Posts filed under ‘Snowmobiling’

Jackson Hill Climb

So… last weekend was Hill Climb here in Jackson. This being my first spring spent in the area, I got to experience this special event for the first time. For those of you who may also be unfamiliar with Hill Climb, the event is formally known as the World Championship Snowmobile Hill Climb. About 20 snowmobilers known as the Jackson Hole Snow Devils started a hill climb in 1975 at Snow King Mountain in town, and the tradition has continued annually at the same location ever since. To say that it has grown in size, however, may be an understatement. This year, for its 40th anniversary, Hill Climb drew over 300 snowmobilers, and a crowd of more than 10,000 fans to the valley.

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Snowmobilers start the events early in the morning, and they last all day. Competitors start at the base of the mountain, and the objective is to snowmobile straight up the incredibly steep slopes of Snow King, and end up the first one at the top. I live right near the base of Snow King, and so luckily (or unluckily, depending how you look at it), I was able to see and hear the snowmobiles revving up early every morning.

The festive spirit of Hill Climb is definitely palpable in the air in Jackson throughout the weekend. The base of Snow King houses beer and food stands from great local vendors, and of course, hundreds of jovial fans. A trip to the nearby bars downtown is recommended on Friday and Saturday night, as visitors and locals alike continue the celebratory spirit after hours. If you don’t prefer to be right in the middle of the crowd to spectate the events, a great option is Lift Restaurant and Bar, which due to its location, has become somewhat of an epicenter for Hill Climb festivities. Located on Cache Street, just across the street from the base of Snow King, Lift is open all day during hill climb and serves up a delicious selection of elevated bar food and drink. A great way to spectate is to go to the roof of Lift, which has perfect panoramic views of the action at Snow King.

Overall, Hill Climb is definitely a unique way to have some fun while taking a break from skiing in March, if you can. I hope that you are able to experience it at least once during your travels to Jackson Hole… I definitely look forward to it next year.

March 31, 2016 at 3:53 pm 1 comment

Packing for Jackson Hole – Winter

This past spring I posted about packing for your summer trip to Jackson Hole. Now that the weather has covered the valley in fluffy white stuff and dropped the outdoor temperature to a walk in freezer, I will offer some advice on what to pack for your winter adventure in Jackson. First of all, if you plan on coming between December and February, bring a very warm jacket, preferably a down jacket. If you don’t have a down jacket, your only saving grace will be putting on enough layers until you bear a shocking resemblance to the Michelin man. Well, within reason. You want to be able to move your extremities of course.

The temperatures typically ranges between -10 and 30 degrees and inversions are very common. Cold air gets trapped in the valley while up on the mountain it could be 10 degrees warmer. When skiing I tend to wear one or two base layers (synthetic, do not wear cotton!), an insulating layer (the Patagonia down sweater is the greatest invention ever), and a shell (something that is wind and waterproof). As long as you keep your core warm, all the rest should stay relatively warm too. When I pack for a ski trip I always pack a variety of base layers of different weights. A fleece may work as an insulating layer but I would not recommend a fleece as your main jacket. Also, bring plenty of ski socks! You will not want to reuse dirty (sometimes crusty) ski socks.

Don’t forget your ski gear of course: boots, poles and skis (or snowboard & boots). If you are coming from the east coast, I would suggest renting a pair of “fat boys” while you are out here. There is an amazing difference having a ski that is larger than 100 cm underfoot out here. Instead of sinking, you float. It’s awesome. There are plenty of ski shops that rent skis and snowboards: Hoback Sports, Sports Authority, Teton Village Sports or JH Sports.

If you are planning on going snowmobiling and you don’t want to get your own snow pants and jacket all greasy and smelling like motor oil the rental companies have pants, jackets, boots, helmets and gloves for you to rent. Just bring a nice warm base layer or two to wear under the snowmobile jacket.

Jackson is a mountain town, so when you are off the slopes there is no need to get overly dressed up. If you have anything flannel or plaid, bring as many as you can: you will assimilate nicely with the locals. Bring lots of sweaters. If you are my dad, mock turtlenecks work well. There are some nice restaurants in Jackson, so depending on the nature of your trip you may bring a dressy outfit. If you are wondering where to go for a good meal, see my previous post “Fine Dining in Jackson, Wyoming”. Jeans are a must and if you have a pair of Carhartts you will fit in nicely as well. Below I have created an abbreviated check list for your convenience:

  • Ski/winter jacket
  • Insulating Layer (fleece or light down jacket)
  • Base layers (synthetic or wool)
  • Ski socks – plenty!
  • Ski Boots, skis & poles or snowboard boots and snowboard
  • Hat and mittens – for both on and off the slope
  • Scarf (optional)
  • A few pairs of jeans and/or Carhartts
  • A flannel or plaid shirt (or three)
  • Sweaters, turtlenecks, vests: whatever you use to keep warm in the winter
  • Snow boots to wear off the hill (Moonboots are acceptable)

If you pack these essentials you will arrive in Jackson Hole prepared to stay warm and enjoy your time on and off the slopes. Also, let it be known that once you get off the plane in Jackson you must walk outside to get to the baggage claim. I’d suggest that you pack a jacket in your carry-on or you will doing a 300 yard dash from the plane to the airport. Happy packing, safe travels and we can’t wait to see you out here in Jackson!

December 2, 2011 at 10:42 pm 10 comments

Spring Off Season in Jackson Hole

With over 660 inches total snowfall in the mountains so far this season, which is equivelant to 55 feet of snow, or as tall as a 5 story building, the snow will be here for quite some time. About this time of year the locals start getting antsy, I mean, 6 months of snow can get to you after awhile. As I walked home from work in a snow flurry yesterday I noticed some kids playing basketball, one had shorts on. We are a tough breed in Jackson, but after days of cloudy snow flurries we get really excited when the sun comes out. This past weekend was full of gorgeous sunshine. So how did I spend it? Outside of course!

I had heard that the roads in Yellowstone were clear from Flag Ranch to West Thumb and open to bike traffic only, so on Saturday I loaded my mountain bike in the car and took off for Flag Ranch. However, 2 miles into my ride I hit a little bit of a road block. The road was clear only to the entrance of Yellowstone. Past the entrance the road was covered by at least 5 feet of snow. Disappointed, I turned around and packed up the bike and headed down to Signal Mountain in Grand Teton National Park. I knew that the road in Grand Teton National Park was closed exclusively to bike traffic until May 1. I hopped on the bike and set out for String Lake, located at the end of Jenny Lake. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky on this gorgeous day. Families were out biking with their kids, road bikers were out with their buddies for group rides, and I moseyed along on my mountain bike, wishing that I had a road bike instead of a full suspension mountain bike with knobby tires. As I approached the String Lake Junction bodies were strewn across the street: people laying on the pavement soaking up the sun. I stretched out on the pavement and enjoyed a snack, meanwhile another biker road by and commented “Great, more road kill.” It was a great way to spend a Saturday and it made me look forward to the summer months.

On Sunday I returned back to the winter months. A buddy of mine has a snowmobile that he wanted to exercise in the pass. He told me to bring along my skis, so who am I to argue? I spent the day getting dropped off on the top of ridges and skiing down in the bright sunshine. I even tried carving some powder on the sled. Unfortunately, I am still learning so I got bucked a few times. It is amazing how much terrain there is in the mountains on the pass. The only place to snowmobile on the pass is on Philips Pass, about half way up the pass if you are coming from Jackson. Trailers aren’t allowed on the pass so you have to have the snowmobile in the back of your truck. The trail up to Ski Lake from Philips Pass is pretty straight forward. Once you reach Ski Lake there are plenty of hill climb options and ridges to drop off the back of. I have never skied off of a snowmobile before, and I have to say that I am completely spoiled now. Totally untouched powder, no competition, and no need to hike or skin to ski. It was awesome. The off season is not so bad in Jackson. Even though the snow will be covering some hiking and biking trails for another month, there are still plenty of things to do outside. So get out there and start enjoying the nice weather we are having!

April 27, 2011 at 3:52 pm 1 comment

Photos from Hill Climb 2011

The World Championship Hill Climb was held this past weekend at Snow King Resort. The photos below are from the King of the Hill competition on Sunday. The goal is to make it to the summit of Snow King on your snowmobile as fast as possible, which means that there were plenty of airborne sleds, runaway sleds, and riders getting bucked off of their sleds. Meanwhile, the weather fluctuated between snowing and sunshine all day. Riding the summit chairlift at Snow King gave a great perspective on the hill climb. Plenty of spectators rode the lift up and took advantage of the snow by sledding down on their butts on a luge like course created over the course of the weekend. The hill climb is a great event and I hope that you enjoy the photos.

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March 29, 2011 at 4:25 pm 1 comment

Hill Climb World Championships Come to Jackson

Every March Snow King Resort hosts the Hill Climb World Championships. This 4 day event on March 22 – 25th  boasts plenty of different snowmobile categories and events. In 1975 20 local snowmobile enthusiasts  started the competition. The Jackson Hole Snow Devils host the event and most of the proceeds from the event go to charity. It is the largest non-profit charity snowmobile events in the US. The event draws over 10,000 viewers and 300 racers from all over the US and Canada each year. The town of Jackson becomes alive with the hill climb event during the day and then bands and DJs hosted by the bars in town at night. The most popular bars during hill climb are the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar and the Town Square Tavern. I’d advise heading to one of those bars if you want to meet a sled neck.

The most entertaining event is the complete hill climb to the summit of Snow King. The Exhibition trail, which runs straight up the middle of Snow King under the summit chairlift is the venue for the hill climb. For a few bucks you can ride the chairlift up to the top of Snow King and hike down a little to stand at the top of the trail. I highly recommend doing that since the summit is where all the action happens. Three quarters of the way up the trail a big net sits in the middle of the trail to catch any rolling or runaway snowmobiles. Also, plenty of volunteers are on hand to attempt to arrest a sliding snowmobile if the rider can’t clear some of the obstacles on the course. At the top snowmobiles go airborne, riders attempt crazy maneuvers to keep their snowmobile under control to reach the summit, sleds roll and volunteers run after them. It is extremely entertaining.

At the base of Snow King, snowmobile vendors from all over the country set up shop showing off their wares. There is also a beer garden, plenty of options for food, and a large screen that broadcasts the hill climb. To get into this viewing area you must buy a ticket for $15 (estimated cost). It is a blast to watch and so I suggest that you clear your schedule, grab a beer and head for Snow King on Saturday and Sunday when only the best snowmobilers remain in the competition. Come see one of the most exciting events of the year in Jackson.

March 17, 2011 at 2:22 pm Leave a comment

A Family Snowmobile Adventure

My family recently visited Jackson to spend some quality time in the Tetons and on the slopes of Jackson Hole. I grew up in a ski family, learning to ski when I was 3 years old and becoming an addict by 10. A typical weekend during the winter consisted of my dad beating pots and pans to get my sister and I out of bed to get us to the ski hill by 9. But I digress. Obviously, my family enjoys skiing together, but on this trip they wanted to spend a day off the ski hill enjoying some of the natural scenery that Wyoming has to offer. I suggested a snowmobile trip, but a guided tour costs a little more than my parents wanted to spend. Since I had a good idea of where I wanted to take them, I proposed that we rent snowmobiles. There are plenty of places in town to rent sleds, and all snowmobile rentals come with snow pants, gloves, jackets, boots and helmets. In the end we decided to rent from Jackson Hole Adventure Rentals since they were running a January special.

Our destination was Granite Hot Springs, and after suiting up, we piled into the rental car and took off. The Granite Hot Springs trail head is a half hour drive, south of Jackson. The drive takes you through a gorgeous canyon south of Hoback junction. Once we got to the trail head it was time to unload the snowmobiles. Please let me preface this fact by informing you that I have only driven a snowmobile one time previously (see my post: A Snowmobile Adventure) and that was a guided tour where the guide loaded and unloaded the sleds. Sadly, I had the most experience in my family, so I was responsible for taking on the challenge.  Needless to say I was a little nervous about the process, but fortunately, with some help from my father starting up the machines and unhitching them from the trailer, I got the sleds down without much of a problem. After a quick review of the throttle, brake and hand warmers we were off on our adventure.

The hot spring is 10 miles from the trail head on a snow covered dirt road, so it is near impossible to get lost. Along the way there are some fields to go off the trail and play in. The best place for playing around is about a half mile before the hot spring, there is a road that veers off to the right and opens up into a large field. I took my family there to play before we went to the hot spring. So as a reminder, my family does not have very much experience with snowmobiles and since the snow was deep, the inevitable happened: my sister got her sled stuck. Unfortunately, the way that it was stuck I couldn’t tow it out from the front so I hitched a tow strap to the back of her sled to mine and tried to pull it out from behind. Now, let this be a lesson to you, a sled’s track is angled so that it may propel itself forward, and so when I tried to pull it out from behind I actually forced the track of the stuck sled deeper into the snow and in the meantime I dug myself a hole with my sled and got mine stuck too. Well fortunately, I had the foresight in sensing a possible catastrophe so I brought along my avalanche shovel. We had a great family bonding moment as we all grunted shoveling and pushing the stuck sleds until finally we were able to propel the two out of their holes. After spending about a half an hour huffing and puffing in the field we determined that it was time for lunch at the hot spring.

There are many guided snowmobile trips and dog sled tours that go back to the spring, and because of that the spring can be quite crowded between 11am and 1pm. We arrive just as the tours were packing up to go home so we were able to enjoy our lunch in peace and share the hot spring with only a handful of other bathers. The hot spring is built up like a pool but it is fed by a natural hot spring that cascades into the pool. After soaking thoroughly in the pool we packed up and headed home. On our way back to the car we found another field to play in and experimented with jumping the snowmobiles.

Everyone had a great day and thankfully we returned the snowmobiles in mint conditions. It’s a great option for someone who wants to go snowmobiling but wants to save some money, but be aware that you assume all responsibility for the sleds and they can be very expensive to fix so I’d suggest you get the insurance. If you have any further questions about the trip please feel free to comment!

February 9, 2011 at 6:50 pm 2 comments

A Snowmobile Adventure

Yesterday was awesome. The Painted Buffalo Inn has partnered up with Togwotee Snowmobile Adventures to create a snowmobile and stay package this winter. Of course we had to test the product so we know what we are recommending, so yesterday 5 of us from the Painted Buffalo had the luck of having a guided a tour of the continental divide up in Togwotee Pass.

Our fearless leader and guide, Ben, picked us up promptly at 7:30am from the hotel and brought us over to E.Leaven for a delicious breakfast buffet. After eating plenty of eggs, bacon, french toast and pancakes we jumped back into the van and drove over to the Togwotee Snowmobile Adventures office where we were suited up for our big day. I recommend using their jackets, pants, boots and gloves (which were all very warm), just because the smell of the engine will get on your clothes.

After getting all bundled up we loaded up the van and headed north to Togwotee Pass. En route we had a minor delay caused by a herd of buffalo that sauntered across the road. We also spotted a couple moose from the van, it’s quite a scenic drive.

When we arrived at the trail head we suited up and hopped on the snowmobiles. Prior to this experience I had never been on a snowmobile, so I was a little nervous about learning the controls. Surprisingly, everything was quite straightforward. The snowmobiles were very nice, with hand and feet warmers, and looked brand new: they only had one season on them. We spent the first hour driving the trails just getting used to the feel of the machines, and then our guide, Ben, cut us loose in a field. It was really fun to bomb through the fields (I’m a slight adrenaline junky) and attempt to carve through the powder.

Ben was a great guide. Our front desk manager, Sashi, was not fond of going fast, but he was able to let her follow the trail at her own pace while Ben would indulge the rest of us by leading us off trail into small powder fields. We had lunch at the Togwotee Mountain Lodge, which was very delicious. With local flavored menu items such as buffalo burgers, bison chili, and fried trout and favorites such as nachos, a variety of pizzas and a chicken sandwich, there was something for everyone.

After lunch we hit the trail and cruised the Continental Divide loop, which would have been very scenic if it had not been pounding snow. The snow was very deep and fun to play in. Trent got stuck twice in the deep snow, but luckily Ben has had a lot of practice towing people out of the snow. By the time we got back to the van it was 4pm and we drove through the blizzard back to Jackson. I have to say today left most of us wanting to buy a snowmobile, quit our jobs and become a guide. See more pictures below from our trip! I would highly recommend taking a trip with Togwotee Snowmobile Adventures. Their guides, sleds and trips will not disappoint!

I encourage you to stay with us and purchase our snowmobile package: you will receive 10% off your lodging and 15% off your snowmobile trip (excludes Yellowstone trips, minimum 2 night stay). If you have any questions regarding the package, Togwotee Snowmobile Adventures trip options or anything about our trip please feel free to leave a comment.

December 15, 2010 at 2:14 pm 2 comments


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