Jackson Hole is world famous for it’s steep and deep terrain. But how does Jackson Hole stack up as a great family ski holiday destination? Phil Osborn investigates, with his young family in January 2023.
Jackson Hole has been on my bucket list for many years. The stories I consistently hear, are always told with real passion from anyone that has visited in the past. I was hooked! I’ve been planning this trip prior to the pandemic. Having been unable to travel for 3 years, now was the time to make up for lost time, and discover what makes Jackson Hole tick first-hand. And for me, snow trips are about time away with the family.
We arrived in Jackson Hole after a week skiing in Utah. We did the 4 hour road trip in a mini-van, supplied by DriveNow, from Salt Lake City comfortably. We knew we were in for a big adventure as we drove over the Teton Mountain Pass into the Jackson Hole Valley. On a blue-bird day, the backcountry skiers and snowboarders were out in force drawing big lines down the terrain.
Jackson Hole – The Valley:
Jackson Hole is set in a large valley. The sharp peaks of the Teton Mountain Range create an impressive frame to this beautiful mountain vista. Close to Jackson Hole is the Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks. We were entering one of Mother Nature’s most incredible destinations on planet earth!
I was always curious about why Jackson Hole is called a hole? As it turns out, Jackson Hole was named after Davy Jackson, a hardy mountain legend, who trapped in the area in the 1800s. A “Hole” was a term used to describe a high mountain valley.
Jackson – The Town:
Jackson is a picture perfect, Western town. Architecturally the town has character. The Town Square with its Elk Antler Arch is unique. The famous Million Dollar Cowboy Bar is equally an icon of the town. Walking around the town centre is a must. The old weatherboard boardwalks are stunning. Jackson is located about 20 minutes from the ski resort. It has so much going on here. High end art galleries, boutique accommodation, loads of ski shops and restaurants of every description. If you are travelling with a non-skier, they will have loads to do in Jackson. Our favourite dining experience was at Jackson Drug, opposite the Town Square. The whole family loved this restaurant with its retro feel and quality food.
Jackson Hole Mountain Resort
The drive from Jackson to Jackson Hole Mountain Resort is an easy drive. If you prefer not to drive in winter conditions, or plan on having a few après drinks, we recommend catching the public bus or hotel shuttles, that link both areas.
Jackson Hole Mountain Resort has the largest continuous vertical drop of any ski resort in the US! The elevation starts at 1,262 metres. Jackson Hole scores loads of snow annually, averaging 14 metres of total snowfall most seasons.
Translating those statistics to a real world experience was nothing like I’d ever experienced. Jackson Hole is a big mountain, that requires respect, patience and experience. Now I have been to Jackson Hole, I’d love to spend a month there, or even better an entire season. Building your confidence, in the right conditions, truly would be incredible. Investing into a Steep and Deep course would be money well spent at Jackson Hole. Jackson Hole has so much terrain to explore, you need to allow lots of time to experience it.
How did the family go?
Our kids are great skiers and snowboarders for their ages – 10, 12 and 15 and are confident to tackle most of the mountain. We did find the terrain off the tram the most challenging. Only black runs are off the tram. There is so much great terrain around the mountain to cater for all levels of ability. The lift access is incredible all over the mountain, so ski the conditions that are on during your visit. Ski lessons at Jackson Hole are highly recommended. The ski school here is one of the best and will help kids find their groove at Jackson Hole. It is a mountain that requires you to build up your steeper skiing or boarding skills. As you get more comfortable in steeper conditions, you’ll find your rhythm. Our kids especially enjoyed the terrain parks at Jackson Hole.
Accommodation & Apres Scene
Jackson Hole Mountain Resort at Teton Village, has incredible accommodation and food. We stayed at Hotel Terra and Teton Mountain Lodge. Both are fabulous on-mountain hotels and are highly recommended for families. The Hotel Terra heated pool overlooks the best après bar in Jackson Hole – The Mangy Moose. The Mangy Moose is without a doubt, a 10/10 ski bar. You can go here for après drinks, or have lunch or dinner and have a brilliant time. The Spur Restaurant and Bar is great fun as well, especially if you are lucky enough to score the Roadhouse Brewing guys pumping out the tunes
The Elk Refuge Sleigh Ride – A Must Visit Experience!
The experience for our family that elevated our holiday to Jackson Hole to the highest level, was the Elk Refuge Sleigh Ride Tour. The drivers are so knowledgable on all aspects of the Elk and the animals in the area. It’s the largest migrating Elk herd in North America. You’ll be blown away by the beauty of the animals, the scenery and come away feeling more connected to nature. It’s these sort of experiences, for a family holiday, where everyone is learning and enjoying a shared experience, that create lifelong memories.
Jackson Hole Airport:
Jackson Hole Airport is the only airport situated within a National Park in the US. With the Teton Mountain range as it’s backdrop, it’s a stunning airport. United, Delta, American all fly to Jackson Hole. We flew with United Airlines back to Australia. All our bags were tagged in Jackson Hole and arrived safely in Sydney. It was a hassle free trip home. We even managed to stop in LA and have dinner at Santa Monica to break up the journey home.
Is Jackson Hole worth visiting?
Without a doubt, Jackson Hole is a must visit snow destination. Jackson Hole is family friendly. It’s in a beautiful location with loads to do and experience on and off the mountain. If you are like me and wish you had more time at Jackson Hole, do yourself a favour and book the longest ski trip you can possibly manage. You’ll have the time of your life at Jackson Hole!
Meet the team from Jackson Hole Mountain Resort and Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce, in May for the Snow Travel Expo 2024 in Melbourne 19 May and Sydney 26 May.
For more information on visiting Jackson Hole from Australia go to: www.jacksonhole.com
And check out some more cool videos on Jackson Hole below: