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Them on Us

Them on Us: ‘It’s Summer in the Ski Towns, 2.0’

*Editor’s Note: ‘Them on Us’ is a new series from Buckrail that highlights external media coverage of Jackson Hole. 

JACKSON, Wyo. —  On Tuesday, Cindy Hirschfeld of The New York Times published an article that accentuated several mountain towns and their respective plans to deal with post-pandemic crowds in the coming summer months. Jackson Hole was chief among them.

While crowds are promised, mountain communities are better equipped this time around with more activities and places to stay, the article claims.

“Last summer, pandemic travelers, remote workers and an unprecedented number of new full-time residents descended on mountain towns in search of space and fresh air, prompting longtime locals to complain about overcrowding and quality-of-life concerns,” Hirschfield writes. “This year promises more of the same.”

Except this year, she writes, mountain towns like Jackson are prepared “with on-mountain activities back to operating at full capacity, programs in place to educate visitors on outdoors etiquette, plans to address overcrowding and new attractions that highlight the alpine environment.”

Jackson Hole Mountain Resort was highlighted for its approach to expand summer activities for guests as they anticipate overcrowding.

“Visitors this summer to ski resorts, including Jackson Hole Mountain Resort in Wyoming, can expect new outdoors attractions and guidelines on how to be good guests,” Hirschfeld writes.

Ski towns are shifting into more of a year-round less “snow dependent” economy, the article says, expanding their summer activities so they can also promote themselves as warm-weather destinations.

While resorts may be fully operational and open for business, the article fails to mention local housing crises many of these communities, including Jackson, are facing. Many Jackson businesses have scaled back their hours due to lack of staffing. Some risk closing altogether.

It’s also true that demand is far outpacing supply, and, to put it simply, towns like Jackson do not have room.

“Average daily hotel rates were 32 percent higher than they were in summer 2019,” Hirschfeld writes. In Jackson, the going rate at a motel like the Mountain Modern is $499 a night in the month of August; a high price point for many travelers.

Hirschfeld interviewed Anna Olson, president and CEO of the Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce, and discussed how the town plans to meet the demands of a massive influx in tourism as Jackson equally draws both winter and summer tourists.

“We’re seeing earlier demand than we’ve ever seen before and at higher levels,” said Olson. She noted that lodges that were closed last year in Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks will offer more space as they have now reopened. She also spoke to the opening of the Cloudveil, and the additional space it will provide for visitors.

But at this point, travelers looking to stay in Jackson may have missed their opportunity.

“You have to have a reservation,” Olson said. “The idea that you can come to national parks or ski area destinations and find somewhere to stay or camp is very limited. It may not be their vision of being on the open road and making last-minute decisions, but the reality of coming to these beautiful places with limited resources that people have to be planners.”

Hirschfeld also spoke with Anna Cole, communications director at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, who touched upon the magnetic attraction that draws tourists to Jackson in all seasons.

“It’s unreal how much demand there is for Jackson right now,” said Cole. “Jackson by nature is outdoors and pretty distanced, and people want to get in their cars and drive. We fit the bill on all fronts.”


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