Tourists who flock to Jackson Hole in the summer are rewarded with perfect, dry, temperate weather, gorgeous views, and a plethora of activities. Springtime in Jackson Hole, however, rewards its guests with a different kind of activity…one for those nature lovers. That’s right, springtime in Jackson Hole IS the time to see wildlife.
Take a drive on Gros Ventre Road towards Antelope Flats Road in late April and May and you will be able to see a “herd” of moose eating the antelope sagebrush, dense with nutrients, that grows near the Kelly Warm Springs. We’ve counted as many as 10 moose, some preparing to give birth, chowing on this scrumptious vegetation. These otherwise sparse animals are difficult to locate in the heat of the summer, as they definitely hide out from the sun. Still, it’s possible to find them in the early morning or late evening, although not as readily as in the springtime.
On Elk Refuge Road, you can wander down the way a bit so that you are under Miller Butte. Look around, look up. You stand a really good chance of seeing a herd of Bighorn Sheep. These guys like to hang out in high, rocky places, thus making it difficult to see them in the summer. But in springtime in Jackson Hole, you can easily see them as some of them winter on the refuge. As the snow starts to melt, you will see them move on.
In mentioning the Elk Refuge, large herds of elk are moving out of the area in April and May. Thus, seeing elk in large herds close up is an easy task if you are up near Gros Ventre Junction. The refuge lets out in this area, and many elk pass through on their way North and West. These guys and gals are super easy to spot, just look for big light brown animals with a darker colored necklace of fur and a white butt.
A buffalo herd near Kelly also moves out of the Elk Refuge in April and May. These large chunky dark brown animals are often seen moving towards the Golf and Tennis Club, perhaps ready to play a game of golf…or just eat the green grass on it. It’s not a super large herd, so you will likely see a couple of animals hanging out.
Foxes and coyotes can easily be seen in the distance, and I would recommend checking out Spring Gulch Rd for them. The open fields of the ranches in this area allow for perfect hunting grounds of field mice, and occasionally you’ll see a good pounce!
Our more reclusive animals, such as the mountain lion and wolf are certainly challenging to spot, regardless of the time of year. There are a couple of mountain lions and a pack of wolves that hang out on the Elk Refuge in the winter and springtime, a great hunting zone for them. Mountain lions tend to hang out on rocks and pounce on prey as needed. A patient person can scope around for a crow-filled carcass, hoping to catch ones of these highly private animals at dinnertime. And after a short time, the mountain lion may leave it when wolves come in for clean up. You can otherwise spot wolves in the dusk hours up Gros Ventre Road.
Lastly, our bears. Both grizzly bears and black bears are coming out of hibernation during the springtime in Jackson Hole. While you stand a good chance of spotting a male during the morning and dusk hours up near Moran Junction and Pacific Creek, the females with cubs emerge a little bit later, towards the end of April and the beginning of May. With patience, you can be rewarded with a cute, curious baby bear rolling around on its mother.
Springtime in Jackson Hole doesn’t always have the best weather and often the snow stays around a little too long. However, what the weather lacks, the wildlife viewing certainly makes up for it. This is hands down one of the best times of year to see wildlife in Jackson Hole.