The slopes aren't the only place where adventurous winter action happens in Jackson Hole: Fat biking is booming, too. Last year, the town hosted the Global Fat Bike Summit to great success, and a slew of the knobby-tired bikes are seen all around town and the surrounding trails in the cold-weather months.
Ever wanted to give this sport a try? Jackson's a great destination for fat biking for beginners, as well as experienced riders, with plenty of terrain to choose from and a growing community of resources and riders. Not only is it a great workout, but it also offers an alternative way for non-skiers to get out and enjoy the mountain landscapes around Jackson Hole.
But transitioning from the skinny-tired bikes of warmer weather to cranking a burly fat bike along the trail can be a tad intimidating at first. With that, we bring you some key tips on fat biking for beginners, including suitable destinations around Jackson where you can hop in the saddle. (Before heading out, just be sure to check conditions. Riding in soft snow trashes the trail, so be sure not to ride if it's soft enough to leave a rut.)
Learn From a Pro
If you're new to the sport, you might want to gather a few tips from experienced pros before heading out on your own. Grand Targhee Resort offers a “ Fat Me Up ” package that includes a two-hour group lesson, fat bike rental, and trail access for the whole day (though you'll need to bring a helmet, gloves, and winter gear).
Guided tours are also a great way to get to know the local trails. Teton Mountain Bike Tours offers a variety of half and full-day toursin the region, including trips into the northern region of Grand Teton National Park as well as other picturesque destinations.
To Rent or Buy a Fat Bike?
Purchasing your own fat-tire bike is almost always a pricey enterprise, so it makes sense to rent a bike a few times to make sure it's just what you want before shelling out the cash to purchase. To that end, several shops around town rent fat bikes, including Hoback Sports , which charges $55 per day for rentals. Teton Mountain Bike Tours also rents bikes. Expect to pay $40 for a half-day four-hour rental or $50 for a full 24-hour rental for more in-depth adventures. This rental fee will get you a fat bike with four or five-inch tires as well as a helmet. Rental options include a variety of brands and models such as Kona WOs, Heller Bloodhounds, and Fatback Rhinos, as well as a kid's model. They also rent bike racks for cars for $25 a day so you can transport your rental bike around with ease.
If you like it enough to want your own bike, prepare to shell out for a new one: Teton Mountain Bike Tours and Hoback Sports both sell fat bikes and prices are typically around $2,000 and up. You can also try online sites like Craigslist for deals on used ones.
Where to Go
Once you know the basics and have a bike to ride, grab your gear and head out to these great fat biking destinations. These spots all offer spectacular views and are great places to get a ride in, whether for an hour before work or for an all-day adventure.
Grand Targhee Resort
Grand Targhee Resort, in Alta was the first ski resort in the U.S. to welcome fat bikes onto their Nordic trails. They offer several fun loops that are all snowbike friendly. Be sure to follow the rules of the trail including yielding at all intersections and to all skiers and riding to the left of classic tracks and staying right around corners. Be sure to check the resort's event calendar before heading out because trails are sometimes closed for races and events. You'll have to purchase a day pass or season Nordic pass to use the trails and you can rent bikes or take a lesson while you're there. But be sure to leave your furry friends at home; dogs are not allowed.
Turpin Meadow Ranch
About an hour from Jackson is Turpin Meadow Ranch, a local ranch owned by former Olympians Nancy and Hans Johnstone that offers great fat biking and Nordic skiing located right in Buffalo Valley. The ranch is located at the end of Buffalo Valley Road and offers trails suitable for fat bikes for a small daily fee. Dogs are allowed.
Cache Creek is one of many locals' favorite routes for a quick ride. The trailhead is located only about a mile from the Town Square and is open for a wide variety of winter sports. You'll likely find a lot of dog walkers out here as well as people on snowshoes, skis, and even snowmobiles. The trail is groomed regularly for several miles, but be sure to comply with all winter wildlife closures. Dogs are allowed (be sure to follow dog regulations).
Elk Refuge Road
Pedal right along the Elk Refuge Road for great views of the Tetons and a peek at some local wildlife. Head to the end of Broadway (past St. John's Medical Center) and take a left onto the Elk Refuge Road. This road is open to cars and bikes alike for several miles in the winter. Keep an eye out for bighorn sheep licking salt from the road and, of course, watch for the thousands of elk wintering on the refuge.
South Park Pathway
For a short jaunt, head down to the South Park Pathway. Follow the pathway along South Park Loop Road for 2.4 miles before turning around and heading back the way you came. Watch out for driveways and road crossings along this route, which is typically groomed twice a week. Dogs are allowed.
Emily's Pond Levee—Snake River Dike
Spend some time pedaling along this route right by the Snake River and soaking up the views at this spot just two miles from Wilson. Park on the east side of the Snake River Bridge to access the Emily Stevens Pond trailhead. This lollipop loop is 2.2 miles. Expect lots of dog walkers and other trail users. Dogs are allowed.