Traveling to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, is like an adventure to the old American West. Named by fur trappers who traversed the steep pass in Jackson, it didn’t take long for the valley to attract dude ranchers, cowboys, mountaineers and sports enthusiasts looking for expanses of pristine land. Flanked by the Gros Ventre and Teton mountain ranges, Jackson Hole has it all for those who love winter playtime—from some of the best, most challenging downhill terrains in the world to dog sledding on snowy trails. The area’s tough cowboy façade that once captured the hearts of vacation seekers has softened to more of a cowboy chic lifestyle thanks to the influx of high-end accommodations, rising property value and high-end amenities. When you fly your private jet to Jackson Hole, you won’t have to rough it.
The only Amanresorts property in the U.S., you’ll find Amangani built into Gros Ventre Butte—a breathtaking sight as the sun sets and the property’s lights glow during the winter. The essence of luxury without the crowds translates into 40 suites equipped with stone fireplaces, redwood platform beds, telescopes and deep soaking tubs that look out over the gulch from their cliff-top location. When you stand on the balcony, the mountains seem close enough to touch. The Amangani provides shuttle service and overnight equipment storage. Ask a staff member to arrange ski rentals, lessons, wildlife excursion or even a guided shopping tour.
Snake River Sporting Club
The most exclusive private club in Jackson Hole, the 800-acre Snake River Sporting Club, began offering residential-style overnight accommodations to those who seek an “authentic western experience” in February 2016. The secluded cabins overlook Wolf Mountain and the Snake River, and guests receive access to the club’s private amenities and recreational options, such as private après ski and valet service. On-site winter activities include horseback riding, 3-D archery, ice skating, heli-skiing, and cross-country skiing.
A five-star staple since 1978, you’ll find the Blue Lion in a historic blue-and-white clapboard house a couple blocks from Town Square. The sophisticated dining selection changes seasonally and includes elk tenderloin, buffalo ravioli, mushrooms stuffed with crab cream cheese, Idaho rainbow trout, duck cakes and chicken frangelico. Be sure to save room for mud pie, which incorporates a special hot fudge sauce (the recipe came from owner Ned Brown’s mother).
Gun Barrel Steak & Game House
About a mile from Town Square, the legendary Gun Barrel in the former Wyoming Wildlife Museum & Taxidermy is a carnivore’s dream come true. The restaurant’s lodge-inspired Western motif features an immense stone fireplace, antique artifacts, historical portraits, a grand collection of mounted game from all over the world, and the original hand-painted town sign. Most of the dishes at Gun Barrel are slow-roasted over an open river-rock mesquite grill, including velvet elk, a guest favorite. Additional items that you’ll find on the menu include elk chops, buffalo ribs, bison carpaccio, buffalo wraps, venison bratwurst, whiskey pork chops and Big Sky rib eye steak.
Winter in Jackson Hole is never boring. At 9,200 feet above sea level, there is a plethora of cold-weather activities with panoramic views of the stunning terrain:
- Iditarod dog sled tours
- Ice fishing
- Roaming in a snowmobile or track vehicle
- Wildlife excursions to see herds of moose, deer, elk and bighorn sheep
- Heli-skiing and –snowboarding
- Alpine and cross-country skiing
- Backcountry skiing on ungroomed powder
- Ski and snowboard tours
- Hole Hiking to track area wildlife with a naturalist guide
- Sleigh rides at the National Elk Refuge