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Dirt-Cheap Travel: Jackson Hole, WY

Ski two days, stay two nights, and feed yourself at Jackson Hole....all for just $300.
posted: 01/26/2009

We are four middle-aged men. Three of us are blond. Two are from Wisconsin. One of us has a steel rod in his back that spans 12 vertebrae. None of us has landed a 360 in years. We’re hoping that’ll change at Jackson Hole, where we’ve come to ski two days on the cheap. Jackson is having a record snow year, and with overnight snow totals in the double digits, the idea of throwing a heli isn’t that out of the question. But we’ve been drinking.

To do this right, to do it cheap, we need to be consistent: cheap tickets, cheap housing, cheap beer, cheap thrills. Day tickets at big resorts are expensive and Jackson Hole is no exception. With a budget of $300 per person, our gang of four hits the resort during the last two weeks of the season. Tickets are down to $55, saving us each 30 bucks, which we immediately spend on beer: $6 six-packs of PBR tallboys from the Mangy Moose market.

If you don’t know anybody in Jackson with a couch or basement floor, finding affordable lodging—short of breaking the law—isn’t easy. Our home for two nights is The Hostel, ideally situated at the base of the resort. Despite its modesty, it’s arguably the best location in Teton Village. Established by Colby Wilson, father of a founding member of the Jackson Hole Air Force, The Hostel (formerly known as Hostel X) has offered affordable housing since its 1967 inception. Until it was sold last February, Jackson Hole ephemera covered its walls. Decor has been updated, but it’s still comfy. Just $119 (plus tax) gets us a room with four beds, and a connected bathroom and shower. We are four, so it’s roughly $30 a person. There’s a ski-tuning room, free coffee and tea, fireplace and living area. For the record, the bathroom sink is big enough to keep five beers chilled on snow. There’s also a trash can; it holds eight.

The hostel is close, too. In ski boots, we walk one minute to the gondola, and wait five more before boarding. The new Tram, which is now open after a two-year rebuilding hiatus, is even closer to the hostel. Jackson Hole has always been about the terrain: huge bowls, steep chutes, limitless backcountry, and lots of vertical. But prodigious terrain doesn’t necessarily help you land helis. By day’s end, we litter the mountain with failure. Three of us have tried and come up short on numerous attempts—landing backwards, sideways, always in a pile. Yet one of us is holding back. We take two more runs down the north-facing Mushroom chutes and crack Pabsts. On our last run, there’s a ripe booter, not too big, but just right to pop you high enough to make it all the way around. Still, our friend isn’t having any of it, and won’t throw down despite our taunts. “I can’t break my back again,” he keeps saying. It’s a cheap excuse—but at least it’s fitting.

DETAILS
Adult Full-Day Lift Ticket Price: $87
Vertical Drop: 4,139 feet
Price Per Vertical Foot: 2.1 cents
Cost of Burger: $12
Wyoming’s Minimum Hourly Wage: $5.15
Min.-Wage Hours Needed to Buy Lift Ticket: 16.89
For More Info: http://jacksonhole.com, http://thehostel.us

Eat for less and ski for less using our guide to cheap ski-town scavenging.

- SKIING MAGAZINE, FEBRUARY/MARCH 2009

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