Elk graze along the roads, snow sparkles on The Grand Tetons, and cowboys driving pickups greet us as we arrive in Jackson Hole for our ski week. Why go to Wyoming for skiing, you ask?
First, there is the snow. Wyoming has simply gotten more this season, more than Colorado and Utah and obviously New England. Next, there is the classic cowboy town of Jackson. This Wild West Wyoming hamlet is home to the famous elk arches and some of the best après ski bars.
Our ideal in-town lodging spot for our first night is The White Buffalo Club, 15 minutes from the airport, two minutes to Snow King Ski Area, and twenty to legendary Jackson Hole. Our beautifully appointed suite offers Rocky Mountain décor, an expansive kitchen, and an elegant stone bathroom larger than my first apartment. We walk two blocks to town for our Wyoming fix of bison burgers and western boutiques, beefing up for big skiing the next day.
9am, we are on first tram at Jackson Hole – the unrivaled ski resort renowned for its 4,139’ vertical of steep and deep served by this legendary base to summit lift. Only in Europe do you find comparable aerial lift access and high alpine terrain (Snowbird and Big Sky do come close). Jackson’s Tram opened in 1966 as the ski area’s only lift, that original Tram was replaced in 2008 with a $31 million 100-passenger Tram – the most expensive lift in the U.S. In nine minutes, we are standing atop 10,450’ Rendezvous Mountain with incredible views of The Grand Tetons and steep, ungroomed, unbelievable terrain. Jackson Hole is noted as an expert skiers’ haven, no blue or green trails up here, just the longest continuous vertical runs in the U.S. The snow is crisp, the skies bright blue and clear, but my focus was on each turn down the expansive bowl.
After a head-rushing 4,000’ vertical run off the “Big Red” Tram, we explore more of Jackson Hole,and I am happy to report that there is intermediate groomed terrain on Jackson’s north side, Après Vous, the sunny pleasant Casper lift, and the modern Bridger gondola that whisks you from the base up 2,720’ vertical. Here you will discover a beautiful 9,095’ lodge where you can rest and refuel with a fantastic lunch at Couloir dining on duck, buffalo or bison, with unbeatable views of skiing below and above on Corbet’s Couloir – an insane chute on every extreme skiers’ bucket list.
Jackson Hole lives up to its reputation for big mountain skiing on 2,500 acres plus access to 3,000 backcountry, sizable snow with over 475’ annually, but no big crowds in the wide-open, least populated state of Wyoming.
More about why you should ski Wyoming tomorrow, including the finest ski hotel I have ever encountered, and how you can chase bison and elk, then enjoy them on your dinner plate that evening.
Photos by Greg Burke