Jackson Hole Mountain Resort
If Jackson Hole’s historically hardcore rep -- serious steeps, wide-open bowls, and vicious chutes like the legendary, 40-degree Corbet’s Couloir -- scares the crap out of you, well, you need to sack up, son! Or, just calm your fluttery nerves with the knowledge that the resort's recently expanded its intermediate terrain, making it more welcoming than ever to skiers and boarders not named White or Vonn. Add reinvigorated après and restaurant scenes, Jackson's traditional Old West soul, and recent accolades showered upon it as North America's best overall resort, and you've got yourself a ski week to remember.
When to go: Pay homage to the ski gods on the Thanksgiving Day (November 28) opening this year. This season runs through early April, but if you want to celebrate the snow with 11 days of festivities, don't miss WinterFest in mid-February.
How to get around: Don’t bother renting a car. From the airport, grab an AllTrans shuttle (book the day before) or, for a few bucks more, a taxi to the slopes. Blue START buses run free through the town of Jackson and cost $3 between town and Teton Village.
Three runs not to miss:
1. If you're eager to maximize your lift-versus-trail time, head up the Sublette Quad and jump Hanging Rock
to South Pass Traverse
-- it's one of the longest routes down.
2. Hop on the Apres Vous Quad for wide-open groomers like Werner
), which offer some of the mountain’s most exhilarating cruising.
3. Skiers and boarders at the top of their game will want to at least peek over the edge of legendary Corbet’s Couloir
, one of the world’s toughest runs, with mandatory air and an average grade of 40 percent.
Pro tip #1: Don’t even think about getting on JHMR’s awesome tram unless you’re sure you can get back down 4,139ft of vertical on your skis, and not on a stretcher.
Carnivores will salivate over the steaks (beef, elk, venison, you name it) that abound in Jackson, but the area’s small dining scene packs a surprisingly diverse punch as well. Get things started properly at The Gun Barrel Steak & Game House
, which was once home to the Wyoming Wildlife Museum & Taxidermy. They rock a giant stuffed bison in the dining room, and serve plates of tasty mesquite-grilled elk chop alongside Rocky Mountain rainbow trout. Assuming you get grilled elk all
the time at home, roll with a little five-star spice at the Village’s tiny Teton Thai
; this pocket-sized gem serves up large portions of authentic Thai favorites -- think Tom Kha Gai soup and sweat-inducing curries. Another solid choice is rib-sticking Italian at Il Villaggio Osteria
, whose swanky ambiance is as stellar as the food (both of which tend to draw the ladies to its bar area, if you know what we're saying). In town, make your blowout meal at Local
, a modern steakhouse with burly dishes like buffalo tartare and elk medallions, plus a whiskey selection so tempting that a half-day lift ticket for the next day might be in order.
Local brews: Snake River Brewing
is the oldest microbrewer in these parts, and its buzzing brewpub is a prime downtown spot for a post-slope pint or boozy lunch (there's a menu of entrees, available from 11:30a to 3p daily, for just $7). Its 4.8% ABV lager and Pako’s EYE-P-A are year-round winners. Seasonal offerings like Pumpkin Bush and the aforementioned Zonker Stout are tasty picks, too. At Roadhouse Brewing Co.
over in Wilson, you’ll be hard-pressed to pick from 19 rotating taps, including their 8.9% ABV Castle Sweet Potato Porter, Primordial Soup (a limited-release
Flanders Red Ale), and a golden ale dubbed Avarice & Greed.
The ski and boarding crowd tends to take their post-slope shenanigans to Teton Village. The Mangy Moose
, the Village’s classic, down-home dive, boasts all the essentials for awesome après: cold beer, decent food, and an unpretentious vibe. For a more upscale scene, mosey into the Spur
, which slings finger-lickin’ apps (the nachos alone are reason enough to come back) and is coming off a sleek-but-not-stuffy renovation. Want to look good while you drink? Of course, you do. Drop by dapper men’s mercantile shop Wool and Whiskey
, where they peddle Gant Rugger coats alongside a full whiskey bar. Wherever you end up, though, roll with a Wilson Formal -- it's local parlance for a beer and a shot.
Pro tip #2: Be the smart guy in the group when the topic of “Jackson or Jackson Hole?” comes up over après beers (and you can bet it will). Jackson Hole refers to the entire 60mi valley, which early settlers likened to a hole when they explored it, while Jackson refers to the town of Jackson itself.
Like its après scene, Jackson’s nightlife appeals more to the denim-and-corduroy crowd than fur-trimmed tourists. That said, the people-watching is prime at the Million Dollar Cowboy
(affectionately known as MDC), a downtown watering hole complete with kitschy Western décor and barstools topped with real saddles. Sexy snowbunnies gather at The Rose
, a recently opened, low-lit bar that serves vintage cocktails with clever names. To really party like a local, pack your best polyester and hit the dance floor at the Thursday night disco party at Stagecoach Bar
, a quintessential dive in nearby Wilson.
Other than skiing/ boarding?
Jackson is smack dab in the middle of some of America’s most iconic landscapes, so do yourself a favor and go exploring. Free, ranger-led snowshoe tours venture deep into nearby Grand Teton National Park
. Alternatively, hop on a snowmobile and take in the equally spectacular winter wilderness -- you can even zoom by Old Faithful -- at Yellowstone National Park
. And, if you’re not up for catching air on your skis, Jackson Hole Paragliding
offers tandem flights twice daily from the top of the aerial tram and gondola.
Where to stay:
Hardcore skiers itching to maximize their time on the mountain should stay in Teton Village -- it's just steps from the slopes, and offers a range of lodging at various price points. One smart splurge? The upscale and eco-friendly Hotel Terra
, where you can score a one-bedroom suite (complete with kitchen, separate bedroom, and spare pull-down bed) from $288/nt. Various Teton Village properties also include discounted lift tickets with packages, so don't hesitate to ask. For the next best thing to sleeping slope-side, check out The Aspens
, a condo community that’s a quick bus ride to the base and boasts full kitchens, hot tubs, and fireplaces -- all for around $100/nt.