There’s a place located south of the Grand Tetons in Wyoming, about 40 minutes away from the Idaho border known as Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. Just 12 miles northwest of the town of Jackson you can find the Teton Village, home of some of the best skiing and snowboarding. Forbes magazine ranked Jackson Hole #1 on their top 10 Ski Resorts in North America for 2019. Obviously, this is up for debate but if you do a search for the top resorts, you’re going to find Jackson Hole in one of the top rankings, with Telluride in close contention.
Jackson Hole Resort consists of 2,500 acres of terrain on two mountains known as Après Vous and Rendezvous. The elevation may take you some time to acclimate to as the base of the mountain sits at 6,311 ft, the summit reaches an elevation of 10,450 ft. The backcountry terrain expands to more than 3,000+ acres. This resort has an abundance of challenging trails designated at 50% expert, 40% intermediate and 10% beginner. If you are considering visiting Jackson Hole, I recommend that you feel confident enough in your abilities to at least be comfortable riding black and double black diamond runs on your home mountains. Even the blue intermediate designated runs are steep and fast. I found myself on one run where jumping off small cliff to clear some rocks was the only choice down. It is easy to come upon some extreme terrain if you’re not careful and thankfully with the amount of powder I had to cushion my landing, I felt confident of clearing the rocks below. Boarding and skiing with a buddy is highly recommended. You will hear a spiel about it from the lifty on the ride up the tram before exiting.
The Tram aka Big Red reaches the summit that rises 4,139 ft in 9 minutes. This thing hauls ass! Literally… We might have had to wait between 15-30 minutes in line to load onto the Tram. The capacity is about 100 people that all get crammed in like sardines. It’s impressive to see it operate and as long as nobody busts ass (which did happen once) it’s not a bad ride. On my first ride up to the summit it was intimidating offloading because of 30+ mph winds and poor visibility. I had to put a tight grip on my board so it wouldn’t fly away in the wind, bundle up the gear and put my gloves on at the same time. I was unprepared and disoriented. We barely got situated in time to follow the last group of people before they disappeared in the clouds and descend the trail because we had no idea which was the right way down.
Other than the Tram there are two eight-person gondolas that also reach high areas of the mountains. Gondolas are great because they also protect you from the elements, warm up and meet other skiers or boarders. The majority of people seemed to be coming from the East Coast which was interesting, most of them said they traveled to Jackson because there was no snow or it was too icy from where they were coming from. I’m sure the fact that it’s an awesome mountain had something to do with it too.
Where we stayed was just a 5-minute walk from the village in the White Ridge condos found off of VRBO. It wasn’t anything fancy but had all the basic amenities. My only gripe is that my bed was like sleeping on an ironing board. After a full day of boarding and a few cold beers I made due with what I had.
There are a ton of dining options available and even during a busy holiday weekend, did not have to wait for a table at any of them. We hit about every restaurant in the main village. My personal favorites were the RPK for lunch and après located right next to the tram and The Mangy Moose. The Mangy Moose has that home town dive bar feeling with great pizza. If you’re looking for a classier more upscale scene, there are plenty of other options, that just wasn’t my vibe for this trip. There is a Four Seasons located in the village so it isn’t hard to find a more upscale experience.
As far as natural conditions and terrain, the bar has been set high. It’s difficult to plan a ski trip anywhere because you don’t know what the weather will be like especially during an El Niño season, but Jackson Hole in late January is a safe bet. I do plan to come back and do more exploring as the town of Jackson and surrounding region has a lot to offer.