Concierge.com's insider take:
Jackson's season runs from early December to early April, but January typically gets the most snow, leaving the ski areas with at least 60-inch bases. There are three downhill options in the area: the immense and challenging Jackson Hole Resort; the gentler Grand Targhee Resort; and scrappy Snow King, a tiny mom-and-pop resort right outside of town.
Jackson Hole Resort is 13 miles from town. Thanks to multiyear, big-money improvements, this formerly rough-and-tumble resort now has an upscale feel. Even so, the off-the-beaten-path location and sheer scale—111 runs and 12 lifts, including a gondola and six high-speed quads—mean lengthy lift lines are happily rare. Beginning and intermediate skiers should head to the groomed runs on Après Vous Mountain, which feature 1,800-foot cruisers like Moran; advanced skiers catch the East Ridge Lift to the top of Rendezvous Mountain. Experts tend to leave the resort altogether: A short traverse or hike beyond the top of the lifts accesses more than 3,000 acres of steep, powder-laden slopes—some of the world's best and most accessible backcountry skiing. Hire a guide for the day—and learn all the other on- and off-mountain activities—at www.jacksonhole.com or 307-733-2292.
Grand Targhee Resort has a lot less verticality (it isn't as steep), which ramps down both the adrenaline and the number of gung-ho locals looking to jump off cliffs. This means it's a lot less intimidating for beginners. Because Targhee's slopes are on the west side of the mountains (42 miles from Jackson), the area also tends to gets more—and lighter—snow (307-353-2300; www.grandtarghee.com).
You won't find any tourists at Snow King: It's tiny and wicked steep, with few intermediate runs (about 60 percent of the terrain is for experts only). It just happens to be about one minute from downtown, though (307-733-5200; www.snowking.com).