Goin’ to Jack­son

The Sunday Mail (Queensland) - Escape - - FRONT PAGE -

There’s way more to Jack­son Hole than its fan­tas­tic ski­ing, writes An­gela Sau­rine.

ALK­ING through the streets of Jack­son is like step­ping back in time. With its wooden board­walks, log cab­ins, sa­loons and colour­ful playhouses, you could eas­ily be­lieve it was still the early 1900s, when cow­boys roamed the town. Step in­side the Sil­ver Dollar Bar in the Wort Ho­tel and you will find a long bar lined with sil­ver coins, and a blue­grass band per­form­ing on cer­tain nights.

Op­po­site the Town Square, sig­ni­fied by four arches made of elk antlers, the Mil­lion Dollar Cow­boy Bar also has a long bar with bar stools made of sad­dles and ta­bles carved out of tree branches. The walls are cov­ered with mu­rals de­pict­ing west­ern scenes, in­clud­ing bear hunts and wagon rob­beries, and old cow­boy spurs, guns and coins on dis­play. The menu in­cludes elk burger, buf­falo slides and chicken wings, which can be washed down with Mil­lion Dollar Cow­boy craft beer, bour­bon or whiskey.

The town is named af­ter a trap­per, Davey Jack­son, who was one of the first to be lured to the area by the abun­dant wildlife in the early 1800s. Set­tlers be­gan to move there in the 1880s, af­ter the pass­ing of the Homestead Act. The town was es­tab­lished in 1894 and soon be­came known for rodeos, playhouses and gam­bling. At the small his­tor­i­cal mu­seum you can see old black and white pho­tos show­ing the town’s early d days and its d devel­op­ment, along with spin­ning wheels, old skis with elk-hide b boots and chairs m made of antlers.

Jack­son was a p pretty pro­gres­sive p place. In 1920, it e elected its first allw woman coun­cil, le lead­ing it to be dubbed the “pet­ti­coat g gov­ern­ment” by the New York Evening Her­ald. It was also the first town in the US to have a fe­male town mar­shal, while the state in which it lies, Wy­oming, was the first to have a fe­male gover­nor and first to give women the right to vote. Jack­son Hole is named af­ter the huge val­ley in which the town lies, be­tween the Grand Te­ton moun­tain range to the west and Gros Ven­tres to the east.

About 20 min­utes from town is Jack­son Hole Moun­tain Re­sort at Te­ton Vil­lage, which is the ma­jor draw­card for Aus­tralian vis­i­tors. The re­sort is widely con­sid­ered the ul­ti­mate ski des­ti­na­tion for “real” skiers, known for its steep slopes, abun­dance of pow­der and back­coun­try ter­rain. The re­sort gets on av­er­age 12m of snow a year, more than any­where else in the US. It has 1000ha of ski­able ter­rain in­side and an­other 1200ha of back-coun­try ski­ing out­side on for­est ser­vice land.

I love the fact the re­sort has signs for “whoa zones” in­stead of slow zones in some ar­eas. But while it is known for its ex­treme ski­ing, Jack­son Hole is in­creas­ing its in­ter­me­di­ate of­fer­ings to give it wider ap­peal by bomb­ing parts of the moun­tain to change the gra­di­ent. The re­sort will also wel­come a new quad chair in cel­e­bra­tion of its 50th an­niver­sary this sea­son (2015/16), which will open up ter­rain pre­vi­ously only ac­ces­si­ble by hik­ing. It also has a tram which leads to the long­est con­tin­u­ous ver­ti­cal in North Amer­ica and can take 100 peo­ple from the base to the top of Ren­dezvous Moun­tain at 3185m ev­ery ten min­utes.

Once at the top you can stop at Cor­bet’s Cabin, and warm up by the slow com­bus­tion fire while en­joy­ing hot choco­late and waf­fles. The cabin has old skis hang­ing up out the front and its walls are dec­o­rated with his­toric black and white pho­tos, old ski boots and post­cards.

For lunch, you can head to the sit-down restau­rant Couloir at mid-moun­tain Ren­dezvous Lodge and en­joy the view from the floor-to-ceil­ing win­dows while snack­ing on marinated duck wings. Or head to the Mangy Moose Sa­loon in Te­ton Vil­lage for soup, tacos, bur­ri­tos, burg­ers and truf­fle fries. The char­ac­ter-filled eatery has a stuffed moose on the roof, and is dec­o­rated with old num­ber­plates and snow­shoes.

When it comes time for après, the sunny pa­tio at the Bal­cony Bar, in­side the Four Sea­sons Ho­tel, is the place to be by the 24m-long fire­wall.

The ski sea­son starts in late Novem­ber and ends ear­lier than many other US re­sort in early April, when elk begin to mi­grate.

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