Guest Blogger Rob Belk shares his tips for the ultimate #TetonTakeover in Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Boasting North America’s largest elevation gain from base to summit, one ski resort rises above them all, Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. Offering stunning views of the Grand Tetons and the Grand Teton National Park, the mountain is easily accessible from the local airport, which provides non-stop service from 12 major U.S. cities. The resort originally opened in 1964 and continues to gain popularity. Skiers travel across the globe for the world-class ski slopes, charming lodging and delicious dining options.
This winter, I was fortunate enough to spend a week skiing in Jackson Hole, enjoying the record amounts of snow (240 inches and counting since Jan. 1). For those of you who follow the official @OrsdenSki Instagram account, you may have seen some of my pictures during the #TetonTakeover. With 2,500 acres of in-bound terrain and 133 named ski runs, I put my Orsden ski jacket to the test. The Orsden jacket exceeded my already high expectations, keeping me warm with limited layers in the negative degree weather and deep powder. As such, I want to share my thoughts on where to ski, drink and eat, and stay on a trip to Jackson.
View from the bottom of Corbet’s Coulior, post send in Bernie’s Bowl, and the hike up the headwall for powder
After picking up skis at the base of the mountain from either Teton Village Sports or JH Sports, it’s time to hit the mountain. Observing from the base of the mountain, there are four major lifts; the Tram, Bridger Gondola, Sweetwater Gondola, and Teewinot Lift. The right side of the mountain called ‘Après Vous’, is accessible using the Teewinot Lift or the Sweetwater Gondola, commissioned just this year. Because green slopes make up only 10% of the entire mountain, some skiers prefer the “AV” side of the resort, where it is less crowded and often contains fresh runs on powder days. If you do make your way up the right side, head towards the Teton Lift, which services a few great runs like “Kemmerer” (named after the resort owners) or the glades off to the right side of the chair.
For those who want more challenging terrain, consider taking the Tram all the way to the top of Rendezvous Mountain. The newest Jackson Hole Ariel Tram, completed in 2008, replaced the old tram which was retired after 40 years in service. The Tram, capable of transporting 100 skiers from base to summit, takes approximately 10 minutes, and opens up serious expert terrain. Consider getting world famous waffles at Corbet’s Cabin before clipping into your skis. From this location, the brave and the somewhat crazy are able to tackle the most famous run on the mountain, Corbet’s Couloir. When open, this chute requires dropping off a cornice with a free fall of 10 to 20 feet depending on conditions before making a sharp right turn. As I heard one Ski Patroller say, “skiing Corbet’s isn’t the hard part, hiking back up to collect your skis is.”
For the more sane skiers, consider skiing down the Rendezvous Bowl and into the runs serviced by the Sublette and Thunder Lifts. Favorites on this area of the mountain include Bernie’s Bowl, Tower Three Chute, and a 15 minute hike up the Headwall in search of powder. The Headwall is still in-bounds but because its not serviced by any of the resort’s lifts, provides the potential for less crowded skiing conditions. As 4 o’clock approaches and the mountains start closing down, those who still have strength left in their legs, should head over to the Hobacks, a challenging area littered in moguls, but offering breathtaking views of the valley where you can truly earn your Après Ski beer.
EAT & DRINK
Drink from the boot at the Handle Bar, kick back with refreshing martinis at the Snake River Grill, and saddle up at the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar
For the aforementioned drink that you’ve earned, head to my favorite spot the Handle Bar, located at the Four Seasons at the base of the mountain. The Handle Bar has tons of great local beers on tap, and if you are feeling extra thirsty, consider getting a 30 oz “boot” of a local beer such as the Snake River Lager. Close seconds for Après Ski include the spicy margarita at The Spur or pizza and beer at the legendary Mangy Moose, where the live music and fun saloon vibe never disappoint. All these places get crowded, so make sure to get there early or have someone save you a seat!
Looking to eat on the mountain? The resort has several options with the best and largest being the top of the Gondola and the Casper Restaurant. Long lines form at the top of the Gondola restaurant for the Asian Stir Fry, while at Casper be prepared to wait at least ten minutes for old classics like the chicken tender basket or a cheeseburger.
For dinner in the Teton Village, a meal at Il Villaggio Osteria is a must, while additional world-class options exist both on the road into town and in Jackson. Driving to Jackson you’ll pass the Roadhouse and Brewery and later Rendezvous Bistro. Each visit to Jackson has two musts in my book, Rendezvous Bistro and the Snake River Grill. While reservations need to be made at both months in advance during peak season, you wont be disappointed in the oysters and veal medallions at Bistro nor the steaks and lava cake at SRG.
If after dinner you are still looking for action in town, visit the world famous Million Dollar Cowboy Bar for live music and the saddle bar seats. Just make sure you are still able to make it to the lifts the next day.
I recommend staying in Teton Village near the mountain, as the town of Jackson is a solid 20-30 minutes’ drive (accessible from the Village by a dependable bus service for just $3). The Village offers multiple houses and condo’s for rent with ski-in, ski-out location in addition to several nice hotels at the base. If looking to rent a house consider calling The Clear Creek Group while if you are looking for a hotel room there are several good options including the Four Seasons, The Teton Club, and the Snake River Lodge. Remember all hotels book up multiple months in advance of peak with rates going up proportionally.
If you prefer to stay in the town on Jackson, the Wort Hotel off the square is a favorite (don’t miss Tuesday’s Bluegrass Night with One Ton Pig in the Silver Dollar Showroom) as well as the Lodge at Jackson Hole, and Hotel Jackson. If you really want to break the bank, head out to the Amagani Resort where you may even see a celebrity or two. During my trip, Katy Perry was rumored to be staying at the Amangani.
Jackson Hole is truly a skier’s paradise and one of the rare resorts where the overall vibe is extremely friendly and welcoming. Because of the top notch skiing, lodging and eating, Jackson has become increasingly popular, prompting many locals to adopt the saying “Jackson sucks, tell all your friends.”