Winter in Jackson Hole, Wyoming

If you love to ski, visit in the winter. If you love to hike, visit in the summer. No matter what season it is, Jackson Hole, Wyoming is a magical place. The town of Jackson Hole boasts a ski mountain, an elk refuge and a really cool mountain roller coaster! You don’t have to drive too far to reach Yellowstone National Park, Teton National Park or Grand Targhee Ski Resort. The town has no shortage of wildlife and even serves some up at their local restaurants. Buffalo chili, anyone? Elk burger with cheese?

Getting There

So now you have decided to go, how do you get there? There are not many non-stop flights from the east coast, but in the winter, American Airlines offers non-stoppers from NYC on Saturdays. Some cities on the west coast offer non-stop flights as well.

Where to Stay

The Rustic Inn This is a great place with an excellent location and individual cozy cabins throughout the property. There is also a great little hot tub, free local shuttle, year round heated pool and a full breakfast included. Oh! I almost forgot..24 hour hot chocolate, coffee and tea in the lobby!! You are almost guaranteed wildlife sightings right on property, but we were told that this is partly because stupid tourists feed the deer anything and everything in an effort to attract them. My son saw the deer outside our cabin and started reliving his deer attack all over again.

What to Do

Jackson Hole Ski Resort offers downhill skiing on 133 trails. There are several gondolas and the mountain is extensive with 50% of their trails being expert and 40% intermediate. As I was making my way up the Bridger gondola I caught a fraction of what the announcement was stating. Something about the trails at the top being designated for extreme skiers, there would be no easy or even moderate trails from this stop…..if you are not an expert skier, take the gondola back down. Well…how hard could it be? I’ve been skiing for 30 years. I’m no Olympic champion, but I can get down a mountain. I had this. I didn’t have this. I made it down (obviously) but I am pretty sure that I almost took out an unsuspecting skier as I kareened down the ungroomed 90 degree drops. I also thought I heard the mountain laughing at me. Or was that my son? good times. If you go, there are plenty of great trails to ski…but beware of the Bridger gondola! Full day lift tickets will cost you about $ 160.00.

Grand Targhee Ski Resort– I thought I died and went to ski heaven. Grand Targhee is located a little over an hour by car from Jackson Hole. It’s a really cool drive that crosses into Idaho before entering into the Teton National Forest and eventually leading you to “ski heaven”. The Sacajawea side of the mountain takes you down trails with the most majestic views of the Grand Tetons. The trails are gloriously wide with a variety of terrain. The mountain does not draw the crowds that Jackson Hole attracts so it’s peaceful and quiet. It’s also old-school… like me! I’ve heard that they refer to the snow at Grand Targhee as “champagne powder” due to its light fluffy texture and the way it sparkles in the sunlight. Perhaps it is also because the experience at Grand Targhee is so intoxicating! Or was that just the alcohol? Lift tickets run about $103.00 for a full day. If you don’t rent a car, there is also a shuttle that you can take for the day to Grand Targhee from downtown Jackson. Reservations required.

Snow King Mountain Resort– It’s a pretty steep mountain right at the end of town. They sell half day tickets and offer some pretty decent terrain. The mountain is used for Olympic training. That’s what I was doing there. Training. For the Olympics. Snow King charges around $59.00 for a full day, $49.00 for a half day. The best deal in town!!! Snow King offers several other activities as well.

The Cowboy Coaster

Flying down Snow King Mountain for about a mile in a single/double roller coaster car that you can control with your own brake, the wind in your face….How cool is that? Full disclosure; I went so slow that the 10 year old child operating the car behind me almost crashed into me. Little maniac! Tickets can be bought online or right at the ticket counter. A single ride is $20.00.

There is also an ice skating rink on Snow King Mountain. It’s an indoor rink, but has wall to wall windows looking out onto the mountain. Just check their public skating schedule for hours.

The Elk Refuge

The Visitors Center right across from The Rustic Inn sells tickets for a 1 hour sleigh ride ($23.00) through the national Elk Refuge. During the winter months thousands of elk migrate to the refuge for food. They are free to come and go and are protected by the US Fish and Wildlife Services. The only fence is on the side of the road to protect them and us! There are a ton of other animals that can also be seen (or heard) on the refuge…like wolves, moose and coyotes !!!! The ride can get cold, so dress accordingly. Blankets are provided as well.

Snowshoeing in The Grand Teton National Park

Moose crossing the road!

About a half hour outside of town you can enter the Grand Teton National Park, throw on your snowshoes and head to Taggert Lake. The round trip hike takes around an hour and a half or so. The views are spectacular and the hike isn’t too difficult. Keep your eyes out for wildlife on the trail. We rented our snowshoes in town at Hoback Sports. They were $30.00 for 24 hrs. Skinny Skis offers better deals (also right in town) but were sold out of both skis and snowshoes when we were there. The entrance fee to the Grand Teton National Park was $30.00 for a car. Bring snacks and water!

Where to Eat

Hand Fire Pizza– Historical preservation at its finest! Hand Fire Pizza is located in the former historic Teton Theater. The original ticket booth remains at the entrance and the high ceilings inside create a unique and spacious atmosphere. On Tuesday nights they give back to the community by giving a profit of their sales to non-profit organizations featured for that week. I must give them a shout out for their pizza. Coming from New York, that’s a big deal. It’s nearly impossible to compete with our pizza. fugetaboutit.

Chinatown RestaurantA few blocks outside of town with amazing chinese food and even more amazing prices!!!

Royal Wolf-Stopping in Idaho on the way back from Grand Targhee we found this treasure. I got the fully stuffed idaho potato. It was huge….and yes, size does matter. there were so many toppings to choose from. It’s one of the nicer venues in town, nothing fancy at all. Just the way I like it. This place gets 2 thumbs up!

Wildlife Brewery in Victor, Idaho- This was another great find in Idaho en route back to Jackson Hole after skiing at Grand Targhee all day. There are a ton of different beer tasting options and the beer mac n cheese was unbelievable! Fun atmosphere.

Pizza Caldera-Terrific little reasonably priced italian place with a cozy upstairs setting right in downtown Jackson. Fantastic tomato sauce with crumbled sausage!

Fun Facts

-Jackson is home to the longest running shoot-out in the world! It’s been happening in the town square since 1957. (Monday-Saturday)

-Wyoming has the lowest population of any other state in the USA (no wonder why I like it).

-The longest continuous vertical rise at a ski resort in the USA is at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort.

So if you are looking for some phenomenal skiing next winter, or some winter fun, look no further….Jackson Hole also has some great shopping, restaurants and nearby attractions. The skiing is some of the best and the altitude there is a little lower than the Colorado ski mountains, making it easier for those of us that have suffered from higher altitudes! You may also get the chance to see some wildlife while you are there…or at least order some off a menu!

Hey! I heard that!

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