SlopeLab’s Review of Jackson Hole Mountain Resort

slopelab review of Jackson Hole

SlopeLab Ratings

Overall
0%

Detailed Scores:

Beginner Terrain
20%
Intermediate Terrain
60%
Advanced Terrain
90%
Expert Terrain
100%
Tree Skiing
60%
Bowl Skiing
90%
Crowds
70%
Snow Score
80%
Ski Town
90%

369 inches

2,500 acres

4,139 ft

10,450 ft (peak) | 6,311 ft (base)

Photo Gallery

Jackson Hole Overview

There’s perhaps no ski resort that carries the infamous allure of Jackson Hole.

While there’s certainly ski resorts that register as far more common household names in the minds of the general public, maybe no ski resort immediately demands the eyebrow raising respect of in-the-know skiers the way Jackson Hole does.

A subtle reason for this is its mystical location. Jackson Hole sits far removed from the dense resort clusters found along Denver’s I-70 corridor or Salt Lake City Wasatch Mountain Range. Instead, the mountain rests almost entirely isolated in the wild west of Wyoming. The mountain itself reflects this isolation; in a sea of Wyoming plains, the mountain shoots upward from the nearby flatland with a steepness that’s hard to believe when you first see it.

And therein lies the real reason for Jackson Hole’s reputation. The mountain’s unrelenting steepness is unlike anything else in the continental United States, and it sets the scene for some of the gnarliest in-bounds terrain you may ever ski. Of course, that’s not even mentioning the mountain’s backcountry terrain, which silently dwarfs the size of the main resort, and shouldn’t even be considered for all but the most intense of expert skiers.

Rest assured, a trip to Jackson Hole is an experience unlike any other. Here you can expect to push the limits of your ability, no matter what ability level that happens to be. As an added bonus, you’ll enjoy experiencing world-class lifts and the unique town of Jackson, Wyoming.

Jackson Hole Trail Map

Jackson Hole Trail Map
Trail Map (click for full size)

Jackson Hole Lift Info

Lift High Speed? Vertical Rise (ft.)
Aerial Tram
Yes
4,139
Bridger Gondola
Yes
2,738
Apres Vous
Yes
1,748
Teton Quad
Yes
1,722
Sublette
No
1,630
Thunder
Yes
1,456
Sweetwater Gondola
Yes
1,275
Marmot
No
1,208
Casper
No
1,041
Teewinot
Yes
405
Union Pass
No
255
Moose Creek
No
190

Jackson Hole Terrain Overview

If you’re coming to Jackson Hole, you’re coming for the terrain. And as previously mentioned, that usually means terrain that’s STEEP and if the historical snowfall is any indication, DEEP.

At 2,500 skiable acres and “only” 12 lifts, Jackson Hole is actually on the smaller size for a destination resort. Of course, that statement is totally tongue in cheek, because Jackson Hole’s 2,500 acres skis FAR larger than those stats would suggest.

In part, that’s because of the mountain’s staggering 4,139 feet of vertical. More importantly, that vertical can be skied in one continuous run, and even more surprisingly, reached with just one lift!

That’s thanks to Jackson Hole’s legendary Aerial Tram – a massive 100 person cable car which stretches the entire massive mountain from top to bottom. Riding the tram up unlocks the entire left side of the mountain for advanced to expert skiers. It’s a dynamic unlike any other resort – even the best skiers are looking at a long and adventurous trip down to the base!

Jackson Hole for Beginners:

Jackson Hole is not a beginner’s mountain. The mountain’s green runs are accessed almost entirely from one lift, which for beginners, is underwhelmingly placed in the bottom corner of the mountain. Worse, even Jackson Hole blue runs boast a consistent steepness that’s unlike many blues elsewhere. An adventurous beginner could easily get themselves in trouble with a well-meaning venture into the trail map’s many tempting blues.

In other words, a true green skier is relegated to lapping the same short runs for an entire trip, while missing out on the mountain’s fantastic views. The mountain’s crown jewel – the aerial tram – is entirely out of the picture for beginners, since even the easiest way down is through a black bowl that should be respected in its difficulty. Beginners itching for some scenery are allowed to take the tram up and then back down again, which just isn’t the same experience, for obvious reasons.

Jackson Hole for Intermediates:

For all its emphasis on expert terrain, Jackson Hole serves intermediate skiers surprisingly well. In part, that’s due to the mountain’s underrated blue groomers, found mostly off the Apres Vous Quad Chair on the far-right side of the mountain. The views from these steep, rolling groomers on a clear morning are unbelievable!

In recent years, the resort expanded its intermediate terrain with the addition of the Teton Quad Chairlift. Previously, this area was hike-to-only, but the recently installed quad is now one of the fastest lifts on the mountain. Perfect for racking up series vertical and getting the legs totally fried!  Of note, the Teton Quad serves Wide Open, a fantastic steep blue groomer, as well as Kemmerer, a (relatively) easy black named after the family who purchased the resort in 1992 and helped bring it into the international spotlight.

Confident intermediates should work their way up Jackson Hole’s steeper intermediate runs, like Laramie Bowl, Kenmerer, and Thunder, with the goal of eventually riding the tram up and conquering Rendezvous Bowl. Rendezvous is steep, and conditions and visibility vary, so check with a mountain host, ski patrol, or tram operator prior to jumping in. But making your way down from the top of the world is a definitely an experience you won’t ever forget!

Advanced Terrain at Jackson Hole:

Jackson Hole has plenty of advanced options to humble even confident advanced skiers.

From top of the tram, the advanced skier should head down Rendezvous Bowl. It’s nearly 1,000 vertical feet of fanastic, steep bowl skiing that’s usually not too bumped out due to smoothing effect of the wind buff.

From there, the mountain splits into a series of additional bowls suitable for advanced skiers. Cheyenne Bowl, Bernie’s Bowl, Laramie Bowl, and even Tensleep/The Cirque all feature some of the steepest groomed runs on the mountain. Those feeling adventurous can always seek out plenty of bumps or trees in the area too – they’re not hard to miss!

The Tram’s collection of bowls feels big enough to be a resort in itself. But of course, there’s still the Hobacks to discuss – Jackson Hole’s quintessential advanced terrain. You’d never tell from their narrow, unassuming entrance, but The Hobacks soon open up to a huge advanced area lurking on the bottom half of the mountain’s 4,139-foot slope.

Once entered, there’s no option but to ski down the 2,000 vertical feet. Skiers whose legs are up to the challenge are rewarded with perfectly pitched, continuous fall-line skiing. Hit it in the right conditions, and you’ll probably be raving about some of the best skiing you’ve ever experienced. Doing so can be tricky, due to the terrain’s southern exposure and low elevation. (Hint: Unless it’s dumping snow, aim for the afternoons, once the sun’s had a chance to soften things up a bit.)

Expert Terrain at Jackson Hole:

Expert skiers are unlikely to find themselves more entertained with any mountain’s in-bounds terrain than the stuff they can stumble upon at Jackson Hole.

In nearly every section of the upper mountain lies plenty of chutes, rocks, cliffs, and trees to test your mettle. All steep, of course.

There is one expert run you’re probably already familiar with – Corbett’s Couloir. Chances are, you side-eyed it as it stared back at you during the tram ride. Corbet’s is one of the most famous ski runs in North America, and for good reason. From the tram, it looks like the stuff of nightmares, and once you ski up to it, it looks even worse. While it’s not the steepest run on the mountain, it’s certainly one of the most technical. Getting in requires a near vertical jump into what’s often a wall of ice, and skiers must immediately execute two quick turns to avoid a yard-sale fate. Many have psyched themselves out at some point in this process, while a few expert skiers make it down to the glorious powder field that lies below.

If that’s not enough for you, Jackson Hole always holds another 3,000 acres of backcountry terrain accessible from the backside. Here lies some truly terrifying lines, and if you’re not sure what I’m talking about, then heed the advice of the Tram Operator. “If you don’t know, don’t go.”

How is the snow at Jackson Hole?

0
Average Inches of Annual Snowfall

In a word, fantastic.

Jackson Hole receives nearly 400 inches of snow each winter. There’s maybe a handful of ski resorts in the US that can compete with that level of snow volume, and one of them lies just next door. (Grand Targhee – still on this skier’s bucket list!)

More impressive, Jackson Hole’s historical snow record is among the most consistent anywhere. Knock on wood, but bad months and bad winters are far less frequent in western Wyoming than just about anywhere else in the country.

Where is Jackson Hole?

Jackson Hole Mountain Resort is located in Teton Village, Wyoming, right next door to Grand Teton National Park. On a clear day, you can catch a glimpse of The Grand Teton from the top of the tram!

Jackson Hole as Ski town

Jackson Hole Mountain Resort lies just 20 minutes from the town of Jackson, Wyoming. Jackson is a funky Western town that’s built up its character as a hub for the locals and summer visitors alike. (Nearby national parks Grand Teton and Yellowstone ensures there’s plenty of those!) Ever wanted to walk into a Western Saloon and sit in a bar stool that’s actually a horse saddle? You can make that dream come true in the town of Jackson!

As a result of Jackson’s summer tourism, the town of Jackson tends to have a surplus of affordable lodging options for skiers, complete with a local bus system that runs between Jackson and Teton Village. Several hotels in the area also run their own shuttle system to the mountain for guests.

Staying slopeside in Teton Village is pricier for the added convenience of ski-in/ski-out, at the expense of less eating and drinking options.

How to get to Jackson Hole?

For convenience, flying into the Jackson Hole Airport can’t be beat. The Airport sits just 15 minutes north of the town of Jackson and a 30 minute drive to the base of Jackson Hole Mountain Resort.

As an added bonus, Jackson Hole’s airport receives the most direct flights of any ski-town airport. Delta, United, and American all service the destination, with direct flights from tons of major cities. (New York, Atlanta, Chicago, Minneapolis, Dallas, Houston, Denver, Salt Lake City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Seattle, in case you were wondering.)

For those on a tighter budget, the closest major airport lies in Salt Lake City. That said, paying the premium to fly directly into Jackson Hole teaches a lesson many value seekers learn after their first trip – Flying into Salt Lake City and making the subsequent 5-hour drive can be a serious hassle!

The interstate can and does close in snowy weather, and it happens more frequently than you’d expect. Great for skiing, not so great for skiers caught in the drive…

Then there’s The Teton Pass, one of the longest and steepest mountain roads in America. There are a few alternate routes to avoid the pass, although these are sporadically plowed and can present their own challenges.

Suffice to say, if you opt for the long drive from Salt Lake City, 4×4 or All-Wheel-Drive is 100% recommended.

When is the best time to visit Jackson Hole?

January

For most mountains, this is a question with several answers. For Jackson Hole, the answer is simple. Without question, the best time to visit Jackson Hole is in January.

Due to the mountain’s southern and eastern facing terrain, combined with lower than usual elevation for a mountain of this magnitude, the sun’s rays work quickly to melt the copious amounts of snowfall received.

For this reason, January represents the perfect mix of high snowfall, shorter days, and lower temperatures. All these factors serve to keep the snow fresh and the turns soft. By March, snow melt becomes a legitimate concern at Jackson Hole, and blissful powder skiing can give way to slushier conditions.

How are the crowds at Jackson Hole?

Jackson Hole’s remote Northern Rockies location keeps some of the madness at bay, but the resort remains an internationally renowned destination.

Powder days here can be fierce, with locals lining up for the tram hours before opening.

That said, non-powder days, especially weekdays, remain rather tame.

Further reading