Overview of Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Written by Greg and Heather Burke
Jackson Hole makes almost every extreme skiers top 10 lists. Their signature Tram delivers skiers and riders from the 6,311’ base to the 10,450’ summit for the most continuous vertical of any ski resort in the US at 4,139’. Jackson Hole’s Tram is very European-style skiing, as it was intended when it opened as the only lift on the mountain in 1966. Jackson Hole is famed for crazy chutes like Corbet’s Couloir and the immense Rendezvous Bowl – ungroomed, steep and snowy terrain. In fact, when Jackson opened there was no beginner or intermediate terrain. In 2006, the 40-year old Jackson Hole Tram was retired and replaced two seasons later, to the tune of $31 million with a state of the art 100-passenger Tram unlike any other, not even Snowbird’s or Big Sky’s Lone Peak.
Although 50% of the ski terrain is expert, there is more to Jackson Hole Mountain as a resort than serious steeps. The ski resort comprises three separate summits and 2,500 acres of inbound terrain on Rendezvous Mountain (service by the Tram and four quads), Teton with its new Teton Express quad servicing previously hike-to terrain in Grand Canyon, and Apres Vous Mountain which offers great intermediate terrain often in the sun. The modern eight-passenger Bridger Gondola serves the center of Jackson Hole, ascending over 2,800’ vertical (pretty impressive except that the Tram is over 4,000’) with a spectacular lodge at the top (tip: lunch here at Couloir Restaurant and enjoy the floor to ceiling view and the best ski lunch at 9,095’). Jackson’s mid-mountain Casper Quad Lift serves blue wide open cruisers, and the lower mountain has a handful of gentle groomed beginner boulevards.
Jackson Hole has a full-service Kids’ Ranch ski and snowboard program for first timers on up. Jackson gets lots of snow, over 475’ on average, but doesn’t get the big crowds given its location in wide-open Wyoming (the least populated state in the union), 12 miles outside of the cowboy town of Jackson.
You would think Jackson Hole is all grit and vertical, a cowboy ski area with crazy local skiers and hearty heart thumping terrain, but Jackson also has a very luxurious side. Jackson Hole’s base – Teton Village is now home to the finest lodging properties in ski country – with the slopeside Four Seasons Jackson Hole being the finest of all, five-star from the extraordinary suites, sensational food, a gracious staff that anticipates everything from buckling your ski boots to warming your fluffy robe and towel by the outdoor pool during your après ski soak, with cocktail service.
Jackson Hole also hosts a RockResorts Snake River Lodge, Hotel Terra and Teton Mountain Club, all ski in/ski out, but Four Season has the foremost location next to the gondola, or three ski turns down to the Tram and the most fantastic lobby bar with views of the skiing. Downtown Jackson Hole is worth a visit, one of the best western ski towns around, with a few lodging properties and several great restaurants, shops and bars.
There was a good variety for expert and intermediate skiers. It is a big mountain. We didn't cover it all in one day.
It's steep - it pushes me to be a better skier. But if I'm not in a mood to be pushed, there's plenty of stuff I can do.