Work A Ski Season at Jackson Hole
Discover information on working a ski season at Jackson Hole and browse winter jobs.USA
Jackson Hole is without doubt one of the most legendary ski resorts in the world. Located near the town of Jackson, Wyoming, Jackson Hole draws the world’s best riders to tackle its mythical and gnarly terrain. Seasonal workers are similarly drawn to the chance to ride legendary terrain every day of the winter, in some of the best powder in North America. Jackson Hole is often rated among the best resorts in North America.
Getting There and Around
Jackson Hole has an airport in town. Direct flights are available from most major towns in the US, including Denver, Washington D.C., Houston, New York, Los Angeles, Seattle, Chicago, Minneapolis and Atlanta. It is a 3-hour drive from Cheyenne, Wyoming, or a 2-hour drive from Idaho Falls, Idaho, which are the closest major towns. Salt Lake City, Utah, is a five hour drive.
The airport is a 30-minute drive from the resort, and you can catch the Jackson Hole Shuttle to the resort for US$16 one way (www.jhshuttle.com). Alternatively, taxis are available to get you to the mountain for about US$35.
Once you’re settled in, the START Bus public bus system is available to get you around town for free for staff.
The resort of Jackson Hole is 12 miles (19 kilometers) from the town of Jackson and The START Bus takes riders to the hill.
Resort and Town Vibe
Jackson is a great ole western country town with a bustling permanent population of around 12,000. It is the gateway to a large number of tourist spots, including Grand Teton National Park, Yellowstone National Park, and the National Elk Refuge, as well as ski resorts such as Jackson Hole Mountain Resort and the smaller Snow King.
Despite the visible tourist presence each winter, there is an authentic vibe to the town and you are very likely to see cowboy hats all over town and in the bars. The locals are extremely friendly and proud of their western heritage. Also, Jackson is home to a thriving cultural scene and is home to high-quality arts organisations such as the National Museum of Wildlife Art, the Grand Teton Music Festival, and the Center for the Arts.
The ski resort of Jackson Hole is truly legendary for its terrain. There is some terrain here that only the best riders in the world would dare tackle, and that’s just within the resort boundaries. As a result, you can see some of the best riders here plying their trade. While Jackson used to have very little terrain for beginners, the resort has worked hard to add terrain for beginners and intermediates, and the vibe is now much more tourist oriented than it used to be.
The Terrain at Jackson Hole
Jackson Hole offers some of the best and most challenging skiing and snowboarding terrain in the U.S. Jackson is well-known for its steep runs and huge vertical drop of 4,139 ft. (1,262 meters). Frankly, some of the in-bound terrain can be truly alarming for those who are working their way up.
Seasonal workers come here so they can tackle this incredible terrain not just once, but over and over again during the course of the season. Not only is there 2,500 acres (1,011 hectares) of in-bound terrain to carve, the gates at Jackson open up another 3,000 acres (1,214 hectares) acres of incredible backcountry terrain.
Riders take up the famous Aerial Tram (nicknamed “Big Red”) from the base which rises 4,139 vertical feet and provides a generous view over the mountain. It carries 100 people at a time. From the Tram, you’ll see incredible fall lines with consistent pitches all the way from North Colter to Hoback which will leave you licking your lips in anticipation.
From the tram, you can also see infamous Corbet’s Couloir, one of the most well-known expert ski runs in the world and which is not to be missed, even if you can’t work up the courage to ski it. This run has a drop-off at the top of around 12ft, which funnels around and opens you up to the couloir. The drop-in gives you incredible speed, and only the best riders are able to stick the landing. Once you’re in the couloir, you’ll have some of the best snow on the mountain, given the snow catches in the couloir and not many people ski it.
The ski area partially covers two mountains, Rendezvous Mountain and Apres Vous Mountain. Just 10% of the mountain is rated as beginner terrain with most of the beginner and intermediate terrain at Apres Vous.
Rendezvous has the advanced terrain, including bowls, chutes, glades and couloirs to get you absolutely stoked for your days off.
Some of the best terrain includes the hike-to Casper Bowl from the top of the Bridger Gondola as well as the Headwall.
Another awesome area is around the Sublette lift, where you can find tree runs, chutes and nice bumps.
A powder day at Jackson is really like nothing else.
For backcountry and free skiers, Jackson Hole has some of the most difficult and rewarding terrain in North America. Off-piste areas are accessed through marked gateways staffed by employees carrying avalanche gear, and offer huge bowls, steep chutes and beautiful natural environments.
Snow and Crowds
Jackson has averaged 459 inches (11.6 meters) a year over the past five years. This adds to the 195 acres of snowmaking coverage. Average winter temperature is 21f Fahrenheit with January being the coldest month.
Jackson doesn’t get as much snow as on the other side of the range where you will find Grand Targhee ski resort. Grand Targhee is well worth checking out over the course of the season too.
Grand Targhee is well worth checking out over the course of the season too, where the terrain is not nearly as gnarly, but if it’s not snowing at Jackson, it may well be at Grand Targhee. Plus, at Grand Targhee, there are next to no crowds, even on a powder day.
The crowds at Jackson can get quite big, especially at the tram in the morning. On a powder day, you really need to get there well before the tram opens, or expect a 45 minute – one hour wait (alternatively, you could just take up the Bridger Gondola). Luckily there is a lot of terrain, especially in the backcountry, which spreads the crowds once you’re up.
- In-bound terrain: 2,500 acres (1,011 hectares)
- Backcountry gates: over 3,000 acres (1,214 hectares)
- Vertical drop: 4,139 feet (1,262 meters)
- Base elevation: 6,311 feet/1924 meters
- Summit elevation: 10,450 feet/3185 meters
- Runs: 133 marked trails of which 50% expert, 40% intermediate, 10% beginner
- Lifts:· One 100 Passenger Aerial Tram, one eight person high speed gondola, four high-speed quad lifts, four fixed grip quad chairlifts, two double chairlifts, one fixed grip triple chairlift, one magic carpet
There are two terrain parks (one expert and one beginner), a half-pipe, and four stash parks throughout the ski area, which use local wood and natural terrain features to minimize the parks’ impact on the environment.
Finding a Job
The season usually runs from late November until early April. Winter spots open in around July online at www.jacksonhole.com/employment.html. All applications are made online as there is no longer a job fair at Jackson Hole.
Pay for entry-level jobs start at US$8.40, $8.80 or $9.20, depending on the position.
Perks include a season pass, discounts in shops and free rides on the START bus. Health insurance is not available to seasonal employees.
You will need a valid working visa if you want to work in the US as a foreigner. Fortunately, Jackson Hole will hire anyone with a valid working visa, including a J-1 visa. This is particularly helpful for Australians and New Zealanders who are able to get such a visa without needing a job program. Applicants with a valid visa can apply through the normal means at www.jacksonhole.com/employment.html
Jackson Hole also hires through the Work and Travel Visa program. See Work a Winter Season in the USA for further information on obtaining a working visa to the U.S.
Ski and snowboard instructor positions are divided into two categories: qualified new hire, and inexperienced new hire.
Qualified new hires require a minimum of a Level 1 certification and at least 3 years full-time teaching experience within PSIA-AASI(3) or a foreign equivalent. You will need to show evidence of your current certification and provide references and a copy of your last season Ski School evaluation.
Inexperienced new hires are those who have not taught skiing or snowboarding or are certified Level 1 instructors with less than three years of full-time teaching experience. If you want to apply as an inexperienced new hire, you will have to attend an Instructor Training Camp at a cost of US$175 before the start of the season.
Instructor base wages are US$9.50 per hour, with increases based on qualifications and experience. Job applications can be made at Jackson Hole Mountain School Employment
Employees get quite a few benefits, including a free mountain pass, a free START Bus pass, discounts at local businesses and reciprocal deals with Grand Targhee and Snow King for full-time employees.
Finding Accommodation for the Season
Limited employee accommodation is available. These employee apartments are fully furnished, and house up to three people at a time.
The START bus is located just across the road to get you to work. Parking is available for two cars per unit.
However, most employees live outside of employee housing. Apartments are fairly easy to find, and will generally set you back between US$600 to US$1,000 per month for each room in a share house.
You will often be required to pay first and last month’s rent and a security deposit upon signing the lease, so make sure you plan accordingly. It is highly recommended to secure housing before you get to Jackson Hole, so make sure you keep an eye out on Craigslist or local newspapers and classifieds for housing opportunities.
Good places to start looking for accommodation include:
- Jackson Hole News and Guide
- Jackson Hole Media
- BuckRail #22 Rents:
- Facebook Jackson Hole
- Craigslist Wyoming or Craigslist East Idaho
If you arrive without housing, there are a few local hotels which have weekly and monthly renting options in winter. These include the Painted Buffalo Inn, Angler Inn, and Pony Express Motel as well as a few others.
With the kind of the terrain on offer on the mountain, you’d hope the nightlife matches up.
On the mountain, the most famous après spot is the Mangy Moose. Here, you will find beers, nachos, live country music, and plenty of people discussing whether or not to hit Corbet’s Couloir.
If you’re interested in live music, the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar is essential in Jackson. The bar stools are saddles and the entire place is covered floor to ceiling in cowboy and Americana memorabilia. For the younger crowd, the Village Café has PBR on tap and enough slices of pizza to feed an army.
Teton Gravity Research often plays their latest ski and snowboard movies during the week for $5.
There are also a number of microbreweries in the area, such as Snake River Brewing Co. and Thai Me Up.
Also not to be missed is the Stagecoach Bar, an integral part of Jackson nightlife. The dance floor is always packed, drinks are cheap and, on Sunday evenings, the resident Stagecoach Band lays down some mean country and honkytonk for the crowd.
Jackson is more and more a ritzy town. There is certainly a lot of money here, in part thanks to generous Wyoming tax laws. Jewellery shops are dotted around, for example. For the upmarket visitor, Alpenhof Bistro & Dietrich’s offers an enormous fireplace, a great selection of wine and beer and some wonderful food, including a chocolate or cheese fondue.
Arts lovers will also enjoy the Center for the Arts which hosts a wide array of performing arts, including performances from the Met Opera. The nearby Pink Garter Theatre caters to the younger crowd, with regular performances from indie bands.