Skiing in Jackson Hole | Complete Guide for Beginners and Intermediates

If you are a snowboarder or skier in the United States, chances are you have heard rumblings about the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. Jackson Hole has a bit of a reputation for its steep runs and extreme exposure. And it’s worthy of that reputation. 

Skiing in Jackson Hole gives you street cred among other skiers, but that doesn’t mean you have to be an expert skier to navigate this mountain. It may be known for its challenging terrain, but don’t shy away from a ski trip to Jackson Hole simply because you are a beginner or an intermediate skier. 

About Jackson Hole Mountain Resort

looking out at the valley while skiing in Jackson Hole
Skiing in Jackson Hole offers million dollar views of the Teton Mountain Range.

Jackson Hole Mountain Resort is located in the Teton Range in Western Wyoming. The region is a mecca for adventure seekers in summer – as the gateway to both Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park

In winter, you’ll find so many winter activities to do in Jackson Hole – even if you aren’t a skier or snowboarder. 

This world-renowned resort offers skiers and snowboarders 2,500 acres of skiable terrain, encompassing 133 named trails and an astounding vertical drop of 4,139 feet, making it one of the steepest ski resorts in North America. 

With an annual average snowfall of 459 inches, it guarantees a winter wonderland for visitors. 

Can beginners ski at Jackson Hole?

i little kid skiing at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort beneath the tram
Although Jackson Hole is known for its challenging runs, even beginners will have a fun time skiing at Jackson Hole.

Jackson Hole is not a beginner’s mountain. In fact, it is probably the most challenging mountain I’ve ever skied. 

There is a lot of exposure. Cliffs and boulders can sneak up on you and make even an experienced skier a little nervous.

While the mountain is known for its challenging terrain and backcountry opportunities, Jackson Hole Mountain Resort is also a fun playground for beginning skiers, if you know where to go.  In fact, I learned how to ski as an adult in Jackson Hole, and it is also where we first started teaching our toddler how to ski

Once you’ve been skiing in Jackson Hole, Wyoming you could probably ski anything with ease.

Mountain Rating System for Skiing in Jackson Hole

Standing in front of a sign with all black diamons while skiing in Jackson Hole
Skiing in Jackson Hole is challenging but rewarding. More than half of the runs are Black Diamonds or Double Blacks.

Like most mountains in North America, the runs in Jackson Hole are all color rated.

Green runs are the easiest, blues are intermediate runs, and blacks are experienced.

In Jackson, you’ll also notice “double blues”, which fall somewhere between intermediate and experienced, and “double blacks” which are for expert skiers only.

Jackson is the first mountain where I’ve actually seen traverses with a black rating. A traverse is usually a flat narrow trail that takes you from one run to another. 

What makes a traverse a black, you ask? Part of the reason may be that the traverses only access black chutes and black ski runs.

There is also the small, insignificant fact that along one side of the traverse there will be a giant cliff that, should you accidentally ski off, you would inevitably fall to your death.

So, yeah, black traverses.

What’s a traverse?! What is a green? Check out the most common skiing phrases you’ll hear on the slopes and what they mean.

Of the 133 named trails at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, half are rated black or double black, 40 percent are blues or intermediate runs, and only 10 percent of the runs are greens, or beginner runs.

Again, if you are a beginner or intermediate skier, don’t write off Jackson Hole on statistics alone.

Keep reading to find out the best places to play around on the mountain as a beginner or intermediate skier. 

The tram at Jackson Hole

the tram at jackson hole as seen through trees
The Jackson Hole tram accesses only black and double black runs.

The resort’s Aerial Tram, with a capacity of 100 passengers, transports visitors to the summit of Rendezvous Mountain, offering a breathtaking view of the Grand Teton. 

While it is worth taking the tram to the top of the mountain for the view alone – and to eat world-famous waffles on top of the world at Corbet’s Cabin, the tram at Jackson Hole accesses expert terrain only. If you are a beginner or intermediate skier, leave your skis at the base and head up the tram after the mountain closes, then ride the tram back down. 

Damon Lane backcountry skiing
My husband at one of the gates that accesses the backcountry ski areas at Jackson Hole.

Off the tram, there are ungroomed blacks, double blacks, and gates that access backcountry skiing. However, it also offers the best views of the valley and the back side of the Grand Teton. Stunning views! 

The tram also accesses the “scariest ski slope in America”, Corbet’s Couloir.

We have not personally skied it, but there is a fun, easier run for intermediate skiers right below it where we stood and watched the crazy, extreme skiers risk their lives.

Terrain variety and other elements for intermediate and advanced skiers

Man Skiing in Jackson Hole on a sunny day
Intermediate and advanced skiers will have a lot of variety to choose from when skiing in Jackson Hole.

From moguls, to chutes, to tree runs, Jackson Hole offers it all. If tree skiing is what you seek there are some great glade runs off the Teton chair lift.

Saratoga Bowl is also known for its great tree runs.

For those looking for something really adventurous, there are two terrain parks (one expert, one beginner), a race course, and 4 Burton Stash Parks, which combine natural terrain features and creative wooden elements.

Intermediate skiers will find plenty of blue and double blue runs off the Après Vous and Casper lifts as well as the top of the Gondola.

Skiing in Jackson Hole for Beginners 

a little girl following her ski instructor onto the Sweetwater lift in Jackson Hole
Beginners will love playing off the Teewinot, Eagle’s Rest chairs, and the Sweetwater Gondola mid-station.

At first glance, it doesn’t look like there is a lot of ski-able terrain for the novice skier or beginner skier.

However, I actually learned to ski in Jackson Hole, so I wouldn’t discourage beginners from trying out the mountain. 

All the green runs are located at the bottom of the mountain off the Teewinot and Eagle’s Rest chairs.

While there are only a few marked, wide open green runs, you’ll find lots of runs that will help beginners get more comfortable with varying terrain. These runs aren’t on the trail map, so you won’t know about them unless you take lessons or have a child in ski school.

Little runs tucked away in the woods like Flying Squirrel and Base Drop can help novice skiers get used to the concept of chutes.

While Bison Bumps and Wookie Wiggle will help new skiers get used to bumpy snow and grasp the concept of moguls and adventure trails through the woods.  

The mountain resort even has a run called Sunken Ship that takes you through a pirate ship hidden in the woods. 

We had been skiing at Jackson Hole for years and never knew these runs existed until we skied with our daughter after picking her up from ski school. She showed us all the runs she had conquered that day, and we had so much fun skiing them together as a family. 

To find them, ask a mountain guide or look for little signs with cartoon characters that indicate a kid’s adventure run.

Here is a map of the lower base area marking the adventure runs. Although they are marked as kid’s adventure runs, adults will enjoy them, as well.

Ski School and Lessons

Our daughter's helmet at the end of the day in ski school, with stickers for each of the adventure runs she went down.
Our daughter’s helmet at the end of the day in ski school, with stickers for each of the adventure runs she went down.

If visiting Jackson Hole with kids, the children’s ski school is located in the same building as childcare, which makes it  convenient if you have a child in daycare and in ski school. 

The ski school has a private magic carpet for beginners that is safely separated from the rest of the public ski runs.

Once kids are old enough and experienced enough to venture onto a chair lift, they will spend most of their time on the greens at the base of the mountain, until their ski instructor feels they are ready for more challenging terrain. 

If you are teaching your kids to ski yourself, this is where you will spend most of your time, as well.

I would definitely recommend taking lessons if you plan to visit. Not only did ski lessons help both me and our daughter learn to ski quicker, but for kids particularly it is a lot of fun. Our daughter earned a sticker on her helmet for every one of the kid’s adventure runs she went down.

an adult learning to ski in Jackson Hole
Learning to ski as an adult in Jackson Hole.

I learned to ski in Jackson Hole as an adult. The instructors are very cautious and will not take you or your children outside their skill or comfort level. They are also very knowledgeable. 

Within a couple days of taking lessons, I was skiing blues in Jackson Hole. And within the same ski season, I was handling black runs at other mountains with caution but ease. 

Still, to avoid a ski injury on the slopes you need to make sure you are ready and have the necessary skills for the next level of runs.

Once you know you or your child can ski in Jackson Hole, every other mountain will seem much less intimidating!

Little Wranglers Child Care in Jackson Hole

NOTE: The Day Care Program will NOT be open during the 2023-2024 ski season.

A little girl in front of the Kids Ranch child care in Jackson Hole
The Kids Ranch in Jackson is a great way to give parents with babies and toddlers a stress-free day on the mountain while their little ones have fun in day care.

When our daughter was still a baby, child care was the single most important aspect for us when skiing. We wanted to know that our little one was well taken care of and happy in day care.

Child care in Jackson Hole set the standard for exceptional day care at all mountain resorts.

It is expensive, as are all ski resort daycares, but it includes your child’s snacks and meals. If your child is still a baby and needs formula, expressed breast milk, or pureed foods, you will need to supply those.

Check out these tips if you need to bring any of those liquids on the plane.

The Kids Ranch is located inside the Cody building, up the stairs adjacent to the gondola.

There seemed to be more than an adequate amount of staff members in the daycare center when we dropped our daughter off. I counted at least five people in the Little Wranglers room.

Perhaps putting me even more at ease, there wasn’t a single baby who was upset or crying. They were all playing or being held, and perfectly content. 

When we picked up our daughter at the end of the day, she was always smiling and happy. The staff gave us a detailed report of her day, what she ate, when she ate, her diaper changes, her naps, how much she drank, what she did, and who she played with.

The staff was super attentive, and I could tell our little one enjoyed her time there. Her face says it all!

FAQs about Skiing in Jackson Hole for the first time

a chair lift coming out of the clouds when Skiing in Jackson Hole
Skiing in Jackson Hole is a unique experience where you may find yourself skiing above the clouds.

If you are planning to travel to Jackson Hole for the first time, it is natural to have a few questions that go beyond just skiing and what to expect on the mountain.

Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about visiting Jackson Hole on a ski trip.

Is Jackson Hole expensive for Skiing?

Skiing, in general, is expensive. Unfortunately, skiing in Jackson Hole is no different. The town, the food, the lodging, and lift tickets are pricey.

A one-day lift ticket will set you back about $200. If you plan to ski multiple days, it may be worth investing in an IKON Pass and reserving your dates. 

Another option would be to ski at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort one day and then check out Snow King Mountain Resort in the town of Jackson. More of a local ski mountain, this smaller mountain still offers some steep terrain but a lift ticket is only about $50 a day. 

Kids will also enjoy the snow tubing and mountain coaster at Snow King.

What is the best time of year to ski in Jackson Hole?

Jackson Hole receives a reliable amount of snow each winter, which is prime for skiing.

If you are a beginner or intermediate skier, even early in the season, you should have ample coverage on the runs. 

However, if you want to ski the hard stuff at Jackson Hole, you may want to wait until January, February or March to ski. The more challenging runs require more coverage (ie: more snow) before they can open up.

Where is the best place to stay on a Jackson Hole ski trip?

Hotel Terra sign a good option for Lodging in Jackson Hole
Hotel Terra is our go-to hotel when we are skiing in Jackson Hole.

There are a lot of great hotels in Jackson Hole to choose from. If you want to stay at the base of the mountain, look for a hotel in Teton Village.

The Four Seasons offers ski-in ski-out access, while Hotel Terra offers ski-in, but requires a short walk to the lift at the beginning of your day.

Another option, which is slightly cheaper, is to stay in the town of Jackson, Wyoming, about 15-20 minutes away from the mountain resort by car.

Although it requires a drive or shuttle ride to the mountain, there are a lot of fun things to do in Downtown Jackson after the mountain closes.

You can check out the iconic Million Dollar Cowboy Bar, take a stroll through Jackson Town Square which is illuminated in white lights during wintertime making it a great Christmas destination.

Also visit the Snake River Brewery for a locally made craft beer and live music.


How do you get to Jackson Hole?

an airplane at the jackson hole airport with the mountains in the background
Flying into the Jackson Hole Airport is the easiest way to get to the region during winter.

The easiest way to get to Jackson Hole, particularly in winter, is to fly directly into the Jackson Hole Airport, located about 15 minutes outside the town of Jackson. 

Traveling from the airport to Teton Village and the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort is about a 35 minute drive.

Many of the hotels also offer transfer services if you don’t want to rent a car.


Why you should ski Jackson Hole at least once

Skiing in Jackson Hole is a challenging yet thrilling adventure. Once you ski Jackson Hole for the first time, you will want to go back. 

The terrain may be difficult, but conquering this mountain is deeply rewarding! Winter in Jackson Hole is also stunningly beautiful, albeit incredibly cold.

If for no other reason, go skiing in Jackson Hole for the scenery. 

Even if you don’t ski, there are a lot of other mountain sports and great winter activities to do in Jackson Hole

Invest in the right ski gear to keep you warm and safe on the mountain. Temperatures can get well below zero degrees Fahrenheit  in winter.

From unique dining experiences, to the charming Old West town of Jackson, you’re guaranteed to have a great time in western Wyoming. And if you ski or board, you’ll leave with bragging rights and some awesome memories on the slopes.

Do you have a question or comment about skiing in Jackson Hole? We’d love to hear from you. Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

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This guide to skiing in Jackson Hole Wyoming was first written in March 2016 but was most recently updated in October 2023 for current information about the ski resort.

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