Did you know that April and May mark the off-season/mud season in Jackson Hole? It’s the quietest time to visit – if you don’t like crowds, now is the time to come out here. Snow is starting to melt, so expect mud on hiking trails and variable weather. You can also expect to see an abundance of wildlife reemerging after a long winter. There’s no time like the present to experience the resurfacing foliage and teeming wildlife of Jackson Hole – and we have all the local insight.
Pause and view the Jackson Hole wildlife
In Jackson Hole, we remain present by pausing and viewing the bountiful wildlife. Spring is a gorgeous time to stay wild. Charming baby animals start appearing in the national parks and surrounding areas during the warmer spring months. Migrating elk begin heading north for the summer and can be seen all over the valley… keep an eye out when driving! Majestic moose love hanging near the banks of the Snake and Hoback rivers and in the open sagebrush beneath the Tetons. Resident grizzly and black bears are waking from hibernation, often appearing with new cubs.
While you can spot wildlife all over the valley, we recommend heading to our area’s treasured national parks: Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Park. You and yours can experience spring wildlife at a safe distance, perfect for your family’s resident photographer or nature lover. Since it’s off-season, the parks are rarely crowded, so you can set aside extra time to explore beyond ever-popular sights like Old Faithful. Note: Yellowstone’s South Entrance opens on May 1, and Grand Teton Internal Park road will open on May 14.
Before any wildlife excursion, it’s essential to be mindful of your environmental role and impact. Always give ALL wildlife plenty of room; you’re here to discover Jackson Hole wildlife, not disturb it. Please leave every space, plant, and animal as it is. It is incredibly important to Leave No Trace in our natural environments. For your safety and the safety of our wildlife, you must stay 25 yards away from bison, elk, and moose at all times, and 100 yards away from bears and wolves. This is their home, and it is vital to respect that.
Keep a pair of binoculars or a scope handy in your vehicle for safe viewing of our area’s wild animals. You should always look at animals through binoculars (or a scope) rather than walking up to them. Got a new camera lens? Test it out during a scenic drive in the valley and see what incredible moments you capture. Leaving your vehicle to hike or explore? Be sure to carry bear spray and know how to use it.
Better yet – book a guided tour for a stress-free and educational family activity! Off-season is a great time to book a wildlife tour with Eco Tours or JH Wildlife Safaris. Their guides will take you to the best places for wildlife, as well as provide tons of interesting information about the area.
As always, the weather this time of year is extremely variable! Be prepared and pack for both sunny and cold days. You can always cozy up in town and recharge in an Outpost property after what’s sure to be a successful day looking for wildlife!
Image by Stephanie Pidcock