A recent approval from the Bridger-Teton National Forest means that Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, WY, guides will now be able to host more skiers in the Teton backcountry. For more than 30 years Jackson Hole has offered guided backcountry expeditions surrounding their permit area, and now the popular service will be able to take more adventurous skiers into the backcountry. The number of permits given each year is set to double from 1,200 to 2,400 user days, allowing more skiers guided access to the 2,146 acres of gated terrain just outside the ski area boundary. An additional 1,874 acres of terrain is located around Teton Pass south of JHMR, but with only 50 skier days permitted. In short, although the boundary area may stay the same more people will have access to the backcountry with a JHMR guide.
One of the main reasons for this project was the high demand for guided backcountry tours—most years the resort would use up all their permit days by late February or early March even though they are valid through April 15th. Currently, guided backcountry tours make up 7% of the total users leaving the ski area, showcasing the demand for guided expeditions. The Forest Service notes that the tour service “provides a safe experience for skiers accessing the backcountry who do not have the knowledge of the area or the safety hazards” helping to enhance backcountry safety and awareness among first-time users. To regular individual skiers, nothing about access changes: if the gates are open and you’re feeling good, rip it—no permit required.