What Do You Need to Know About the Elk Migration in Jackson Hole?

One of the best ways to experience the natural beauty of an area is to observe local wildlife. That’s why you need to witness an elk migration in Jackson Hole, WY, at least once in your life! Elk can be viewed here nearly year-round, but there’s something truly special about watching thousands of these majestic creatures as they enter the valley floor in search of plentiful food and warmer temperatures. Below, we’ve outlined what you need to know about this magical phenomenon! For more local tips and recommendations, be sure to access our complimentary Vacation Guide to Jackson Hole.

More Local Information

Your Local Guide to Elk Migration in Jackson Hole


Each season brings change for Jackson Hole’s sizeable elk population. In the summer, elk boast fully grown antlers and feed on plentiful vegetation. Calves are also born during this time, usually between May and June. Fall in Jackson Hole means mating season and “bugling”—the eerie, beautiful sound elk make when attempting to attract mates. Winter is when the elk migration in Jackson Hole takes place. This is the perfect time to spot these beautiful creatures as they navigate down from the high country to the National Elk Refuge in large herds! When spring rolls around, the elk begin the process anew.

About Elk Migration

Why do elk come to Jackson Hole in the winter? You’d think that their supple coat and fat stores would get them through the incredibly cold high country temperatures, but that’s not the case. Elk feed primarily upon plants, which get deeply buried by snow in high-elevation areas. The National Elk Refuge and Grand Teton National Park provide the animals with plenty of protected acres to call home as well as plenty of dried grass to eat. Though winter food supply is lower in all possible elk habitats, the creatures prefer to preserve precious fat stores gained in the warmer months.

Other Jackson Hole Wildlife to Spot This Winter

Jackson Hole’s incredible wildlife attracts thousands of visitors each year. From magnificent mammals like elk and bears to unique birds and fish, our native creatures are some of the most fascinating in the country. Here are some other animals you should be on the lookout for during your winter visit:

  • American bison
  • Moose
  • Bighorn sheep
  • Grizzly bears
  • Black bears
  • Pronghorn
  • Gray wolves
  • Bald eagles.

See Elk From Your Bedroom Window at Bentwood Inn!Cabin Room at Bentwood Inn

Trust us—one of the best things to do in Jackson Hole is spot these incredible animals. The best part? You don’t even have to sign up for a tour! Stay at Bentwood Inn—a National Geographic Unique Lodge of the World—and you may spot elk in the backyard over complimentary breakfast. We’re located along the edge of protected land and take great care to ensure our property is healthy and welcoming to wildlife. Learn more about our green initiatives, then pick your favorite room to stay in. You won’t regret it!

Ready to see the elk migration in Jackson Hole for yourself? Book a stay with us now and start looking forward to your trip!