Best of the Tetons

Summer Sunrise

FREE in Jackson Hole ~ Areas & Activities:

An Ongoing List of Things You Can Do and See Without Pulling Out the Pocketbook!

Jackson Hole is not necessarily a cheap place to visit. We’ve lived here at least 29 years and feel the costs firsthand, however there are quite a few frugal activities worth exploring. Some require a vehicle and bit of gasoline, but otherwise have little additional expenses involved.

Schwabacher Landing

  • Grand Teton National Park: A week park pass for GTNP costs roughly $30 and you’ll likely have to pay another $30 to enter Yellowstone. While the Park Service doesn’t state it anywhere, the GTNP entrance stations are seldom manned until 7:00 am. “Early birds” can usually slip through the gates without a fee, then stay all day. There’s no GTNP entrance station if coming into the Park from Yellowstone. (Update: In 2016, YS Park Rangers are checking passes as vehicles leave Yellowstone and into the Tetons. You may have to pay an additional fee to enter GTNP if that happens) There’s an entrance station at the south end if entering from Teton Village, but visitors can go to the Craig Thomas Visitor’s Center (for free) and then drive on south the entire length of the Moose-Wilson road without a fee. The eastern side of GTNP doesn’t have entrance stations at all. You can view Mormon Row, the Gros Ventre River basin, Kelly, “Shane Cabin”, Snake River Overlook, and Schwabacher Landing without having to buy a pass. Only one person in a vehicle is required to have a Park Pass. The rest of a car load enters free via the one pass. Lastly, the National Park Service offers “Free Entry Days” several times a year. Watch this site or the Park’s web site for the dates.

Visitors Center

  • Craig Thomas Discovery & Visitor Center – GTNP:  As mentioned in the previous section, you can go to the Craig Thomas Visitor Center at Moose, WY without ever having to go through an entrance station and having to pay the entrance fee. There are plenty of interesting exhibits, photos, and a wonderful book store. The other GTNP visitors centers are “inside the park” at Colter Bay and Jenny Lake. The Center is closed during the deep Winter months.

  • Ranger Programs: Many people probably will already have a Park Pass, so spend a few minutes going over the many free Ranger-led programs inside the park.

Visitor Center

  • Jackson Hole and Greater Yellowstone Visitor Center: Located on the north edge of the town of Jackson on Cache Street. Additional agencies represented in the Center are the National Parks and Forest Service and the National Elk Refuge. There are numerous sculptures, displays and exhibits, along with rack cards and brochures about the regional businesses and activities. Just to the north of the center is a picnic pavilion, kids fishing pond, and a bird viewing platform.

Granite Falls Blurred Water Oct11

  • Bridger-Teton National Forest: There are plenty of trails, picnic areas, and areas of Jackson Hole you can enjoy without spending any money. Consider a drive up the Gros Ventre, out to Togwotee Pass, south through the Snake River Canyon, up Curtis Canyon, or to Granite Hot Springs and Granite Falls. (Wading and swimming in the creek is free. There’s a concrete pool near the falls which has a nominal fee if you choose to use it) Camping is free for up to two weeks in many unimproved campgrounds, and there’s a reasonable fee at most of the improved sites. Alternative Places to Visit, Hike, Fish, and Photograph

Miller House

  • Historic Miller Ranch: Throughout the summer months, the Historic Miller House on the National Elk Refuge is free to visitors interested in experiencing some of Jackson Hole’s history and preservation efforts. Click the link for details and hours of operation.

Jackson Fish Hatchery

  • Jackson National Fish Hatchery: Located on the National Elk Refuge. Enjoy a tour of the facility and see cutthroat trout at all stages of growth. A volunteer will great you and give you a tour of the main hatchery building. Fishing is allowed in the stocked pond. Kids of Wyoming residents can fish for free. Adults need a Wyoming fishing license. Children of non-Wyoming visitors may still fish, but at least one of their parents must buy a license. Many of the Snake River Cutthroat Trout raised in the hatchery are released in the Fall into the Palisades Reservoir south of Jackson. They swim upstream into the Snake River and fill in the gaps in the system.

Shootout In JH

  • Jackson Hole Shootout: Held nightly (except Sunday) on the NE corner of the Town Square. Get there at 5:45 pm and be ready for some dancing’ and shootin’ at 6:00 pm.

Jackson Hole Live

Devon Allman Band

Farmers Market Shoppers

  • Jackson Hole Farmer’s Market: Held each Saturday morning at the Town Square during the summer months. Kids can play in the square, and parents can enjoy the sights and sounds. Entry is free, but you can spend some money on fresh fruit, pastries, and so forth. The JH Public Market is held on Wednesdays at the base of SnowKing Mountain. 4:00 to 7:00 pm.

Old Cars

Goldola Ride

  • Gondola Ride at Teton Village: Throughout the summer, you can ride the Bridger Gondola to the Coulior Restaurant for free. Show up at 4:30 pm and bring your camera and jacket! Most Saturdays are booked with private parties and weddings, along with some Fridays, so it might be best to call earlier the day. There’s a large deck for relaxation and viewing. They serve appetizers and drinks, but people are not required to buy them. The ride down is free, too!
  • Swimming: With our cool weather, swimming might be considered much lower on the list of options than in other regions of the country. Wilson Beach: That what the locals call it anyway, is just under the Snake River Bridge near Wilson. Check out the Kelly Warm Springs for warmer water. People also swim in the waters at Slide Lake and at some of the boat launches along the Snake River, but watch out for the swift currents. If you have a Park Pass, another popular spot is at String Lake. The water is shallow, with a gravel base in several ares.
  • Rubber Raft Rides on the Snake: This is popular with the teenagers and the younger crowd during the summer months. Innertubes and air mattresses are illegal within GTNP, however are allowed in some areas south of town. Most of the people put in at the new ramp (VonGontard Landing) five or six miles south of Jackson and then float to the Astoria boat landing a few miles down the river from Hogback Junction. As with any water activity, this one has a degree of danger, so please use all necessary precautions.

Miller Park

  • Teton County & Jackson Parks and Recreation Parks: The Town of Jackson maintains several community parks around town. Kids can play on the playground equipment and there are picnic tables and shady areas for some cool air and relaxation time. Miller Park is close to downtown, shown above. The Mike Yokel and May Parks are in east Jackson. Powderhorn Park is located near Pizza Hut and McDonalds in West Jackson. Several parks have volleyball and tennis courts. Click the link for maps and directions.

Skate Park

  • JH Skate Board Park:  The free park located near the High School baseball and football field. The park was expanded a few years ago and features a large bowl, mini bowl and plenty of “street” features. Contests are held at the park periodically and viewing is free.

  • High School Football, Basketball, and Other Sports: Free admission to all High School sporting events.
  • SnowKing Trail: Throughout the summer, hikers can take a trail from the base area to the top of SnowKing mountain, then ride the chairlift down for free.

Snow King Rock Climbing Walls

  • Snow King Climbing Rocks: Aside from the other parks listed above, the Snow King public park has a free rock climbing area. Walls for all skill levels.

Foot Bridge

  • Bike & Hiking Path System: The Teton County / Town of Jackson system of asphalt covered paths is constantly expanding. Hikers and bikers can take advantage of the entire system for free. Walkers and hikers area also allowed along the road on the National Elk Refuge. I recently read there are over 50 miles of paved paths and countless more hiking and biking trails. Some of the more popular trails are on Snow King Mountain and up Cache Creek.
  • Winter Cross Country Skiing: There are several commercial cross-country ski trails which will cost money, but there are several free areas.

Old Patriarch

  • Stargazing: Jackson Hole has some of the darkest skies in the U.S. All you have to do is drive out of town a few miles to see the amazing heavens as few other people see them. This area draws plenty photographers wanting to capture the Milky Way and constellations. As mentioned earlier, the east side of GTNP has no entry gates. The Mormon Row barns are popular subjects to include under the stars. Note: This shot was taken inside the Park, but the entrance stations are usually closed by late evening and you can drive in without having to pay.

Slide Lake

  • Slide Lake: This area is popular with wind surfers, canoeists, and family swimming. Oh yes, you can usually camp in the National Forests for free. Some of the improved camp sites like Atherton Creek and Crystal Creek require a small fee.

National Museum of Wildlife Art

  • National Museum of Wildlife Art: Entrance into the actual museum has a fee, but the exterior areas do not. The museum is located a few miles north of town and overlooks the National Elk Refuge and Sleeping Indian mountain.

  • Weiwei

  • The National Museum of Wildlife Art has an impressive Sculpture Trail with great views of the valley floor. During the Summer of 2015, watch for the Ai Weiwei group of twelve Zodiac sculptures.

Zipper and Vertigo

  • Teton County Fair: The midway and most exhibits at the fair are free to view and enjoy. It costs to ride the rides and go to some of the bigger events.


  • Fishing: Okay…it takes a Wyoming Fishing License to be able to legally fish in the state. If you have the license, you can find quite a few good places to fish in the region—and your children 13 and under can fish free as long as the license bearer is with them.

Amy Ringholz

  • Jackson Hole Fall Arts Festival: Many of the events at the Fall Arts Festival are free to the viewing public. This shot shows the “Quick Draw” event held during the Festival.

  • Jackson Hole Gallery Association’s Art Walk : Enjoy Jackson Hole’s world class art galleries on the third Thursday of the month from 5-8pm. Parking is free downtown. You don’t have to go on the Art Walk to visit the town’s art and photography galleries.

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Comment (1)

  1. Lowell Schechter

    HI Mike
    I think the next time I am in the Teton Jackson Hole area I will make sure that check and see what is going on there. So things to do over an entire year. thanks for keeping us posted

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