Wyoming’s Jackson Hole and the neighboring slope-side town of Teton Village are the poster boys of ski in North America. Sitting in the shadow of the magnificent Apres Vous and Rendezvous mountains, these world class winter destinations promise legendary terrain, modern hotels and fine dining restaurants whilst maintaining its old- world charm. Ski expert, Jenny, visits this winter wonderland.
Having skied in Europe since I was a child, the US is still a pretty new destination for me. As an experienced skier, and a self-confessed powder hound, Jackson Hole has always been top of my list to visit, so when I had the opportunity to finally go, I had very high expectations.
For me, what sets Jackson Hole apart from other ski resorts that I have visited are the locals and the culture. Whilst the ski area is undeniably one of the best, and most iconic in the world, my favorite thing about Jackson was the people. Every person you encounter, from lift attendants and hotel staff to locals who sit and chat to you on a chair lift, are so friendly, welcoming and passionate about their home town. I loved the laid back vibe, spotting moose at the side of the road and how all the locals are dressed in cowboy hats and boots; all set to the dramatic backdrop of the Tetons.
I split my stay between the town of Jackson, staying at the historic Wort Hotel, and Teton Village, staying at the more contemporary Terra. This way, I was able to experience both areas and see all of what Jackson Hole has to offer. Teton Village is at the base of the Jackson Hole ski resort, and home to a number of hotels, houses and condos. The benefit of staying there is that you are only moments from the ski lift and many of the properties are ski-in, ski-out, so you can be on the mountain straight after breakfast. There are a few restaurants and bars there, however the village is quieter than Jackson Town itself. To get into town, there is a local bus service called the Start Bus which runs regularly through the day and evenings which takes only 15 minutes. Local taxis are also very easy to arrange. Jackson has a large range of restaurants as well as art galleries, shops, cafes and bars. An excellent restaurant, which is definitely worth a visit is the Snake River Grill or, to see the most famous cowboy bar (complete with saddle bar stools), then the iconic Million Dollar Cowboy Bar is just off the town square.
If you are staying in Jackson Hole for an extended period of time and fancy non-skiing activities or tours, there are some amazing experiences available. A trip into Yellowstone National Park is a full day trip but accessible from Jackson, snow mobile tours can be arranged and give you the opportunity to see the famous Old Faithful geyser (it erupts every 35 – 120 minutes), as well as the local wildlife. The Teton National Park is only 15 minutes away from Jackson center, a wildlife tour here will take you to the hot springs, Snake River and the National Elk Refuge. A horse drawn carriage ride through the Elk Refuge is a great way to get to see elk up close (they’re not scared off by horses), and very easy to arrange.
The ski area of Jackson Hole is made up of a variety of terrain for all abilities. In the past it has had a reputation for being suited to advanced skiers, however with the new Teton chairlift there are a large number of intermediate and beginner runs in the Casper area. The Jackson Hole Ski School is excellent and there is a Kids Ranch at the base for children’s lessons. Although there are only 13 lifts to the resort, there are an endless amount of runs (around 133 in total) created by the bowls of the Rendezvous and Apres Vous mountains. The sheer number of back bowls and chutes will mean that you are always discovering new runs through the trees. The resort grooms all blue runs and some black runs every night so you have a choice of varied terrain each day. I was lucky enough to experience some of the best conditions I have ever skied, thanks to heavy snow dumps throughout the trip. Having Patrick, our local guide, meant we could explore the best spots. The untouched powder fields in the Holback bowls on Rendezvous Mountain will be my long lasting memory of skiing in Jackson Hole. Weaving through the trees in knee deep powder without seeing another soul on the mountain was unbelievable!
Only now do I understand why Jackson Hole claims the top spot on most skiers’ bucket list– it really is somewhere every skier should experience. I’m already planning my next trip!