Best Birding Spots in Jackson Hole

Merganser Duck Flapping Wings in Fog
Common Merganser

It might be the larger mammals that get all the attention in Jackson Hole, Wyoming and Grand Teton National Park, but the area is also ripe with exceptional birding opportunities! Below is a short list of places in Grand Teton National Park, as well as outside of it in other parts of Jackson Hole, that provide exceptional birding. The list also includes common birds you can expect to find at each location, though of course there are plenty more opportunities than what’s listed.

To help with navigation, locations are listed on a potential driving tour going from north to south and ending in Jackson.

Birding Locations Around Jackson Hole and Grand Teton National Park

Oxbow Bend

This is arguably one of the best spots in the valley for birding. Home to a wide variety of waterfowl, this slow side channel of the Snake River provides excellent habitat for number of species. Known for its postcard views of Mount Moran reflecting in the calm water, this spot draws numerous visitors and locals alike for obvious reasons.

Expect to find raptors such as osprey and bald eagles, as well as waterfowl such as great blue herons, American white pelicans, trumpeter swans, double-crested cormorants, merganser ducks, Barrow’s goldeneyes, and mallards.

Trumpeter Swans Landing in Oxbow Bend
Trumpeter swans flying in to land on the water of Oxbow Bend. Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

Blacktail Ponds

The Blacktail Ponds area is focused around another side channel of the Snake River. There are, however, several other streams that flow in from below the large bank as well. This provides a lush meadow for many birds to nest and forage in. The main overlook provides a stunning vantage point above the streams, while a trail descends into the willows for those looking for a closer encounter. If you head down, just be aware of moose.

Expect to find broad-tailed and calliope hummingbirds, song sparrows, black-headed grosbeaks, as well as mallards and merganser ducks, among others.

Black-Headed Grosbeak in Bush
A black-headed grosbeak looking out from a bush in Blacktail Ponds. Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

Moose-Wilson Road

The Moose-Wilson Road runs parallel to the Snake River, stretching between the towns of Moose and Wilson. Along the way you pass through a variety of habitats, offering varied opportunities for a wide array of birds. Many people scour the roadsides for larger animals such as elk, moose, and bear, though trees and bushes hold exciting birding sightings for those looking.

Along the course of the road’s stretch through Grand Teton National Park, you should be able to find great blue herons, western tanagers, ruffed grouse, yellow warblers, yellow-rumped warblers, and more. Likewise, though not frequently seen, the road provides great habitat for both great-horned and great gray owls.

Gray Catbird Looking out from Bush
A gray catbird looking out from a rain-soaked bush along the Moose-Wilson Road. Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

Emily Stevens Pond

Outside of Grand Teton National Park are two great hotspots, one of them once again along the Snake River. Emily Stevens Pond also doubles as a trailhead for a levee trail that runs along the east side of the river. Rising several feet above the floodplain, it offers a great vantage point to catch many birds that might otherwise be just a bit too high. Likewise, you’re treated to stunning views of the Tetons all along the way.

As an added bonus, a pedestrian bridge crosses the Snake River, connecting the trail to Rendezvous Park on the opposite side. Complete with its own streams and ponds, it’s a perfect complement to the scenic trail.

Between the two, you can expect to find northern flickers, yellow warblers, American goldfinches, cedar waxwings, great blue herons, and song sparrows.

White-Crowned Sparrow on Branch
A white-crowned sparrow perched on a branch. Rendezvous Park, Wyoming

National Elk Refuge

While the National Elk Refuge encompasses nearly 25,000 acres, there’s a small, easily-accessible portion of it that offers fantastic birding chances. Extending from the Visitor Center on North Cache, north to the highway bridge crossing Flat Creek, is a lengthy pond on the edge of the refuge boundary that numerous birds call home in the summer. A small boardwalk on the backside of the building doesn’t look like much at first glance, but opens up a view filled with different species. The Visitor Center itself is also a great resource for the area in general, so it’s worth a pop in.

For the 100-200 yards of pond and creekside viewing, you can expect to see yellow-headed blackbirds, red-winged blackbirds, belted kingfishers, cinnamon teals, lesser scaups, and yellow warblers.

Red-Winged Blackbird Calling from Branch
A red-winged blackbird calling from a branch above a pond. National Elk Refuge, Wyoming


While there’s no shortage of great places to bird in the area, this list will at least help you get started. Have any favorite spots that I missed? Let me know in the comments!

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