Lively and wallet friendly, Jackson Hole is a mecca for die-hard ski and snowboard fans looking for that off-piste rush...
Located in the Grand Teton National Park, in northeast Wyoming, Jackson Hole is renowned for some of the toughest skiing in the USA.
That's not because of one individual run: what makes Jackson Hole special is the fact that its whole ski area is steep. Yes, there are a few intermediate pistes here, but if you can't handle deep powder and scary terrain, a ski holiday here would be a waste of time. Those who are up to the challenge absolutely love it.
Resort height: 1,924m
Heaven knows how the geology works in Jackson Hole, but the valley floor is as flat as pancake. Then, suddenly, it tilts up into a vertiginous mountain wall - and that's what you ski in Jackson Hole. There are several good pistes here, but what really excites people are all the un-pisted lines you can ski - through chutes, between the trees, or over open fields of pillowy powder. What's more, all the terrain within the ski resort boundaries is avalanche-controlled: so, provided your skill levels are good enough, and you read all the signs, you can go almost anywhere, without having to hire a guide.
It's worth signing up for at least a day of guiding and/or ski tuition though. Not surprisingly, the exciting terrain in Jackson Hole attracts a lot of America's best ski and snowboard instructors, and together they give the ski and snowboard school a supercharged atmosphere. It's well worth buying into some of their experience and zest for life.
It's a long haul, and involves at least one, and often two, changes of planes from the UK...
But most people who go to Jackson Hole think it's worth the effort.
If your idea of a great day's skiing involves getting up early, heading off-piste and hitting the powder, Jackson Hole is perfect...
There is very little for beginners to do, though. And while intermediate snowboarders might manage some of the powder runs, even intermediate skiers will struggle on a lot of the terrain.
There are plenty of activities for non-skiers in Jackson Hole, which also has numerous low-cost accommodation options...
Jackson Hole is home to one of skiing's most unusual après-ski scenes. The Mangy Moose at the bottom of the slopes offers beer, live music, bar food, and lots of leftover buzz from the slopes, and is a great place to start the evening. But sooner or later you've got to jump in a bus or a cab and sample the scene in the main town of Jackson, 12 miles away. In particular, the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar is a must - you sit at the bar on saddles and line-dance alongside proper ranchers (so don't laugh at their 10-gallon hats).
Jackson Hole is not a place for shoppers, but anyone who wants to mix spas, on-mountain meals and outdoor activities will be happy here. Ski-doo safaris into the Yellowstone National Park are popular, too.
Cost of living 8/10
Jackson Hole would probably like to be a bit more upmarket (which is tough because most well-heeled skiers don't have the time to develop the skills necessary to tackle the terrain here). But there's still a good budget base - featuring cheap condos, hostels and bargain-basement restaurants.
Attractiveness of the resort 8/10
The ski resort of Jackson Hole itself hugs the bottom of the slopes and is well laid out and easy to get around without a car. Make sure this is the place you stay - tour operators also sell hotels in the main town of Jackson, which is a 12-mile commute from the slopes. That's okay once or twice in a ski holiday, but every morning? No thank you!