Jackson Hole is an epic mountain, there’s no question about it. It was even crowned the best ski resort in the USA two years in a row by Christopher Steiner in his top five list for Forbes. Not being trusting of lists that are based purely on statistics (as Steiner’s is), Emilie and I visited Jackson Hole in mid-December to test out our new gear judge for ourselves whether the hill actually offers the best skiing experience in America.
Our Jackson Hole Research
During our visit, Jackson Hole was buried in powder. On our second day, a large portion of the hill was even closed by the enormous snowstorm that was dumping champagne powder on the mountain.
We spent our time there exploring the mountain with locals (and photographing them tearing up the powder), talking to people about their feelings about Jackson Hole, and studying the unique qualities that both the mountain and the town of Jackson offer to visitors.
This is what we learned.
**Note: Jackson Hole works with online vendor (and our sponsor) Liftopia to provide discount lift tickets**
Our Jackson Hole Findings
We’ve been interviewing skiers and snowboarders, not only about the qualities of their local ski areas, but also about the qualities they like in a ski resort and ski town.
We’ve learned that, although snow and terrain are important, people feel very strongly about many other aspects of the ski resort experience as well. Almost everyone mentioned the atmosphere (or vibe) of the resort as being very important. The friendliness of the locals, must therefore be considered. Many people also talked about wanting a wide range of terrain for their family to enjoy, affordable accommodations near the hill, and good places to eat.
Jackson Hole is certainly friendly. Although Teton Village is a fairly run-of-the-mill manufactured village of condos and shops for visitors, the town of Jackson is a real western small town with a wonderful neighbourly feel to it. When our only car key snapped because of the cold, about seven different random strangers helped us in the space of 24 hours to get the car moved to our hotel and a new key made.
Jackson Hole’s 2500 acres certainly contain a wide variety of terrain. However, with 50% expert terrain and 40% intermediate, Jackson Hole is definitely a hill better suited to experienced skiers and snowboarders.
The restaurants in Jackson are world class. I had the best steak of my life in The Cellar and the Mangy Moose on the hill is well-known for it’s awesome apres ski activities. In fact, nearly every meal we ate there was surprising in one way or another.
We only found two things that may negatively impact visitor experience: price and convenience.
Located in western Wyoming, far from any major centre, Jackson Hole is in a very inconvenient location. The isolation adds to it’s charm, but also increases the hassle of visiting. And, although there are budget options, most of the restaurants and hotels cater to visitors with a lot of money to blow on their vacation. People visiting Jackson Hole with limited funds will find themselves… well…limited.
Is Jackson Hole the Best Ski Resort in the USA?
Since it was the first stop of our tour, and we still have weeks of research ahead of us, it’s impossible for Emilie and I to say whether Christopher Steiner was right, and Jackson Hole is the best ski resort in the USA.
There is no doubt, though, that it’s a top contender.