There is big skiing to be had in the
states of Wyoming and Montana, with
wildlife and stunning scenery par for the
course, writes Helen Hayes.
The two peaks of Jackson Hole Mountain
Resort, Rendezvous and Après Vous, offer
the equivalent of a theme park for snowlovers,
with runs to excite everyone from tiny
tots who have never skied before to those
that love tackling the equivalent of a double
looping, high-speed roller coaster: the chutes
and couloirs that ramp up the heartbeat.
Always known for its extreme skiing, the
beginner and intermediate terrain has been
expanded over recent years, including the
addition of the Teton chairlift last season and
the Casper area a few years before that. A
new gondola is going in for next season
which will link up with Casper, and also
broaden the terrain for kids starting out.
Kids are treated like VIPs in the Kids’
Ranch with guidance from top-notch,
enthusiastic instructors. Children from three
years can ski and it is a joy to watch them
gaining their confidence around Teewinot
and Eagles Rest (this chair will be replaced
by the new gondola next season). Before
long, they’ll be skiing or snowboarding past
you on the runs around Après Vous, Casper
and the Bridger Gondola. And how’s this for
a deal? Book a condo or home for at least
four nights and for each paying adult, kids
14 and under ski free!
Teton Village is a vibrant village with
plenty of fabulous eateries and a visit to the
town of Jackson with its western shops is a
must. You don’t have to go far to see wildlife;
we saw moose on the way in from the airport
and loved seeing the huge elk herd in the
refuge on the way into town.
Kids love: Kids’ Ranch and Kids’ Night Out.
Parents love: The new Piste Restaurant and
après at the Handle Bar.
Another great thing to do while at Jackson
Hole is to visit Grand Targhee, a Resort on
the other side of the Teton Range. The
scenery at Grand Targhee is breathtaking
and while the terrain is perfect for all skill
levels, there is enough to challenge
advanced riders – especially the cat skiing
on Peaked Mountain. The Kids’ Fun Zone
around the Shoshone lift is exceptional, as
are the views of the Grand Teton. We could
have done the runs off Sacajawea,
Dreamcatcher and Blackfoot all day long…
in fact, we did. Catch the Targhee Express
bus from Jackson Hole; the US$108 ticket
includes transport both ways and the
one-day lift ticket at Grand Targhee.
The drive from Jackson to Big Sky Resort,
on the fringes of Yellowstone National Park,
is spectacular, as is the panorama that
greets us at the resort. It lives up to its
slogan – “The Biggest Skiing in America” –
with an enormous amount of terrain. With
0.8 hectares per skier (that’s two acres
each) and forests of green adding to the
beauty, we often find ourselves skiing on
perfect runs with no one else on them. It’s
just sensational. With 300 named runs on
several connected mountains, we are like
kids in a candy store. From the gentle
beginner runs around Pony Express,
Explorer and Lewis and Clark chairlifts to the
sea of blues around Lone Mountain’s Six
Shooter and Lone Tree chairs, and the
easier blacks around the Bowl, we don’t
even touch the sides on the runs available.
For advanced skiers and riders, the Lone
Peak tram leads to the snowy Nirvana of the
South Face and for park-lovers, there are
seven to choose from.
To add to our delight, we have dinner in a
yurt up the mountainside one evening,
transported there sitting on the roof of a
snowcat under the stars. We have a drink by
the outdoor fire, looking over the forests of
pine and firs, with the peak of Lone
Mountain glowing high above us and
surrounded by an ocean of stars. Kids and
adults giggle as they do laps of a make-do
sled run, before we all head into the yurt for
a scrumptious dinner.
All that and you can do tours into
Yellowstone. Absolute magic.
Kids love: The Adventure Zip Line Tour.
Parents love: The uncrowded slopes and
après in the Carabiner Lounge.
Located at the top of Montana, next to the
unbridled wilderness of Glacier National
Park and just an hour from Canada,
Whitefish Ski Resort on Big Mountain is
nature at its finest. With views into Canada
and Glacier National Park from various
vantage points, the skiing and riding is
incredible. With 105 named runs, 14 lifts, five
terrain parks and a rider-cross course, take
a free guided mountain tour to get your
bearings. We swoop and holler all over,
falling in love with the views from the
aptly-named Inspiration, zip down Moe
Mentum and gape in awe at the scenery
from Toni-Matt and in the Ptarmigan Bowl.
On the North Face, we giggle like kids going
through the natural halfpipe, George’s
Gorge, love the story about the Jesus statue
which you can find near the top of the
Flower Point lift and skirt the border of the
resort on Gray Wolf.
Lunch is exceptional at either Hellroaring
Saloon – the nachos is massive - or Ed and
Mully’s, and the Summit House is the place
for a warming hot chocolate. But you won’t
want to waste too much time eating, as the
skiing and snowboarding is just too much
fun in this awe-inspiring scenery.
The Kids’ Center is welcoming and if your
little one wants to snowboard, kids as young
as three years old can do lessons. You have
a choice of where to stay with family-friendly
places at the resort or in quirky Whitefish
(there is a free shuttle bus to the resort just
20 minutes away). A cool holiday choice is to
bundle up a snow holiday in Whitefish with
either Seattle or Portland, both hotter than
hot cities right now. Amtrak’s Empire Builder
train departs both cities in the evening,
arriving in Whitefish in the morning.
Kids love: George’s Gorge.
Parents love: Hellraising Saloon and the
casual, feel-good vibe.
***USA REPORT CARD***
There are direct flights from Dallas and Los
Angeles to Jackson. Big Sky Resort is an
hour’s drive from Bozeman Yellowstone
International Airport, and for Whitefish, fly
into Glacier National Park International
airport in Kalispell. Amtrak’s Empire Builder
has an overnight service into Whitefish from
Seattle and Portland.
We drove from Jackson to Big Sky (3.5
hours) and then up to Whitefish – (six hours)
Near Jackson, Amangani is style all the way
and has its own lounge at the base of the
Snake River Lodge and Spa is in Teton
Village and is very well set up for families.
See if the kids can find all the bears hidden
around the hotel. www.snakeriverlodge.com
Huntley Lodge is slope side in Big Sky and
is so handy to restaurants, shops and the
snow. As it is owned by the resort, kids 10
and under ski free. www.bigskyresort.com
Hidden Moose Lodge is midway between
the town of Whitefish and its ski resort, and
its lovely owners and staff treat you like
family. You might even spot some deer while
you are sitting in the outdoor hot tub in the