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Jackson Hole planning...

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 

Things are shaping up for a late March trip to Jackson Hole this year.  Two couples with one non-skier in the crowd, and as none of us have ever been there, figured it might be worth rolling the dice on spring conditions, given other things to do in the area, etc.


What's the low-down on lodging in the area?  Am I better off dealing with an agent, or ferreting it out myself?  What is the "layout" like?





Wilmington, DE

post #2 of 11
Things are shaping up for a late March trip to Jackson Hole this year.

Think again.  Find someplace else or go at least a month earlier.  Steep ungroomed terrain with predominant SE exposure calls for a low midwinter sun and cold temperatures.   For details and lively debate this subject has been covered thoroughly before:

post #3 of 11
Thread Starter 

Is there enough skiing at Targhee to sustain a week's worth of skiing, maybe taking a day (or two) depending on conditions) to hit Jackson Hole?

post #4 of 11

Tony Crocker seems to have a need to bash on Jackson.  We can get great powder or creamy corn snow in March.  We can also have funky snow.  The same can be said for any resort.  I love spring skiing in Jackson....  This will be my 21st season here.  It doesn't suck.  I can find good skiing any day of the season.  Yes the Hobacks and Lower Faces can get weird.  On those days it's a better move stay high on the mountain.  Personally I would rather ski funky snow on great terrain like Jackson than ski powder at a boring mountain.  We also have lots to do and see outside the resort.  Even Tony had to complement our ski school...  Thanks for that at least.  If you are interested in JH then come.  As for Targhee...  It's a fun and friendly mountain that is well worth checking out.  I tend to get bored there after a few days as it is horizontally challenged.  It does get great snow and could be a solid back-up plan, but I would plan on spending the bulk of your trip at "The Big One".  I don't know a great deal about lodging in Jackson.  I'm cheap and don't require much, so the Super 8 works fine for me.  There are lots of options.  I would look privately as well as consulting the pros.  I think the pros can hook up things like discounted lift ticket packages and such.  If you come out look up Bob Peters or myself and we will help you with terrain selection and possibly take you out for a tour of the mountain.  I teach full time and Bob teaches very part time.  If you have the budget and desire, the four skiers in your group could hire a private instructor for a full day of skiing with an early tram for about the same cost as four group lessons.  Definitely the way to go if we get a good spring dump.

post #5 of 11
Thread Starter 

Thanks.  Always good to get an "on-the-other-hand" -- I've skied Utah and Colorado quite a bit, and was psyched to give JH a try, but grandparents/kidsitting forced the late date on us and coming from the East Coast, it's always tempting to try to stack the odds in your favor in terms of conditions.  Your encouragement may be all it takes to just go for it. 


However, a question about skiing high on the mountain.  Don't have a trail map under my nose.  We're upper-level intermediate skiers (probably be better if we had the luxury of a full season on our 40-something legs, but instead, we sit at desks all winter...) -- can we find plenty of non-expert skiing up high?



post #6 of 11



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We agree with Tony Crocker's comments about skiing Jackson Hole in late March.  Why not ski both resorts during your trip?  Variety is a good thing!  smile.gif  That is what we normally do when we travel to the area.  Mixing it up keeps it interesting and fun. 


Cosby Travel Pro 












post #7 of 11

Here is Jackson Hole's trail map.  Both Jackson Hole and Targhee are great resorts.



post #8 of 11

Tony must have skipped his morning coffee...

Go to JH, have a blast, and let your non-skiing friend see what they're missing.  They can ride the tram up and back down - a must for all visitors.

JH has absolutely incredible deals right now, $79 incl lift ticket, lodging and lunch.  In March I think they have a $99 deal.  Just go and have a great time!  I always stay in Teton Village (at the base of JH) because it's a quaint ski village (which I love).  Your non-skiing friend can visit and wander the town of Jackson which is filled with stores, shops, etc.  There's many activities that may interest non-skiers, too.  Call a few inn's in the village because they may have unadvertised ski and stay specials.  There is a Hostel in the village and there are 4 star inns, take your pick.  But don't miss a drink at the Mangy Moose Saloon!

post #9 of 11


Tony must have skipped his morning coffee...

No, I was at Mammoth for 3 days.


Tony Crocker seems to have a need to bash on Jackson.

No, I had a delightful, powder filled trip there in late January 2006 when I finally went at the right time of year.  Jackson has a unique combination of factors that stack the odds against good surface conditions in late March.  We all know that it's one of the steepest ski areas in North America.  At nearly all of the others (I can't think of any exceptions myself) that steep terrain is more north than south facing.  In the north facing case snow preserves better on steeper terrain than flatter terrain due to less direct sun, while the opposite is the case for south facing.  The solar intensity on Jackson's south slopes at the March equinox is the same as on Mammoth or Snowbird's north slopes at the summer solstice.  In this situation one or two hours of sun is enough to turn fresh powder to slop. So you need consistently cold and snowy weather to overcome that.  We also know that snowstorms are erratically distributed; 40% of winter weeks at an area with Jackson/Mammoth/Steamboat snowfall (~350+ annual average) will have no days with 6+ inches new snow.


There are a few other North American areas that face more south than north, but as they are more intermediate oriented the surface conditions are more easily mitigated by grooming.  But I suspect few skiers are going to Jackson with groomed runs as their priority.


Here's a report (not mine) from President's Week 2004, which had  a scattered 20 inches new snow but was still not sufficient to cover up the coral reef created by the previous 2 weeks of melt/freeze:


The OP is committing significant $ in advance for a late March trip.  There is a long list of ski areas that usually still have predominantly winter conditions then. Some of them, like Alta/Snowbird and Whistler/Blackcomb, are in the same league as Jackson if you crave the steeps.  And you'll be able to ski those steeps just fine even if you don't get any new snow, as I did when I fled Jackson for Alta/Snowbird (same T-shirt weather in both places) in March 1986.


There's many activities that may interest non-skiers, too.

Like the snowcat or snowmobile trip into Yellowstone, which is open in January/February but closed in March.

post #10 of 11
If you always have the ability to schedule you trip for February/January as opposed to march, then what Tony says is good advice, however, I've shied Jackson 4 times in march, 3 of them with days in the 50s without much recent snow. There was still plenty of well protected winter snow in the north facing steeps all of those times. I also skied the lower hobacks in sloppy conditions. Some of it was miserable, but it made me a better skier. All times I had a great time. And for me personally, I'd rather have a decent day at jh than snowbird. Not that I don't like snowbird, but it isn't jh.

This year, the snow lodge in yellowstone stops on march 6. It's a fantastic experience.

post #11 of 11


I'd rather have a decent day at jh than snowbird.

That's a subjective opinion.  I will say that for me what really made Jackson stand out in 2006 was those long powder runs on the lower faces.  Unfortunately those are the runs that are most vulnerable to the March sun.  I place a higher relative value on snow conditions in rating ski areas than most people.  In terms of scale and terrain quality I think Jackson and Snowbird are quite comparable.  


If you always have the ability to schedule you trip for February/January as opposed to March

We don't know the details of the OP's circumstances.  If he's in a job when he can never get off in Jan/Feb and he really wants to ski Jackson sometime, this is probably a better than average year to consider it.  But it should be an informed decision, knowing that conditions will be highly dependent upon how much snow falls while he's there, regardless of how huge the base is from dumps earlier in the season.  If the March timing is just this year, my advice stands, save it for a season when you can go earlier.  Or better yet, go NOW per Bob Peters' recent report.

Edited by Tony Crocker - 12/7/10 at 10:22pm
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