Introduction to Jackson Hole Mountain Resort
For years, I idolized Jackson Hole before going there. The place is legendary for its expert terrain, amazing backcountry, and its most famous run, Corbet’s Couloir. I made it up for my bachelor party in January. Unfortunately, Corbet’s was closed on during our visit but Teton Gravity Research breaks it down in this video.
Jackson Hole is a playground for training and improving your skiing and riding- if you can shred Jackson, you can shred any resort in the world. The inbound acreage is 2500, of which only 10% is beginner terrain. The backcountry gates offer an additional 3,000+ acres. 4,139’ of vertical drop from a summit elevation of 10,450 feet. The tram is infamous here- taking 100 people bottom to top in nine minutes. Get in there quickly to get a window view because the ride is spectacular. Have your phone out to snap some photos.
American Airlines, United, and Delta all fly right into Jackson from many major cities around the United States, but it isn’t cheap (upwards of $600-1000). If driving from east, south, or west, take I-80 to Rocky Springs, Wyoming and head north on US-191. Once in town, there is frequent bus service to Teton Village (the base of the resort) for $3 one way. Some lodging options have free buses to the mountain, some don’t. The town itself is walkable. Once we parked at our hotel, we didn’t use the car again until we left.
Where the locals are riding
I quote here from the resort’s website- “Jackson Hole neither encourages nor discourages backcountry touring.” What this means is, go for it but have your shit together. It is not uncommon to see locals riding up the tram or lifts with their backcountry gear.
The access gates lead to some of the best terrain in the world, and they know where to find it. I took a run out of Gate #3 with a handful of other people after heading down Rendezvous Bowl from the top of the tram. The run was the best of the season-untracked, deep, and depending on the line you take, very challenging.
We had to make sure we kept heading left to ensure ending up back at the resort and after looking at the map, it looks like we rejoined inbounds terrain around the middle of South Hogback. The traverse back to reality and the Union Pass Quad Chair took about seven minutes but more than worth it. If heading out of bounds, make sure you have a beacon, probe, and shovel and give yourself enough time to get back in case hiking is involved. Riding with a local or someone who has been out the gate before is the smart way to go.
The Teton Quad Chair just opened in 2015. My crew and I spent literally an entire afternoon lapping this area in two feet of powder during a storm in mid-January, 2016. The tree runs are steep enough to maintain speed, which is good because this lift accesses mostly glade runs that return to the lift. They are the best glades I have ever ridden at a resort.
The powder was endless and even in spots where tree cover prevented some of the snow from reaching until the wind hit, there is so much terrain that powder stashes are readily available everywhere. To get to the Teton Quad from the base, take the Teewinot Quad Chair to the Après Vous Quad Chair and head skier’s right.
Here, keep your eyes out for two of the mountain’s four Burton Stash Parks- terrain park features made from local wood and set up so that a well-placed run in can provide massive air off a step up jump or smooth transition onto a rail, satellite, or other jib without needing a drop in point or transition.
Basically, they have redeveloped the concept of the terrain park to necessitate less maintenance and have less environmental impact. These parks are typically not very crowded and can be tough to find – keep your eyes peeled for the signs.
Where to eat and drink
On-mountain dining is expensive everywhere and Jackson Hole is no exception. If you can’t pack a lunch or wait till you get back to town, check out these spots:
The waffles at Corbet’s Cabin are on point. Made to order and full of whatever you want in them.
Off Piste is a decent spot for pizza and beer. The place has a market in case you forgot sunscreen or energy bars, as well.
Nick Wilson’s Cowboy Café is a great spot for a beer break. Good local beer and cocktails with a patio, good mix of locals and tourists. They’ve got food too, but it is ridiculously overpriced and nothing special.
For a town of about 10,000, the food scene in Jackson is rocking. Thai Me Up Restaurant & Brewery is a prime spot for dinner and drinks. Excellent Thai food and craft beer- an unlikely combination but it actually works out. The price point is affordable.
Bubba’s Barbecue is the place to get your meat fix. It amazes me that Wyoming doesn’t have the barbecue reputation of the south. Just use some common sense- this is ranching country. They should know what they’re doing just as well as Austin or Kansas City and Bubba’s proves it.
For a nicer dinner, Nani’s Ristorante & Bar serves up good Italian food.
MacPhail’s Burgers is a local legend. Along those same ranching lines, it makes sense that finding a great burger in Jackson isn’t a hard thing to do.
Snake River Brewing is the place to chill over beers and grill-style food after a day on the mountain. They’ve also got decent pizza if you need to leverage that to reach a compromise- the beers will be your reward.
Where to stay
This is the deal- stay at the Cowboy Village Resort. A cabin with a bunk bed setup runs about $100 per night in winter and can sleep four people- two couples or those who don’t mind sleeping close to one another. There is also a couch.
The cabins are stand-alone buildings, meaning that loud kid in the next room isn’t going to keep you up all night. On the flip side, it is doable to hang out with friends until the wee hours without the front desk calling to shut you up. Plus, they have a hot tub and are walking distance from everywhere in town. The bus picks up right out front of the office to head to the mountain in the morning and drops back off about fifty feet away.
There is also The Hostel, where you can bunk up for about $20-30 or reserve your own room or a quad-sleeper room for $80-100.
Where to party
In true mountain town style, Jackson knows how to party. A trip to Jackson is not complete without a stop at the Million Dollar Cowboy bar. They have live music on the weekends and the barstools are fashioned like saddles- the closest to being a cowboy as I’ve ever felt. I was in there on a Saturday night and the bar was packed and raging. The bouncers were consistently throwing people out. Seemed to be a pretty good mix of tourists and Wyoming locals.
If there is a show at the Pink Garter Theatre, go watch it- they are located on the main drag upstairs from the best pizza in town and host national acts as well as other events. The layout makes it easy to see the stage from anywhere and get up close if that’s your thing. Blackalicious played when we were there, for the local snowboarding magazine’s annual party. The place was packed with pro riders and I got the vibe that is not an uncommon thing. I watched from the corner as two of my hammered friends, on separate instances, made complete asses of themselves in front of Travis Rice.
Culture Guide- on mountain and in town
The town of Jackson, Wyoming offers access to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks as well as the resort and some of the best outdoors culture in the United States. If New York City is the best-dressed place in America, Jackson is the polar opposite. I can count on one hand the number of guys I saw not wearing a flannel shirt at the bar.
The rugged snowboarder look is all the rage in Jackson and they pull it off well- there are some damn good looking people around town (either that or I’m just trying to make myself feel better about my own dress code). It is a resort town, so fine dining and class are there if you look for it.
Dress warm on the mountain and in town. It’s always easier to shed a layer than freeze your ass off.