Dear Eventual Local, Welcome to Jackson Hole. Let’s forgo the typical “Last of the Old West” subtitle and the customary hat-tipping howdys and get right down to business, shall we? Whether you’ve just arrived or this is your third winter, you’re no doubt in desperate need of some honest and true local advice from a real-life Local. Well, sidle up kid, cause you’re in luck.
See, a lotta folks think they can handle the winter out here. But when you’re sitting at a comfy 6,200-foot elevation, nursing a soy chai latte in one hand, and scraping ice off your windshield with the other — and yes, it’s another negative 15-degree morning — you might find yourself grumbling and cursing your decision to stick around till spring.
We’ve all been there.
Fortunately for you, I’ve compiled a helpful list of ways to survive the snowpocalypse, cast out the cold, and keep your internal fire roaring.
Now, it ain’t every dude and dudette that can call his-, her-, or themselves a Local; that’s a moniker we save for those spending more than just a couple weeks or months in the valley. You hunker down and call this place your only home for a bunch of years, we Real Locals™ might just give you an honorary stamp of approval. “Eventual Local” is far more respectable because it shows ambition, and we pioneers respond well to ambition.
You might think we’re constantly mulling around in our Wranglers, Stetsons, and Ariat boots, but that just ain’t the case. It’s good to have those items on hand for ranch parties, weddings, and brandings, sure, but remember that outfit’s more about costume than function. Instead, bundle yourself up in a good pair of Carhartts, a beanie, and a hefty jacket — nothing too flashy. Better to look warm than fashionable.
Although, it is good to have an appropriate outfit for each of the Persephone Bakery locations (casual for the original location, furs for Coelette, business chic for Picnic, upscale for the Aspens).
SKIING OUR MOUNTAINS
Limited access to Jackson Hole Mountain Resort in the era of COVID-19 might have your eye wandering to Jackson’s incredible backcountry terrain. But please know that the backcountry is incredibly dangerous and has claimed the lives of some of Jackson’s most professional and cautious skiers. Do your research, get a guide, and always carry a beacon. When it comes to the science of snow conditions, the best rule of thumb is “If you don’t know, don’t go.”
We want to ensure you graduate from Eventual Local to Local.
DRIVING OUR ROADS
Now’s the time to get some winter tires on your car. Oof, trust me on this one, folks. When you live through as many winters as I have, you’ll learn that the snow is unpredictable and the roads are even more so.
Make sure you knock that massive block of snow off the top of your car before it slides over your windshield at a stop sign and causes an accident. Stay off your phone, slow down for wildlife, and learn that four-way stop etiquette: last to stop, last to go.
During these unpredictable times it’s important to up your takeout game. Just about every single one of Jackson’s vast and diverse array of restaurants offers takeout, and there’s nothing better than grabbing some food and cozying up at home. Chinatown Restaurant offers the ultimate takeout (the wor wonton soup is truly magical), but if you’re looking for fancier fare, call up Trio for delicious woodfire pizzas and heavenly risotto.
We Locals make a habit of tipping 20 percent even on takeout orders to show our appreciation and to keep restaurant workers happy.
I’ve had plenty of visitors ask me about hidden hot springs or undisclosed powder stashes in an effort to nail down Jackson’s secret spots. And while there are plenty of secrets Locals won’t ever reveal, I’ll let you in on the most important one: Jackson Hole is more than just a resort community. It’s a town of families, artists, business owners, hardworking immigrants, newcomers, and old-timers alike. “Live and Let Live” is a philosophy we share in our personal relationships as well as our relationship with nature. Winter may be rough, but it’s also when we come together — shoveling each other’s driveways and pulling each other’s cars out of ditches — to nurse the fires in our collective souls. The mountains are beautiful, sure, but they pale in comparison to the goodness and love that thrives between those of us who call Jackson our home.
So, there you have it. I’m sure I’m missing a couple things, but that’s as good an introduction as any. On behalf of the Locals, I’m happy to welcome you to the only town I’ve ever called home. Bundle up, keep your tips up, and hopefully we’ll still see you come mud season.
A Real Local™