Winter in Jackson Hole brings skiing, snowboarding, snowmobiling, ice climbing, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing. While the winter season runs Thanksgiving-early April, high season includes all holidays and school vacations: Christmas, New Year’s, Martin Luther King weekend, President’s Day week, and school spring breaks. Prices go up for those holiday periods. To avoid the crowds, plan midweek trips outside of the holidays. January and February usually bring the coldest weather, while March often delivers big dumps of snow.
Skiing and Snowboarding
Snow King Mountain (100 E. Snow King Ave., Jackson, 307/734-3194, early Dec.-Mar., lift tickets $48 adults, $30 juniors and seniors) is not usually a choice for diehard destination skiers and snowboarders, but families like its smaller size (400 acres), night skiing for kids, tubing, and cheaper rates.
Jackson Hole Mountain Resort
With big vertical, steep chutes, and a reputation as a big, bad experts-only ski area, Jackson Hole Mountain Resort (3265 W. Village Dr., Teton Village, 307/733-2292, late Nov.-early Apr., lift tickets $121 adults, $75 juniors, $98 seniors) has only 50 percent of its terrain devoted to advanced skiers and snowboarders. The rest is rolling groomers for beginners and intermediates. The resort’s 4,139 vertical feet has 19 lifts spread across 2,500 acres, including the Aerial Tram that goes to the 10,450-foot summit of Rendezvous Mountain. The average year delivers 450 inches of snowfall. Lift tickets are pricey, but you often can get cheaper rates with lodging packages or online. The resort has several terrain parks, on-mountain and base area restaurants, rental shops, and lessons. The resort does not own lodging properties, but Teton Village has accommodations ranging from a hostel to luxury lodging.
Heli- and Snowcat Skiing
Heli- and snowcat skiing can rack up 12,000-15,000 vertical feet in places where you have elbow room in big bowls, glades, and steeps. High Mountain Heli-Skiing (Teton Village, 307/733-3274, mid-Dec.-Mar., $1,200/person) has access to five mountain ranges surrounding Jackson Hole. A trip usually gets in six runs per day. Reservations are required; sometimes you can get packages that combine a trip with lodging.
The Tetons are a backcountry ski mecca. Slap on a pair of skins and grab the transceiver, beacon, and probe to head out for skiing. Teton Pass, Jackson Hole Mountain Resort side country, and hike-to terrain beyond the boundaries of Grand Targhee Resort are the most popular places to go. Consult with experts at Teton Mountaineering (170 N. Cache Dr., Jackson, 307/733-3595) when renting gear and check on avalanche conditions (Bridger Teton Avalanche Center, 307/733-2664) before you go.
Cross-Country Skiing and Snowshoeing
Unfortunately, housing and hotel developments have usurped the groomed Nordic centers in Jackson Hole and Teton Village, but some of the pathways around town are groomed for skate or classic skiing. Check current grooming conditions (307/739-6789) and download online maps of groomed trails (www.friendsofpathways.org).
Any summer trail around Jackson Hole can turn into a snowshoe trail in winter. One of the most scenic places to snowshoe is on the summit of Teton Pass. Follow Forest Road 019 south for about three-quarters of a mile (1.5 miles round-trip); it’s short but big on scenery. A trail continues from the end of the road, but you’ll need avalanche gear to proceed.
Guides and Rentals
Skinny Skis (65 W. Deloney, Jackson, 307/733-6094 or 888/733-7205, 9am-6pm Mon.-Sat., 10am-5pm Sun., hours vary seasonally, $15-25/day) rents snowshoes and general touring, metal-edge touring, and skate-ski packages. The shop also waxes and tunes skis.
Hole Hiking Experience (Jackson, 866/733-4453, daily in winter, $75-175/person) guides half-day to full-day cross-country ski trips and snowshoe tours (2-6 hours), plus combination programs of hikes mixed with wildlife-watching or other activities.
Snowmobile routes tour the Gros Ventre Mountains. A unique trip goes to the Granite Hot Springs (20 miles round-trip, early Dec.-early Apr.) in Bridger-Teton National Forest. The tour follows snow-buried Granite Creek Road (Forest Rd. 30500) up Granite Creek to the hot springs. The route is suitable for beginning snowmobilers. Togwotee Adventures (1050 S. Hwy. 89, Jackson, 307/733-8800) guides snowmobile tours to the Gros Ventre Mountains, Togwotee Pass, Granite Hot Springs, and Yellowstone.
Snowmobile rentals are available at Leisure Sports (1075 S. Hwy. 89, Jackson, 307/733-3040, 8am-5:30pm daily) and Jackson Hole Adventure Rentals (1060 S. Hwy. 89,Jackson, 307/733-5678 or 877/773-5678, 8am-5pm daily Nov.-Mar., 9am-6pm daily Apr.-Oct.). Snowmobiles run about $135-175 per day; winter gear costs $5-20 per item. Trailers are also available.
A free outdoor ice rink operates at the Town Square in Jackson. Grand Teton Skating Association (noon-8pm daily mid-Dec.-Feb.) runs the rink. Skate rentals ($5) are available. Snow King Sports (100 E. Snow King Ave., 307/201/1633, daily mid-Oct.-Mar., $8 adults, $6 kids) has indoor public skating (noon-2pm) and open hockey (10:15am-11:30am, $10).
King Tubes (Snow King Mountain, 100 E. Snow King Ave., Jackson, 307/734-9442, 2pm-7pm Tues.-Fri., 11am-7pm Sat.-Sun. early Dec.-Mar., $20 adults, $15 kids for one hour, $5 each hour thereafter) requires no skill on the snow to have some fun sliding. A rope tow pulls you and your tube up a hill where you can then sail downhill.
Winter Sleigh Rides
In Teton Village, Teton Village Sleigh Rides (307/733-2674, daily in winter, $35/person) operates horse-drawn sleigh rides from the corral across the street from Snake River Lodge. Rides depart three times each evening (5pm, 6pm, and 7pm). Reservations are a good idea.
Dogsled tours (late Nov.-early Apr.) take place on the fringes of Jackson Hole and require longer drives or shuttles to reach their locations. Reservations are required, with pickups available in Jackson.
Jackson Hole Iditarod Sled Dog Tours (307/733-7388 or 800/554-7388) runs full-day and half-day trips up Granite Canyon in Bridger-Teton National Forest. The company is owned by eight-time Iditarod veteran Frank Teasley.
Excerpted from the Seventh Edition of Moon Yellowstone & Grand Teton.