Make a Pilgrimage to Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Behold! A holy place mandatory for any snow devotee.
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Jackson: 2,500 acres of some of the steepest inbounds runs in the United States, arguably the rowdiest lift-accessed backcountry skiing in North America, and hardcore ski mountaineering in its backyard. A trip there is mandatory for any serious snow devotee. With more than 250 inches of white stuff this season to date, Jackson is currently slathered in the most snow of any resort in the country, and this winter is shaping up to be all-time. Now is the perfect time to make the pilgrimage to Jackson Hole. Go.
Located in Teton Village, Jackson Hole Mountain Resort is about 15 minutes from downtown Jackson. Buses run regularly between the two. When it comes to lodging, stay in town. That way, you can make the most of all the off-hill activities, of which there are many.
The area’s best-kept lodging secret is the Alpine House, a charming, Euro-style hotel in downtown Jackson. Owned by former Olympians Nancy and Hans Johnstone, the Alpine House delivers delicious organic food (breakfast is a treat and included with your room), affordable rates, and family-style hospitality. Plus, Hans is one of the Teton’s preeminent ski mountaineers and an unparalleled source of backcountry beta.
On a powder day, the line at the tram can be massive, so either get there early (like 7 a.m.) or start off with a lap on the Bridger gondola while the crowd dissipates. From the top of Bridger, ski the perfectly gladed, fall-line trees right under the gondy, or head to the Crags, an inbounds hike-to zone full of big-mountain, backcountry-style terrain that’s a 10-to-15-minute hike from the top of the gondola. No place on the hill stays fresher than the Crags.
Of course, the tram is Jackson Hole’s crowning jewel, and no trip is complete without some serious time spent lapping its steeps. Go skier’s right from the top of the tram and drop into Corbett’s, the Jackson cliché that every skier should at least try. From the bottom of Corbett’s, bang a hard right through the gate as you head toward the Cirque to access Expert Chutes, a series of eight to 10 steep and technical mini couloirs set right under the tram. Most people drop into the first or second chute; keep traversing to get the goods.
Another option from the top of the tram is the hike-to terrain in Cody Bowl, an unpatrolled side-country zone that requires expert ski and avalanche assessment skills, as well as a beacon, shovel, and probe. Hike to iconic lines like Twice Is Nice or Once Is Enough, a 45-to-50-degree chute that sometimes requires a rappel to access.
Accessed via a hike from the top of the Bridger gondola, Granite Canyon delivers some of the best lift-accessed backcountry skiing in the United States. Be prepared for 2,000 to 3,000 feet of huge, north-facing terrain that drops you into Grand Teton National Park. Getting back to the resort requires some skating and sidestepping along the east side, but no skins. This is serious, unpatrolled terrain and should be tackled only if you have advanced avy assessment skills, a beacon, probe, and shovel.
If you’re a breakfast person, don’t miss Nora’s Fish Creek Inn. Located in Wilson, about 10 minutes by car from downtown Jackson, Nora’s serves up tasty breakfast dishes (the huevos rancheros are killer) and bloody marys, making it the perfect stop after an early morning lap on Teton Pass or a late night on the town.
There’s so much to ski and no time to waste in Jackson, so we suggest picking up a sandwich from the gourmet Pearl Street Market and eating it on the lift (or in the backcountry). The Cranturkey—basically Thanksgiving on two slices of bread—will keep you fueled as you pummel Jackson’s legendary pow.
Morning, noon, and night, Lotus Cafe offers delicious organic fare including fresh, gluten-free baked goods, smoothies, and elk lasagna—a welcome respite after greasy ski food. Try one of its lunch bowls—the Bombay is our favorite.
For dinner, hit Thai Me Up, a Jackson staple. Founded by a ski bum in 2000, Thai Me Up is a restaurant and brewery that serves delish Thai classics (try the drunken noodles), award-winning beer brewed on site, and a fun scene.
Start off après with a spicy margarita and nachos at the Mangy Moose, one of the best après-ski bars in the West. With great drink deals, live music, and a lively mix of locals and tourists who like to ski hard and party even harder, the Mangy Moose in Teton Village is classic Jackson Hole—rowdy. Or head next door to the Village Cafe, home of the gelande quaffing championships (an annual drinking competition), for PBR tall boys and slices of pizza with locals.
Equal parts tourist attraction and locals’ haunt, the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar is Jackson’s iconic watering hole. With saddles for barstools and Western dancing, it has a fun, laid-back atmosphere. Come midnight, head to the Stagecoach Bar in Wilson for quarter games of pool, cheap PBR, and a local crowd of cowboys, and ski bums. If you’re in Jackson on a Sunday night, check out the hootenanny hosted by Bill Briggs, the legendary 83-year-old ski mountaineer who pioneered first tracks down the Grand Teton in 1971 and now hosts a weekly jam at the Stagecoach.
Home to some of the rowdiest backcountry skiing in the United States, Grand Teton National Park features iconic lines like the Apocalypse and Sliver couloirs. Maximize your backcountry satisfaction by hiring a guide from Exum Mountain Guides, one of the best guiding outfitters in the States. Or sign up for one of the company’s ski camps and develop lifelong backcountry skills. Held throughout the winter, the camps are suited for everyone from backcountry beginners to experienced ski mountaineers and will prepare you to ski some of the Teton’s gnarliest routes.