We moved to Jackson Hole at the start of early April, only to find that the town was in the peak of ‘off season.’ Tourists were scarce, businesses were closed, and even the locals seemed to be out of town. This left us thinking that there would not be many things to do in Jackson Hole in April.
April is part of the spring ‘mud season’, where snow starts to melt and leaves mud and slush in its wake. The ski slopes usually close around the first week of April, and the parks (Yellowstone & Grand Teton National Park) have restricted road access this month. This means that many of the activities that are popular in the height of summer and winter in Jackson Hole are limited in April.
But wait! Before you decide not to visit this time of year, we’ve found that April is one of the most underestimated months to be in Jackson Hole. There’s plenty of upsides to being here in the off season.
Here’s what we’ve found are the best things to do in Jackson Hole in April:
1. Grand Teton National Park Inner Road
During April, a stretch of the inner road of Grand Teton National Park is closed to vehicles but open to pedestrians & bikes. And you can bring your pup too, as long as they’re on a leash! The road is open at the Bradley & Taggart Lake trailhead and plowed to Signal Mountain Lodge. The views here are incredible & hard to beat: the path goes along the face of the Tetons.
2. Active Wildlife
April is a special time to spot much of the favorite wildlife of the region. For example, this is when the elk will start to migrate from the Elk Refuge to their summer homes up north. This means that the elk can be spotted along highways, in backyards, and in the plains of Grand Teton National Park. Elk, moose, and deer tend to have their calves around this time so you may be fortunate enough to see some babies. Bison are also be more active in April as they come out of the winter months.
Another animal that’s more active in April are bears. This is the time of year when bears begin to come out of hibernation and are usually first spotted in the parks. They’ll be foraging for food after their long winter slumber and making their way from their northern retreats down to summer grounds.
Be sure to keep a safe distance from all wildlife and pack bear spray if you get out in nature. Check out Grand Teton National Park’s safety guidelines if you plan to visit the park or hike.
3. Special Deals on Restaurants & Lodging
Some restaurants offer ‘off season’ specials during April. These may be discounts, special dishes, or 2 for 1 deals. Keep your stomach and your wallet full by tracking these down.
In general, hotel/lodging prices are also lower in the off season. Some places will run special deals to draw guests in. Shop around for these special rates & incentives to make the most of the month.
4. End of Ski Season Events
The slopes usually close for the season around the first week of April. You may not be able to get much skiing done in Jackson Hole in April, but there’s time to squeeze in a few runs and check out end-of-season events. So you can don your ski helmet and get on the slopes.
With the closing of the slopes comes some festivities, from live music to special events, mostly in Teton Village. The Music Under the Tram series — a free concert series on Spring weekends — also spills over into April. If you’re here in early April, head to the slopes before they close down and celebrate the end of another ski season in Jackson Hole.
5. Few Visitors in The Parks
The lack of visitors to Yellowstone & Grand Teton National Park makes April a great time to explore them. Take a scenic drive, hike, or snowshoe without the crowds that arrive in the following months. Experiencing the parks with few people around is magical — you can be completely submerged in the scenic nature & wildlife.
Park roads begin to open in April as conditions change. In Grand Teton National Park, the Visitor Center is open from 9AM – 5PM and the Inner Road opens to pedestrians. Highway 191 is also open for a little ways into the north of the park, until around Jackson Lake. In Yellowstone National Park, roads begin opening to vehicles mid-month. You can see a current list of road openings in Yellowstone here.
6. National Museum of Wildlife Art
The National Museum of Wildlife Art is located just outside of town, facing the expansive Elk Refuge. The building itself is a work of art, blending into the hillside that it sits on. The Museum is a must-see for it’s incredible collection and sculpture garden. Admire the art, learn about the history of the area, and take in views of the neighboring Elk Refuge during your visit. The museum is also family-friendly with activities for kids.
For a full day in the area, pair your visit to the Museum with a trip to nearby Town Square and pop into some shops or grab a meal.
7. Winter People’s Market
The Winter People’s Market is a farmer’s market held every other Saturday in town. It features regional, seasonal foods from local vendors. Peruse the market for some tasty local fare, including meat from nearby ranches, dairy, produce, prepared foods, and more. With the cold and snowy weather of Jackson Hole in April, sampling fresh produce & goods is a fun way to spend an afternoon.
It may be the off season, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to do in Jackson Hole in April. So come visit this time of year & discover why it’s secretly one of the best times to explore the area!