My Kids Learned To Ski At Jackson Hole Mountain Resort (And Why I’m Sad)

Northwest, USA By

“So how did it go?”

“This was the best day ever.”

“You like skiing?”

“Yes, can we come again?”

One day of skiing and the kids were hooked. Hooked and pros. 

While further along the mountain Erin had fallen and couldn’t get up. And me? Well, I managed to ski down the beginner slope and then kept going… straight under a safety rope and into a boulder. Demoralised.

Why Choose Jackson Hole Mountain Resort?

Jackson Hole Mountain Resort (JHMR), located 12 miles northwest of the town of Jackson, Wyoming, boasts one of the longest, steepest, continuous vertical ski slopes in North America. You’ll find 133 named ski trails covering over 2,500 acres. Some of the world’s best free skiers have been attracted to this beautiful location. So it’s no surprise that JHMR has been regularly rated as the #1 ski resort in North America by media, professionals and ski enthusiasts alike.

Armed with this knowledge, it seemed like best place to take to the ski slopes for our first time ever. How we have travelled around the world for almost 4 years and never been skiing has escaped me. But it was time to set things right and give our kids an experience they’d never forget… and nor would I.

500,000 resort visitors each winter can’t be wrong
Jackson Hole Mountain Resort is currently celebrating their 50th winter season anniversary

What To Wear When Skiing?

We were totally unprepared for skiing. We bought Caius a polyester t-shirt earlier in the year, but all we had to wear were jeans and cotton shirts. Thankfully Jackson Hole Mountain Resort was a lot better prepared than us.

There are several rental stores on location, and we used JH Sports for adults’ gear whilst the kids were all decked out at the Kids Ranch. If you plan on hiring your outfit like we did then come early – it takes some time to get ready. 

The ski shop staff were really helpful and walked us through the steps for sizing up and putting this foreign gear on. For the fellow uninitiated, my tip is to take a toilet break before getting dressed because getting the gear off takes just as much effort.

If you’re better prepared than us (and you probably will be), it’s a good idea to bring your own snow pants and jacket, waterproof mittens and don’t forget the sunscreen and bottle of water. Thankfully, you can find a handy checklist here.

Kids Ski Lessons

Jackson Hole Mountain Resort offers a dedicated area for kids, called the Kids Ranch. Qualified ski instructors gave our kids their first taste of winter exhilaration, sliding down a frosty white slope. They offer half and full-day packages for youngsters which include snacks and drinks. The full-day option also includes lunch, which made things super easy for mum and dad.

I must give a special mention to Sarah Wemple (ph: 847-338-8269) who was an absolutely fantastic instructor for the kids. She knew how to encourage and guide them, and make the whole learning process fun. I can’t recommend her highly enough if you want your kids to have a ball.

Sarah with Mia and Caius

If you’re the kind of parent who doesn’t enjoy getting knee-deep in powder, don’t despair. You can kick your feet back at the nearby bar or perhaps in the hotel hot tub while your little ones are well looked after.

Mia making it look so easy - navigating around obstacles and rolling a snowball at the same time.
Kids report card showing what progress they made

Adult Ski Lessons

I’ve seen enough home video footage of skiers ending up in all sorts of trouble that I knew us grown-ups needed lessons just as much as, if not more than, our kids.

Erin’s feet were quite uncomfortable in the ski boots from the start, which was no fault of the ski gear, but rather caused by a long-term toe injury. So she quickly tapped out and watched safely from the sidelines while I put my neck on the line.

Erin with instructor Glenn

I relished the one-on-one time with private instructor Glenn Ray (ph: 307-413-3440). There are over 500 instructors on JHMR to choose from during the winter season, but I can heartily recommend Glenn. Although I wasn’t doing flips on my first run (at least deliberately), I made a bit of progress. My first accomplishment was being able to stop when desired… at least sometimes. And the occasional turn to the left or right without a face-plant was my equivalent of winning an Olympic gold medal.

Apart from one run-away descent which ended up on the wrong side of a safety barrier, I walked away completely unscathed. A pretty good first attempt for a newbie. And a tall one at that.

Getting to the beginner slope was easy

Why I’m Sad

As an adult with 2 young children, I don’t ever consider myself inferior at anything (other than reciting Dora The Explorer episodes). But Jackson Hole Mountain Resort will forever be seared in my mind as the first time my children were better than me at something. And not just any something. But a sport which required strength, stamina, coordination and balance. And not just slightly better. But hands down, walk all over me, better.

I felt equally humiliated at my failure, and elated for their success. It’s a feeling only a parent would know. And I’m sure it won’t be the last time.

Where To Go For Food & Warmth

Once you’ve worked up appetite, you don’t have to go far to find delicious food. One afternoon we escaped the cold and headed to Four Seasons for Après. Find out more in our article: Where to eat in Jackson Hole

The Bottom Line

When we told several friends we were learning to ski at Jackson Hole, their response (after an initial fit of jealously) was the same, “well, you can’t get any better than Jackson Hole”. We’ve literally and figuratively started our skiing careers at the top. As high as you can get. The peak. The apex. The best of the best. And now I’ve been ruined – nothing else can compare now.

I may as well quit while I’m ahead. It’s downhill from here (*wink*).

While the jury is out about when the next time I will be skiing, one thing is for sure – our 2 kids won’t hesitate to click on their skis and carve up a mountain if the opportunity arises, for which I’m grateful and proud. And I have Jackson Hole Mountain Resort to thank for that. 

We stayed at Teton Mountain Lodge & Spa in Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. A really beautiful hotel that felt like a home away from home. Highly recommended.

Reader Comments...

"I respond to every comment by direct private email. I look forward to your feedback" -

Looks like great fun for both the adults and the kids.

Lee-Anne Jan 11th, 2016

Don't feel bad Erin! Kids are often much better at skiing because they're shorter (lower center of balance) and have much less fear than adults. My mom started me on skis when I was 2 or 3 years old for this reason. How fun for you all though. I need to get my guys on a hill soon!

Amanda @ MarocMama Jan 11th, 2016

As you will have discovered (on two levels!), it's great if you can learn to ski at a young age. Kids have a lower centre of gravity, less of a fear of falling and not as far (or as much) to fall when you do. Plus they have the annoying habit of picking things up quicker. :)

Paul (@luxury__travel) Jan 29th, 2016

Ah skiing - the kids seem to take to it so naturally. Me, I'm still getting my head round it 7 years later but love that fresh mountain air and alpine food :)

Suzanne Jan 29th, 2016

So much easier to learn when you're a child and centre of gravity is so much lower!

Suzanne Feb 1st, 2016

Write Your Comment