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Jackson Hole December Skiing

Jackson Hole in December: Overview

Pros:

  • The winter of 2022 is shaping up well for December in Jackson Hole, as nearly 100 inches of snow has fallen before Thanksgiving.
  • Dependable snowfall early in the season - Jackson Hole gets an average of 82% of its terrain open by Christmas, an outstanding number given the technical nature of some of its slopes
  • Only 15% of winters see Dec. 25 arrive with less than 50% of Jackson's terrain open
  • Crowds are small until the week after Christmas
  • Good lodging options on the lower end of the price spectrum in town and away from the Teton Village base
  • Jackson's overwhelming eastern aspect, which can lead to quick degradation of conditions in the spring, doesn't play much of a role in December, when sun angles are low and when temperatures stay cold, even in the sun
  • When there's good snow, it's a great time to do laps on the tram without lines
  • Starting in the winter of 2022-2023, there will be a new Thunder chairlift, which will alleviate one of the pinch points for lines on the mountain during the holidays

Cons:

  • The mountain requires a lot of snow to get fully open as the steep and rocky sections of the upper mountain have to get buried in a base of ~80" before they're skiable.
  • Prices spike in a big way after Dec. 25. Plan ahead, and try to use VRBO (see our map below!) to get more space for less money
  • Know that Jackson Hole in December can be cold, very cold—but that keeps the snow nice and chalky
  • Parking is expensive - $40 at the mountain - so try and score a spot in the Ranch Lot with three or more skiers (free) or take a shuttle bus from parking that is several miles out
  • Dining options on the mountain get slammed around Christmas and the December holidays, especially on cold days. Skiing early and eating lunch early is a good strategy here

Jackson Hole is one of the best places in North America to ski during the early season, including December. It's cold, the snow is steady, and the crowds don't show until about Christmas.

One thing to keep in mind, however, is that Jackson Hole requires a lot of snow to open top to bottom. The mountain is exceedingly steep and rocky, and this kind of terrain requires more snow for complete coverage. The good news is that Jackson Hole gets good storms usually beginning in November and it preserves snow well during the darkest parts of winter thanks to its northerly latitude and the low sun angles of December.

Jackson Hole snow in December

Data show December is the fourth best month Jackson Hole for overall snow quality when considering the following factors:

  • Snow quantity at Jackson Hole
  • Snow quality at Jackson Hole
  • How much snow is required for proper terrain coverage at Jackson Hole—steeper resorts require more snow to get 100% open.
  • Jackson Hole's snow frequency (standard deviation)
  • Jackson Hole's elevation
  • Jackson Hole's latitude
  • Jackson Hole's slope aspects - more north-facing slopes protect snow later into winter

Jackson Hole's best months are the early ones in the season: December and January. As the sun becomes more powerful later in the season, Jackson Hole needs steady dumps to keep surfaces from going into major freeze-thaw cycles. But in December, that's not a problem—the sun is low and the temps are cold.

Jackson Hole snow score by month, December in focus
December
Dec1
Dec15
Jan1
Jan15
Feb1
Feb15
Mar1
Mar15
Apr1
Apr15

What matters when it comes to snow for December skiing:

Finding good snow early in the season is often a game of chance. But there are mountains and regions that historically perform better than others. We take these factors into account when grading out our scores for resorts and the given season. That said, it's almost always a better bet, in terms of snow and open terrain, to ski in January or Feburary compared with December.

But skiing during the December holidays is a great tradition and it's also one of the only times many families can get away for extended periods.

Those skiing December should look for ski resorts with high average annual snowfalls and low standard deviations. In addition, steep and rocky ski resorts need more snow to get terrain open compared with ski resorts with more modest terrain.

This is also the time of year when slope aspects—north, east, south, west—matter the least. The sun is at it lowest angles in North America in December and has less effect on the snowpack at this time of year than at any other. So ski resorts that possess lots of south-facing and east-facing terrain will generally ski better—assuming there is enough snow—during these darkest times of winter rather than the spring. More explanation on this topic can be found on our snow rankings page.

Jackson Hole skiing by month:
Jackson Hole
By Month