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Jackson Hole, Wyoming’s most valuable gem, attracts skiers from around the world because of its steep terrain and abundance of spring powder days. It is a legendary ski town, revered by most, but is it suitable for beginner skiers?
Yes, Jackson Hole is a great place for beginners to hone their craft. There is plenty of beginners and intermediate terrain at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, Grand Targhee, and Snow King to complement the area’s notoriety of being steep and deep.
Jackson Hole Mountain Resort is hands down one of the most famous resorts in Wyoming, and possibly North America.
Jackson Hole is a sizable resort that is spread over two separate mountains, Apres Vouz and Rendezvous. It features 2,500 acres of skiable terrain within its boundaries and over 4000 feet of vertical drop.
Though Jackson Hole is famous for extreme terrain, like Corbet’s Couloir, 50% of its 133 runs are rated for beginner and intermediate skiers. It has received an average of 416 inches of snow over the past decade, making this a powderhound’s paradise.
Jackson Hole caters to its beginner skiers with its top-tier lift system. High-speed lifts increase the number of runs you can fit into a day, ensuring that you will be a pro before you know it. They even feature multiple magic carpet lifts for those who don’t feel comfortable leaving the ground just yet.
Sitting at the bottom of the mountain, Teton Village offers a wide array of amenities including restaurants & bars, rental shops, bathrooms, and storage lockers. Having everything you could possibly need in one location definitely takes some of the stress out of planning your first ski trip.
The only downsides to this mountain are the crowds and the price. Its popularity has caused this resort to hike its prices considerably over the years and can be quite a zoo on holiday weekends. Depending on the time of the year, you can expect to spend over $160 per day on lift tickets alone.
Those who are unsure about skiing might not want to fork over a ton of cash to only take a few runs while dodging swarms of other skiers. So the price will definitely be a consideration for some planning to visit this resort.
Let’s weigh all of the advantages and drawbacks of Jackson Hole Mountain Resort.
- Plenty of terrains
- Highest average snowfall in the area
- Best amenities and lifts
- Long Season
- Most crowded
- Most expensive in the area
Targhee is another world-renowned resort that holds its own when compared to Jackson Hole.
A little further north, nestled in the western Teton mountain range, lies Grand Targhee Resort. This is another legendary mountain that is famous for its huge snow storms and steep terrain. Unlike Jackson Hole, Targhee is a little tougher to travel to because it doesn’t have its own airport.
The base of the mountain features the Kid’s Adventure Zone which houses Targhee’s beginner terrain. Don’t let the name fool you, this area is great for anyone who is new to skiing, regardless of age. It consists of multiple lifts, including a magic carpet lift for first-timers, and even a mini terrain park for those who want to see what freestyle skiing and snowboarding are all about.
Unfortunately, Targhee is only slightly less expensive than Jackson Hole and it can draw massive crowds just the same. Last season a day pass to Targhee was just over $100, depending on the time of the season.
Here is a summary of what makes Targhee great and where it could improve.
- Tons of snow
- All-encompassing beginner area
- Cheaper than Jackson Hole
- Long season
- Crowded during holidays
- Travel can be tough
You may have never heard of this resort before, but before you write it off you may want to consider everything that this pint-sized mountain can offer.
Just south of the other two resorts lies Snow King, a lesser-known resort that still lives up to the reputation of Jackson Hole skiing. At about ⅕ the size, Snow King is considerably smaller than Jackson Hole and Grand Targhee resorts with just 500 acres of skiable terrain.
But as we all know bigger doesn’t necessarily mean better. This beginner resort offers more beginner lifts, 3 magic carpets, and one high-speed triple, and 20% of the runs are designated for beginners, which is considerably more than the other two Jackson Hole resorts.
Snow King may not have the capacity of Targhee or Jackson Hole, but its small size provides a sense of simplicity and intimacy in addition to flying under the radar from the large crowds that are synonymous with its larger counterparts in the area.
If this is your first time skiing, a quieter experience that is free from the distractions of large resort towns will allow you to accurately assess exactly how much you love to ski.
Last season adult day passes were a mere $75, which means you can ski twice as many days for the same price versus Jackson Hole Mountain Resort.
The biggest downside to this mountain is that it doesn’t receive nearly as much snow as the other two. It has averaged only 97 inches of snow over the past 10 years, though some seasons had almost twice that much.
That being said, the deep powder can be a nightmare when you are learning how to ski. Powder skiing is a whole other beast that requires knowing the basics first, but having a little fresh snow on the ground prevents ice and makes learning much easier.
Also, the season is shorter, generally opening one month after and closing one month earlier than Jackson Hole and Targhee. This can make planning a trip around your schedule a little tougher.
Here’s what Snow King can and can’t provide on your next ski trip
- More intimate setting
- Designated beginner area
- Smallest crowds
- Cheapest lift tickets, including half days
- Low snowfall
- Lack of amenities
- Less terrain
- Shortest season
Jackson Hole, Wyoming is a wonderful ski destination for people of all skiing abilities. Beginners are definitely welcomed here, but depending on what you are trying to get out of your next skiing experience should determine which mountain you choose to ski at.
If you want to avoid the large crowds and lift lines all while saving some money, then Snow King is the resort for you. If you would rather ski a larger mountain that offers more beginner trails and amenities for the whole family then Jackson Hole Mountain Resort or Grand Targhee should be your next destination.
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