25 Top Spots: # 3 Jackson Hole, WY

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Jackson Hole

Overall Rank: #3
Snow: #8
Steeps: #1
Nightlife: #7

Jackson's open-boundary policy, now three years old, has been the most significant story in North American ski resorts in recent memory. For good reason: The best big-mountain ski area in the United States and the only resort to rival Whistler Blackcomb's hairball quotient expanded almost exponentially-overnight and without adding a lift. Nobody's ever put a hard number on how much more skiing the policy allows, but saying it quadrupled skiable terrain wouldn't be unreasonable. How does 10,000 acres grab you?

It's not like the Village-as locals call it-was lagging before the new rules. Jackson already laid claim to the biggest vertical in the country and unbelievable steeps, cliffs, trees, and technical lines. In spring, Apres Vous serves up the tastiest corn in the West. Many of the most accomplished ski mountaineers and rock stars of the modern era call Jackson home. But the open gates-by giving legal access to Cody Bowl, Rock Springs, Granite Canyon, and beyond-turned Jackson into a playground of almost unimaginable opportunity.

The Vitals

Top Elevation: 10,450 feet
Vertical drop: 4,139 feet
Snowfall: 369 inches (8,250')
Skiable acres: 2,500
Bars: 20
Eateries: 50
Web: jacksonhole.com

Sure, Corbet's gets all the ink, but the premium inbounds runs have to be the Hobacks. A wide series of whalebacks and gullies stretching across nearly a quarter of the area, the Hobacks drop 2,500 vertical with a pitch ranging 40 to 45 degrees.

While it does capture significant snow (369 inches), Jackson's prevailing southeast aspect and big vertical relief promise mixed conditions on even the best days. For big dumps, go in January and hope for a deep base-there are a lot of rocks to cover here.

Nowhere but the Mangy Moose. Expect live music, flannel shirts, serial barkeeps, and partying that's as core as the terrain.

Local's Take
"The tram is one little thing that defines the mountain. It's a timeless relic, just a little red box that stinky locals cram into and fight over. You get in line at 6 a.m. on a powder day and wait for three hours. If you get out of line and come back later and try and retrieve your spot, you'll probably get two black eyes. It's Jackson locals at their finest."