There also are dozens of trails and cirques for the rest of us mere mortals.

Now, that’s a blue cruiser at JH looking delicious. Credit: Jackson Hole

I’ve been skiing here since I was locked into that famous and frustrating  “intermediate plateau” and took a chance on defying Jackson’s reputation for experts only.  Besides, the town sounded like fun, with wooden sidewalks and real cowboys coming into town from the ranches that ring the resort. 

If you’ve never skied trees, this is the place to learn.  The short bursts of glades under the Sweetwater Gondola or Casper chairlift are ideal, because you if you get into trouble, you can bail out to one of the blue or green groomers alongside, or just wave or shout up to a lift rider if your trouble is serious. 

When you get better, head into Moran Woods, in between the Casper or Teton lifts.

I always plan my day to be at the lodge at the bottom of the Casper quad for that mid-morning pit stop, and sometimes for lunch, since it’s always less crowded than the other mid-mountain lodges and restaurants.

The Teton is one of Jackson’s newer lifts, and accesses a network of blue and green cruisers that you can take back non-stop to the base area, down some 3,000 of the resort’s massive 4,129 vertical. The Kemmerer trail off the top is named for Jay Kemmerer, who bought the resort in 1992 and credited with turning it into a world-class destination. 

It’s a fast groomer that links to the Werner cruiser.  That one is named for Buddy Werner, an internationally renowned ski racer and member of the US Olympic ski team, who died trying to outrace an avalanche in the Swiss Alps in 1964. You could do laps here all day. I have.

Werner was the choice of the resort’s original owner to be the first ski school director.  That went instead to Pepi Steigler, who won a gold medal in slalom and a bronze in giant slalom in the 1964 Olympics.  It was the same Olympics in which Jimmy Heuga and Billy Kidd became the first Americans to medal in the slalom, a couple of deep breaths behind Steigler, who ran the Jackson Hole Ski School for more than 40 years before retiring.

But I digress.

Of course, you must take the famous Jackson Hole Tram to the top, and pick your way down Rendezvous Bowl to the groomed trails below. Be sure to do it on a sunny day, unless you want to hear my near-horror story about skiing it in socked in weather.  Jackson Hole often is subject to inversions, when it is bright and sunny at the bottom and socked in up top.  If the tram isn’t busy in the middle of the day, that’s the reason. 

My favorite spot on the mountain is Laramie Bowl, off the Thunder quad. It’s really more a funnel than a bowl, with VW-sized bumps on the right and “regular” bumps on either side of a bail-out groomer.

Jackson Hole is also a great destination for multi-generation winter vacations with the grandkids. The really young ones get to ride to their own dedicated teaching slope in a wagon powered by a snowmobile.  The kids love it, and we grandparents love taking photos of it.

Where you stay in Jackson Hole depends on whether you prefer base area convenience or downtown shopping and restaurants.

JH has prioritized improving the intermediate ski and snowboard experience to give guests a variety of terrain. Here’s a blue blue. Credit: Jackson Hole

Convenience is the Teton Village base area, with hotels, condos and restaurants in all price ranges and amenity levels. Best, I think, are the Four Seasons with heated walkways for no-slip snow-free access, and the Alpenhof, with a true European vibe, one of the first hotels to open when the resort opened in 1965.

Apres ski in the Village centers around the Mangy Moose, named for the dusty taxidermy moose for which it is named. 

Downtown, the premiere place to stay is the Wort Hotel, one of the members of the Historic Hotels of America group, known for its rustic charm and attentive service.

The Blue Lion is known for its elk filets.  Another top dining choice is the Snake River Grill, whose menu identifies the local ranchers and farmers who supplied the lamb, pork or artisanal cheese.

Apres ski downtown means The Cowboy, which features live music and country western dancing in season. This is where I learned to two-step at free Thursday night lessons.  Just keep walking past the saddle-shaped bar stools in the front to the tables dance floor in the back.  The burgers are pretty good here, too.

Locals and any visitors in the know head for The Stagecoach in nearby Wilson, at the base of the Teton Pass, on Sunday nights.  A five-piece band has played here for more than 40 years, including a few of the originals still wielding a banjo or guitar.  Be forewarned that the repertoire is usually sprinkled with a few ditties that could make a sailor blush.

Take an afternoon off the slopes to visit the National Elk Refuge just outside town, where thousands of these majestic creatures spend the winter.  If you time it correctly, you can also visit the National Museum of Wildlife Art on the other side of the road, with its impressive collection of landscape paintings and Remington sculptures.

Jackson Hole is a member of both Ikon Pass and Mountain Collective, neither of which provide discounts for seniors.  If the only place you intend to ski or ride this season is Jackson Hole, the best deal for the 2020/21 season is the Plus Pass, which offers 25 days of lift access for $505.

Click here for Jackson Hole Trail Map

Click here for Jackson Hole Web Cams

4 Comments

  1. This is an excellent article Evelyn!

    I’d like to save the content for next ski season but it won’t let me forward or copy so I can avoid digging through archives.

  2. The Jackson Hole region is also home to some of the most diverse and spectacular cross country skiing in North America (Tetons, Gros Ventres, Absarokas…) Great mix of groomed trails (cumulatively around 300 km, including in Grand Teton National Park, golf courses, community trails, guest ranches…) and off-track tours; plus access to Yellowstone National Park from the south. “Unique” is the word!

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