The Best Spots for Spring Skiing in Jackson Hole

Even when it's summery in the valley, the Jackson Hole Aerial Tram rises up into the high-country snows.
Even when it's summery in the valley, the Jackson Hole Aerial Tram rises up into the high-country snows. DieselDemon
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Throughout the winter, a general lack of snow in large parts of the West prompted the closing of some resorts and the griping of countless skiers and snowboarders. But not here. Jackson Hole Mountain Resort received well over 300 inches this year, and the lifts were still cranking all the way up until the scheduled season closure date of April 5. As of early April, JHMR had 79 inches of snow up top, with 61 inches mid-mountain.

Bottom line: Even after the resort closes for the season, avid backcountry skiers and split-boarders can still find plenty of snow to play in around Jackson Hole this spring, at JHMR and beyond.

A few tips: Get an early start so you can take advantage of good corn snow and avoid some of the slush later in the day. Be aware of springtime avalanche danger and be sure to have the necessary skills, knowledge, and gear before heading out into the backcountry. Avalanche terrain has inherent risks, and always take a look at the latest Bridger-Teton Avalanche Center forecast beforehand for an idea of what to expect hazard-wise.

Here, three great spots for excellent spring skiing in Jackson Hole.

Grand Teton National Park

Mount Moran's Skillet Glacier (named for its frying-pan-like shape) is a favorite springtime route for experienced ski mountaineers.
Mount Moran's Skillet Glacier (named for its frying-pan-like shape) is a favorite springtime route for experienced ski mountaineers. Frank Kovalchek

Experienced ski mountaineers look forward to spring just so they can take a trip up Mount Moran's Skillet. With a boat trip across Jackson Lake as an option to get there, it's the perfect spring route. But Mount Moran's Skillet Glacier is not for the inexperienced. This route contains high exposure along the route as well as a crevasse at the handle's lower end, and it is not for beginners. Self-arrest skills are crucial.

A popular way to arrive at the Skillet is to have a friend with a motor boat ferry you across the lake to drop you off and then return the next day for pick-up time. If a boat ride isn't an option, a fairly involved and arduous bushwhacking route begins where the Valley Trail ends north of Leigh Lake. However, this route is tricky, with downed trees galore; some find boulder hopping along the creek to be the best route to access the bottom of the glacier. Once you're there, head straight on up and enjoy some high views before heading back down.

Experienced backcountry skiers looking for a shorter ski can head up to other locations in Grand Teton National Park for a backcountry adventure. Maverick and 25 Short are both popular destinations to enjoy some springtime corn snow.

Jackson Hole Mountain Resort's Backcountry

Cody Peak is just one of the areas that can be accessed for spring skiing from JHMR's Aerial Tram.
Cody Peak is just one of the areas that can be accessed for spring skiing from JHMR's Aerial Tram. Lincoln Smith

Locals know that Memorial Day weekend doesn't just bring the first of the crowds to Jackson; it also brings the first lift-accessed skiing of the summer. Yes, that's right: Jackson gets so much snow that most years, locals head up the Jackson Hole Aerial Tram when it opens for summer sightseers (on Memorial Day weekend) to access backcountry terrain off the mountain.

Of course, anyone venturing out of bounds needs to have appropriate skills, equipment, and knowledge, and be aware of the current avalanche forecast. And be sure to stay out of the “in-bounds” terrain on the mountain, as the resort is closed for the season.

Gros Ventre Wilderness

Head out to the Gros Ventre Wilderness and enjoy the climb up to the 10,741-foot summit of Jackson Peak . You'll have several options for your descent, including steep and craggy lines down the north face or mellower, southeastern-facing routes. The ascent can be challenging, with some scrambling required, but this is considered one of the best backcountry peaks to ski in the area.

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