With epic Teton verticals, honky-tonk bars, and now an exploding food scene, this Western mountain town and ski resort has pretty much everything you want in a ski vacation.

It had snowed nine inches overnight—“blower powder,” as locals call that fine fluff—and my ski buddy, Kathryn Brackenridge, who arrived in 2004 to be a ski bum for a year and now runs PR for Jackson Hole Mountain Resort—stood near the trees at the bottom of Lower Faces (aka “Buffalo Bowl”), egging me on. “It’s all yours—there’s no one behind you!” she shouted up to me, an intermediate skier used to the edge-chattering, icy slopes of New England. As I sliced wide, luxurious arcs through the velvety snow that hit just below my patella, quads smoking while I picked up speed, I realized I was wearing a huge demented grin, like the Grinch break-necking down the mountain to steal Christmas. “That feeling,” she said when I reached the bottom, “is why people move here and never leave.”

Jackson Hole is pretty much the Western capital of whoop-ass. Originally populated by Native American Shoshoni and Crow before luring trappers, traders, and ranchers, this Teton-ringed valley—or “Hole”—has long attracted extreme skiers to its “steep and deep” slopes (Corbet’s Couloir is one of the most vertical runs in North America) and 3,000 acres of accessible backcountry terrain. During the summer, the focus shifts to rafting on the Snake River, hiking, technical climbing, mountain biking, and YouTube-friendly sports like paragliding. (Not surprisingly the area woos its fair share of bro-cationers—earning the first month of the year its nickname of “Manuary.”)

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Published by ALEX POSTMAN, Conde Naste, March 21, 2018

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