There’s a reason they call Jackson Hole ‘The Big One’ – from the top of the tram to the base of the mountain, the resort rises 4,139 feet. Test your quad strength and see if you can ski from top to bottom without stopping – it’s a beast for sure! There’s plenty of terrain that goes ungroomed on big powder days (as well as some that does get groomed, too, if that’s more your thing).
There’s something about the Tetons that brings in cold, dry snow – and it really is the stuff of legends. It’s sometimes referred to as cowboy powder or simply just white gold, but whatever you call it, when it snows, it really snows. The past few years, Jackson beat out many resorts in Utah and Colorado for total yearly snowfall and had numerous 10″+ 24 hour snowfall totals.
Jackson’s pulsing heart revolves around the town square, which is marked by four unique elk-antler arches. In the winter, these are lit up with Christmas lights and the interior of the square turns in to a local skating rink.
Surrounding the square, you’ll find the majority of bars, restaurants, shops and galleries to wander in to, including the infamous Cowboy Bar (even us locals frequent here). Most of the popular scene is within 2-3 blocks walking distance, so it’s easy to just park the car and explore.
As mentioned above, Snow King, aka The King, looms over town. It’s actually the steepest north facing slope in the United States, making it a popular training ground for seasoned ski racers – you may come upon a local race or two happening in the winter. It is also a popular place for locals and visitors alike to get in a winter outdoor workout, as the King allows for uphill ski travel. If you have touring bindings or the will to bootpack to the top, the view is one of the best in town – plus, the ski down is usually pretty fun.
For those without proper equipment, scenic chairlift rides are available to the summit, and it’s definitely worth your time – just don’t forget a camera! Other activities include a tubing park, night skiing, and the brand new Cowboy Coaster, which flies down the mountain on just about a mile of winding track.
Just outside of town lies the National Elk Refuge. Totaling around 24,700 acres in total, the refuge is home to about 7,500 elk each winter as they migrate down from the mountains. The refuge provides winter sleigh rides for those looking to get an up-close experience with these animals, which is a great winter alternative for those who need a break from skiing for a day.
While it seems kitschy from the outside, the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar is a must for any visitor. Saddle up on one of the saddle barstools and order a drink; a whole night’s worth of debauchery could be had within the bar’s expansive space. There’s live music most weekends and even some weeknights so be sure to put on your dancing shoes.
Next to the Cowboy is Local, an upscale bar and restaurant. The food here is delicious, the bar is fairly priced and, aptly named, a popular spot for locals on any given night. They also have original cocktails often created with locally sourced spirits and ingredients.
Just down the street and across the way lies The Rose, a popular late night hangout. Clad with chandeliers and a classically inspired craft cocktail feel, The Rose won’t make you feel like you’re in Northwestern Wyoming. Local DJ’s often play here on weekends and occasionally weeknights.
In the village, be sure to check out the infamous après scene at the Mangy Moose. Like the Cowboy Bar, the Moose is a must on your vacation to the area. Often times, there is live music to accompany your drinks and food.
If it’s too crowded, head on over to the Spur for 307 fries, Dirty Nachos, and spicy margs – just make sure to bring a friend to help you finish it all.
And finally, Teton Thai is probably some of the best Thai food in the valley. It’s a tiny space, so get there early or get there late, but the combination of good vibes and good food make the experience totally worthwhile.
Image courtesy new_sox on Flickr
In the winter, the Stagecoach Bar hosts the ever-popular Disco Night every Thursday, often DJ’ed by our very own Town Mayor. Expect a crowded scene here while Earth Wind & Fire blares in the background… it can be occasionally overwhelming and crowded, but also pretty damn fun.
“The Bodega” is located at the gas station at the far end of the parking lot. Yes – it is a gas station – but it is also a popular spot for locals to fiend on snacks, beer, and the ever-popular alcoholic sloshies after skiing. They also have a fried chicken sandwich food truck that’s worth the visit.
The most popular après spots in Teton Village include The Spur, The Moose, and Nick Wilson’s. Get a spicy marg and 307 fries to share at The Spur for a decent bang for your buck – and if you’re in a rush, you can get your drinks to go.
If you want untracked snow at Jackson, you have to get up early. We mean 7:30am in the tram line early. Powder days get frantic, and the mountain is often tracked out before 11.
If the Hobacks open late on a pow day morning, don’t question anything and just
There’s no base lodge at Jackson. This means when you get to the mountain, you should be fully ready to roll with ski boots on and skis in hand. There are lockers at the base, but on busy days they often fill up. It’s best to just come ready to rock!
Don’t get cocky – following ski tracks can lead you to places you don’t want to be. Jackson is filled with rocky terrain and plenty of cliffs that get many in to serious rescue situations every year.
WHERE TO STAY
If you’re looking for a hotel or condo for your ski vacation, you’ll most likely find yourself perusing the options of Teton Village, which lies at the base of Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. While there are a few permanent residents of what’s affectionately called, “The Vill,” the majority of locals live 12 miles away in the actual town of Jackson.
The Village fills up quickly during the ski season and especially during the winter holidays. It’s hustle and bustle revolves around the tourism industry, and therefore there are plenty of bars, restaurants, ski shops, outdoor shops, and resources for those visiting the resort to frequent. It is definitely easier to stay in the village for a ski vacation than in town, as the 12-mile commute to the village can be busy, long, or even a little treacherous on heavy snow days.
There are also plenty of lodging options in the town of Jackson. It is generally a different vibe, with easy access to dining, bars, local shops, and art galleries within a short walking distance.
Public transit does run between Jackson and Teton Village, so if you show up without a car you can still get to the mountain, but for the safest bet it would be wise to rent a vehicle while here (all-wheel drive or 4×4 recommended in winter!).