By: Jane Hughes
My first visit to ski in Jackson Hole was a momentous vacation for all the wrong reasons. Unfortunately, I was already on crutches by the time my late arriving luggage was delivered to my condo. I tried to make the most of the situation and visited the National Elk Refuge, which was established in 1912 to help preserve the area’s elk population. The elk migrate from the high meadows in the fall and stay until spring when their food source becomes more available. The highlight of the Elk Refuge is a sleigh ride which allows you get “up close and personal” with the elk population. It really is quite an experience.
It took me several years to return to the scene of the crime, but I finally managed to do so last winter. It was obvious that the town of Jackson Hole and the village at the ski resort had grown since my previous visit. The skiing is still very challenging and the scenery is spectacular. The Jackson Hole Tram takes you to the top of the mountain and to the resort’s most challenging runs. Corbet’s Cabin is a small warming hut where they serve waffles smothered in sweets of all kinds.
A variety of winter sports abound in the area. Snow shoeing, snowmobiling, dog sledding are all available. There were lots of skiers taking a break from skiing to try paragliding off the mountain. It was great fun to take a ski break and watch the colorful parachutes take off into the sky.
Most of the Grand Tetons National Park is closed in the winter, but there are some trails open for hiking and snow shoeing. The Teton Mountains are simply magnificent. Day trips to Yellowstone National Park are also very popular in the winter season. Snowmobile tours are available, as are tours in snow coaches (special buses/vans equipped to handle winter snow).
I stayed at an area called The Aspen’s, which is a community of moderately priced condominiums located halfway between the town of Jackson Hole and Jackson Hole Mountain Ski Resort. It is very convenient. It is, however, not the Four Seasons.
The Four Seasons is a ski-in/ski-out property which is absolutely gorgeous. It has all of the ambiance you’d expect and more of what many folks envision in a mountain ski resort. For apres-ski, skiers can ski right up to an outdoor bar and patio, complete with a fire wall to help keep warm. Inside the hotel, the rooms have beautiful views of the valley or the slopes. The pool area is gorgeous and in the wintertime, smores are served poolside. The entire resort is picturesque.
One day, we ventured over the mountain pass to the Grand Targahee Ski Resort. It is a much smaller mountain with a local feel and a family atmosphere. It was nice diversion to add a bit of variety to our trip.
Restaurants and entertainment abound in Jackson Hole. Many restaurants are gourmet and expensive, but it is also possible to find moderate gems. The Mangy Moose, for example, is a popular watering hole that has a music venue in the evenings. Nora’s Fish Creek Inn in nearby Wilson is a favorite dining spot for locals and visitors.
We were lucky enough to be in town when a favorite musician was playing at the Jackson Hole Arts Center. The center was very pretty and it was fun to see the list of famous residents (Harrison Ford, to name one) who donated to creating the facility.
I highly recommend Jackson Hole for your winter or summer vacation. You might experience a traffic jam caused by a moose, but rather than stir up “road rage”, I am sure it will make you smile.