There was a time when you couldn't get a bottle of beer in Jackson: The stuff was only served in cans to soften the body count during bar fights. These days, the only tough guys you'll spot are Harrison Ford, Dick Cheney, and a cadre of local backcountry fanatics milking the place for every skiable acre. Since Jackson and Teton Village actively recruit deep-pocketed Leerjetters to fill their luxury condos, the town's riches trickle down in the form of upper-crust service jobs: private chefs, personal trainers, realtors. "I definitely have high-end clientele, says Chippy Sherman, 42, a caterer who has fed dozens of celebrities and corporate bigwigs. Yet she still skis three days a week—by extending her hours. "Sometimes I work till 1 a.m. when I know tomorrow's a powder day, she says. Housing is another story: Hemmed in by Grand Teton National Park and Bridger-Teton National Forest, only two percent of Jackson Hole is private land. A few affordable developments (that'll go for $150—$200K) are going up on the outskirts of town, but many people commute from nearby (and cheaper) Driggs or Victor, Idaho, to save cash. Scrimping is key: The ski area rarely gives locals a break on its four-figure season passes.
Wall Street financial firms keep research offices here to take advantage of Wyoming's zero-percent state income tax, and outdoor companies like Life-Link and Cloudveil are based in town. Both sectors hire locally.
Leaving Here:Jackson Hole Airport is seven miles north of town in Grand Teton National Park, with direct flights from Chicago and Atlanta. Expect to tack on another $200 more for a ticket out of Denver or Salt Lake City.
Being Here:Beware the shoulder seasons—especially fall, when many restaurants and shops cut back hours or close altogether. Idaho Falls, Idaho, 90 miles away, is the closest thing to a big city.
Skiing Here: 12 miles to Jackson Hole Mountain Resort
Snowfall: 368 inches
Skiable Terrain:2,500 acres
Vertical: 4,139 feet
Per Capita Income: $25,004
Median rental price: $717
Median home price: $260,600