So you’re thinking of making a ski or board trip this winter?
To be honest– I’ve been out of the ski game for about 20 years. Lets face it– I am just Texas boy at heart and snow and mountains were kind of in short supply around my old stomping grounds. I got dragged around Colorado as a lad growing up– but just like vacation trips to DisneyWorld– that kind of died off after I hit puberty. My next experience with snow was when I strapped on a snowboard in a class full of other warm-climate cadets as part of my lifetime sport at West Point, NY. For half a semester my grade was held hostage as instructors from the Department of Physical Education (DPE) forced me to try grinding rails, and attempting jumps (unsuccessfully I might add) on the ice patch they called a ski slope at the Academy.
Long story short– I was a little over due for a real ski trip. And I’m decent on a mountain bike- so what the hell? What’s the worst that could happen? I’ll figure it out.
Jackson, Wyoming is a ski mecca. I’ve hauled my mountain bike to enough ski resorts in the summer to know, vicariously, through talking to out-of-season skiers bar tending the local pubs to know at least a few things. One thing for sure– they all rave about Jackson. So, I wanted to see for myself.
On first impression Jackson and Jackson Hole resort has that Western vibe to it. I imagine it’s what Colorado was 10 years ago. Before legalized Marijuana and the migration of transplants shot the population and urban sprawl through the roof. Situated just an hour south of Yellowstone and just North of the Teton National Park– Jackson is still rather remote. The drive in was like stepping back in time a bit, driving by old horse ranches and occasional oil rigs, and the vast expanse of prairie meeting the continental divide. You couldn’t help feeling you should pull into a local diner for eggs and bacon and the “best cup of coffee” in the world. The weather was a bit extreme at times– and I quickly began to realize why Jackson had such a positive reputation amongst skiers and boarders alike.
They get a ridiculous amount of snow fall– so they don’t have to rely on artificial snow to keep their slopes open in peak season– that coupled with the steep inclines of the Tetons makes for some very aggressive shredding. It was great– even though finding my ski legs was like trying to learn to walk again after two decades of being completely sedentary. In hindsight, Jackson probably shouldn’t be the first choice for a novice skier. They have some easier runs– sure. But you’d be really missing out if you weren’t able to hit some of the Blacks and Double Blacks and really take advantage of what Jackson Hole has to offer.
To be fair– there is a slight divide between the locals and everyone else. Jackson Hole resort– like any resort– is vacation home to many from upper society and a lot of the surroundings cater to them (think $20 burgers and Patagonia Down Jackets designed for lap dogs… and you get the idea). But you can find hole-in-the-wall places to get drinks and unwind and if you travel with the group and split up the lodging you can even stay close to the slopes without taking out a second-mortgage on your house.
The nightlife is really nonexistent compared to the likes Breckenridge and some of the other places you might find. Jackson is very much about the skiing. So expect the bars at the resort to close around midnight to give every one time to sober up before the first lift. However, if you find your way off the resort and into downtown Jackson for a night there are some cool things to take advantage of.
Swing by Pinky G’s and cash in on there slice and a beer deal for like $6 or so. The pizza has a reputation and won’t disappoint. It’s also in close proximity to 3-4 bars that all get good reviews so it’s a perfect spot to take a night off after a few days of getting down on the slopes.
All in all– I loved Jackson– and will definitely be loading the bikes in the truck to head out there this summer and check out the Teton National Park and South Yellowstone when the roads open back up.
Ty Stephens is a Native of East Texas, and he is a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point with a BS in International Relations. After commissioning in 2011 as an Infantry Officer, he has served as an Armored Platoon Leader, a Battalion Mortar Platoon Leader, and a Headquarters and Headquarters Company Executive Officer while stationed at Ft. Riley, Kansas. He has deployed in support of Operation Shared Accord to South Africa in 2013 and Operation Enduring Freedom- Horn of Africa in 2014. Ty has traveled to the North, Latin and South Americas, Western Europe, and South Asia. Ty enjoys the outdoors and adventure sports.