How to Avoid the Crowds in Jackson Hole This Winter


Some mountain towns are inconceivably picturesque, like living in a snow globe. Problem is, with crowding in high season, it can feel just as cramped. Take Jackson Hole. It’s a world-class ski destination, but you’re gonna have to put up with long lines and congestion—unless you side-step Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. As a first-time visitor, you might not know the eponymous ski area is actually located in Teton Village, about 30 to 45 minutes away (snow and/or traffic can double that time) from the charming downtown and must-visit spots like Million Dollar Cowboy Bar, known for its nightly live music, exuberant dance floor, and diverse crowd of revelers. That’s why we like to make Hotel Jackson basecamp.

This family owned and operated LEED-certified, 4-star hotel is in the absolute center of Jackson Hole. It has 55 beautifully appointed guest rooms including four signature suites, all outfitted with top-of-the-line amenities, natural gas fireplaces, and spa bathrooms with plush robes (which you should wear for daily jaunts to the rooftop jacuzzi).

Beyond the accommodations, it’s the authentic touches throughout the hotel’s common areas that really make the hotel memorable—like the inviting Sacajawea Library with its incredible collection of western literature and handpicked art.

Photo of library and hotel room
Sacajawea Library (left); interior room details (right). Courtesy Image

When you stay downtown in the winter, the town becomes so much more than just a ski destination. After all, skiing isn’t for everyone.

There’s the iconic town square and oh-so-photogenic antler archway, along with many of the best restaurants like White Buffalo Club, a local-favorite steak house, and The Kitchen, a cozy space offering up Asian-influenced cuisine. There’s also FIGS, Hotel Jackson’s delicious in-house restaurant, known for its eclectic mix of Lebanese- and Mediterranean-inspired dishes including a design-your-own hummus concept that’s not to be missed. The menu includes other Mediterranean favorites like shawarma and kebabs, along with a refreshing selection of vegetarian- and vegan-friendly options that can be hard to find in a meat-heavy town like Jackson Hole.

Three plates of hummus and spreads
Courtesy Image

Downtown Jackson also boasts world-class shops like Jackson Trading Company for local gifts and sundries; Penny Lane, a trendy women’s apparel store; and Crazy Horse Pawn Shop, known for turquoise jewelry and antiques collected over 40 years in business.

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You can take a beautiful 15-minute walk through the heart of downtown to the local ice rink at Snow King Sports & Events Center. But the best-kept secret about staying in the actual town of Jackson Hole during the winter is Snow King, the local ski hill, which is less than 5 minutes from Hotel Jackson via shuttle.

Perfect for families or anyone looking for a low-key skiing experience, Snow King’s base area is smack dab in the middle of downtown Jackson Hole. While the skiing isn’t as epic or advanced as what you’ll find at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, Snow King is more affordable with lift tickets starting at $75 for adults and $50 for juniors (kids under the age of 5 ski for free). More than just skiing and snowboarding, Snow King also offers scenic gondola rides, tube sledding, and a year-round Cowboy Coaster. The alpine roller coaster soars down the mountain with over a mile of loops, curves, and drops.

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Dog sledding in winter landscape
Courtesy Image

With impeccable service and a full-time activities director and concierge onsite, Hotel Jackson can schedule a thrilling dog sled ride to a remote hot spring for you and your travel companion, or a sleigh ride through the winter wonderland of National Elk Refuge, where you’ll see thousands of the majestic mountain denizens up close.

You can also ride snowmobiles through Yellowstone National Park, snowshoe through a quiet forest surrounded by giant snow-laden trees, or just ask the friendly staff for their favorite book recommendation from the library and curl up next to the fire.

Choose your own adventure has never been more apropos.