Welcome to the Wild West of the ski world! Mountain resorts don’t get much more badass than Jackson Hole, home to the infamous Corbet’s Couloir, along with more chutes, cliffs, moguls, and steeps than you could shake a stick at. The terrifying terrain here goes hand-in-hand with the resort’s burly atmosphere, it’s a corner of Wyoming where the soul of the old west is alive and well! Totaling up an impressive 4,139 ft of vertical drop, Jackson has the longest continuous vertical of any ski resort in the US, with many slopes consistently following the fall line.
So who wouldn’t go crazy for a ski vacation at Jackson Hole? In a word, newbies. While Jackson caters well for little ones with their awesome kids ski school program, adult beginners could seriously struggle here. You honestly won’t find a tougher mountain to ski in North America, besides perhaps Snowbird or Whistler. Bringing your A game here is essential, and you’ll probably want to workout for a few months before your visit to help you cope with the thigh burning slopes.
Compared to Colorado and Nevada, you could say that the skiing at Jackson Hole feels more remote, even isolated, and it certainly gets colder here being so far north. Up against Utah ski resorts, Jackson is quick to get tracked out after fresh snowfall because there aren’t many other ski resorts nearby to help spread out the crowds.
Still, these small inconveniences certainly don’t take the shine off skiing at Jackson Hole, plus there are plenty of activities and attractions to enjoy off the mountain. You’ll still find a few swing-door saloons to kick back in, along with plenty of art galleries to peruse on those rare days when a storm sets in and the lifts are closed. The National Parks of Yellowstone and Grand Teton are also on your doorstep, and a wildlife safari through these could get you up close to coyotes and bison!
The terrain at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort is split between two main peaks, Rendezvous and Apres Vous. These two mountains are different beasts, with south-facing Apres Vous home to most of the resort’s intermediate slopes, while southeast-facing Rendezvous is where you’ll find the hardcore terrain Jackson is famous for. At the top of the Rendezvous Bowl is the highest point within resort boundaries, a staggering 10,450 ft that’s served by their iconic red tram.
Spread out across the entire ski area is a veritable playground of deep powder bowls, tree-studded glades, and chutes to make you pucker. Steep blacks at The Hobacks, hike-to cliff jumps at Caspar Bowl, tree skiing at Moran Face, it really is all here. Truth be told, there’s little here that isn’t worth shredding if you have the guts. Just the inbounds ski area is vast, with 2,500 ac of amazingly diverse terrain, but combined with the backcountry at Headwall, Cody Peak, and the rest, Jackson Hole becomes truly massive.
What about the snow? Jackson Hole is one hell of a snowy place, with an average of 459 in of dry and light powder falling each year. Throw in the fact that the temperature barely creeps above 30 deg*°F during the winter and you’ll find the powder stays good for days after a dump! Even when natural snow isn’t delivered, the 195 ac of snowmaking coverage keep things topped up. While most of this is concentrated on the lower half of the mountain, a new 18 in water line for the 2017/2018 season is set to expand snowmaking all the way to the top of the Caspar Quad Chair.
As for weather, expect as many sunny days as snowy days during the winter season, along with temperature inversion days. With warm air rising up the mountainside and cold air staying down in the valley, it can sometimes be 20to40 deg*°F warmer on the slopes than down at the base area!
When to Go
If you’re the kind of skier that digs deep snow and stormy days then the best time to go is just before Christmas, or hold on for February and early March, though be prepared to layer up. Keep an eye on the weather charts, because if you see a storm tracking southeast from Canada or the Pacific Northwest it’s a sure bet that Jackson Hole will get walloped with fresh white stuff.
For those of you who aren’t huge fans of the bitter cold, it might be worth holding off on your Jackson Hole ski vacation until March properly kicks in. By the middle of this springtime month it’s reliably warmer and bluebird days are much more common. The snow season usually wraps up after the first week of April, and you can expect the resort to open by the end of November.
When it comes to buying lift tickets, you’ll have more options than you’ll know what to do with. Half-day, full-day, multi-day, even beginner tickets are available, and the list goes on. Our tip for getting the most bang for your buck is to buy a J-Card for $5, which you can then load with lift tickets at least 7 days in advance to save a little money.
If you’ve loaded your J-Card online with days on the mountain and your plans happen to change, you can get a refund. Just make sure you get to the ticket desk at least 48 hours before the start date of your lift ticket to get your money back. Ticket prices for the upcoming winter season are generally available by September, and while they are far from cheap, they are worth every cent!
Trying to find special deals for Jackson Hole lift tickets is practically impossible, with even the hotel packages failing to save you any cash. It’s probably not worth wasting your time searching around for discounted lift tickets, but if you have a Mountain Collective pass you’re in luck. Aside from the two days included in your pass, you can also get 50% off single day lift tickets when you ski here for longer.