Live and let live. That’s the Wyoming motto. And if there’s any place on earth that really knows how to live, it is Jackson Hole. Sky high mountains, fresh powder all season long and a howdy ya’all cowboy attitude everywhere you go.
Jackson Hole continues to famously deliver legendary powder snow, 4,139 continuous vertical feet, 2500 acres of beginner, intermediate and expert skiing and snowboarding and a genuine “Last of the Old West” atmosphere.
Jackson Hole actually gets the majority of its visitors during the summer season—which is why a last minute winter getaway is the perfect time to jet set to Wyoming. With mountains this big lines are never an issue and the heavy slush of the northeast slopes are a thing of the past. The trails are legendary for incredible black diamonds, both in-bounds and back country, but don’t let that deter any intermediate skiers—hire an instructor for the day and you’ll be hiking up Headwall by the end of the weekend.
Once you’ve hit the mountain really hard for a few days in a row and your calves are too tight to walk, let alone ski, it’s time to wander off mountain into the actual town of Jackson Hole. It’s a magical little village, the town square welcoming with its Elk antler archways and home to the only Russian style Banya House to be found in all of Wyoming, Idaho and Utah. Infusing old-world Russian Bath House techniques with Jackson Hole charm, the Bear & Doe Banya Spa is a boutique operation offering everything from heat rushed Venik treatments (a thwacking from water soaked oak branches is incredibly rejuvenating) and honey blankets in the sauna to replenish that wind burn. It’s worth calling it quits early on the slopes and stopping for an intense massage and a cup of freshly brewed local Jackson Hole tea.
When you eventually make it back to the resort, it’s time for another adventure. There is the lovely luxurious Four Seasons mountain-side to the lifts, but if you’re looking to really explore these forests an overnight trip to the Rock Springs Yurt is the perfect escape. Rock Springs is a small traditional yurt hidden in the middle of Jackson Hole’s scenic and legendary backcountry terrain. With your own private party of a dozen friends and a personal Yurtmiester to lead the way, you ski/snowboard in on amazing knee high powder to a perfect little cottage complete with wood burning stove and a gourmet dinner.
Wake up to freshly brewed coffee after a night in a sleeping bag under the stars and you’ll barely know you’ve been camping. It’s glamping with more authenticity than you’d expect—there’s a designated ‘pee tree’ so you know you’re ‘roughing’ it…but there’s also freshly toasted bagels with cream cheese, lox and capers NY style waiting after you rush back inside in the morning. You can also snowshoe in and out for those less experienced skiers…we tried it both ways, and the ski option is definitely recommended (unless you love an insane leg work out before 8am. Then snowshoe for sure).
Finally, as you swoosh back to reality at the base of the resort after a peaceful night at the Yurt check the winds and see if the Jackson Hole Paragliders are out and about. Scott Harris has been paragliding for decades and is an incredibly easy going calming instructor to take you out for your first glide. Wait till the wind’s right, rush up the gondola to 9,095 feet in elevation, strap the backpack on, wait for the audience (aka other skiers) to conduct paparazzi style photos and videos of you, take one deep yoga breath, open your heart to the sky, run run run to the top of the trail and suddenly you’re soaring among the birds and above the treetops.
Skiers become ants beneath your boots as the wind whistles away and you come as close to the sun as you can be without fearing Icarus’s fate. The reality of flying sets in….instead of a sky diving intense rush of adrenaline there is an incredible peace here, appreciating the mountain and literally seeing everything from a new point of view. Suddenly gravity and you are one again as you look at the sky and sigh. When will the wind be right again? Paragliding on this mountain seems to be an addiction that may never fade.
Jackson Hole is waiting. Skip the beach. Go on a real adventure.