Ski Jackson Hole for Intermediates

The biggest ski myth you will ever hear is that Jackson Hole is only for experts. Jackson Hole is one of the best intermediate mountains anywhere. Jackson has its infamous steeps, but this huge mountain of 4,000 acres also has some of the world's best intermediate skiing.

Ski Jackson Hole for Intermediates

Member Rating 0 out of 5 by Wasatch on November 8, 2004

I’m going to ignore Jackson's steep trails and discuss great intermediate skiing. The easiest intermediate skiing is off the Apres Vous and Casper Bowl chairs.

The Bridger Gondola to Gros Ventre is steeper than the Apres Vous/Casper runs. The top can be skied from the Thunder Quad-- turn left just before the tram tower. Thunder accesses outstanding advanced-intermediate terrain west of the tram line. Take Grand below the first tram tower, a spectacular wide and steep intermediate run. It gets ratty just past the tram tower, the steepest part of the run, but hang in there.

The Sublette Quad accesses the advanced-intermediate Rendezvous Trial. You can also get there by going straight ahead off Thunder and left into Laramie Bowl. Rendezvous Trail's scenery can’t be beat. Look right just before unloading to the Teton peaks. After unloading, look ahead. Follow Hanging Rock to the bottom of Rendezvous Bowl.

Rendezvous Trial is the groomed path ahead to the right. Watch for an uphill path on your right to the top of a small rise for one of Jackson’s best views.

Among the easier black-diamond runs are Bivouac, a groomed screamer. You see the entire steep run from the top from Rendezvous Trail. You can’t see the cream puff return to Rendezvous Trail.

Comfortable on Bivouac? Try Casper Bowl from its western edge. Take Rendezvous Trial to the of the woods separating Bivouac and Casper; drop in, angling toward the center of the bowl; and end on the cream puff run at the bottom of Bivouac. Look at the tad steeper Cirque from the top of the Gondola or Gros Ventre. If it looks manageable, go right at the top of the Sublette Quad on Tensleep, a black-diamond run, but not until you reach The Cirque. This easy trip to the Cirque passes the bottom of famed Corbeled’s Couloir.

The short hill to the right of the top of Thunder Chair is easier than it looks. These were the first black-diamond runs at Jackson that we tried-- no problem. If you managed any two of these runs and you need to get some new snow, treat yourself to The Hobacks, a run that would make an East Coast ski resort by itself.

We prefer Laramie Traverse back to the base because it's wider and less busy than South Pass. ${QuickSuggestions} As usual, it is very expensive to stay at the base. It is much less expensive to stay in town, where the Apres ski life booms.

Apres ski:
There is Mangy Moose Saloon at the base and Million Dollar Cowboy Bar at the town square.

Shopping in Jackson.
Feed the 8,000 elk at the National Elk Refuge, but dress in very warm clothes. Wear your ski boots if those are your warmest boots.
Take a day to ski Grand Targee, another intermediate delight, on the snowy side of the Teton Range.
Snowmobile trips into Yellowstone or Grand Teton National Parks. ${BestWay} In deciding where to stay, consider transportation. You can stay anywhere in the valley with a car. Without a car, stay either at the base or somewhere with easy access to the bus route. You can easily get by without a car if you fly into Jackson. At the airport, check prices to your hotel from either the shuttle bus or any cab around. For two or more people, taxis are usually cheaper and faster.

The town bus gets you around town and to the ski area at low cost. If you want a car, there is good chance that both air and car rates will be much less if you fly into nearby Idaho Falls instead of into Jackson (scenic route: US 26, WY 31, and WY 33; fast route: I-15 to WY 33).

Alpenhof Lodge

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by Wasatch on November 8, 2004

This is one of the most expensive ski lodges in town with a can't-be-beat location just a few steps from the Gondola and Tram Base. The size of the very comfortable rooms ran from small to spacious, and they are priced accordingly. For convenience and comfort, it may be worth the price.
Alpenhof Lodge
3255 West Village Drive P.O. Box 288
Jackson Hole, Wyoming
(307) 733-3242

Motel 6

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by Wasatch on November 8, 2004

This was a very pleasant standard motel. It had nice comfortable beds, but there were NO TUBS-there were only showers in the rooms. This is one of Jackson's best deals. It is in a quiet location.

Caution: It may be off the local bus route. If you won't have a car, check ahead on where the bus goes.

Wyoming Inn
930 W Broadway
Jackson Hole, Wyoming, 83001
(307) 734-0035

Super 8 Motel-Jackson Hole

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by Wasatch on November 8, 2004

This was a very pleasant standard motel. It had nice comfortable beds, and it is one of Jackson's better deals. This is in a quiet location on the side of the building away from the parking lot. A decent continental breakfast is included.

Caution: It may be off the local bus route. If you won't have a car, check ahead to see where the bus goes.

Super 8 Jackson Hole
750 S Highway 89
Jackson Hole, Wyoming, 83001
(307) 733-6833

Alpenhof-- upstairs

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by Wasatch on November 8, 2004

Unless the Alpenhof's main dining room is open, this is the best food on the mountain. It's easy to get to for lunch and less crowded than the alternatives. It has very good food in a pleasant setting.
Alpenrose at Alpenhof Lodge
3255 W Village Dr
Jackson Hole, Wyoming, 83025
(307) 733-3242

The mountain cafeteria

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by Wasatch on November 8, 2004

This has a more pleasant setting than the base cafeteria, but is a tad more expensive. This has easy access without having to return to the base. There are chairs and tables. It has a nice atmosphere if you can score a spot in front of the fireplace.
Mountain Cafeteria
Alongside the Casper Chair
Jackson Hole, Wyoming

Teton Steak House

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by Wasatch on November 8, 2004

This is a Sizzler by another name, with a menu just about like Sizzler's, which it once was. This place is more expensive than Sizzler, but a bargain in high-priced Jackson. Don't miss the Buffalo Burger.
Teton Steak House
40 West Pearl
Jackson, Wyoming, 83001
(307) 733-2639

Bubba's BBQ

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by Wasatch on November 8, 2004

Bubba’s is the busiest restaurant in Jackson Hole Territory. Everybody eats at Bubba’s except Arnold Schwartzenegger and Maria Shriver. Arnold and Maria came to Bubba’s. The hostess told them what everyone hears between 5:30pm and ???- "Sign in. The wait is about 45 minutes." Arnold-Maria said, "We don’t wait for tables". Said Bubba’s, "Then you don’t eat at Bubba’s". Here’s what they missed.

Bubba’s decor redefines rustic, either up or down, depending on your point of view. Charm is not Bubba’s strength. Wall are bare wood. Floors are bare wood. Tables, both picnic and otherwise, are bare wood. Booths, more bare wood. Still, in a perverse way, it works.

What brings the crowds to Bubba’s is superb wood smoked meat and the lowest prices in this pricy resort. Since your meal was put in the smoke ovens to cook 12 hours ago, food service is just a little slower than a fast food joint, so the long list of names ahead of yours clears out remarkably fast.

For diner, you have smoked beef, smoked pork, smoked chicken, smoked sausage, and smoked ham. We’ve had them all, and would, and have, ordered all of them again. I figure we’ve spent 10-12 weeks in Jackson over the years, and taken more than half our evening meals at Bubba’s.

Servings are large and include two sides and excellent Texas toast. We’re partial to Curly Fries, Cowboy Beans and slaw among the sides. Menu explorers can order the combo plate, choice of two or three meats and two sides. Folks with smaller appetites should consider a sandwich of sliced pork or beef and to make a real meal of it, add salad bar. This is just as filling and just as good as a full diner, but it costs less.

Curly Fries are the high point of the side dishes, but not always available. If not listed on the menu, we had occasional success in asking for them.

The salad bar is limited to the basic American salad bar stuff along with a surprising selection of cheeses.

One of Bubba’s brilliant touches, and something all BBQ joints should copy, is to not put any BBQ sauce on the meat. Instead, three different bottles of Bubba’s excellent home made BBQ sauce are on the table– mild, medium, and HOT. This way, you can match both the hotness and quantity of sauce used to your personal tastes. But before you drown everything in sauce, try a bite of meat without, for the smoke flavor is best revealed in naked meat. Then experiment to find the best combo of sauce and meat. This is the way BBQ should always be served.

Service is down home friendly, fast, and efficient. The pot bellied stove just inside the dining room provides welcome warmth during ski season. On arrival, don’t stand there in the mob in the lobby. Make your way to the hostess station and get your name on the waiting list.
Bubba's Bar-B-Que Restaurant
515 S Us Hwy 89
Jackson Hole, Wyoming, 83001
(307) 733-2288

Alpenhof-- downstairs

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by Wasatch on November 8, 2004

As ski areas go, this is the best food between Park City and The Big Mountain . . . and one of the best restaurants we've run across anywhere.

As fine as it is for dinner, pray that it is open for lunch, which most of the time it isn't.

Alpenrose at Alpenhof Lodge
3255 W Village Dr
Jackson Hole, Wyoming, 83025
(307) 733-3242

The National Elk Refuge

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by Wasatch on February 21, 2006

If you drive to the north edge of Jackson, a few blocks east of the town square, you'll find the town boundary marked by high, heavy fence, almost like a prison yard fence. This marks the boundary of the National Elk Refuge. As the winter snows pile up in the mountians the Elk can’t reach the ground to feed, so they migrate downhill and south until they end up in the large open area north of Jackson, and east of the highway– the National Elk Refuge. Some micro climate effects cause this space to have a relatively light cover of snow in the winter, so they can find food. Also, the stream that meanders through the refuge emerges from some hot springs just outside Jackson (there is a view point near one, close to the road, which is identified by the steaming stream). The hot water keeps the stream from freezing, so the Elk have a water source in even the coldest Jackson winters, where -20°F is not unusual.

However, there is an overpopulation problem– too many elk for the land still available to wildlife. Consequently, the government feeds the elk during the winter. Visitors can ride along for the daily feeding in an open wagon. The smell of 7,000 Elk is memorable. Note that once out to the heard, the ground is covered with black pellets. This is not the Elk feed. It’s what comes out the other end.

When we went, we wore our full coldest weather ski gear, including ski boots—do not underdress for this. It is cold.

Just across the highway from the refuge lands is the National Elk Refuge Visitor’s Center and Wildlife Art Museum, a pleasant but minor entertainment unless you are really hot on paintings of bears and Moose.
National Elk Refuge
675 E Broadway
Jackson Hole, Wyoming, 83001
(307) 733-9212

It Is Not As Cold As It Is

Member Rating 0 out of 5 by Wasatch on February 9, 2007

We arrived at the base lift at Jackson Hole one morning and were greeted by a sign reading, "Temperature, -20. At the top of the lift, 0. At the top of the next lift (the top of the mountain) +15."

Not every day is like this, but they happen several times each winter in Jackson. This is the weather phenomenon called a temperature inversion, known around the Intermountian West simply as "The Inversion".

Normally, wind stirs the atmosphere, making temperatures drop as altitude increases. When the winter wind stops, weather turns upside down and colder, denser air sinks to the valley floors while the warmer air rises to the top of the mountians. I saw it happen this morning.

Our house is at the bottom of a mountain with Deer Valley Ski Resort on top, 4,000 feet higher than our house. There is a recording thermometer at the top of Deer Valley on the Internet. At the top of the mountain at 8am yesterday, it was 4°. Went up to 15° around 2pm, then down to 5 at 9pm. After 9pm, the temperature rose every hour until 8am this morning when it was 19° on top and 1°at our house. The Inversion was back.

Over the years, we’ve made about 10 ski trips to Jackson, and caught inversions two to three times. They were all the same—frigid in the valley (town), but pleasant on the mountain, though cold. The Inversion is created by large high pressure systems which produce sparkling, cloud free skies and brilliant sunshine in the mountians. Some valleys, like Salt Lake City, turn into cold, smog-choked hell holes. Jackson doesn’t yet have enough polluting cars to get too bad on pollution, but it will be well frozen in the valley, where all lodging is.

We have also run into The Inversion in Bozeman, MT, (Big Sky) and a god awful Inversion week in Salt Lake City where we had to drive with headlights on to see the road at noon. But in all, go up the mountians to ski, and it gets warm and sunny.

By far, The Inversion is at its worst in Salt Lake City, where too many cars create a foul smelling—you can actually taste it—choking smog which the Inversion traps in the valley. The Inversion may sometimes be seen at work by watching the smoke from a chimney. The smoke plume will rise for a while, then it stops going up and spreads horizontally. As the air gets warmer with increasing attitude, the smoke which started rising at the surface because it is hotter than the outside air, soon reaches air that is hotter than the smoke, so it can’t go up any more.

Salt Lake City’s Inversion creates a dense blanket of smog, looking a lot like a cloud that hangs over the valley. At the ski resorts above the smog line, there won’t be a cloud in the sky. One day, we were in a really bad smog cloud that reached halfway up the first lift at Solitude Ski Resort. We got on the chair in a smelly fog, and about halfway up the mountain, came out of the fog into brilliant sunlight, with blue skies above us and a solid cloud blanket below.

The good news is that western ski resorts and valleys rarely get an Alberta Clipper, the big cold air systems that sweep down across the Great Plains from the Canadian Arctic and put most of the nation west of Denver in the deep freeze. Once, we were skiing at Bridger Bowl just outside Bozeman when a Clipper struck. We could look east from the top of the mountain and see the start of the plains, where the temperature was 35° colder than we were.

We have been skiing the west for over 30 years, and living there for 10, but only once has an Alberta Clipper been so strong that it managed to cross the mountain wall where the Rockies meet the plains into the intermountian zone. That was memorable, however. The high temperature at the top of the mountain where we were skiing was -17°. Wearing all the layers we could muster, and wrapped in the finest northern goose down, we could stay outside for about 2 hours at a time between warmups in the lodge.

The lesson here is not to worry about temperatures when planning a ski trip to the west. The incredibly cold  temperatures shown in the weather reports are almost always valley inversion temperatures, and they won’t bother you skiing, up on the mountain where it will be warmer and gloriously sunny. The low humidity of the west also makes cold weather feel less cold than the same temperature feels in more humid places

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