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Tips For First Time Winter Visitors to Jackson Hole

With access to three popular ski areas, two national parks and a rich history of art and culture, Jackson Hole is an attractive travel destination for many people around the world. If you are preparing for your first trip to the area this winter, here are some tips to help you make the most of your time.
Jackson Hole Skiers

If you're visiting the Jackson Hole area for the first time this winter, A) What took you so long?, and, B) Congratulations—you are embarking on the trip of a lifetime! To help prepare you for a memorable visit to the Tetons, here are some things you'll need to know about our weather, high altitude, what to pack and how to get around, among other valuable tips.

Prepare For High Altitude

With the town of Jackson above 6,200 feet and the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort Aerial Tram taking skiers and snowboarders to an elevation of 10,450 feet, some travelers to the area may experience difficulty adjusting to the altitude. And the common misconception that drinking less water is OK because of the area’s cold climate can sometimes add to this problem. If anything, more water should be consumed to stay ahead of the ill effects of altitude sickness. To stay hydrated, you may want to limit caffeine and alcohol consumption as well.

What To Bring To Jackson Hole

With ever-changing temperatures and wind chills, packing for a Jackson Hole winter can be a challenge. Bring lightweight clothing that can be layered to ward off subzero temperatures or peeled off for sunny, warmer days spent working up a sweat doing numerous outdoor activities. Essentials such as warm base layers, a waterproof ski jacket and pants, boots with good grip for icy streets and terrain, a hat, gloves or mittens, a camera and lip balm are also great to bring along. Sunscreen is another important item to ward off sunburns that can sneak up on visitors even on cloudy days.

Casual attire is not only accepted pretty much everywhere in the valley, but it is often expected. Jeans, flannel and beanies are mainstays around the area where dressing comfortably is a priority.

Getting Around Jackson Hole

Taxis, hotel shuttles, an AllTrans shuttle and Avis, Hertz and Enterprise rental cars are all available options to get from the Jackson Hole Airport to town or Teton Village.  

The town of Jackson is located approximately 12 miles from Teton Village, where the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort is in addition to popular hotels, restaurants, shops and condos. For those who decide to stay in town, there is a convenient bus service to and from Teton Village, as well as around town. The Southern Teton Area Rapid Transit—or START bus—will deliver you to Teton Village for a $3 fee each way. It is a good idea to have exact change on hand because bus drivers are not able to make change for fares. Transportation around town on the START bus is free.  

While many winter visitors choose to stay at a resort that is walking distance from the slopes, staying in town has its advantages. Beautiful hotels in the town of Jackson such as the Hotel Jackson, White Buffalo Club, Rusty Parrot Lodge and Spa and the Wort Hotel offer luxurious amenities at competitive prices.

Whether you choose to stay in town or Teton Village, there are many activities, restaurants and stores within walking distance. Snow King Mountain, which offers day and night skiing, is also located in town.

The Handle Bar Restaurant

Eat Your Way Through Jackson Hole

For casual, quick meals by the ski resort, Osteria serves lunch, après ski and dinner. This local favorite also boasts a full bar and laid-back atmosphere.  

A popular après ski and late-night location in Teton Village is the Mangy Moose Restaurant and Saloon, which caters to locals and tourists alike and makes for an often rowdy, but very friendly atmosphere. The varied après ski crowd offers entertainment on its own, and excellent live music throughout the afternoon or evening adds to the Mangy Moose’s appeal.  

The fire pits and seating along the Four Seasons lobby lounge and Handle Bar make for a good family après base camp. And the food is first-rate!

If you’d like to take a break from skiing without coming to the base of the mountain, the new Piste Mountain Bistro is a great choice for lunch, après ski or dinner. Located in Rendezvous Lodge at the summit of Bridger Gondola, diners can enjoy breathtaking views while eating local, high-quality ingredients and delicious cuisine.  Lunch is served daily, with dinner available Thursday through Saturday nights.  

A great après ski location in town, the Snake River Brewery and Restaurant, is a family-friendly restaurant that has pub favorites such as a pulled pork sandwich, pizza and burgers. Award-winning beer brewed in-house is also available. The pub is a popular “Sunday Funday” destination with people coming in for a John Daly or Bloody Mary that are only served on Sundays.

Mingle With Locals and Tourist Alike

Enjoy the laid-back vibe of the town and take the opportunity to speak with people who live in the area and those who may be visiting from across the globe. Ask other patrons what they ate for dinner or activities they enjoyed on their vacation for more insider tips to enhance your trip.

Think Outside the Box

Feel free to branch out from downhill skiing and snowboarding to try many of the other outdoor winter activities available in the area such as snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, snowmobiling or tubing. Nordic skiing is available at Teton Pines Cross Country Ski Center, located about 4 miles south of Teton Village along the Moose-Wilson Road. Gear rentals and instructors are also available. Scenic Nordic trails are accessible in town and in Grand Teton National Park.

What To Do On Cold Days

When a temperature inversion occurs, seemingly cold days could end up being the perfect occasion to hit the slopes. While the temperature at the base of the mountain may be colder, temperatures higher up the mountain may actually be quite pleasant.

However, if you do choose to forego skiing, there are plenty of activities to hold your attention for a day or more. Taking a sleigh ride through the National Elk Refuge or going on a wildlife excursion are two great ways to view wildlife. If it is just too cold to be outside, you can visit one of the town’s many art galleries, or you can head to the National Museum of Wildlife Art to view a variety of collections.

Recuperate

Don’t kill yourself trying to do every available activity in the area in one trip. Take time to recover from skiing by visiting The Body Sage Spa located in the Rusty Parrot Lodge & Spa, which offers many massage options and spa treatments including a sports or stress relief massage ideal after a long, active day. A romantic couple’s massage is another popular way to restore body and mind. No vacation is complete without a little indulgence, so take the opportunity to have a glass of champagne and decadent dessert in a hot tub or by a fireplace that many hotels feature, such as Four Seasons Resort & Spa.