Jackson, Wyoming is a town famous for its ski resorts. However, it is also a popular destination because of its’ close proximity to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. Another popular tourist attraction in the area is the National Elk Refuge. We decided to take a day trip from Idaho primarily to take one of the Elk Refuge Sleigh rides. The National Elk Refuge is a winter habit for elk. The elk come down from the mountains because they don’t want to dig through more than 2 inches of snow to look for food. Then, they are free to leave to go back into the mountains when the snow melts.
Unfortunately because it was late March we did not see as many elk as we would have seen in the winter months. The sleigh ride was also turned into a wagon ride because of the warmer weather, which was a let down. However, we still saw about 15 elk, and the tour guide gave us a great history of the refuge.
I definitely recommend this sleigh ride for the chance to observe wildlife and enjoy an informative history lesson. We took some great pictures! Tours run $18 per person and last about an hour. Sleigh rides will start again next December. Tickets can be purchased at the Jackson Hole and Greater Yellowstone Visitor’s Center.
We also walked around Jackson Town Square. I wanted to go ice skating, but unfortunately the rinks closed early this year due to the mild weather. One of the highlights in downtown Jackson is the elk-antler arches! These arches, made up of the antlers which the elk shed naturally every year, are collected by the refuge. You will find out more about the history of the arches if you take a sleigh ride at the National Elk Refuge. The four antler made arches can be found in the Jackson Town Square.
There are plenty of restaurants, bars, and motels in the area. We stopped at Pearl St. Bagels for a bagel and hot chocolate. Not the biggest cafe ever and limited seating, but a great place to get a quick bite to eat before you start your day.
We also stopped at the Jackson Hole Grocer for an organic smoothie. There are plenty of different smoothies, juice drinks, and coffees available. Also available are sandwiches, soups, and a salad bar.
At the Visitor’s Center, we were given a free map of roads to drive on to spot area wildlife. One of the roads was called Gros Ventre Road. On this road we spotted 2 moose! We also drove along another road called Elk Refuge Road, which was supposed to be a hotspot for sheep. Unfortunately, we did not see any sheep just elk running in the distance.
All of the sudden a lot of snow began to fall. It is funny how fast the weather changes out West! We decided to head out before the snow began to pile up. We didn’t want to take any chances of possible road closures. The scenery on the way back was spectacular with the snow covered mountains and pine trees. It was a fun day out; however, I was a little disappointed in Jackson as it was a bit quieter and less touristy than I had expected. I am hoping to visit Jackson Hole sometime this spring to ride the tram, and possibly do some biking or hiking in the area.