Ask a group what their favourite American ski resort is, and you can almost guarantee that someone will yell "Jackson Hole!" at the top of their lungs.
For decades, Jackson Hole, Wyoming has been synonymous with some of the most incredible skiing in the USA, and extreme skiers come from all over the world to see it in all its glory. Here's why it get's my vote:
1. Amazing advanced skiing
Ripping around the mountain at high speeds is one of my favourite things to do, and often, the more challenging, the better. Jackson Hole has been the posterchild for this kind of skiing, ever since people started flinging themselves off Corbet's Couloir.
If you haven't heard of it, Corber's Couloir is a chute that begins at a near vertical angle, forcing whichever brave soul is attempting it to basically jump in. It then quickly eases into a 40-50 degree slope, but only the bravest of skiers dare attempt it!
Videos of people attempting it and tumbling have only brought it more notoriety, but honestly, the Couloir is simply one of dozens of equally noteworthy runs. And that's what makes it such a brilliant ski resort; people are there to ski HARD. It's not pretentious, and people let their skiing do the talking!
If advanced skiing isn't for you, then Jackson Hole might not be your perfect resort (nearly half the runs are rated as expert and only 10% are for beginners), but fear not! You can visit the nearby Snow King Mountain if you get sick of the hard stuff! OR, if you literally cannot get enough of the skiing, you can go there after Jackson Hole closes for some night skiing!
Courtesy of VisitJacksonHole
2. Granite Hot Springs
There's nothing I love more after a hard day on the slopes than hitting up a hot springs for a nice, long soak. In fact, I'm tempted to say that I won't go skiing unless someone guarantees me some kind of hot tub or hot spring afterwards!
Not every ski town is blessed with geothermal activity, but thankfully Jackson Hole is one of the rare gems that is! At 7,000ft, the hot springs are very definitely up in the mountains, and the spectacular views from the pool will take your breath away.
Granite Hot Springs are a developed hot springs (i.e. a big swimming pool) nestled away in the Bridger-Teton National Forest. The pool is nestled away in the trees, which only adds to the feeling of tranquility, and they're open year round! However, it's important to know that the road is closed in winter for cars, so you'll have to snowshoe, ski or snowmobile to get there! If you ask me, that only makes the adventure more exciting, and totally adds to the appeal of these amazing springs!
3. You're close to National Parks
Jackson Hole is actually within spitting distance of at least 2 National Parks; Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park.
While a lot of the hiking in these parks might be best saved for the summer, winter is a chance to experience both places in a different light!
In Yellowstone, although many of the roads are closed to vehicles, you can still actually ski in or take a tour to Old Faithful and the Grand Prismatic Spring. It's almost more of an adventure if you get there under your own steam, and it always feels more worth it when you've had to sweat for it!
Yellowstone is also full of great snowshoeing trails where you can spot animals like Elk and Bison as you traipse around. Best to go in groups though, if you ask me!
Grand Teton is also an amazing place to explore in Winter, and similar to Yellowstone, the best exploring is done under your own steam. Many of the winter roads are closed, and your best option is to take to your cross country skis or snowshoes and explore on foot! You can also access Jackson Lake on a snowmobile for ice fishing!
4. The wildlife
Because Jackson Hole is so close to these National Parks, it may not surprise you to learn that Jackson is absolutely lousy with wildlife. For avid wildlife photographers, or anyone that just loves to see as many different kinds of animal in the wild as possible, you're going to have a field day here.
Jackson Hole is home to most North American mammals, including wolves, bison, elk, bears, moose, coyotes and more! Don't forget to pack your binoculars!
5. Sleigh Rides in the National Elk Refuge
If you've ever wanted to see an Elk, there is absolutely no better chance than this in the US. Why? Because the National Elk Refuge is located in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, home to the largest herd of Elk in North America.
That, alone, would be enough to warrant a day trip from Jackson Hole, but in the winter months you can actually visit this herd on a horse drawn sleigh! There are literally thousands of Elk running free here, and because you're in a sleigh, you can actually get right up close and personal with them (safely, I might add).
Speaking of wildlife, you could also take a full or half day winter wildlife safari while you're here. Late winter is mating season for many animals, so it's a great time to see some interesting animal behaviour!
Using a wildlife expert will drastically increase your chances of bumping into something interesting, and they usually come with telescopes so that you can feel like you're a part of the action!
Sounds like fun, right?
Those were just 5 awesome reasons to visit Jackson Hole in Winter, and we haven't even begun to scratch the surface. I haven't even mentioned the incredible food and drink you can find in the area - believe me, there's so much good food, you really can't go wrong!
Jackson Hole is a winter paradise, so please make sure you visit it, but more importantly, make sure you step away from the ski hill at some point and experience some of the other amazing activities on offer!