Skiing in Jackson, Wyoming
You don’t have to be a powder hound to make a pilgrimage to the cowboy cosmopolitan town of Jackson, Wyoming.
True, the area is known for some of the country’s most spectacular skiing and snowboarding, and videos of experts shredding its backcountry acres may put your intermediate plows to shame. But everyone can enjoy the beauty of the towering Grand Tetons and find runs that fit their skill level.
Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, Snow King Mountain Resort and Grand Targhee Resort all offer terrain to please beginner to expert skiers and boarders. Plus, the resorts boast amenities that can turn your ski trip into a real vacation.
By Natalie Hollingshead
Jackson Hole Mountain Resort
Every 10 minutes the tram at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort passes over Corbet’s Couloir, one of the steepest — and most legendary — ski runs in the country. The double-black diamond chute is where skiers go to prove their mettle, and watching skiers plunge over the edge is a quintessential part of the Jackson experience. So is simply riding the red tram, the longest continuous lift ride in North America.
You don’t have to be an extreme skier to enjoy your time slope side though. Jackson Hole Mountain Resort is known for its hardcore terrain — more than 50 percent of its 2,500 acres is dedicated to advanced runs. But there is plenty of intermediate ground, too.
“Over the last 10 years we’ve seen significant capital improvements to that terrain,” says Anna Cole, senior communications manager at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. “We’ve added new lifts, more grooming, more snow making and summer grooming … it’s really becoming a great intermediate mountain destination for families.”
Last year the resort opened a new high-speed Teton Lift quad and the first new terrain since the ’90s. Those groomed, intermediate runs are hidden gems on the mountain.
Of course, advanced runs are the big draw for local and international travelers and “still awesome.” Jackson Hole’s backcountry skiing is particularly epic. The destination resort was one of the first to open its gates to backcountry access as a special use permittee of Bridger Teton National Forest. The resort’s 3,000 backcountry acres offer world-class skiing with an unforgettable view.
“It’s pretty unique the way the geography works,” Cole says. “This is mostly hike-to terrain and you can get right back to the ski area pretty easily from all of that terrain.”
If backcountry skiing isn’t for you, stick with the 133 trails and 13 lifts that cover Apres Vous and Rendezvous mountains or ride the halfpipe, two terrain parks or four Burton Stash Parks.
Snow King Mountain Resort
In an area known for its epic skiing, Snow King Resort is recognized as one of the best race training venues in the country. Snow King hosts alpine races nearly every weekend during the winter in partnership with Jackson Hole Ski and Snowboard Club.
That’s not all to recommend it. Snow King is right in the town of Jackson, and the easy, affordable access makes it a local favorite among skiers who want to hit the slopes at lunch. It was Wyoming’s first ski resort and is still considered the “town hill” some 78 seasons later.
“The vast majority of our skiers are locals, so we are a bit of a hidden gem waiting for visitors to come find,” says Ryan Stanley, Snow King Mountain Resort general manager.
Snow King has three lifts servicing 400 acres of terrain and 32 named runs that vary from beginner to expert. Plus, it has two terrain parks, snow tubing, a mountain coaster that operates in the winter and offers 110 acres for night skiing if you prefer to shred by moonlight.
“This makes Snow King a great family friendly alternative to the other big ski resorts,” Stanley says. “Our daily lift prices are nearly half that of the other ski areas and you don’t have to pay for parking or wait in lines.”
Convenience is key when skiing with kids, and at Snow King you can drive up to within 15 feet of the lift and hop out without waiting in line for most of the winter.
For the 2016-2017 winter season Snow King is making several improvements. It’s adding a magic carpet (basically a conveyor belt that goes up the mountain) for beginner skiers to replace a tow rope, making night lighting more energy efficient and improving kids’ trails and terrain parks.
Grand Targhee Resort
If you like light, dry powder and nonexistent lift lines, head to Grand Targhee Resort in Alta, Wyoming. Located within the Caribou-Targhee National Forest, this resort is known for its deep powder, diverse terrain, family friendly atmosphere and prices that won’t break the bank, says Jennie White, marketing and social media manager for the resort.
“The high alpine barrier socks storms in, dumping endless supplies of snowfall across 2,602 acres of glades, bowls and chutes,” White says. “Skip the crowds, and enjoy untracked runs that are yours for the taking.”
Grand Targhee is known as a family focused destination, and many families return to enjoy the slopes year after year. The Kids Adventure Zone builds skills, balance and confidence with terrain geared toward beginner skiers and riders. Ski school lessons that combine child care with group lessons are a bonus for parents, too.
“This is a great place to escape the crowds but still enjoy the big mountain feel,” White says. “From the top of Dreamcatcher, there is always a not-to-be-missed view of the Grand Teton on blue bird days.”
Families aren’t the only ones who hit the slopes at Grand Targhee Resort. There are plenty of local powder hounds who enjoy the resort’s five lifts and more than 100 runs. New last winter, Grand Targhee added a beginner’s terrain park on Shoshone in addition to the intermediate to advanced park called Sweetwater.
Grand Targhee Resort is more than a ski hill; it offers activities such as a sleigh ride to dinner inside a yurt, snowshoe tours with the resort naturalist and Friday night s’mores on the plaza. If it’s more powder turns you’re seeking, there are 602 acres devoted to Wyoming’s only cat skiing, where you ride a snow grooming machine known as a snowcat to access backcountry terrain. It’s more affordable than heli-skiing and more accessible than ski touring.
“Everyone comes here to enjoy the incredible snow,” White says. “We have a great vibe at the resort. We like to think of everyone as family.”