It was Spring Break of my biggest ski season ever and I was planning to hit the biggest and baddest of them all: Jackson Hole, Wyoming. I was wanting to introduce my sons to some skiing out West and this was just the opportunity. I invited my dad along to join us and he readily accepted. The plan was to drive out from Missouri, spend the first night with some friends in Lincoln, Nebraska, before driving the rest of the way to Jackson, Wyoming.
Our drive was mostly uneventful as we made good time traveling west on I-80. Once we hit the mountains in Wyoming, the scenery made the drive go by rather nicely. Our travel time from Lincoln to Jackson was exactly 13 hours, as we arrived at 5:30 PM local time -- just in time for us to pick up our rental equipment.
Upon grabbing our ski gear, we then checked into our accommodations for the week -- The Hostel right at the Jackson Hole base area. The price and location were hard to beat. Even though my initial impression was not a positive one, I ultimately determined that the Hostel was the perfect place for our stay there at Jackson Hole. If I ever return, the Hostel would be my preferred place to stay.
We had a decent dinner at the Spur (right there in Teton Village) that first night before retiring to our room for the evening.
Day 1: Jackson Hole
The weather was awfully nice for being outside, but a little too nice for skiing as the snow was bulletproof hard early on and quickly became slushy as the temperatures rose and the sun beat down on the south-facing mountain. Both of my sons were taking lessons so I had the day to myself to get to know Jackson Hole. So off I went. I rode the Bridger Gondola up and made my maiden voyage down the Jackson face on the Sundance run which was very firm, but no too bad for a warm-up run. After taking the gondola up a second time, I headed over to the Casper chair to see how things looked there. I made the mistake of following some skiers who looked like they knew where they were going by hanging a right at the top the chair and taking the Moran Traverse. The Traverse turned into more than I bargained for as it ended in a cliffed-out area with very little coverage. This was a rather ominous introduction to Jackson Hole. I had to do a bit of creative traversing to make my way out of the Moran Face area over to the Apres Vous runs. Once there, I enjoyed the gentle terrain of Moran and Werner on the Apres Vous lift.
I noted that the few blue runs I had seen thus far here at JHMR had a decent pitch to them and would not be ideal runs for tentative skiers wanting to make the transition from green to blue. (I was scouting out the the terrain to see if I would be able to bring my sons up onto the mountain on subsequent days.)
I headed back up the gondola and headed down Amphitheater to the Thunder lift. I enjoyed the views of some of the steeper terrain on this lift. I skied down Grand and took Sublette up. I took two trips down the Rendezvous Trail which even though groomed, had what I thought to be the best snow on the mountain. I eventually took the traverse over to lower Gros Ventre. I spent the last hour hanging out at the Teewinot Lift to ski with my dad and sons.
Day 2: Jackson Hole
I spent the morning with my sons on the Teewinot lift. Two inches of new snow had been reported and it continued to snow throughout the day. Jackson Hole's beginner area is limited to the Teewinot lift. I love the fact that this lift is a detachable quad, but the terrain is pretty much all the same and it is super-easy. My boys were itching to head up the mountain to try something different so I took them up Sweetwater and then Casper to see how they would fare going down Easy Does It, which seemed to me to be the easiest blue at JHMR. Unfortunately, this run was extremely crowded and the snow picked up considerably causing some low visibility as bumps were beginning to form. My sons struggled the whole way down. We took a much-needed break at Casper's Restaurant before heading down the traverse to get back to the bottom where they spent the rest of the day while I took a few laps on the gondola (Sundance and Gros Ventre) before calling it a day.
Day 3: Jackson Hole
POWDER!!! 12" of new snow and I was there at Jackson Hole. I was waiting for just this opportunity to take the Tram to the top. However, just about everyone at Jackson had the same idea. It was quite the ride though as Led Zeppelin and Blue Oyster Cult were cranking through the speakers. All of Rendezvous Bowl was tracked-out by 10:30 AM. The snow up on top was in great shape though and I really enjoyed my first time ever skiing from the top of Jackson. I also ventured down Laramie Bowl which was also skiing nicely on this beautiful morning.
Unfortunately, the day warmed up and things were getting pretty soft towards the bottom. I spent a little time at the Apres Vous area before meeting up with the boys to ski the rest of the day with them. We lunched at Casper's and spent the rest of the day on the traverses as they were wanting to see a little more of the mountain. Overall, great day.
Day 4: Grand Targhee
We made the one hour drive over to Grand Targhee and I am so glad that we did as I really enjoyed this ski area. I thought the beginner's area was a significant improvement, even though the Shoshone lift was a slow one. My sons had a blast skiing through the trees and checking out the other terrain features on display there in the Kids Fun Zone. As for the rest of the mountain, I was impressed with the wide open feel and numerous options to explore all sorts of different terrain from the three lifts. Targhee serves up some nicely pitched runs, though not quite as steep as what you will find at Jackson Hole. While the day was partly sunny, Grand Teton was never visible as it was hidden behind a cloud all day.
Perhaps my favorite thing about Targhee though was the lack of other skiers. I felt like I pretty much had the whole place to myself. It was pretty remarkable, especially compared to Jackson Hole which definitely felt crowded at times. Grand Targhee is a great family location and one I would love to return to some day.