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Old West Days!

The weather is warming up in Jackson, and we’re seeing more tourists around town square. Memorial Day is often regarded as the unofficial start to summer, and we couldn’t be more ready! Kicking off our summer season this weekend is the 35th annual Old West Days. This weekend long affair offers locals and tourists alike an array of fun events, including the Old West Brew Fest, and our first Rodeo of the season.

The Old West Brew fest begins tomorrow, May 28th, at 11am in town square, and allows beer connoisseurs the opportunity to sample craft beers from some of our fantastic local brewers, including Jackson’s own Snake River Brewing, as well as national favorites such as Sierra Nevada Brewery. Tokens for tastings can be purchased at the event, and stagecoach rides through historic downtown Jackson will be available around the square. Following the Brew Fest is the first Shootout of the season, which happens Monday through Saturday until Labor Day, also near town square.

On Sunday, check out the free Historical Downtown Jackson Walking Tour, put on by the Jackson Hole Historical Society. Meet them at 2pm in the center of town square.

For more information about this, and other upcoming events, visit the Chamber of Commerce’s website at jacksonholechamber.com.

May 27, 2016 at 11:09 pm Leave a comment

Brittany’s Ideal 5 Day Yellowstone Trip

Up next, we have our front desk representative, Brittany’s recommendations. Though not as detailed as Kelly’s recommendations this is a great itinerary if you already have an idea of where you would like to stay in Yellowstone. In case you missed it, our front desk is giving us some great ideas for itineraries if you have 5 days to spend in Yellowstone and the Jackson Hole area. See our front desk manager Kelly’s recommendations here!

Day 1: Yellowstone Van TourOld Faithful

Start off your trip with a tour of the park! Enjoy all the natural wonders that Yellowstone has to offer—including the famous Old Faithful Geyser!

Day 2: Fishing Bridge Hikes

Now that you’ve got the lay of the land, it’s time to get on your feet! Explore the variety of trails around Fishing Bridge and Yellowstone Lake!

Day 3: Mammoth Hot SpringsMammoth Hot Springs

Get to know the park through the lens of the past! Spend your day learning about Yellowstone’s history—while also checking out one of the park’s most well-known thermals!

Day 4: Lamar Valley Wildlife

While away the afternoon by viewing the wildlife of Lamar Valley! The Valley features some of the most beautiful flora and fauna in the park—and maybe you’ll even see a buffalo or two!

Day 5: Fountain Flats Trail Bike Ride

Drink in one final day in this magnificent place! Rent a bike at Old Faithful and ride the Fountain Flats Trail; nothing completes a trip to Yellowstone like cycling through the heart of the park!

April 23, 2015 at 4:36 pm Leave a comment

Dawn Patrols in Jackson Hole

Skiing. That’s the reason that I moved to this valley in 2009. Not for a job, not for a boy, not for my family or friends. Skiing. Skiing was the sole factor in my decision making when I chose Jackson Hole. Which is great until you start getting the itch to do more with your life than just ski and wait tables. But a career – that means giving up skiing, right? Not necessarily. You have to be a little more crafty but you can absolutely still ski on a powder day. You just have to be up at 6AM to do so.

Over the past few years I have become a master Chivers Sunriseof the “dawn patrol.” Dawn patrol is when you ski in the early morning. It means hiking in the dark with a headlamp, seeing sunrises from the bootpack and skiing down in the early morning light. It really is the most gorgeous time of the day. There is also the added benefit that you get first turns on a powder day, when everyone else is still in bed. For those who argue that you can’t be a ski bum and have a career I beg to disagree. I may not be a “bum” because I collect a regular pay check, but I probably get close to the same amount of days a ski bum skis each season. I believe that last year I skied upwards of 70 days. Of course, no lift is turning at 6AM, so all of my morning runs before work are done under my own power, by hiking or skinning to the top of the run.

A local favorite for dawn patrollers is Glory. Located at the top of Teton 10626352_786990103515_8252731746802420714_oPass a steep bootpack takes you to the top of Mount Glory. From the false peak there are a variety of options to ski back to your car which is parked at the top of the pass. The hike to the false peak typically takes about an hour if you are in good shape. Since it is backcountry skiing I always ski with a partner and avalanche gear. I also have taken the Avalanche 1 Safety class. Thankfully, I have some friends who work 9 to 5 and are as crazy as me. We carpool to Teton Pass and then hike and ski Glory or Chivers Ridge, or we drop a car at the bottom and skin out to Avalanche Bowl.

I have had mornings when I can’t feel my fingers or toes because the temperature is below zero. 1492335_711138281175_1746836959_oMornings where I’ve thought that I was going to get blown off of the mountain and no one would find me in the dark. Mornings where I have had to break the bootpack or skin track by post-holing through deep wind drifts and fresh powder. I have had turns so deep that I can’t see where I am going. Turns that make me giggle like a school girl all of the way back to work. It’s mornings like those that can help me get through a particularly challenging day.

In order to be a dawn patroller you have to be motivated. When that alarm goes off at 5:45AM you need to be able to jump out of bed, throw on your ski clothes and go start the car. It probably helps that I am a morning person, but I have never once regretted getting out of bed in the morning. Because if the snow isn’t good, the sunrise is typically spectacular. Or vice versa – with no sunrise it usually means that the skiing is going to be amazing.

photoWhen I first moved to Jackson I didn’t think that there could be such a balance between work and play. I thought that I would have to sacrifice what I love doing during the week and just live for the weekends. However, the quality of life in Jackson Hole is incredible. How many people get to say that they skied powder in the early morning and then brought home a decent pay check and progressed their career while doing what they love? All of the early mornings I have spent on Teton Pass or Snow King in town are worth it. The beautiful sunrises, the friendships that I have created with my fellow dawn patrollers, the fresh tracks in deep snow after a storm, all worth it. Then I come and sit at my desk and when things get tough, I think about the morning – the deep snow or sun rays cresting over the Gros Ventres Mountains and how all is right in the world.

January 22, 2015 at 4:05 pm Leave a comment

Hiking the Headwall at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort

Are you looking for some fresh powder days after the storm? Or maybe you are looking to burn off that breakfast burrito that you had this morning. Either way, hiking the Headwall at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort is easy and it can be very rewarding! I say easy due to the fact that it is a ski patrolled area, so you aren’t required to have any avalanche awareness and the bookpack(s) are easy to find. Yeah, did you notice that I said bootpacks, plural? There are two ways to882003_653697747465_1913217646_o hike the Headwall. The first that I am going to describe is the mellow, traditional Headwall hike. The second is the lung crushing, thigh burning “White Spider” hike.

The Headwall

You can reach the traditional bootpack off of the Sublette chairlift or the Tram – so you need to be high up on the mountain. In order to access it you ski down through Tensleep Bowl and take the traverse to the top of the Cirque. The start of the bootpack lies where the traverse ends and the bowl begins. At this point you should take off your skis and either put them over your shoulder or strap them to a backpack. A backpack isn’t necessary and I don’t necessarily recommend one – the hike is short so I don’t mind shouldering my skis but it’s based on personal preference. Both bootpacks close promptly at 2PM so make sure you are on the bootpack before then.

Bootpack Etiquette
There are some unwritten rules about how to conduct yourself on a bootpack. Actually, there is just one rule. If someone comes up behind you and is clearly hiking faster than you are, step off of the bootpack. You can wait until you find a spot that’s easy to step off onto – a flatter spot or a spot where someone has stepped off before – just don’t wait too long to find a spot (more than 2 minutes). It is common courtesy, so don’t be offended if someone behind you asks you to step off so that they can pass you.

The Headwall hike will take you anywhere from 8 minutes to 20 minutes, depending on what kind of shape you are in and whether you are acclimated to the altitude or not. It is straightforward and gradual. 892554_653697722515_2085529011_oAt the top of the bootpack you have a few options on what you can ski. You can either drop right off the nose directly onto the Headwall or into some chutes on the right hand side, or you can traverse over into Casper Bowl or the Crags. The Headwall is a great ski run but it is relatively short. Before you know it you are at the top of the Gondola. If you want a longer run I would suggest heading over into Casper Bowl. A word of caution – cliff bands and hazards are not well marked in hike-to areas such as the Headwall and Casper Bowl. I would suggest that you study the trail map and decide on what to ski instead of blindly following someone’s tracks. There are a fair amount of skiers at JHMR that are comfortable with a 5 or 10 foot drop. Just because there are a fair amount of tracks does not mean that you won’t get “cliffed out,” or stuck above a cliff ban resulting in you having to take off your skis and hike back up the trail a little bit in order to avoid the drop.

If you want some more exercise you can traverse all the way into the Crags with some duck walking. It takes a fair amount of shuffling to get over to the Crags or the far side of Casper Bowl but there are some fun lines over there and it’s a good spot to find powder days after a storm. But once again, study the trail map – it’s hard to get oriented from above.

The White Spider

Do actually enjoy suffering? Do you want to earn two beers at apres? Are you a fan of steep hikes? Are you at the top of the Gondola and don’t have time to make it over to Sublette before the Headwall hike closes at 2PM? If you answered yes to any of these questions then the White Spider is the hike for you. To find the bootpack head to the far end of the lodge at the top of the gondola (away from the gondola). Wrap around the building and head straight back towards the Headwall. You will see a sign that will indicate whether the Headwall, Casper Bowl and Crags are open. This is where the torture begins. The bootpack is straight up, steep and relentless. It does, however, show some mercy about 2/3rds of the way up – you can bail out into Casper Bowl (if it’s open) through a gate. Here you can ski a nice shot down into Casper Bowl. If you continue hiking you will reach the top of the Headwall at it’s intersection with Casper Bowl. You made it! Take a deep breath and enjoy the view and enjoy the anticipation of your hard earned turns.

Hiking the Headwall or White Spider can be very rewarding. The views are breathtaking and oftentimes the skiing is better than the lift access skiing. It’s a fun place to explore and there is some great, challenging terrain that’s accessible in-bounds. Just be sure to bring a bottle of water, a snack and to take your time. Since it isn’t accessible by a lift it takes ski patrol longer to reach you in case something happens. Also, the Headwall, Casper Bowl and Crags aren’t always open, so be sure to check their status by looking at one of the status boards or by asking a mountain host before heading over to the bootpack. Have fun and enjoy the fresh snow!

January 15, 2015 at 6:52 pm Leave a comment

Dawn Patrol on Teton Pass

I wake up to Passenger’s “Let Her Go” playing on my alarm clock. For a moment I think about just staying in bed. The song is like a lullaby, coaxing me to just lie back down and close my eyes. Then I think about my friend, Julie, who I promised to meet at the end of Old Pass Road in Wilson at 6:30AM. I can’t let her down. And then I think about how skiing soft, blower powder makes me feel. Okay, I’m up.

Like the majority of other Jackson Hole residents, I have to be at work by 9AM so if I have a prayer of skiing powder it means getting up before the sun and heading to Teton Pass. On powder days us 9 to 5ers are up early, hiking the Glory boot pack in search of our powder fix before heading in to work. We like to call these type of backcountry missions “dawn patrols.”

The issue with dawn patrols is that you typically don’t have a substantial amount of time. The most common early morning run is to park at the top of Teton Pass, hike Glory, on the north side of the pass, and then ski Twin Slides, Shovel Slide or First Turn. I am always impressed by the sheer amount of people on the Glory boot pack at 7AM. Doesn’t anyone sleep around here?

This morning Julie and I decided to park a car at the bottom of the pass Image(at the end of Old Pass Road) and drive another car to the top. We determined that we would rather hike a shorter distance and get a longer run down to the bottom of the pass instead of just back to our car at the top of the pass. We hiked Chiver’s Ridge, which is on the south side of Teton Pass. Most dawn patrolers go for Glory and so we got the first tracks down Chiver’s. Of course this required breaking the boot pack but the hike is a quarter of the length of the Glory boot pack.

As we suspected, the snow was soft and deep. We floated between the trees with huge grins on our faces. When we got to the bottom we contemplated a second run. And then we looked at the time. Drats! Sometimes work can really be a burden.

When I got home I complained to my husband that I had to go to work. He looked at me like I had two heads. He said “You should be ecstatic right now! You just skied powder. Most of our friends back East won’t get to do what you did today all year.” He was right. I have become the jaded local. Lift lines are always too long, there isn’t enough powder, the run isn’t ever long enough, all of these complaints are totally ridiculous in comparison to what my eastern friends are (or more accurately, aren’t) experiencing. After all, there is always tomorrow. That’s the only draw back to early morning Teton Pass runs. You get a nice taste of skiing powder, but then you have to go to work. I guess that I will just have to put the memory of this morning on repeat until I get to do it again tomorrow.

January 31, 2014 at 6:18 pm Leave a comment

Skinning Snow King

What do you do when you have to go to work and you want toImage get a quick work out in? Skin or hike Snow King! To learn more about the Snow King Ski Area visit one of our previous posts or visit their website. Snow King opens at 10AM every day (except Mondays) during the winter season, which means that you can skin or hike up straight up the mountain with your furry friend before work and take turns on untouched groomed snow. Snow King is a steep mountain, so it is hard work, but worth the reward. Most of the time when I skin Snow King it is mainly for the work out.

To skin Snow King when the resort is closed, start out at the base area next to the hockey arena and head up the first pitch. Take a slight left once you get to the top of the first pitch and then follow the tree line up until you hit the cat track. ImageOnce you hit the cat track, turn right. This will take you to the top of the Cougar lift, their triple. Once you reach the top of the triple continue left up and around the patrol “shack” and then take a left onto another cat track that will take up through the woods. This cat track switchbacks three more times until you reach the summit of Snow King. This is the way to access the top via skinning when the mountain is closed. When the mountain is open, no dogs are allowed and you must follow this map.

If you don’t have skins and want to hike Snow King, follow the boot pack set on the right hand side of the Exhibition trail under the double summit lift. This boot pack is very steep and direct. You will want to be in good shape if you plan on attempting the boot pack. From the summit there are a lot of great trails to ski. My favorites are Elk, Cougar and Exhibition.

Snow King is also fun to skin after work. Night skiing goes until 7PM Imageso you have to follow the uphill traffic map if you go before 7PM but seeing the town lit up below you is always spectacular. Last night I skinned up Snow King with some friends under the light of a full moon. The view of the Tetons lit up by the moon in the background and the twinkling lights of town in the foreground were breathtaking. It is so great to have a little mountain like Snow King located right in town. I have seen many sunrises and sunsets from that mountain, each more breathtaking than the last. So go skin or hike Snow King! Challenge yourself. You won’t regret it!

January 16, 2014 at 3:49 pm 1 comment

Floating the Snake River

As summer comes to an end it’s time to get one more float down the Snake River in! This activity is very popular with the locals on a hot summer’s day. The Snake River is cool and refreshing and the water is deep enough that there aren’t many rapids so the float is more relaxing than scary.

Ideally, you need at least two cars to float the Snake – one to be dropped at the take out and one that you drive to the start of the float. The most popular stretch of the Snake to float is to put in at the South Park boat launch, south of town and take out at the Astoria boat launch, just south of Hoback junction. If you are in town for a short while there are places where you can rent tubes – the KOA in Hoback or Jackson Hole Whitewater both  can rent them for $5 – $7. If you plan on floating the Snake River more than once and you want to purchase your own tube you can buy an inner tube at the Sinclair gas station or Big O Tires for $17, both are located by Kmart and Albertsons. If you are looking for a commercial tube with handles and built in coolers you can buy them at Kmart, Albertson’s grocery store or Smith’s grocery store.

Once you load up your car with the tubes, friends and frosty beverages I suggest that you drop your tubes and passengers at the South Park boat launch. Then go drop a car while your friends inflate the tubes (if they aren’t already inflated). I have marked the put in as “A” and the take out location as “B” on this map.

The float is very straightforward, you put in at South Park and then float for about an hour and a half, depending on the speed of the river. Early spring when the water is faster the trip is shorter. Since the Snake is a pretty wide river to float I recommend that you tie your tubes together to make a flotilla. You don’t have to, but if you want to talk to your friends I suggest creating a giant raft otherwise the river can separate you.

After about an hour of floating you will go under a large bridge (you will go under a few other bridges but this one is the largest by far). This means that you have reached Hoback Junction and will be taking out in another 3 miles. You won’t go under any other bridges for the remainder of the float. Just before the next bridge you see is the take out at Astoria on the right hand side of the river.

I ask that you be courteous while you are on the river – please do not litter the Snake. We have a leave no trace mentality here in Jackson. There are trash cans at Astoria where you can dispose of your garbage. Also, try not to get too intoxicated. While the river is relatively mellow there are some fast, precarious spots. It’s not a lazy river and tubes do flip on occasion. In addition, the Snake River runs through a canyon, meaning it loses the sun in the early afternoon. If you don’t want to end up shivering for half the float I suggest that you plan to be on the river no later than 3PM. Lastly, have fun! Oh and use lots of sunscreen!! Between being on the water and at an elevation of 6,200 the sun can be quite strong on the river.

September 6, 2013 at 8:32 pm Leave a comment

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