Not all vertical was created equal. The 4,139 feet that scroll under your feet relentlessly from the top of Rendezvous Bowl to the bottom of the Gros Ventre is a case in point. One reader describes Jackson Hole, ranked No. 1 in North America for both Terrain and Challenge, as "the best rush." For the past five seasons, Jackson has been blanketed by more than 500 inches of dry Wyoming powder, the perfect complement to the long, even Hobacks faces, the landing zone of Corbet's Couloir and the nooks of the Alta Chutes. If the endless variety of trees, bowls and chutes inbounds aren't wild enough for you, take a trip through Jackson's backcountry gates, now permanently open. Though the "locals can ski like hell," it's the mountain itself that steals the show. To be sure, Jackson's impressiveness can be intimidating. Intermediates won big, however, last year with the Apres Vous quad that provides high-speed access to a ski autobahn. Ample grooming on the wide slopes allows you to be as hardcore as you want to be. Jackson's proximity to Yellowstone provides a spectacular family expedition and also a surplus of lodging in the "laid-back, friendly" town. Make no mistake, Jackson has been discovered and now boasts luxury slopeside condos and swishy restaurants. But institutions like the ski-in/ski-out Hostel and the Mangy Moose-an après-ski must-endure. Carnivores will revel in Jackson's "unique Western dining." Nightlife in town is also decidedly Western and light on glitz. Get local at the Stagecoach or revel in your greenhorn self at the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar. If you make the Jackson pilgrimage, one reader promises: "You will be a better skier after a week at the Hole."
WHAT'S NEW A high-speed quad from the Moose Creek townhome development connects to a new fixed-grip Union Pass quad; the Teton Club condo-hotel and restaurant; a five-floor spa at the slopeside Renaissance.
A GOOD DEAL Four nights' lodging, three days' skiing, start at $295 per person. Call (800) 443-6931.
MEDALS GOLD Snow, Terrain, Challenge, Dining, Scenery, Off-Hill Activities; SILVER Value, Lifts, Service, Lodging, Après-Ski.
HIGH/LOW RANK Terrain (1), Challenge (1), Scenery (4); Accessibility (47), Family (48), Grooming (66).
DON'T MISS Watching Tommy Moe jump into Corbet's Couloir.
READER REMARKS (+) "If you take the time to get there, it's the best skiing on the continent." (-) "Remote." "Terrain is too much for my wife."