November is one of the least busy times of year for Jackson Hole and the greater Jackson, Wyoming area. It’s too soon for ski season to be fully underway, and neighboring Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park, the main attractions during the summer months, are mostly closed to tourists. While it might seem like November isn’t an ideal time to visit this incredibly beautiful place, if you’re looking to avoid the crowds and keep your costs down, there’s no better time to go. If your goal is making the most of Jackson Hole in November, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to find that there are still lots ways to get the complete Wyoming experience.
Take a Wildlife Tour
One of the advantages of visiting Jackson Hole in November as opposed to summer is that you have a front row seat to the many different species of animals that spend their winters in the area. Herds of elk move down to Jackson from the surrounding areas and head to the National Elk Refuge, where you’ll also find bighorn sheep, antelope, and other wildlife. Moose, bison, foxes, and wolves can all be spotted on a wildlife tour. Although it’s possible to drive around and look for animals on your own, taking a wildlife tour gives you access to binoculars, telescopes, and the experienced eye of your guide, who will take you to all of the best spots and keep an eye out for the animals.
Hike or Snowshoe
Depending on the depth of the snow when you visit, you’ll be able to either go hiking or snowshoe your way through some parts of Grand Teton National Park. The road into the park remains open to the Taggart Lake trailhead, offering a lovely four-mile hike to the frozen lake at the base of the Tetons.
Not sure if you’ll need to rent snowshoes or if your hiking boots will be sufficient? Stop in and ask any of the many outdoor retailers in town. We were able to hike in boots a few days before Thanksgiving, but your needs will vary depending on the amount of snow that year.
Check the Lifts
Although Jackson Hole is the most well-known ski resort in the area, it isn’t the only game in town. Opening day for ski season was scheduled for the day after Thanksgiving at Jackson Hole Resort, but Grand Targhee Resort, located just on the other side of the Tetons, started spinning their lifts on November 20th. Snow King is another mountain resort in the Jackson area that operates on its own schedule. If you’re interested in skiing or snowboarding, don’t forget to check all of the local resorts to see when they open.
Take a Scenic Drive to Yellowstone
While it’s true that the vast majority of Yellowstone National Park is closed to the public during the month of November, the north entrance of the park and the road between Gardiner and Cooke City, Montana, remain open. You’ll have access to the Mammoth Hot Springs area and all of the nearby trails, plus you might be able to spot bison, bears, wolves, and other wildlife as you take the scenic drive. Driving to Yellowstone is quite a trip from Jackson, taking at least 5 – 6 hours, but you’ll pass through breathtaking scenery and national forest on your way through Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana.
What to Pack
Jackson is cold in November despite the fact that winter hasn’t officially arrived. If you’re hiking or doing other activities, you might be surprised how quickly you warm up in the sun, so make sure to pack lots of layers. My go-to jacket for the trip was the KÜHL Arktik Jacket, which pairs well with the Avalon Fleece. If you’re planning on hitting the slopes, try the Akkomplice Crew and Akkomplice Bottom as your base layer.
Danielle Cemprola is a freelance writer, marathoner x 52 and world traveler. Danielle and her husband, AJ, love to hike, travel, and eat their way across the planet. She’s a self-described carry-on enthusiast who loves challenging herself to pack for any trip, no matter the length or destination, in a carry-on bag. When Danielle’s not flying the friendly skies, you’re likely to find her working at her day job as an environmental scientist – hey, someone needs to pay for all those plane tickets!