Jackson Hole Ski Resort

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Muscular, rugged mountains with stark granite walls; high-alpine bowls; 4,139 vertical feet (1,262 m), and 2,500 acres (1,012 ha) of some of the most challenging inbounds skiing in North America; all surrounded by 120 square miles (310 sq km) of open-gate backcountry. Jackson Hole is to North America what Chamonix is to Europe: good skiers and boarders abound and the alpine lifestyle rules.

The resort of Jackson Hole has a big reputation to live up to: one of North America’s biggest vertical drops, endless backcountry skiing, great snow (and a lot of it), and more advanced skiing than most visitors know what to do with. Many marked runs at Jackson Hole would be permanently closed areas at other resorts.

First impressions are likely to confirm the reputation. From the moment you see the craggy Teton Range – America’s most photographed mountains – you know you’re going to be skiing mountains to be reckoned with. Jackson Hole is an excellent choice for expert and intermediate ski groups, but skiers should be aware that the terrain at Jackson Hole is a full step up in difficulty from many other resorts.

Despite it well-earned reputation for intense steeps, Jackson Hole has a gentler side as well. While raw novices will find Jackson Hole’s beginner skiing to be limited, intermediate skiers will enjoy the resort – provided they don’t stray down a black diamond or two by accident. Jackson Hole’s modern ski lift system more than handles the crowds, which tend to be smaller than many similar Rocky Mountain resorts; some skiers are undoubtedly (and wrongfully) scared away by Jackson Hole’s fiercesome reputation.

At the base of the ski area is the Teton Village – a purpose build community of hotels, restaurants, bars and shops. Teton Village does a good job of replicating the experience of the great lodges of nearby Yellowstone National Park (less than 1 mile from the resort). However, if looking for a true Old West town, the town of Jackson (not to be confused with Teton Village) is a short drive down the road. Jackson is the genuine article and is a true wild west cowboy town.

Ultimate-Ski has culled through the long list of Jackson Hole-Teton Village lodging properties and provided reviews (found below under our “Recommended Hotels at Jackson-Hole Teton Village” header) of those which we believe to the best and worthy of our recommendation.

 

 

Jackson Hole Ski Area

Jackson Hole is famous for its truly steep and challenging terrain - most notably, the resort's iconic Corbet’s Couloir. Jackson Hole has two main mountains: the big one, Rendezvous (10,450 feet/3,185 m) and the smaller Après Vous (8,481 feet/2,585 m). Lifts to both mountains start from the base area in Teton Village and several traversing trails connect the two mountains in both directions.

Jackson Hole Ski Area Overview

The ski area covers 2,500 acres (1,012 ha) and has one of North America's biggest vertical drops (4,139 feet/1,262 m). But more important than the size of the drop is how steeply it descends: much of the inbounds terrain makes even accomplished skiers think twice, with around 50 percent of the mountain designated advanced or expert, 40 percent for intermediates, and 10 percent (at best) for beginners. There are rock-lined chutes and steep bowls in this category as well as wide-open, rolling slopes, and groomed cruisers for intermediates. The longest trail is 4.5 miles (7.2 km).

Probably the most famous single trail at Jackson Hole is Corbet's Couloir-there's a grandstand view of the leap into it from the aerial tram (cable car) passing overhead. In fact, Corbet's is just one of many opportunities to tackle truly steep and challenging terrain Jackson; virtually every part of the mountainside between the major trails can be skied, though in many cases, these areas are for extreme skiers only, particularly those willing to "get air" off the many cliffs.

Snowmaking covers 6 percent of the area, looking after conditions on the lower slopes-the base of Jackson Hole is quite low by Rockies standards-but the steeps rely on the average annual snowfall of 459 inches (1,166 cm) for cover, enough to give good conditions every other day when averaged out over the whole season. Late season conditions at the base area (Teton Village) can often be slushy.
There are two other ski areas nearby that are worth a visit if time permits:

Snow King (15 miles from Teton Village)

Snow King is the town of Jackson's local ski area, entirely separate from the main slopes - in fact some 12 miles away. There are 400 acres (162 ha) with 1,571 feet (479 m) of descent, some of which is floodlit for night skiing. It's mostly for advanced skiers with just a quarter for intermediates and 15 percent for beginners, so novices shouldn't mistake Snow King for a nursery area.

Grand Targhee (45 miles from Teton Village)

Just 90 minutes away from Jackson (weather on the Teton Pass permitting) is Grand Targhee, famous for its powder. On average it gets 25 percent more snowfall over the season than Jackson Hole, but is nearly deserted for much of the time. It has recently expanded its lift-served terrain to over 2,000 acres (809 ha) but still has a cat-skiing operation to access the best powder. Grand Targhee is ideal for keen intermediates to experience deep-snow skiing as the terrain is noticeably less steep than at Jackson, but bring your goggles: the frequent low cloud that shrouds the slopes earns the resort the name "Grand Foggee" from the locals.

Jackson Hole Ski Lifts & Passes

The brand new, much heralded “Aerial Tram” - twice as big as its predecessor, is the main lift and can get quite busy at times.

Jackson Hole Ski Lifts

Jackson Hole's lifts have a total capacity of 12,096 skiers per hour and run from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm. The center-piece of the system is the new "Aerial Tram". There's also a gondola, nine chairlifts (two of which are high-speed quads) and one magic carpet.

The new Tram, which opened in December 2008 in a blaze of publicity, carries about 100 people and is the quickest way from base to the highest point on Rendezvous. There's one every nine minutes. It invariably attracts a lot of skiers right through the day, even when the rest of the resort seems empty. This is mainly because it's the only lift reaching the magnificent wide sweep of the Rendezvous Bowl-steep, but frequently in great condition and not as intimidating as its pitch might suggest-and the backcountry of Cody Bowl and the various other gated entrances to what would normally be described as "out-of-bounds" areas for which Jackson is celebrated. With its height and exposure, the top is windy, but the new Tram withstands much stronger wind speeds than its predecessor.

The Bridger gondola, which opened in 1997 helped relieve some of the pressure on the old Tram. It bisects the ski area giving good access to much of the terrain including the Casper Bowl backcountry area. The Sublette chair gives access to all of Rendezvous Mountain apart from the bowl. A triple chair, Sweetwater, links the beginner area to the intermediate area.

The top of Apres Vous Mountain is reached via Teewinot and Après Vous chairs.

Jackson Hole Lift Tickets

For latest lift pass prices visit Jackson Hole Ski Lift Tickets

Jackson Hole Beginner Skiing

Jackson Hole's beginner skiing is limited, but is available. However, groups of mainly novice skiers would be better elsewhere.

Jackson Hole Beginner Skiing 660X260

At Jackson Hole, beginners skiers don't have many opportunities. Just 10 percent of the terrain is designated suitable for beginners and groups of mainly novice skiers will be disappointed by the lack of variety in Jackson Hole's beginner terrain. A further drawback is that all the novice terrain is at the lowest altitudes and is likely to suffer if there's a shortage of snow. However, Jackson Hole's renowned ski school prides itself on teaching skiers of all ability levels and beginners visiting Jackson Hole as part of a larger group will be very pleased with the quality of its first timer and beginner programs.

Jackson Hole's only pod of beginner terrain is found off the Eagle's Rest and Teewinot chairlifts. The runs in this area are on Après Vous Mountain's much gentler profile. Beginners will be pleased to learn that the green runs at Jackson are not harder than average for the region, unlike Jackson Hole's well-earned reputation for expert runs which are more challenging than it peers.

The beginner lift ticket does give access to the green terrain at very good value. Moving to blue trails gives a choice of tame link trails traversing the mountain or more serious intermediate terrain, which doesn't really offer the stepping stone needed by progressing beginners. Moreover, the imposing steeps above can be scary for even seasoned novice skiers. Toss in Jackson Hole's hardcore atmosphere that is geared towards pro-level freeskiers and many beginners simply prefer to head elsewhere.

Beginners may also enjoy a day trip to nearby Grand Targhee, which offers more gentle terrain. The "Targhee Express" shuttle bus operated by Jackson Hole AllTrans leaves directly from Teton Village. Grand Targhee's less intimidating terrain makes for a great one day hiatus from the more challenging steeps of Jackson Hole.

Jackson Hole Intermediate Skiing

Jackson Hole's intermediate skiing is overshadowed by the resort's legendary steeps, but intermediate skiers have plenty to explore at Jackson Hole.

Jackson Hole Intermediate Skiing 660X260

Although intermediates would perhaps be ill-advised to try skiing from the top of the Tram, they can still access enough of Jackson Hole-around 40 percent-from other lifts to give a taste of big mountain skiing and, therefore, a true taste of Jackson, although a willingness to explore (sensibly) the mountain rather than simply following the trail map will be helpful.

Apres Vous Mountain provides much of the intermediate terrain; smooth groomers allow the skier to cruise through wide slopes. There are also opportunities for low-risk tree skiing and amazing views of the valley below.

From the Bridger gondola more blues are accessible. The longest runs at this level-Gros Ventre (Fat Stomach) and Sundance Gully-give 2,700 vertical feet (823 m) of descent. A total of 22 miles (35 km) of Jackson Hole is groomed; a grooming map explains the state of the trails each day, which is particularly relevant for skiers who are unable to cope with tough or deep conditions.

For stronger intermediates, there's also the northern side of Laramie Bowl, probably the toughest skiing that could fall into this category. Bear in mind when venturing onto back country terrain, that some guidance is useful-probably best attempted in the company of a ski instructor-to help avoid getting caught out on steep, moguled terrain.

Jackson Hole Expert Skiing

Jackson Hole's expert skiing is chock full of crazy chutes, moguls, steeps, deeps, and trees, making it one of the world's best areas for expert skiers. Jackson Hole's Expert terrain is one of a kind in North America.

Jackson Hole Expert Skiing 660X260

Jackson Hole has a well-deserved reputation for having much of North America's most advanced ski terrain. The shape of the mountains (steep), their size, and the fact that so much of the hillside is designated skiable, means that a lot of skiing is packed into the area. Around half the resort's trails are black or double black. There are crazy chutes, moguls, steeps, deeps, trees, and thousands of acres of backcountry.

If you're a strong skier or snowboarder, Rendezvous Mountain, via the Tram, has to be the place to start, with the ultimate views (otherwise you're best starting on Après Vous). If you are feeling fit, Rendezvous has 4,139 vertical feet (1,261 m) to ski down to base, almost entirely on black trails. Prevailing conditions will affect your day-to-day plans at Jackson Hole, with narrow gullies staying in shape long after powder bowls have been skied out. But when the powder's fresh, the Hobacks are the place to go-a collection of bowls to the extreme (skier's) right of the resort. Part of the charm is their distance from lifts and their remote feel-you return to base via a low-level traverse.

Jackson Hole's Rendezvous Bowl is also unbeatable, if frequently windy and cold. It's steep, but wide and clear of obstacles, allowing skiers to let rip without fear of collisions. From the Sublette quad, Laramie Bowl and the steep Alta Chutes are easy to find and can be skied without returning back to base each time. Likewise, for bump trails, Thunder (served by the Thunder quad) allows high-level skiing-ideal if it hasn't snowed for a while and the lower mountain becomes tough, bumpy, and has more natural hazards exposed.

In case of snowy weather, the Moran Woods between Headwall and Après Vous are the place for tree skiing. Also from the gondola are gates to Casper Bowl for more powder.

Expert Skiing at Jackson Hole

Jackson truly deserves this category, as distinct from "advanced." Along with much of the backcountry, there are plenty of real challenges, from Corbet's Couloir, near the top of Rendezvous, downward. Corbet's infamy stems from the view from the Tram as much as anything: seeing skiers from above making the ten- or twenty-foot leap (it depends on your point of entry) from the cornice into a 50-degree couloir is the closest many people get to this kind of skiing. The nearby expert chutes from Thunder quad are part cliff, part steep chute and forgive very few mistakes.

In 2004 the Crags terrain was opened to the public. Previously a permanently closed inbounds area, it provides approximately 200 acres and 1000 vertical feet of expert terrain located above the Casper Lift area. Bowls, chutes and tree skiing are all accessible via the Headwall "Stairway to Heaven" or from the top of Après Vous. For an averagely fit skier the hike will range in length between 25-35 minutes. The Crags is snow controlled and has an opening schedule based on weather conditions.

Backcountry skiing

Jackson Hole's backcountry skiing, accessed by several gates around the resort, is big. Rock Springs, Cody, and Casper Bowls are the main areas. All this terrain requires that groups are properly equipped and, ideally, accompanied by a guide.

Hiring a guide for backcountry trips is not just a safe option, but the way to find the best snow and terrain suited to the group's abilities. The terrain is not exclusively in the expert category, though it is peppered with natural hazards, requiring skiers to be able to operate in full control, whatever the conditions.

A backcountry yurt was built for the 2002/03 season. Just outside Jackson Hole's resort boundary in lower Rock Springs Bowl, it gives skiers the opportunity to experience a backcountry hut-and-ski touring trip without venturing too far off the beaten path.

There is also heli-skiing available in the nearby Snake River Mountains with High Mountain Heli-skiing (307-733-3274).

Jackson Hole Off Piste

In Jackson Hole there are experts. And then there’s the Jackson Hole Air Force – the seriously expert locals. They all ski at the same resort in Wyoming, but not necessarily on the same mountain, because apart from its signature peak, Rendezvous Mountain, Jackson Hole has a “secret” mountain: Cody Peak, which has “runs” that make some of Jackson’s tougher in-bounds trails look like routine blues.

From the moment Jackson Hole opened in 1965, it was marketed as an unusually challenging mountain. To this day there is a sign at the top of Rendezvous Mountain which says: "Our mountain is like nothing you have skied before. It is huge, with variable terrain, from groomed slopes to dangerous cliff areas and dangerously variable weather and snow conditions. You must always exercise extreme caution. You could make a mistake and suffer personal injury or death. Give this special mountain the respect it demands."

Corbet's Couloir is the signature chute at Jackson. But you don't need to ski Corbet's to find plenty of adventures on Rendezvous. There are chutes, gullies and cirques all over the mountain. Alta, Expert and Tower Three Chutes - steep, double-fall line descents through the trees - provide quite sufficient challenges for most experts. Throw in Paint Brush, Toilet Bowl and the Headwall and you'll have had a good day's work out. Reserve another day for skiing the Hobacks, a wonderfully long, barnstorming off-piste valley that will reduce even strong skiers' legs to putty.

Jackson Hole Mountain Resort was one of the first resorts to reverse the trend of discouraging skiers and snowboarders from venturing outside the ski area boundaries, and possibly the first to introduce a European-style guiding service. Today 5,000 acres of legendary back-country skiing terrain is available to good holiday skiers in the Bridger-Teton National Forest throughout the winter.

For experts this change of policy was like declaring that every day between Thanksgiving and Easter was Christmas Day. In spite of America's notoriously litigious culture it ended a "cat and mouse game" that has "pitted skiers and snowboarders against ski patrollers" for a decade or more.

As a result of Jackson's policy, the resort now has a burgeoning guiding program. But although skiers and boarders can now access terrain outside Bridger-Teton National Park, the guides are not allowed to escort you into neighbouring Teton National Park, where runs like Endless Couloir, Air Force Couloirs, Mile Long Couloir, and Cardiac Ridge await hard-core skiers. The only "safe" way to ski such terrain is to do it with someone with a sound local knowledge. A friendly ski patroller on his day off would be ideal. It is not that all the skiing in the back-country is either difficult or dangerous. But without a guide - official or unofficial - you will have far less chance of anticipating the degree of hazard. Skiers should be aware that skiing "out of bounds" is entirely at your own risk.

This development does not mean that Jackson Hole has removed any ropes from its so-called "in-bounds" terrain. Such is the nature of Jackson's traditional ski area that anyone slipping under a rope is liable to be confronted not only with the confiscation of his or her lift ticket, but a huge cliff and the possibility of disaster.

Now that the gates around Jackson's already tough ski area are open, there are plenty of opportunities for challenging back-country tours. Rocksprings and Green River Bowls, below Cody, provide plenty of variety, with some steep pitches like Space Walk and Zero G. You won't run short of some of the most challenging, exhilarating terrain in the Rockies.

On the way to Rock Springs Canyon, you will pass Drew's Slide, which runs all the way from the top of Four Pines down through two cliff bands into Upper Green River Bowl. Drew's slide commemorates a remarkable rescue in 1992 involving an avalanche dog called Coup and Jerry Balint, his ski patrol handler.

Drew Dunlap was the first skier to be found alive by a dog in the US without wearing an avalanche transceiver. In a huge slide, visible from top of the Jackson Hole tram hundreds of yards away, he was swept down the two cliff bands and buried by several feet of snow. Coup dug him out, barely alive.

Cody Peak was once the haunt of the ski patrol and hard-core skiers - the "Air Force" - who were allowed access to it during a brief window of opportunity in the Spring. Although Corbet's has yet to claim a fatality, it is important when hiking up Cody (there are no lifts) to realise what you might be letting yourself in for. Since like many of its Alpine counterparts, Jackson operates a guiding service, and if you plan to ski Cody, it would be foolish to do so without one.

Nobody in their right mind but a fully-fledged extreme skier should even contemplate Central Couloir, but runs like No Shadows, Four Shadows, Once Is Enough and Twice is Nice can be skied by experienced experts. Just make sure you ask your guide whether you are up to it. There are some "don't fall here" situations

A spokesman for the Bridger-Teton National Forest said: "Safety is our number-one priority. Carrying transceivers, shovels, probes, basic survival and rescue gear, skiing with a partner, carrying cell phones needs to be normal practice. We encourage back-country travellers to attend local avalanche awareness courses.

And a Sheriffs' Office spokesman warned:" Rescues could incur charges for the individuals involved, and there is always the chance that rescue may not be possible due to location, weather or avalanche conditions."

Notice

The above text is for informational purposes only. Ultimate-Ski.com does not in any way recommend or endorse skiing beyond resort boundaries. Backcountry skiing is inherently dangerous and should be undertaken only by those with a full appreciation of the risks; severe injury or death may occur. Persons proceeding beyond resort boundaries should be prepared for avalanche danger, weather changes, terrain hazards and be equipped and trainsed for self-rescue. If you require assistance you may be charged for your rescue. Proceed at your own risk.

Jackson Hole Snowboarding

Jackson Hole snowboarders are drawn to the resort for its aggressive natural terrain and world class snow conditions.

Jackson is as much a mecca for expert snowboarders as it is for skiers. There is a terrain park and halfpipe at the base of Après Vous mountain, but the real draw is the natural terrain and the snow conditions.

Snowboarders should be aware that much like Alta, some of the traverses are tough on snowboarders because they are flat. Maintaining speed through upgrades is difficult and riders should be comfortable on narrow catwalks.

Jackson Hole Village

The town of Jackson's architectural style is classic Old Wild, whereas slopeside Teton Village is a purpose-built ski resort.

Deciding where to stay in Jackson isn't easy. Slopeside in Teton Village seems sensible for any keen skier who wants to make the most of the skiing, but the town of Jackson, with the majority of lodgings, dining and nightlife venues, is unique-as close to a real Wild West town as you're ever likely to spit in.

The architectural style is right in the mood: western-style saloons and shop fronts, galleried wooden sidewalks and hitching posts. If you took a wrong turn in the morning, you feel you could easily spend your day branding cattle rather than making your mark on the slopes. But don't be fooled: Jackson is now home to more millionaires than cowboys, with luxurious ranches scattered over the surrounding area and a range of luxury hotel accommodation to match.

Twelve miles (32 km) away, Teton Village has some of the western feel of Jackson, despite being a purpose-built ski resort. It's the place to stay if you want to really maximize time on the slopes. Most accommodation is within a short walk of the lifts, and there are all the amenities you are likely to need within the village, including stores, restaurants, and après-ski venues. Nevertheless, one or more après-ski visits to town are essential. There's an inexpensive but infrequent bus service for which you can buy a book of tickets, or it's a 15-minute cab ride.

The Village is currently undergoing expansion and renovation with over US$60 million spent on improving resort facilities since 1996. Along with updated ski infrastructure, several new skier-oriented provisions have been made, including a kids' ranch building, retail space, ski rentals, lockers, and food and drink outlets. Four new hotels have also opened including the Four Seasons Resort, Jackson Hole. It is Teton Village's premier hotel and the first Four Seasons Resort in a ski resort in the world.

Jackson Hole Apres-Ski, Restaurants & Bars

Jackson Hole has a number of good restaurants, some with excellent wine lists.

There's no shortage of good eating in Jackson. The Vertical Restaurant, located in the Inn at Jackson Hole, offers comtemporary American cuisine in a modern setting and an extensive wine list. In town, the Kosho wine bar has an eclectic wine list and a menu to match.

The Best Western Inn houses the excellent (and improbable) Masa Sushi Japanese restaurant, which provides a welcome change to the red meat served in large portions almost everywhere else in town.

Restaurants in Jackson

The Gun Barrel Steak And Game House
Phone: (307) 733-3287

Jackson Hole Whitewater
Phone: (307) 733-1007

Koshu Wine BarPhone: (307) 733-5283

Masa Sushi
Phone: (307) 733-2962

Million Dollar Cowboy Steakhouse
Phone: (307) 733-4790

Nani's Genuine Pasta House
Phone: 307.733.3668

Snake River Brewing Company
Phone: (307) 739-233

Snake River Grill
Phone: (307) 733-0557

Wild Sage
Phone: (307) 733-2000

Restaurants in Teton Village

Calico Restaurant
Phone: (307)733-2460

Cascade Grill House & Spirits
Phone: 307-734-7111

GameFish in the Snake River Lodge & Spa
Phone: 307.732-6040

Mangy Moose
Phone: (307) 733-4913

Westbank Grill Four Seasons
Phone: 307-732-5000

Jackson Hole Apres-Ski

Apres-ski at Jackson Hole's Mangy Moose is legendary, but there are also quieter options, both in Teton Village and in Jackson.

In Teton Village most people head for the Mangy Moose at the end of the day. The party atmosphere is often boosted by live music, presided over by the stuffed moose hanging from the ceiling. There are micro brews to choose from as well as an extensive bar menu. One of the top bar-restaurant and entertainment complexes in North America, après-ski at the Moose is not to be missed.

The quieter Village Café offers many beers on tap and the best pizza in Teton Village; it's a good spot to meet locals and hear about some extreme ski exploits. The Cascade Bar in the Teton Mountain Lodge has a fireside setting, an extensive beer and wine list, and avoids the noise and frenzy of more typical après-ski locations.

In Jackson the most famous watering holes are the western saloon bars such as the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar, and the Silver Dollar. In the Million Dollar, you can sit at the bar on a saddle, watching the pool players or just taking in the atmosphere. There's also dancing on some nights. The Silver Dollar is slightly quieter; it gets its name from the silver dollars that are inlaid into the bar.

The minimum age for consuming alcohol is 21, although children can accompany parents in some (but not all) bars.

There's no shortage of good eating in Jackson. The Vertical Restaurant, located in the Inn at Jackson Hole, offers comtemporary American cuisine in a modern setting and an extensive wine list. In town, the Kosho wine bar has an eclectic wine list and a menu to match.

Jackson Hole Activities

Apart from Wild-West Jackson, nearby Yellowstone National Park, famous for its wildlife and hot springs, can be visited from Jackson by snowcoach or snowmobile.

Wild-west Jackson is definitely the place for non-skiers, with plenty of diversions nearby, including snowmobiling (outfitters offer full-day and half- day trips throughout the valley) and the National Elk Refuge which organizes sleigh rides through the giant herds of elk that make Jackson Hole their home during the winter months.

Saddlehorn Nordic Center at Jackson Hole's base area offers 14 miles (22 km) of Nordic skating and touring lanes, in addition to snowshoeing and dog-sledding. Night skiing is available at Snow King resort. Jackson also has a recreation centre and iceskating.

There are also snowmobile tours, sleigh rides and horse riding through the surrounding mountains. Yellowstone National Park, with wildlife and hot spring viewing, can be visited by snowcoach or snowmobile.

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