Skiing Jackson: A Guide to Jackson Hole Mountain Ski Resort

Published on 05/06/2023 · 11 min readIn this article, Ski Expert Robbie M. gives an overview of all the best runs at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort so you can rip up the finest snow in the Tetons.
By Ski Expert Robbie M

Photo by Zach Dischner

Going to a new ski resort can be both exciting and intimidating. Sure, there’s comfort in pulling into the parking lot having a game plan for exactly how to score some freshies on your home mountain, but it can be hard to beat the adrenaline that kicks in when you look up at unknown heights with no idea of what they hold in store. I felt this firsthand the first time I pulled into the parking lot at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort in Teton Village. My eyes were immediately drawn to the bright red, schoolbus-sized tram ascending up Rendezvous Mountain at an incredible speed. I tried my best to follow the tram cables as high as I could but lost them quickly as I began to look around at all the other features of the mountain. The most glaring of these was the overall steepness of the terrain; it was as if the mountain was trying to lean out over me to get a better look down at the new skier in town.

“Big Red” aka the Tram. Photo by Robbie M.

Having been back to JHMR a second time (this time as a much better skier), I was able to explore new terrain across the resort's 2,500 skiable acres, find great stashes of good snow, and know where to ski based on the weather conditions of the day to have a great time no matter what the day threw at me. My hope is this article provides some remote guidance to JHMR for newbies looking to make nothing but great turns and experience good vibes, just like the locals at Jackson Hole.

Beginners: Green Circle

To start, I’d like to make a disclaimer: if you are a brand-new skier or snowboarder, Jackson Hole may not be the best place for you. The majority of JHMR’s terrain is advanced to expert level (black diamond to double black diamond), and even the intermediate (blue square and double blue square) trails are steeper than most other resorts. However, this isn’t to say there isn’t beginner terrain for kids and those that are still learning and progressing.

The whole bottom quarter of the trail map just above the base area contains very mellow ski runs perfect for newbies. Runs of Eagles Nest Quad and Teewinot Quad Chairs are very suitable for people learning how to ski. Another great option for those not comfortable riding chairlifts is the Sweetwater Gondola. It has a midpoint station that allows beginners to access more easy terrain without a chairlift, and the main station at the top of the gondola links up to some great Intermediate runs off of the Casper Chair for those looking to progress. JHMR also has an awesome staff of ski instructors; if you’re a beginner with aspirations to ride and ski the tram, definitely schedule a lesson with the Mountain Sports School staff.

One final note: for beginners who take a different chair or end up higher up the mountain thinking they bit off more than they can chew, have no fear! Besides the Tram, almost every other chairlift has access to catwalks that snake back and forth across the mountain, allowing beginners to make it safely back down to the base. That being said, as a beginner, if the line isn't too long, it can be worth a ride up the tram (and then back down the tram) on a sunny day to take in the views of Grand Teton National Park or back toward the downtown Jackson and Snow King Mountain Resort. At the top of the tram, you can also venture into Jackson's most famous on-mountain dining option, Corbet's Cabin, for a delicious summit waffle.

Intermediates: Blue Square and Double Blue Square

Jackson Hole is mainly known for being a steep resort pinned in the middle of the Tetons with gnarly terrain. However, there are plenty of great blue and double blue square groomers to carve up like a Thanksgiving turkey for intermediate skiers. One of my favorite things to do when Ullr hasn’t blessed the mountain with fresh snow is to ski Jackson’s groomers. There’s something to be said about laying down a ripe carve on some fresh corduroy, and JHMR’s snowcat crew does a phenomenal job providing the goods every night. St John’s, Werner, and Upper Teewinot provide some great groomed options off of the Apres Vous chair on the north side of the resort.

The Casper Chair has some short groomed blue runs that can be lapped very easily and is a great spot for people looking to progress from beginner runs, and the Teton Chair has one of my favorite dog-leg groomers; skiing Crags to Moran at Mach speed is sure to bring out the yips in anyone.

The Bridger Gondola, the second-longest lift, provides access to the longest continuous groomed trails at Jackson Hole: Sundance and Gros Ventre. Both of these runs go from the top of the gondola to the base and can provide a relaxing (or fast depending on how you like to ski) way back down to the base. These runs are the main “veins” on the mountain that many cat tracks link up to from other runs. Finally, Amphitheater and Grand are two picturesque groomed bowls that provide great skiing no matter the weather conditions. They are easily accessible off of the Thunder Chair.

Advanced Skiers: Black Diamond

Now we’re getting into the bread and butter of Jackson Hole: black diamonds. Be warned; JHMR’s black diamonds are generally more difficult than black diamonds from most resorts—there’s even a sign in the tram line indicating the nature of the terrain at the resort! Almost all of the black diamonds at Jackson Hole are ungroomed, so expect moguls on every black diamond you encounter (unless you are blessed with a powder day).

Photo by Robbie M.

If you’re looking for steep, groomed black runs, Kemmerer is your go-to. Laramie Bowl, although a double blue trail, has parts that are very steep including Flip’s Point which is technically a black diamond and usually groomed.

Catching some air at Flip’s Point at the top of Laramie Bowl. Photo by Robbie M.

The real fun begins with the ungroomed, all-natural black diamond runs. One of the most iconic is the Rendezvous Bowl, one of three ways down from the top of the Tram (more on the other two ways down later). After a roughly eight-minute Tram rides jamming out to rock music, guests are unloaded at 10,500ft above sea level, usually welcomed with much colder temps than the base and howling wind. On the rare bluebird day, the sight is something to behold. However, as the Tram operator will warn you, there is no easy way down from the top. Because of its east-facing and high altitude (above the tree-line) terrain, Rendezvous Bowl tends to be windswept and chalky, rarely littered with moguls like the rest of the mountain. On powder days, it is incredibly fun to make big, open turns in the soft, windblown snow. One set of unique lines that can only be accessed from the Tram are The Hobacks; three ridges that extend 2,500ft down the mountain. During a powder day, they provide seemingly endless buttery turns. However, be warned; if the weather is warmer, your legs will punish you for skiing 2,500ft of mashed potatoes to the bottom.

Bluebird day from the side of Rendezvous Bowl. Photo by Robbie M.

The Tram isn’t the only way to access great terrain; after several chairlift rides the Sublette Quad opens up tons of great skiing above 8,000ft. From my experience, anything below this height tends to get sticky and gummed up on warmer days, while above this line the snow stays soft and fluffy. Pepi’s Run and Bird in the Hand turn into epic tree runs when there’s fresh snow. At the base of the Sublette Chair, the Sublette Ridge and Rawlins Bowl are accessible through a small break in the trees, opening up about 1,800ft of open ridgeline.

Making turns on the Sublette Ridge. Photo by Robbie M.

Heading towards the north end of the mountain, the Moran Face provides some of the best glade skiing I have ever done. On powder days, these open glades turn into a playground with many ledges and stumps to catch air off of and land into pillows of goodness. The Red Bull Natural Selection competition was held on this terrain; check out this video to see why it’s so special.

Lastly, Saratoga Bowl off the Apres Vous chair provides some hidden stashes on days after snow as many people don’t venture into that region of the mountain. The trees and lines can get tight, but the turns are worth it.

One note: there are many many other black diamond runs at JHMR; some other notables that were left out include Dick’s Ditch (a natural half-pipe), Ranger (another groomed advanced run), and Tensleep Bowl (the second way down from the Tram whose entrance provides some great turns that are rarely tracked).

Creamy turns coming down Tensleep Bowl. Photo by Robbie M.

Expert Terrain: Double Black Diamond

Last but not least, for those wild enough to tackle it, the expert (double black diamond) terrain. If you’re able to ski double black diamond chutes at Jackson Hole, you can drop into just about any inbounds terrain in North America and feel confident you’ll make it out the other side. Many people come to the mecca of steep skiing that is JHMR specifically to ski these runs.

No run is as famous (or infamous) as Corbet’s Couloir, the granddaddy of them all. Do yourself a favor and go watch this video of professionals ABSOLUTELY SENDING IT into Corbets. They’re both incredibly skilled and a little crazy!

The mega-chute starts with a 10-20ft near-vertical drop-in depending on the height of the cornice, followed by a hard right turn to avoid one of the walls, then a hard left turn to avoid the others. From there on out, you have about 500ft of 40-degree or steeper chute to ski out to the bottom of Tensleep Bowl. Corbet’s has swallowed many an unprepared visitor over the years (plenty of great YouTube videos of this), and the best part is the Tram comes directly over Corbets every eight minutes, providing its riders with the occasional yard sale. I had the (mis)fortune to “ski” Corbets in not the best conditions (would highly advise not to ski it unless conditions are better than what I faced), which you can watch here.

If you like steep slopes but are not feeling up to Corbets, Jackson Hole offers a few other great expert-level chutes to push your skiing skills. Tower 3 Chute off of the Thunder Chair provides steep bumps, north-facing slopes, and tends to hold great snow days after a storm. Careful, as it runs not only under the Tram but also the Thunder Chair, so if you’re not careful and your yard sale, expect cheers and heckles from the chair.

Steep, bumpy, chalky goodness on the Tower 3 Chute. Photo by Robbie M.

The Alta Chutes under the Sublette Chair provides another opportunity to show off your steep skiing or snowboarding skills. These north-facing chutes tend to have nice, chalky snow and are a good proving ground for bigger lines like Corbets. Additionally, the Expert Chutes have been named appropriately; they provide a “create your own adventure” coming off of Tensleep Bowl. These chutes are carved into the rocks below Tensleep so you need to make sure you know where you’re going or follow a local if you don’t, as these lines can leave you looking out over a cliff with nowhere to go. However, because of their hidden nature and difficulty, they hold great snow (seen in the picture below days after the last storm). Finally, if you are up for a hike, Casper Bowl can hold lots of great snow in its chutes because it is skied less frequently.

The Expert Chutes are named adequately. Photo by Robbie M.

Whatever your ability level, If you are looking for some après ski fun, there are a few noteworthy options both in Teton Village (the base area) and the town of Jackson. At the base of Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, you can find great libations and a cool vibe at Handle Bar, as well as at the Four Season Resort. You can also take a short walk to the Mangy Moose for a more rustic vibe. In Jackson's town square, the two classic spots are the Million Dollar Cowboy bar where you literally can sit on a saddle at the bar to enjoy and cold one and the Silver Dollar Bar, both of which usually have live music to you can do some boot-scootin'.

Hopefully, this article has made you want to plan your next vacation to the town of Jackson, Wyoming to make some of the most epic turns of your life at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. If this is the case and you need help planning your next trip, be sure to check out one of my other articles in Curated’s Expert Journal. If you’re in need of some ski gear, be sure to reach out to me or another Ski Expert here on Curated. We'd be stoked to make sure you have all the gear you need to rip up the finest snow the Tetons have to offer.

Robbie M, Ski Expert
Robbie M
Ski Expert
I take my engineering degree and use it to understand the tech used in skis. Because I’m always shopping for my next pair, I’m always up-to-date and would love to help you find your next ski setup!.I’m so stoked to help you get outfitted for your next day on the mountain!
186 Reviews
5716 Customers helped
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Written by:
Robbie M, Ski Expert
Robbie M
Ski Expert
I take my engineering degree and use it to understand the tech used in skis. Because I’m always shopping for my next pair, I’m always up-to-date and would love to help you find your next ski setup!.I’m so stoked to help you get outfitted for your next day on the mountain!
186 Reviews
5716 Customers helped

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