Snowmobile to Hot Springs, Après Ski in Cowboy Bars, and Go Moose-spotting in This Small Western Town
The Jackson Hole adrenaline rush hits long before a skier makes it to the top of the mountain — it hits before their plane even touches the ground.
Approaching the airport, located entirely within Grand Teton National Park, it's impossible not to be struck by the rugged beauty of the powder-dipped peaks that surround the valley. They're the reason most wintertime travelers make the journey to Wyoming — along with the frequent snowfall, varied terrain, and dramatic views, which are all motivation enough to pack some gear and head out for the weekend. But visitors who venture beyond the resort will find Jackson is much more than slopes to shred.
Karelle Golda, Canadian-turned-Jacksonite and co-founder of cool-girl ski apparel brand Halfdays, describes the community as a unique blend of adventurers and startup entrepreneurs, and no one embodies that more than she does.
When she's not skinning Snow King Mountain, skiing Grand Teton backcountry, or snowmobiling to a local hot spring, Golda is working on her burgeoning company. Along with business partners Ariana Ferwerda and Kiley McKinnon (who also happens to be an Olympic freestyle skier), Golda started 2020 with the idea of creating a line of technical, high-performance ski gear for women that also looked good and, unlike most mainstream sportswear, was actually made to fit their bodies.
Fast forward to this winter and Halfdays' Aperol spritz–hued bibs and candy-colored puffer coats can be spotted all over Jackson — and every other U.S. ski resort town of note.
It's common to see both locals and visitors hanging about town in their ski gear. Snow King is just a short 15-minute stroll from Jackson Town Square, making places like ultra-popular Persephone Bakery the perfect spot for a latte and pastry after an early session or a hot bowl of soup between runs in the afternoon. Snow King is known to be steep, but this is a mountain lover's town, and Golda says skinning — uphill skiing to the top and then skiing back down — is one of the most popular forms of morning exercise.
The heart of town is also under a mile from the National Elk Refuge and a short drive from the entrance to Grand Teton National Park, so spectacular wildlife spotting, from moose to bighorn sheep, is the norm.
About 12 miles away sit Jackson Hole Mountain Resort and Teton Village. Much larger than Snow King, this resort keeps skiers and snowboarders of all levels busy for days with its variety of runs. It's also home to the ski-in, ski-out Four Seasons Resort, along with the Kardashian-favorite Caldera House. Amangani, the iconic luxury retreat with its heated pool overlooking the Snake River Valley, is perched on a mountain in between the two ski areas.
With five-star resorts of this caliber to choose from, some will take a day or two off and head to the spa. Others will go even deeper and hire a guide to take them backcountry skiing, go snowshoeing or dog sledding, or rent a snowmobile and explore the park.
But at the end of the day, they'll all convene in town at places like The Silver Dollar Bar and Million Dollar Cowboy Bar for live music and maybe even some swing- or line-dancing. At this point, if you want to blend in, Golda says cowboy boots are key. "It's more of a cowboy town and not so much of a fashion town," she said. "It's definitely cowboy boots, jeans, never any heels."
If you don't have a pair to pack, Golda recommends Womenfolk: "The coolest vintage store in town, it definitely has a Western feel, like old Ralph Lauren sweaters and '70s cowboy boots. It's pretty unique."
The town's Western flair is strong, as apparent from the bars and boutiques to the old-school hotels taking on new life. Anvil Hotel and The Virginian Lodge, both of which have long local histories, have recently been reimagined — with careful attention to keeping their Wyoming spirit in the spotlight.
Jackson's population is under 11,000, but 2.6 million people visit every year, so maintaining that small-town feel takes some effort. But the majority of those tourists come in the summer, making ski season an ideal time to witness its magic.
Want to plan your own winter trip to Jackson Hole? Here's where to ski, dine, stay, and après.
Jackson Hole Airport, located within Grand Teton National Park, has non-stop service from 14 U.S. cities on airlines including American, Delta, United, and Alaska. For a luxurious trip from Los Angeles, try semi-private airline Aero.
How to Ride:
Jackson Hole Mountain Resort: Lift tickets start at $150/day but can jump to $201/day during peak periods. If you purchased an Ikon Pass you can get up to seven days on the mountain.
Snow King Mountain Resort: For those who book in advance, lift tickets are $75/day and increase to $85/day on holidays. Walk-up tickets are sold for a $10 premium.
Where to Stay:
Amangani: Spacious suites come with fireplaces, soaking tubs, and terraces that gaze out at the Snake River Valley and the Grand Tetons. Although it's the most remote choice, making the most of its serene natural surroundings, Amangani gives its guests access to a ski concierge and lounge at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort.
Four Seasons Resort and Residences Jackson Hole: At the base of Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, the Four Seasons is a ski-in, ski-out property with mountain- and valley-side rooms and suites, a beautiful spa, and a popular après ski restaurant.
Caldera House: This exclusive property in Teton Village is comprised of just eight suites (four with four bedrooms and four with two), all of which have their own chef's kitchen, dining and living room, and outdoor area with a fire pit and mountain views.
Anvil Hotel: Designed by Brooklynites with the American West in mind and using decor from local artisans, Anvil is a stylish and cozy boutique hotel with a prime location on a quiet side of town that's also walking distance from all the action.
The Cloudveil: A polished Autograph Collection hotel in the heart of town, The Cloudveil's rooms and one-bedroom suites are decked in mountain-chic wood and leather. Guests can book an on-site ski and snowboard fitting and have their rentals transported straight to the hotel's mountainside chalet.
The Virginian Lodge: A 1960s motor lodge that's undergone a total transformation by Northworks Architects while keeping its Midcentury roots, The Virginian reopened this month with 165 rooms and suites, including "adventure camp" bunk rooms perfect for group ski trips and families. The courtyard boasts the biggest outdoor pool in Jackson, two hot tubs, and heated igloos for picture-perfect après drinks.
Where to Dine:
Glorietta: Anvil's warm trattoria with handmade pastas, woodfire-grilled meats and fish, and craft cocktails, Glorietta is the perfect place for a hearty Italian meal on a cold winter night, with just enough of a Wyoming twist — think elk ossobuco.
Cultivate Cafe: A health food restaurant in an unlikely venue — The Playhouse, Jackson Hole's oldest building known for its Western-themed dinner theater — Cultivate Cafe serves vegan-leaning options including fresh-pressed juices and grain bowls in a saloon atmosphere.
Kampai: The buzzy new contemporary Japanese restaurant in town, Kampai serves elevated sushi by chef Chris Massad, formerly of Nobu, and Snake River Farms wagyu. Book ahead to snag a seat.
Persephone Bakery: This cozy-chic bakery and cafe is a favorite among both locals and tourists for artisan bread, pastries, locally brewed coffee, fresh salads, stews, soups, omelets, and more.
Snake River Grill: A favorite special occasion spot for 25 years with a log-cabin feel, Snake River Grill serves new American cuisine by Jeff Drew, named the James Beard Awards' best chef in the northwest four times.
Where to Après:
Mangey Moose: This beloved Teton Village tavern has live music daily, local lagers, punchy hot cocktails, and plenty of American comfort food, including nachos, burgers, and wings.
The Handle Bar: At the base of Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, this Four Seasons restaurant is the spot for boozy hot chocolate and elevated snacks like truffle potato chips and mezcal-smoked shishito peppers.
Stagecoach Bar: Located in Wilson, about 15 minutes from both Teton Village and the town of Jackson, Stagecoach is a local's secret that's worth the drive for pool, darts, and Sunday night line-dancing. It even inspired Dua Lipa.