a great time to try the phenomenal food featured in our small valley. Many of the local restaurants offer mouth watering deals during April and May that are worth taking advantage of. Find a new favorite menu or get your fix of a classic! For information on spring season specials click here.
2. Teton Park Road opens: Now open to non-motorized traffic, biking the Teton Park Road is an awe-inspiring way to spend the day. In the summer months, the route is often congested with cars and visitors. During April, only your two feet will get you through, on a bike or on foot. Experience the Teton Park Road in a whole new way!
3. National Elk Refuge: Go for a jog or bike ride along the Elk Refuge road on the east end of town. As springtime settles in, the elk will begin to migrate out of their winter hibernation. Catch a glimpse of these stunning animals along the backdrop of Snow King and the Refuge.
4. Jackson Recreation Center: Pool time! Opening April 10th after a few repairs, the Jackson Recreation Center's pool is refreshing way to get ready for summer. Swim some laps or play in the waterfall area with your kids!
5. National Museum of Wildlife Art: With kid friendly activities and free entry for locals the first Sunday of every month, now is the time to get a little culture in. Stroll through the sculpture garden, peruse the Museum's incredible collection and get lunch at the cafe. It's an educational way to spend a Sunday afternoon!
6. Stargazing at the Center for the Arts: On clear, Friday nights throughout the spring season, Wyoming Stargazing will be hosting events on the Center's lawn. Take advantage of their incredible Dobsonian telescope to view the heavens! Cost is free to see the universe.
7. Elk Fest: Held during the middle of May, this fun festival on Town Square features a Mountain Man Rendezvous and a chili cook-off. Stop by and purchase yourself an elk antler, or two! The event supports the National Elk Refuge.
8. Meet a raptor: The Teton Raptor Center in Wilson hosts a Raptor Encounter Program every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at noon through May. Learn about these amazing creatures and other birds of prey during their 45-minute educational presentation.
9. Campfire in the Park: As Grand Teton National Park readies itself for tourist season, some of the campgrounds within the Park begin opening for visitors. Depending on the weather, it could still be too cold for a night in a tent, but not too cold for an evening campfire! The Gros Ventre and Jenny Lake campgrounds open early May, and offer marvelous views. Reserve a site, host a campfire and cookout with friends.
10. Enjoy having Town Square to yourself: The April-May emptiness of Town Square offers a well-timed opportunity to browse the shops without battling throngs of out-of-towners. Lounge at a corner coffee shop, peruse local artwork, and maybe get an ice-cream in the afternoon. Plus, you might actually be able to find a parking spot on Town Square, a novelty that must be enjoyed at least once during the off-season. Take the time to experience the town and see it in a whole new way!