Tetonscapes: Glide On

by cody cottier

Town Square

THE BASICS: Skate rentals are $10 ($5 with a local ID from Teton County, Wyoming). Have your own skates? It’s free! And hot chocolate abounds.

THE SCENE: This circle of ice in the center of downtown Jackson, surrounded by the world-famous elk-antler arches, feels like the center of the universe. Nearby streets bustle with bundled locals and tourists, and you may not have much elbow room on the ice either. But it’s about as Jackson-y as it gets. 

SPECIAL SAUCE: At night you’re in for an enchanting show. Christmas lights ring the fir trees around the rink, blue and red spotlights illuminate the ice, and a festive glow emanates from the neon sign of the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar across the street.

INSIDER SCOOP: There are almost as many restaurants and bars a snowball’s throw from the rink as there are spins and jumps in an Olympic figure skating routine; make skating here a pre- or post-dinner adventure.

Snow King Sports and Events Center

THE BASICS: Entry is $8 for adults and $6 for kids; skate rentals are $5. Beginning skaters appreciate that the rink allows chairs on the ice: Hold onto the back of one and use it for balance as you learn
how to glide. 

THE SCENE: Jackson Hole’s only indoor ice skating rink hosts figures skating lessons and local hockey leagues.

SPECIAL SAUCE: Defy Mother Nature by getting some skating in here even on snowy and/or subzero days, or early in the season: this rink opens in October, a couple of months before the valley’s other rinks.

INSIDER SCOOP: As the venue’s name suggests, this rink isn’t only for recreational skaters. If it’s closed for public skating, it might be because there’s a Jackson Hole Moose Hockey game happening. The semi-professional Moose play full-check hockey in the Senior A division of the U.S.A. Hockey Association; home games are Friday and Saturday nights. 

Lower Slide Lake 

THE BASICS: A backcountry skating experience: As soon as this lake, off the Gros Ventre Road east of the community of Kelly, freezes thick (usually sometime in December), there’s no better place to lace up your skates. Wind keeps the lake snow-free much of the winter, but don’t be surprised to find drifts in places.

THE SCENE: The only amenities are those you bring with you. There is no warming hut, hot chocolate stand, or rental shack. There is a frozen body of water that feels like it is in the middle of nowhere; we guarantee you’ll be sharing the ice with few other skaters (if any). 

SPECIAL SAUCE: Hundreds of acres of skate-able ice, essentially all to yourself, in the middle of the Gros Ventre wilds. ‘Nuff said.

INSIDER SCOOP: With careful timing, just as the ice is freezing up thick enough to be safe, you can marvel at the surreal laser-beam sounds of skating on thin ice. Google it.

Jackson Hole Mountain Resort

THE BASICS: The perfect place to cap a day of ripping up the resort—assuming that last Hoback run didn’t leave your legs Jell-O-fied. Skate rentals are $12 ($6 with a Teton County, Wyoming ID).

THE SCENE: Family, family, family. This ice is at the base of the ski resort among Teton Village’s restaurants and shops, and next to a forest and castle made from sculpted ice and snow. Families love skating here. Strings of lights hang above the rink, and there’s a hot chocolate shack. 

SPECIAL SAUCE: This might be the country’s only ski-in/ski-out ice skating rink. You need not walk a step between it and the ski slopes.

INSIDER SCOOP: Pair skating here with drinks at the Mangy Moose Restaurant and Saloon (in that order—if you shouldn’t be behind the wheel, you shouldn’t be gliding on sharp steel blades). 

Owen Bircher Park

THE BASICS: This outdoor rink is among the few that are both free and maintained (by Teton County Parks and Recreation). You’ll need your own skates.

THE SCENE: This rink is doubly hidden: 1. It’s in tiny Wilson and 2. It’s off the main road in a park on Wilson Square Road. Lacking the hubbub of the more popular rinks, it offers a simpler, more rustic experience. 

SPECIAL SAUCE: Plan ahead and schedule a private party. If you don’t, you might arrive to find it booked by a different party to which you weren’t invited. 

INSIDER SCOOP: Warm up after skating at the Stagecoach Bar, just down the road. Try for “Sunday Church,” from 6 to 10 p.m. The Stagecoach Band has held Sunday services here for more than 50 years. 

Rodeo Grounds Rink

THE BASICS: Since there’s no bulldogging or barrel racing in winter, Teton County Parks and Recreation maintains a rink in what is, between Memorial Day and Labor Day, the local rodeo grounds. Like all Parks & Rec rinks, this one is free and does not offer skate rentals. B.Y.O.S. (Bring Your Own Skates)

THE SCENE: When the rodeo packs up for the season and snow fills its summer stomping grounds, the stadium transforms into a rink. Enjoy the view of Snow King Mountain looming to the south.

SPECIAL SAUCE:Ever wonder how the bronc and bull riders feel beneath the lights of the grandstand? Here’s your chance to find out. 

INSIDER SCOOP: Two brewpubs—Snake River Brewing and StillWest—are within blocks of the rink. JH

| Posted in JH Living