Jackson Hole is a pretty serious place. It starts with the ski area’s terrain, which is gnarly enough that the management posts huge signs at the top and bottom of the Tram warning people to take it easy or they might get killed. Still, every season, waves of hotshot ex–ski racers arrive, ready to secure a spot in the next TGR movie or score a badge to the secret society that’s based on an ability to duck ropes and huck off cliffs.
The ones who survive their first season merge into the general population, which is probably the fittest anywhere. Jackson has 32 registered gyms for a population of 10,000—everything from power-yoga studios to industrial warehouses where people take turns dragging scrap iron across the floor. And those don’t attract the more stoic types who train by chasing down wolf packs in the surrounding wilderness wearing only surf trunks, sneakers, and their toddler in a baby carrier. In other words, don’t get in a local’s way. (A few years back, one guy on a popular backcountry bootpack was literally grabbed from behind and hurled aside because he was moving too slowly.) Another piece of advice: Don’t follow tracks if you are new in town; a lot of the runs end in 300-foot cliffs, which the locals more-or-less ski.
The best advice for skiing here is to take a warmup ski vacation someplace in Colorado before your actual ski vacation in Jackson Hole. Then when you get to Jackson, hire a guide. He or she can tour you around the famous terrain on both sides of the ropes, point you into the couloirs between the cliffs, and usher you to the front of the line for Jackson Hole’s famous Tram. After which, you very well might get beat up. Don’t worry. It’ll be worth it.
The town of Jackson is known for its dismally poor male-to-female ratio during the winter. Guys, if you don’t like your 7:1 odds, well, too bad.
In January, a.k.a. “Manuary,” your Tinder feed will simply flash an error message. Brought a date with you? (This is a good plan.) The valley’s best food is at Teton Thai, at the resort—there’s no wait at lunch. Later, amuse yourselves by touring Jackson’s cheesy art galleries ($10,000 for a bronze statuette of a sexy cowgirl bathing in a horse trough?), and then duck into the famous Cowboy Bar on the Town Square. After a few whiskeys, that same artwork and Western kitsch looks a lot better. And the bands aren’t half bad either, providing you appreciate Waylon Jennings tunes and can swing dance. In other words, good luck out there.
>> Famous Resident: Harrison Ford
>> Distance to Nearest Target: 88 miles
>> Local Event: Jackson Town Downhill