Whether you’re a hardcore skier or just getting into the sport, Jackson Hole is a name you probably know and it’s most likely on your short list. This resort is recognized as one of the birthplaces of big-mountain freeskiing and home to many ski pioneers. The upcoming winter season happens to be a special one for Jackson Hole, making it a great excuse to visit this bucket-list destination if you’ve never been. The 2015-16 season marks 50 years of operation, and North America’s wildest, most Western resort is pulling out all the stops. From 50th anniversary celebrations and events to expanded air service and a new chairlift, there’s never been a better time to book your first trip to Jackson Hole.
To help you capitalize on Jackson Hole’s classic and modern experiences, we comprised a 5-day sample itinerary with the help of our knowledgeable Mountain Travel Experts.
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Day 1: Fly into Jackson Airport and get settled into your accommodations
An aforementioned highlight of the 2015-16 ski season for Jackson Hole visitors includes expanded air service. With flights to and from 13 major U.S. cities, getting to Jackson Hole has never been easier. Once you’ve arrived at the airport, you’re just a quick 15- to 30-minute shuttle or drive to your accommodations, depending on where you’re staying.
For ultimate convenience to the slopes, we recommend staying in Teton Village, located at the base of Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. On a powder day, Teton Village guests can easily hop in the tram line on the early side before the downtown-based skiers and snowboarders arrive. Staying at Teton Village’s Moose Creek provides guests with all the comforts of home in three- or four-bedroom townhomes, plus ski in ski out access via the Moose Creek chairlift and complimentary shuttle service to the base of the mountain.
After getting unpacked and exploring your Moose Creek townhouse, relish your first Jackson Hole dinner at Osteria, in Hotel Terra, or Spur, in Teton Mountain Lodge, which are both located in Teton Village.
If you’re less concerned with getting first tram and are looking to take in the authentic Wild-West experience Wyoming is known for, downtown Jackson provides an unforgettable atmosphere and a wide variety of historic saloons, shops and hotels. Be sure to snap a photo underneath the town square’s famous antler archway.
“I love the downtown Jackson shopping, and the art galleries are amazing. Keep your eyes peeled for celebrities—especially Harrison Ford. He’s often spotted.” —Resa Carp, Mountain Travel Expert, 800-610-8911×3327
Day 2: Warm up on blue cruisers and be one of the first to ride the new Teton Quad Lift
On your first day on the slopes, get your legs warmed up on Jackson Hole’s excellent “true blue” trails. Head up the Bridger Gondola from the base area and make your way to the Casper Quad Chair. From the top, lay some luscious tracks on the manicured, recently regraded blue runs.
When you’re ready for something new, schuss to the new Teton Quad Lift and start exploring all the newly accessible terrain in this zone. Cruise through the widely spaced glades on Moran Face or make the short hike to access Lumber Pine Chute or Sheridan Bowl. If you’re feeling really adventurous, you can even trek over into Casper Bowl and descend Moccasin or Fremont.
When the dogs start barking and the tummy starts growling, take the opportunity to check out the new Piste Restaurant. Located in Rendezvous Lodge at the top of Bridger Gondola, Piste Restaurant offers a contemporary setting and elevated cuisine.
Don’t over do it on your first day. Stop when your body tells you it has had enough. You still have three more days of skiing and no shortage of world-class terrain to choose from. Spend the evening relaxing in your townhome’s private hot tub or venture into downtown Jackson for dinner.
“Don’t miss the chance to enjoy dinner at the Wild Sage in the Rusty Parrot Lodge. It’s my favorite.” —Michelle Otero, Mountain Travel Expert, 800-610-8911×3302
Day 3: Drop by (or into) Corbet’s Couloir and discover world-class terrain from the top of the tram
On your second day on the slopes, head up the tram first thing to start your day with yummy, stick-to-your-ribs waffles at Corbet’s Cabin. Choose from waffle toppings like brown sugar butter, Nutella, peanut butter and bacon—yes, bacon.
The 100-person tram, or “Big Red” as it’s referred to by locals, shuttles skiers and snowboarders 4,139 vertical feet to the 10,450-foot summit in just 15 minutes. As you load, try to stand near the left-side windows so you can enjoy bird’s-eye views into the famous Corbet’s Couloir. From the top of the tram, enjoy 360-degree views, including the very recognizable 13,770-foot Grand Teton and Grand Teton National Park, the Snake River and the expansive valley below.
Learn more about what it’s like to ride the tram.
If you weren’t able to check out Corbet’s Couloir from the tram, head down the skier’s left side of Rendezvous Bowl to peer over the precipice and into the pucker-worthy chute and watch fellow skiers and snowboarders test their mettle on Ski Country’s most iconic run. While watching the Corbet’s spectacle, keep your eyes peeled for Jackson Hole Air Force patches. The patch signifies a local clan of gravity-defying skiers who have been credited with pushing the boundaries of skiing since the ‘80s. This group was vocal in establishing Jackson Hole’s open-gate policy.
Think you could drop into Corbet’s? Watch the video below or read more about this exhilarating experience.
For additional legendary Jackson Hole runs, explore Alta Chutes, The Hobacks, Expert Chutes or the Cirque off the Sublette Quad Chairlift or Tower Three Chutes, Paintbrush or Riverton Bowl off the Thunder chair.
Toast your terrain feats with a famous spicy margarita at the Mangy Moose, located in the base area. Featuring an eclectic mix of Western and ski décor, including a stuffed Moose that hangs from the lofted ceiling, the Moose is often referred to as the quintessential après-ski hangout and for good reason. The drinks are well endowed with booze, the apps—like the nachos—hit the spot after a long day on the slopes and the live music is rockin’.
“If you’re looking for an epicurean après-ski, head to Bin 22, in downtown Jackson, for wine and small plates.” —Gloria Saiya-Woods, Mountain Travel Expert, 800-610-8911×2028
Day 4: Give your legs a break and experience a snowmobile excursion or winter wildlife tour in Yellowstone or Grand Teton National Park
In Jackson Hole, you’re just a couple miles from Grand Teton National Park and about 90 minutes from the United States’ beloved natural treasure, Yellowstone. Take a day away from the slopes to explore the epic winter sights offered at these phenomenal national parks. The best way to cover the most distance and increase your odds of seeing wildlife, like buffalo, wolves, elk, deer and birds of prey, is to explore the parks via snowcoach or snowmobile.
If you’re looking for a half-day tour, ask a Mountain Travel Expert about the four-hour luxury van tour to Grand Teton National Park with Scenic Safaris, and if you’ve been dying to see the Old Faithful geyser in its wintertime splendor, have them sign you up for the 12-hour Yellowstone snowcoach tour. The more adventurous can experience Grand Teton National Park via a half-day snowmobile tour, and the uber adventurous can spar with the elements on a full-day snowmobile tour to Old Faithful.
“Visitors are so close to the parks and should really take a day to snowmobile either in to Yellowstone or Teton National Park.” —Ann Denney, Mountain Travel Expert, 800-610-8911×3657
Day 5: Hire a mountain guide to take you into Jackson’s renowned sidecountry terrain
In 1999, Jackson Hole made a trailblazing move: The resort opened backcountry gates along the boundary line, providing powder-hungry skiers with new access to thousands of additional acres of sidecountry terrain. These days, Jackson Hole boasts seven gates located along the upper reaches of the resort. If you’re comfortable navigating variable terrain, trees and traversing slopes, then you can sign up for a Jackson Hole guided backcountry tour. Guides will provide instruction and use of avalanche equipment; they’ll evaluate snow safety and help you get to the secret stashes that only the locals know about.
You and your guide can decide where to go based on your comfort, fitness and skill level, but some of Jackson Hole’s most popular sidecountry zones include Four Shadows or No Shadows to Rock Springs, which is situated in Bridger Teton National Forest. Both routes lead back to the resort via the Hobacks, so as long as your legs can take it, you can enjoy lift-served sidecountry laps all day long.
If you’re still feeling energetic as the day is coming to a close, send off your most epic ski vacation yet with a great meal or some good ol’ fashioned revelry, depending on your style. If you haven’t dined in town yet, make a point of doing that on your last night.
“Trio An American Bistro is one of my favorites. Hayden’s Post is the new restaurant in the Snow King Resort. You know it’s good because it has become a locals’ hangout and offers live music.” —Laurel Ann Nelson, Mountain Travel Expert, 800-610-8911×3043
From dancing at Stagecoach in Wilson (Thursday is disco night) to live bluegrass at the Silver Dollar at the Wort Hotel and line dancing at Million Dollar Cowboy Bar, both in downtown Jackson, there’s no shortage of nightlife in Jackson Hole.
“At the Cowboy Bar, belly up to the bar, sit on actual saddles and simply observe. You can take in the line dancing or marvel at the many Western artifacts that cover every surface of the bar.” —Tracey Clemens, Mountain Travel Expert, 800-610-8911×3422
Become a part of Jackson Hole’s history and start planning your ski trip today! Our Mountain Travel Experts can help you customize and book your flights, rental cars, lodging and more. They’re standing by at 800-610-8911. You can also get started by filling out a form for a free custom quote.
Originally from the icy trails of New Jersey, I moved West to pursue powder and a career in writing and editing. Now in Aspen, Colo. and working for Ski.com managing the website and blog content, I couldn't be happier. You'll find me skiing at Aspen Mountain or Aspen Highlands in the winter and mountain biking at Snowmass in the summer.