We’re always looking to scope out great spots for a family ski vacation. That’s why we decided to plan a Jackson Hole family ski trip. I like to think of myself as the ultimate explorer--saving all my friends time by doing to leg work. Jackson Hole isn’t exactly easy to get to and it can be expensive. I wanted to know if it was worth the effort.
Short answer: absolutely
There are three things Jackson Hole has going for it that you may not find at other destination ski resorts: Outstanding snow/terrain, luxury hotel/dining options, and pristine wilderness. I’d be remiss to not mention early on that there’s also a ton to do BESIDES ski on your Jackson Hole vacation. Now let’s get into the details.
Since there’s so much to talk about with Jackson Hole, we’re going to break it up into two posts:
Trip Planning: where to stay, what to eat, off mountain fun and apres ski activities for the family (covered here)
On the Snow: favorite runs, ski school and on-mountain fun
For this New Yorker, I was psyched to see that Jackson has direct flights. Both United and Delta fly direct from the New York City area to the Jackson Hole airport.In fact, there are 13 non-stop flights in the winter.
The Jackson Hole Airport is located at the base of the spectacular Teton Mountain Range. I think it’s the only airport that lands in a national park (the Grand Teton National Park). When I landed, I was immediately swept away into vacation mode.
As you drive in from the airport look out for moose. Look at this guy (feature photo) we spotted right after getting our rental car (and I admit I thought this was an elk--this city girl needed a Wyoming wildlife guide!).
You’ll drive right through Jackson the town on the way to the ski resort. Pick up groceries at the Albertson’s off W. Broadway (there’s also a Wine Loft nearby—mama likes a hearty red after coming in off the slopes). Then keep wrapping along Route 22 until you take a left on Teton Village Road towards the mountain.
We arranged a condo through Jackson Hole's resort lodging services. Budget range wildly and you can pick from high-end resorts like the Four Seasons as well as more budget-friendly condos. Since we love to cook and we love to eat out, we usually go for condos. We stayed in the Aspens. Our condo was a little dated but had plenty of space and was clean and functional. We loved the working fireplace that came stocked with wood. Most days we cook breakfast in and we always plan to have a few nights at home where we watch movies and snuggle by the fire.
As a rule, the closer you are to the base, the more expensive the property. We had a long walk to the base, or we could catch a shuttle. Friends at the Four Seasons stepped outside and could ski--everything has a price.
The village at the base is adorable. There are plenty of shops to pick up logo'd ski gear or casual restaurants to enjoy a meal. The Mangey Moose is infamous--I didn't try it but locals have made it notable.
What to Eat on Mountain
On mountain food is better than ever. Jackson Hole has put a lot of money and thought into improving the mountain dining. Don’t miss out on the chance for a swank lunch at Piste Mountain Bistro at the top of the Bridger Gondola. Start with some edamame and then don't miss the sliders. Yum!
Don't want to spend the time on a sit-down meal? No problem. Even the buffet options are fantastic. Check out the Asian noodle bowls at Rendezvous (at the top of the Bridger Gondola). There are multiple stations with hearty and healthy options and plenty of seating.
Let's not forget a well-earned treat. There are legendary waffles to be had at Corbet’s Cabin at 10,450 feet. Since I wasn’t super confident I could get my 8yo down from the top (it’s mostly expert terrain) we trammed up and back just to enjoy the view and waffles. Totally worth it.
What to Eat Off Mountain
We’ll talk a lot more about snow, but I want to share some food ideas too. I know you won’t eat all your meals at home. We tried Q Roadhouse and Brewing company had extremely slow service, but the food was serviceable. The kids thought all the peanut shells on the floor were cool. That's the best thing I can say about the meal.
My favorite food memory will be our special dinner in town. Take my advice and book a table at the Snake River Grill. Mr.Momtrends secured our table months in advance and it was delicious. Amazing fish and don’t skip the chocolate souffle.
Ok, that's a lot of good food, let's talk about how you earn all these calories. I always check out the off-mountain activities for the family. Not everyone needs to ski every day of the vacation, and Jackson Hole offers plenty of options.
What to Do Off Mountain
Snow King is the other mountain in town and a local’s favorite. It’s definitely worth the trip to take on the Cowboy Coaster. The Cowboy Coaster is a mountain roller coaster that takes riders 456 feet up Snow King Mountain. On the way down, you control the speed. It’s a thrill ride that’s for sure.
After your ride head over to the bar at The Snow King Hotel called Hayden’s Post. Kiddos can get Shirley Temples while the grown-ups enjoy cocktails in this marvelous setting.
When it comes to culture, you can’t beat the National Museum of Wildlife Art located right outside of town. Start outside and be sure to give yourself time to enjoy the outdoor sculptures. My girls loved clamoring around them and taking in the views.
Inside, you’ll enjoy wide open spaces and a collection of more than 500 works celebrating wildlife. I especially loved John Clymer’s studio which was a bequest to the museum in its entirety. All the details of his working space were preserved with such care.
There's also shopping in town, though we didn't make time for much of that. What we did make time for was more nature.
One thing you can’t skip is the National Elk Refuge in Jackson Hole
" target="_blank">National Elk Refuge. Get your tickets and shuttle to the elk preserve at the Jackson Hole Greater Yellowstone Visitor Center. The shuttle will take you to the sleighs. Load up under blankets and then set out amongst the elk. There are more than 5,000 of them feeding and you can get quite close. You’ll learn about the migratory patterns and get lots of nature facts. It was a HUGE hit with the family and a must-do for any visitors.
Jackson Hole bike and running path connects the ski resort with the town. It’s a smooth flat fun or cycle and many folks use if for community. It should be noted that many moose also use the path. Mr. Momtrends saw quite a few hairy friends along his runs.
Phew, that's a lot to do. Don't worry there are some exceptional spas to work out all the rough spots and sore muscles.
To soothe tired muscles, head to the Spa at Teton Mountain Lodge. I got mommy and me massages that we loved.
And we did suffer from a bit of resort-envy. If you can swing it, try to get a few days in at the Four Seasons. The slopeside pool at the Four Seasons Resort can't be beat. Our friends invited us for a swim and we swooned over the heated robes and s’mores.
Massage, s’mores and snow gently falling...that’s my idea on the perfect way to end a ski day. Book your Jackson Hole vacation here: www.jacksonhole.com
For more ski fun check out our 2016/17 Ski Guide
Accommodations were made by Jackson Hole to facilitate this review. Many of the experiences we paid for on our own. All photos are property of Momtrends.