Jackson Hole has a secret: Over the past few years, the ski area has quietly been expanding its comfort zone, adding intermediate terrain and more family-friendly amenities and activities. Diehards, don’t worry—the resort is still proudly independently owned and operated, and the steep and rugged terrain (and incredible backcountry access) is still as epic as ever. But this year, the resort added the Solitude Station, a mid-mountain one-stop shop for families, with a brand-new, state-of-the-art ski school facilities, lift ticket sales, a restaurant, a kid’s cafeteria, and more. It’s exactly what the ski area needed: a meeting place for the clan that will also help relieve congestion at the base area. But that’s not the only improvement. Here are six ways Jackson Hole has transformed into the ideal resort for the entire family.
1. The Ski School Experience Just Got an Upgrade
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Located just a two-minute ride from the base up the newish (see #3) Sweetwater Gondola, the 12,000-square-foot Solitude Station really is a game changer. At this hub for all things ski school, you can lounge on Adirondack chairs, sip coffee or hot chocolate on the patio, and watch your kids take lessons on the adjacent beginner hill. Or take one yourself: adult lessons will also meet here.
2. Better Intermediate Terrain
At Jackson Hole, grooming is a year-round effort. In the summer, crews remove rocks and roots to make the runs easier to buff out in the winter. And when the snow flies, the resort has more corduroy than ever, thanks to the addition of seven new grooming machines over the past few years. And recent lift upgrades make access to that terrain extremely easy. Three years ago, Jackson Hole opened the Sweetwater Gondola, which accesses the bulk of beginner and intermediate trails on the mountain. A two-minute ride will deposit you at the mid-mountain drop-off, at the new Solitude Station and its surrounding beginner-friendly terrain. Ride the gondola another four and a half minutes and you’ll find yourself near the base of the Casper lift, which accesses a glut of moderately pitched trails. Also nearby is the Teton lift, installed in 2015, which takes you to even more intermediate goodness.
3. Easier Access
Since 2016, the Jackson Hole Airport underwent a $30.6 million renovation, expanding the size of the terminal from 59,400 square feet to 115,600 square feet. The upgrade makes one of the country’s most inviting airports—it’s decorated with bronze elk statues and has a fireplace in the center of the terminal—even more welcoming. And with direct winter flights from 12 major cities, including New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles, a trip to the once hard-to-get-to destination is incredibly easy. Once you’ve picked up your luggage, you can grab a rental car or use the expansive transit system, including taxis, busses, shuttles, and—new last year—Uber.
4. More Family-Friendly Dining
The buffet-style restaurant at the new Solitude Station, featuring dishes made from locally-sourced meats and seasonal vegetables and a special menu just for kids, will be the new go-to for hungry families enrolled in ski school programs. Also new this year is RPK 3, a restaurant next to the tram loading station with a central fireplace, après and kids menus, powder day drink specials—and primo views of Big Red. But the resort’s most lauded dining draw remains unchanged: the waffles served at Corbet’s Cabin, the small warming hut near the top of the tram. The cabin is rustic, but the waffles, globbed with Nutella, peanut butter and bacon, brown sugar, or a lemon glaze, are gourmet.
5. Kids Ski Free
You read that right. As of three years ago, kids 14 and under get a free ticket with any purchase of an adult ticket—and free rentals with any purchase of adult rental equipment—when booking a stay with Jackson Hole Resort Lodging.
6. There’s More Than Just Skiing
Two years ago, the resort added a skating rink in Teton Village. With fire pits and snow sculptures sturdy enough for kids to use as a jungle gym, it’s the perfect spot for a few hours of off-slope fun. That’s just the start: The resort also has tons of free family programming, including meet-and-greets with the avalanche dogs over the holidays. And in nearby Teton Village, sleigh rides in the Elk Refuge and snow tubing at Snow King Resort, a ski area in the town of Jackson, are both good bets.