Guide to Jackson Hole, USA

  • Jagged mountains, huge faces, ripping climbs to 6,000m
  • XC across remote terrain, but easier options too
  • Go in late summer, from July to September
  • A magnet for wild country adventurers
On glide to Grand Teton from the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. Photo: Nick Greece

On glide to Grand Teton from the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. Photo: Nick Greece

WHY GO?
Big sky, big landscape, big wildlife, and a great free flying community

WHERE IS IT?

WHAT’S IT LIKE?
At the entrance to Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park, this is one of the most picturesque and ‘Wild West’ locations in the United States.

Jackson Hole is a magnet for the rugged adventurers of life – be prepared to run into climbing, kayaking, skiing and snowboarding legends at the coffee shop, or even Harrison Ford! The native wildlife includes moose, bison, mountain lions and grizzly bears, and the skies are home to a wide variety of birds of prey. In summer the stark beauty and huge tracts of protected national lands inspire millions to visit this small western town. In winter the world-renowned powder snow attracts throngs of enthusiasts. For the free flyer, 6,000m cloudbases over high rugged peaks are the lure.

Morning and mid afternoon you fly on the west side of the valley in the Tetons, while the evening glass-off sites are on the eastern side.

The Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, with its aerial tram, and Phillips Ridge both hold state XC records. Both of these midday beauties ensconce you in the 4,000m Teton Mountains to begin your day. Both are HG and PG friendly.

Close by lies Curtis Canyon, with its sunset views of the Tetons and Beaver Mountain, some 45 minutes south of Jackson. With a west wind this place provides some of the most stunning scenery in the country. On a decent evening it’s possible to climb to 4,000m in smooth conditions and take in views of the Tetons, the Wind River Range, the Wyoming Range, the Salt River Range and the great Snake River.

The Snow King Resort offers lift-accessed evening flying when a northwest breeze sets up.

FLYING CONDITIONS
Strong thermals and leeside midday conditions in a high alpine environment. Stratospheric cloudbases allow you to cross unbelievably remote terrain. A host of mountain flying opportunities for newer pilots round off an amazing site.

WHEN TO GO
July – September

ALTITUDE
Launch: 2,500 – 3,200 m
Landing:1,890m
Cloudbase: 4,000-6,000m

HANG GLIDER ACCESS
The Aerial Tram at the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort will take HGs. Phillips Canyon is a drive-up site. Aerotowing is offered by Cowboy Up Hang Gliding close by.

MUST BE FLOWN
Tour the Tetons: from the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort Village north over the Grand Teton and back.

The Pinedale Run: for an amazing taste of Wild West flying and culture, cross the valley from the Village to Snow King Resort. Then continue on over the Gros Ventre mountains into the flats to land in Pinedale.

Fantasy Ridge: tour the Wind River Range, one of the wildest mountain ranges in the lower 48 states, along the famed Fantasy Ridge. A local classic!

DANGERS AND ANNOYANCES
This is a leeside site, so if the wind is strong over the back early in the day, go and check out the myriad of other outdoor activities that Jackson offers.

National Parks are illegal to land in, so make transitions over them only if you’re sure you’ll make it. If you’re forced to make an “emergency” landing in them, pack up quickly and get out fast, as the fines can be heavy. It’s not uncommon for pilots to hide their gear in the forest at a marked GPS coordinate and return for it after nightfall to avoid being prosecuted.

ACCOMMODATION
Everything from camping to five star palatial hotels. Free camping is available on public land, but you need a car as it’s outside of town limits.

GUIDES AND COURSES
Jackson Hole Paragliding offer a guiding service and courses.
Cowboy Up Hang Gliding offer advice, tuition and a towing service.

EXPERT’S OPINION
“Whether it’s the midday rippers to 5,500m, crossing beautiful valleys, flying remote 4,000m ranges or evening epic glass-offs in smooth conditions, Jackson’s terrain and community of pilots are world class!” Nick Greece, USHPA editor and Jackson resident.

TAKE THE FAMILY
Absolutely yes! Millions of families come to Jackson every year to enjoy the spectacular nature and outdoor activities. Jackson’s wood-lined sidewalks, daily re-enacted old time shootouts, and Million Dollar Cowboy saloon produce a true western nostalgia.

RAINY DAYS
Expect to get wet. This is an outdoor lover’s paradise so make sure you bring a coat!

WEATHER INFO
www.jhffc.org/weather
www.jhparagliding.com/Weather-to-Fly/
www.xcskies.com

GETTING THERE
Jackson Hole has an airport, but it’s often more economical to fly into Salt Lake City, Utah, and drive the 4½ hours north to Jackson. There are daily buses from Salt Lake City and Idaho Falls.

USEFUL CONTACTS
Jackson Hole Mountain Resort
The Jackson Hole Free Flight Club offers free oxygen refills with membership


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