Jackson Hole is a favorite resort of skiers not just in the United States, but worldwide. It has the well-deserved nickname, “The Big One,” not only for the 2500 acres on marked skiable terrain, but also for its steeps and off-piste skiing. Jackson has a thrilling 4139-foot drop, with the base lodging located at 6300 feet above sea level. That means that if you make the trip to the peak (and you should), you’re standing at just shy of 2 miles above sea level. The view is, in a word, spectacular. Take Big Red, the aerial tram, and you won’t ever forget the ride or the view.

A Trail Breakdown

Jackson Hole is located in Grand Teton National Park smack in the middle of the Rocky Mountains. There are 116 named and marked trails with a heavy slant towards experienced skiers. The official split is 50% expert, 40% intermediate, and 10% beginner trails. Of the expert trails, 54 are single black diamond, and 23 are double black. Intermediates are broken down into 30 single-blue and 20 double blue. However, if you’re used to skiing at a local resort, even a double blue might feel like a black diamond run. It isn’t so much what the terrain on the runs is like (even if it is amazing); it’s what lies just beyond the marked trail. Cliffs and unexpected drops are all clearly marked, but when Jackson says there’s a cliff, they mean it.

Beginning at Jackson

There are seven runs that are marked for novice skiers. That low number doesn’t mean that beginner skiers are going to lack in fun. Lower Teewinot is a split trail that has four separate paths down the slopes. Other fun novice trails are Lower Werner and Antelope Flats, as well as Eagle’s Rest, a nice beginning steep. All of the novice areas are designated slow zones enforced by park ski patrol, so you won’t have to worry about someone zipping by as they come off of a more difficult run. There are two dedicated lifts for the novice runs; Teewinot is a quad chair lift and Eagle’s Rest is s 5-minute double chair ride.

Advanced Skiing

For those of you who are more comfortable on your skis, Jackson has a lot to offer. Whether it’s braving the triple Hoback trails or experiencing one of the many chutes or glades, there’s enough to keep you skiing for years. Some of the better bowls are only accessible through gates and are ski at your own risk. Let’s be frank here, if you’re really sure of your skiing ability, there’s one run you have to make: S&S Couloir. This run requires a waiver and special arrangements with ski patrol. And this is an in-bounds trail. There’s an initial 40-foot drop and narrow rock wall-lined chutes that is not for the faint of heart.

Jackson also has over 3000 acres of land accessible for off-piste skiing. However, as with every time you go off-piste, your safety is in your hands. Take an avalanche kit and always ski with a buddy.

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