If you plan to spend more than a couple of days in the area, it is probably worth your while to join the Jackson Hole Ski and Snowboard Club (307/733-6433, www.jhskiclub.com ). In return for a $30 membership, you receive an impressive number of premiums, including reduced rates for lift tickets and season passes, plus discounted lodging, meals, drinks, snowmobile trips, and shopping at local stores. Join online or at their office inside Snow King Resort (400 E. Snow King Ave.).
Grand Targhee Ski Resort  (307/353-2300 or 800/827-4433, www.grandtarghee.com )—just five miles above Alta, Wyoming—is the main attraction for the Teton Valley, Idaho  area. The resort offers excellent skiing and snowboarding in winter, along with a wide range of summer activities.
Just 12 miles northwest of Jackson  is Jackson Hole Mountain Resort (307/733-2292 or 888/333-7766, www.jacksonhole.com ), the largest and best-known Wyoming ski area. A true skiers’ and snowboarders’ mountain, Jackson Hole is considered the most varied and challenging of any American ski area. The powder is usually deep (average annual snowfall is 38 feet), lift lines are short, the slopes are relatively uncrowded, and the vistas are unbelievable.
First opened in 1965, Jackson Hole Mountain Resort has become one of the nation’s favorite ski areas. The resort has invested many millions of dollars in the last decade or so, upgrading facilities, adding lifts, expanding snowmaking, completing a spacious children’s center, and building an ice rink and snowboarding half-pipe. These improvements have both enhanced the resort’s reputation as an expert’s paradise and added facilities that are friendlier to families and intermediate skiers.
Jackson Hole Mountain Resort is owned by the Kemmerer family, whose ancestors founded the town of Kemmerer, Wyoming, and is one of the few major American ski resorts that is still independently owned. The resort is trying to become eco-friendly; it gets all its energy from renewable energy credits and recycling a third of all trash.
The mountain has one unusual feature that occurs in midwinter: A temperature inversion frequently develops over the valley, meaning that when it’s bitterly cold at the base of the mountain, the top is 15-20°F warmer. Skiers often remain on the upper slopes all day to enjoy these warmer temperatures.
With an unsurpassed 4,139-foot vertical drop (longest in the United States), 2,500 acres of terrain spread over two adjacent mountains, runs that exceed four miles in length, and 24 miles of groomed trails, Jackson Hole Mountain Resort is truly a place of superlatives. Half of the resort’s 60 runs are in the advanced category—including several of the notorious double-diamonds—but it is so large that even beginners will find plenty of bunny slopes on which to practice. (As a trivial aside, Montana’s Big Sky Resort also claims the longest vertical drop of any American mountain—4,300 feet—but this involves taking three lifts and ending your run below where you start.)
The only way to the summit of 10,450-foot Rendezvous Mountain is aboard one of the 100-passenger aerial tram cars. Powered by 1,970-horsepower engines, they climb nearly 2.5 miles in nine minutes, offering jaw-dropping views across Jackson Hole . Rendezvous Mountain is where experts strut their stuff on these steep and fast slopes, and if you’re not at least close to expert status you’ll find your blood pressure rising as the tram heads up the mountain. More than a few skiers and boarders have taken the tram back down after seeing what lies below.
Yes, those death-defying cliff-jumping shots are real; check out infamous Corbet’s Couloir, a rocky gully that requires a leap of faith. Fortunately, intermediate skiers and boarders are not given short shrift at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, particularly on the friendlier slopes of 8,481-foot Après Vous Mountain. Intermediate (and advanced) downhillers could spend all day playing on these slopes, and a high-speed quad here means that riders can blast to the summit of Après Vous in just five minutes. Because of the speed of this and other lifts, the wait at the base is usually just a few minutes.
In addition to these lifts, you can ride a gondola, five other quad chairs, two triple chairs, a double chair, and a Poma lift. Snowboarders will appreciate the half-pipe and boarders’ terrain trail. The resort’s Kids Ranch (307/739-2788, $89 per day) provides supervised day care, including a spacious play area; it’s the only drop-off day-care center in Jackson Hole, and it’s open seven days a week in winter. Not far away is a special “magic carpet” (a conveyer belt of sorts) for children learning to ski or snowboard.
Summer visitors to Jackson Hole Mountain Resort find an amazing variety of activities including horseback rides, music festivals, rock-climbing, paragliding, a mountain biking course, disc golf, playful pop-jet fountains, a bungee trampoline, shopping, or just soaking up the view while nursing a beer.
Get to Teton Village from the town of Jackson  by hopping on the START bus ($3 each way; 307/733-4521, www.startbus.com ). This is the only inexpensive part of a visit to Jackson Hole Resort, where prices for lift tickets approach the stratosphere. Regular-season single-day tickets are $91 adults, $55 ages 6-14, and $68 seniors. Afternoon-only rates are $73 adults, $44 kids, and $55 seniors. Multi-day tickets—the most common kind bought—are $435 per week (five days of skiing) for adults, $260 for kids 5-14, and $325 for seniors. Lifts are open 9 a.m.-4 p.m. daily Thanksgiving-early April.
Skis and snowboards can be rented at shops in Jackson or Teton Village. The ski school offers a Kids Ranch program with age-specific skiing and boarding. Jackson Hole Resort even has special steep snowboarding and skiing camps, where you learn from extreme downhill fanatics. Tommy Moe—gold and silver medalist at the 1994 Winter Olympics—is a ski ambassador for the resort. A private day of guided skiing is available for $1,400 (intermediate and expert skiers only).
Ski hosts provide information and twice-daily tours from the front of Walk Festival Hall. Racers and spectators will enjoy NASTAR events, along with various other competitions throughout the winter.
Get recorded snow conditions by calling the Snowphone at 307/733-2291; messages are changed each morning before 5 a.m. The resort’s website is packed with additional details, including the current weather and snow conditions, or visit www.jacksonhole.com/mobile  from your iPhone.
At the base of Rendezvous Mountain is the Swiss-style Teton Village—alias “the Vill.” Everything skiers and boarders need is crowded together here: lodges, condominiums, espresso stands, restaurants, après-ski bars, gift shops, groceries, ski, snowboard, and snowshoe rentals and lessons, storage lockers, car rentals, a sledding hill, child care, personal trainers, dogsled tours, and even a travel agency for escapes to Hawaii. Tune your radio to FM 100.1 “Teton Village Radio” for parking and transportation information.
On-the-mountain facilities include a fine-dining establishment (Couloir Restaurant) at the top of Bridger gondola, Casper Restaurant at the bottom of Casper Bowl, and snack bars at the base of Thunder chairlift and the top of Après Vous chairlift. Casper Restaurant serves a barbecue picnic most days and is a popular place to join friends for lunch.
Snow King Mountain (307/734-3136, www.snowkingmountain.com ) has three things that other local ski areas lack: location, location, and location. The resort sits directly behind town and just seven blocks from Town Square . This is the locals’ place, Jackson’s “town hill,” but it also offers surprisingly challenging runs.
It may not be the largest or fanciest place around, but the King’s ski runs make up in difficulty what they lack in size. From below, the mountain (7,808 feet at the summit) looks impossibly steep and narrow. High atop the big chairlift, the vista provides a panoramic tour of Jackson Hole  and the Tetons.
Snow King was the first ski area in Wyoming—it opened in 1939—and one of the first in North America. The original chapter of the National Ski Patrol was established here in 1941. The mountain has a 1,571-foot vertical drop. You’ll find more than 400 acres of skiable terrain at Snow King, with the longest run stretching nearly a mile. A triple chair, two double chairs, and a Poma lift climb the mountainside. Other features include snowmaking, a tubing park, and a very popular terrain park for snowboarders. It’s the only local resort with lighted runs.
Prices for lift tickets at Snow King are well below those at other Jackson Hole resorts: $42 per day ($32 per half-day) for adults and $32 per day ($22 per half-day) for kids under 13 and seniors. Hours of operation are daily 10 a.m.-4 p.m., with night skiing (4-7 p.m. Tues.-Sat.) available on the lower sections of Snow King for an additional $20 adults or $15 kids and seniors. In addition, the King has special three-hour rates for lift tickets ($30 adults, $20 kids and seniors); these are perfect for skiers and boarders who arrive late in the afternoon and want to hit the slopes for a bit. With some of the best snowmaking in Wyoming, the resort usually opens by Thanksgiving and remains in operation through early April.
At the base of Snow King you’ll discover a lodge with reasonable ski-and-stay packages. Also at Snow King are two restaurants, a lounge (called, not surprisingly, The Lounge), ski and snowboard rentals and lessons, plus a variety of other facilities, including an indoor ice rink and mountaintop snack shack. Jackson’s START buses (307/733-4521, www.startbus.com ) provide frequent service to town (free) or Teton Village ($3).
If you’re looking for untracked powder, the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort (307/733-2292 or 888/333-7766, www.jacksonhole.com ) can set up private lessons for access to parts of the mountain that are off-limits to mere mortals.
In lower Rock Springs Canyon, two miles south of the resort, Rock Springs Yurt has a backcountry location that’s accessible by cross-country skis or snowshoes. It’s only a two-mile trek, but you gain 1,000 feet along the way, making this a challenging trip. The fully equipped yurt is available for guided day trips and overnight stays. It sleeps eight for $425, including dinner and breakfast cooked by the “yurt meister.” Contact Jackson Hole Resort (307/739-2663 or 800/450-0477, www.jacksonhole.com ) for details. The yurt is also open to summertime hikers.
Powderhound skiers with a ton of cash will find unparalleled outback conditions accessible via High Mountain Heli-Skiing (307/733-3274, www.heliskijackson.com ). Operating from Togwotee Mountain Lodge (307/543-2847 or 800/543-2847, www.togwoteelodge.com ) 48 miles northeast of Jackson , Togwotee Snowcat Skiing takes skiers and snowboarders into a wide variety of terrain with spectacular vistas of the Tetons en route.
Rent or buy downhill skis and snowboards from:
520 W. Broadway Ave.
225 W. Broadway Ave.
490 W. Broadway Ave.
485 W. Broadway Ave.
50 E. Broadway Ave.
307/733-3270 or 800/570-3270
also in Teton Village
in Teton Village
in Teton Village
in Teton Village
307/733-2181 or 800/874-4224
Rentals are also available at all three ski areas.