As an avid “Game of Thrones” watcher, I relish any opportunity to use that line. But it’s true! In the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, like in Westeros, winter is indeed coming. But unlike Westeros and the dreaded White Walkers, we have a lot to look forward to in winter!
Winter brings cooler temps, and often great wildlife viewing opportunities. There are over 10,000 elk that winter in the National Elk Refuge just north of Jackson. The bull elk sport their massive antlers all winter long and are quite a sight!
It’s not only elk that make the Refuge home for the winter. Trumpeter Swans, the largest North American water fowl, spend the winters here. Their stark white feathers against a wintery background is so serene and peaceful. Flat Creek, the winding waterway through the Refuge, has open water even through the dead of winter so these beautiful birds have access to food and forage all year round.
Big Horn Sheep are regularly seen on the road. Like bison jams in the summer, these sheep cause their own traffic patterns! Their thick coats provide warmth, and their sharp hooves can dig down for the forage they need to survive our deepest freeze.
The snow itself offers a great opportunity for tracking animals you might otherwise miss. The telltale prints of rabbits with their elongated hing feet, or the paw prints of a coyote, fox, or even a wolf are fun to spot, even when the wildlife themselves have long moved on. However, sometimes you get lucky and find the furry friends who left their marks in the snow.
So even though our warm weather is fast disappearing, the fun never stops in this magical place. Book a winter tour today and experience Jackson Hole, Grand Teton, and the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem with us in the winter!