Fall in Jackson Hole is an exciting time of year. Not only do we get great photos with the ever-changing weather patterns, but we also start to see more and more wildlife preparing for winter.
Fall in Jackson Hole is pretty short. Our leaves change in a matter of weeks and if you are lucky enough to time it well, you will get a great variety of colors combined with snow-capped mountains and blue-bird days. The population of the valley also decreases and the likelihood of getting great shots with fewer people is higher.
Fall in this area is also mating season for several animals. During this time of year, you can hear several elk attempting to attract females with an extremely distinct call. You will also see them moving down the valley towards the Elk Refuge, preparing for the long winter.
This time of year, you can also see several large bull moose wading in the streams and marking their territory, hoping to attract some females with their large waddles and scent. Both Fish Creek and Fall Creek out in Wilson are prime spots for moose, due to the large collection of willow bushes that line the area.
You will see the last of grizzly bears and black bears, eating as much as they can to prepare for hibernation. Canadian Geese fly past us on the way down south, and you will see flocks of them hanging out in open fields and marshlands. Furthermore, all sorts of small birds and little creatures can be seen preparing for the long winter, gathering anything in their sight to store.
Fall in Jackson Hole also means colder nights and shorter days. During this time of year, we suggest that you prepare for anything and pack plenty of layers for our outdoor excursions. Our temperatures can drop into the low 20s at night and hover around 50 during the day. Occasionally, we will get a great warm Fall that boasts high 60-degree weather!
With the last of the tourist season comes the best part of the year in Jackson Hole, when wildlife is abundant and the valley quiets down. It’s during Fall in Jackson Hole that one truly appreciates the area and comes to fall in love with it. Fall in Jackson Hole is one of the best times of year!
Hayden Valley Ermine
While the bigger animals in Grand Teton National Park are much easier to spot, there is an array of little animals in Jackson Hole that are just as unique and interesting to see. One such little animal is the ermine, a Jackson Hole weasel-like animal who like the wolf or the mountain lion, is just as challenging to spot and are just as ferocious to their prey.
What is an ermine?
Ermine are unique, agile hunters that are part of the weasel family. Smaller and more athletic than a ferret, ermine are unique in that they blend with their surroundings based on the season. In the summer, they are a brown color with a white underbelly and black-tipped tail and in the winter, their hide turns all white but the black tip stays. Known to most as a stoat or short-tailed weasel, this aggressive, little hunter prey on birds, small mammals, eggs, and frogs.
Occasionally, you will see these little guys darting across a field. They live in the dens of the prey that they kill, often in old stumps, under trees roots, and in heaps of brushwood, haystacks, and rocks. They live near houses and any other habitat that houses their food source (small rodents).
Where do I find stoat or ermine in Jackson Hole?
We mentioned the habitat above and I’m sure you were thinking to yourself…that’s EVERYWHERE! Ermine do live everywhere on our valley floor. We personally have seen ermine of Wilderness Dr on Teton Village Road as well as on Kings Hwy north of town. Both of these areas are heavily treed and have a large population of voles, prairie dogs, and little critters.
If you are lucky enough to see an ermine in Jackson Hole, make sure you are super fast with your camera. These little hunters are always on the prowl and they move fast. While absolutely adorable, they are ferocious little animals that are just as unique as some of our bigger friends.
It’s mid- August and tourists flock to our town for to see our abundant wildlife, including our moose and elk. We often get interesting questions about the relation between elk and moose. We decided to point out a few of their similarities and differences so you can be clear on who is who.
First of all, elk and moose are both a part of the deer family (Cervidae). They both have antlers that shed from November to March, they are both hunted for their meat in Jackson Hole, and their tracks are similar.
There are, however, some key differences that make them easy to distinguish. Moose are a chocolate brown color whereas elk are a light brown with a darker brown neck. Bull moose have a waddle on their neck and their antlers have flat pads in the front and traditional pointed antlers towards the back.. Stags, or male elk, have several pointed antlers.
Size wise, they are similar although moose are traditionally bigger than elk. Elk, however, are much more agile than their moose friends. Elk tend to hang with groups, whereas moose are traditionally by themselves unless there is a young one with the lady.
Group of Elk
Elk and moose have similar tracks, but moose have a more hearted-shaped hooves and elk have a more tooth-shaped track. Furthermore, because moose are heavier, their prints are deeper. The noses of both moose and elk are different as well…moose are more rounded, elk are have more pointed noses.
They are both magnificent animals to capture in the wild of Jackson Hole. Knowing where to find them with so many people in town is definitely a trick. Our Bear Witness guides have a few of those tricks up our sleeves. Give us a call and we can point on the difference between moose and elk on our private tour.