Tag Archive for: Winter

Our ski instructors at Turpin Meadow Ranch enjoy teaching guests of all ages and abilities. Several of them are proud to hold certifications from Professional Ski Instructors of America (PSIA). They enjoy guiding, coaching, and encouraging guests while offering instruction on techniques endorsed by PSIA to advance their students in a safety-oriented environment. Our Lead Adventure Guide, Elee, explains how our guests benefit by taking lessons from PSIA certified instructors.

What is PSIA?

It’s the biggest certifier of snow sports including cross-country skiing. We must pass rigorous testing and curriculum in order to be certified and there are multiple levels of certifications to achieve. There are only about 32,000 individuals who hold PSIA certifications.
Professional Ski Instructors of America’s mission, as part of the ski and snowboard industry, is to help develop instructors and their students’ personally and professionally, create positive learning experiences, and encourage all to have more fun.

What Can Our Guests Expect When Taking Lessons from a PSIA Certified Ski Instructor?

A PSIA certified ski instructor not only knows how to ski but how to teach it so that guests learn safely and have fun doing it. When they take lessons from us, they’re not just getting a recreational hobbyist. We’re vetted, certified, and have been checked out by meeting and passing rigorous programs that cover not just our own competency of the sport but also how to instruct it.

In fact, at the heart and focus of the PSIA certification is the guest. To graduate from the first level of the program, a multi-page assessment and observations of our skills and personal engagement abilities are taken over several days at the end of each level’s program that covers topics like our teaching skills, personal skills, and guest interactions.

It means we know how to create a safe environment and can help advance guests’ ability in the sport in ways that are fun every step of the way whether it is their first or 70th time.

How do PSIA Instructors Benefit Kids?

PSIA trained instructors are specialized to teach children. Making sure kiddos always have fun is key in building confidence, improving skills, and level-up their appreciation of the sport so they’ll want to keep doing it. Any parent knows this is important for kids and a different approach is necessary to teach them new and technical skills.

Do Adults Also Benefit from Learning from PSIA Certified Instructors?

Absolutely! To become PSIA certified, we must show a deep understanding and capability of the sport and how to teach it. This means we can adapt lessons to fit each guest’s needs and goals. And let’s be frank, it’s important for adults to have fun doing it, too.

Here at the Ranch, we have instructed first-timers who want to try Classic and/or Skate skiing for the first time to see if it makes sense to invest in their own equipment, to lifelong ski enthusiasts who want to become better at the sport, and even competitive racers seeking to improve their techniques to win their races. We make sure everyone meets their goals and has a fun time doing it!

The snow continues to fall at the ranch, giving us a great end to winter with conditions perfect for all of our outdoor activities, including fat biking. The ability to bike in the snow still catches some guests off guard.

We’ve got a few helpful tips for those who are coming to ride at the ranch that translate well to wherever you might want to ride in the snow.

Flat Pedals a Must

If you’re used to clipping into your pedals, forget it when you’re fat biking. You’ll be putting your foot down much more often than in other riding conditions. Plus, the snow tends to accumulate on the bottom of your shoe, making it difficult if not impossible to clip into a pedal.

Layering a Must

Fat biking, like any other winter activity, requires layering of clothes to keep you warm and dry. This is probably even more important with fat biking where one moment you’re producing plenty of heat from a climb and then moments later dealing with the chilly temps during the descent.

You’ll want to start with a base layer to wick away the sweat and then add on from there. Pay special attention to your hands, feet and head.

Keep the Gearing Simple

We run 1x drivetrains at the ranch because you really don’t need the same high and low gears you do when mountain biking. This set up gives you plenty of gearing to ride comfortably without the over torque and spin outs.

Modest Goals

If you’re new to fat biking, don’t use your normal riding distances as the benchmark. The bigger tires and snowy terrain will likely translate to a shorter rider. The fun, however, will be the same if not more.

Go Low

The more rubber you get on the snow, the better the ride. That means going low with the tire pressure. If you’re getting bounced around and the ride isn’t comfortable, let the air out.

Find Your Cadence

Pedaling in snow requires constant focus on your cadence. Pedal too fast and with too much torque and all you’re going to do is spin the tires and tear up the terrain, neither of which will get you anywhere or endear you to your fellow riders.

Concentrate on the grip of your tire and find that point of maximum output with minimal slippage and then lock into that rhythm.

The Ranch Ride

Fat biking at the ranch will give the beginner and experienced rider plenty of terrain to carve out an epic ride. The 20 km of groomed trails that is spread across seven connected loops provide a perfect surface for getting out and exploring the land round the ranch.

Our goal at the ranch is for each guest to have the best experience out of their adventure. That’s why our guided tours, like snowmobiling during winter, are so popular. We take care of all of the logistics, so guests don’t have to worry about the details.

More importantly, our guides receive regular safety training to make sure your adventure is as safe as possible. The most recent training session occurred before opening day and involved our snowmobile guides updated their Wilderness First Responder and avalanche safety certification. Here’s a quick look at what that training involved.

Wilderness First Responder

All of our guides are certified Wilderness First Responders, which is essentially the same training EMTs receive. The federal government created the first EMT guidelines in the 1960s. Not long after that, the Wilderness Medicine Outfitters took the EMT model a step further by adding techniques to help ski patrols aid injured skiers.

The skills and techniques taught in those original classes have been continually updated to help people like our guides help anyone injured in order to survive the “golden hour,” that critical period of time to get the patient stabilized and transported to a hospital.

Avalanche Training

On top of the medical training, our snowmobile guides also take a class that involves classroom and field work to help them identify and analyze avalanche dangers. The course covers the various types of avalanches, teaches them observational skills to identify potential dangers and how to plan a safe trip.

The information helps our guides avoid conditions that could put sledders in danger.

Guest Experience

Our guest’s safety is constantly at the forefront of the minds of our guides. That’s why we start each snowmobile trip with a brief safety briefing that covers the operation of the sled as well as basic precautionary tips.

It’s also an added value to our guests that our guides have years of working and playing in the area around the ranch. They are extremely familiar with the terrain and weather patterns. That local knowledge when paired with today’s forecasting technology ensures that your snowmobile adventure is as safe as it is fun.

Photo credit @jnelmcintosh

A vacation is a great time to try something new. You’re generally more relaxed and open to new ideas and experiences. This holds especially true at the ranch with so many adventures waiting right outside your cabin door.

If you’re visiting us with your children, winter presents the perfect opportunity to expose those little ones to Nordic skiing if they haven’t given it a try. It’s a great family activity that let’s everyone enjoy the outdoors.

“We’ve got the equipment, the location and the ideal atmosphere for letting your kids experience Nordic skiing for the first time,” said Ron Stiffler, our manager at the ranch.

The Ideal Setting

Guests at the ranch don’t have far to walk to the ski hut, grab their gear and hit our 20 km of trails. We groom our trails daily, giving beginners a smooth surface for the best experience.

The trails are expansive enough that you won’t feel like you’re getting in the way of others and you’ll have a variety of terrains to explore.

A Teachable Moment

The beauty of Nordic skiing for kids is that the lesson, and we’re using that word loosely, is very simple. Nordic skiing utilizes the basic motion of walking, something your kids already know how to do.

Plus, you’re not reaching speeds of downhill skiing so if you’re little ones do fall, it’s not going to hurt them.

Focus on Fun

Another reason we think of teaching in air quotes, is that it’s best to not make that first Nordic skiing adventure too series. Give them the basics and get out of the way. Let them have fun and experiment with skiing the way they want to try.

We’d also encourage you to think about skipping the poles or at least let them try without them. At such a young age, poles aren’t a real necessity.

Keep it Short

Let your child’s age and interest level dictate how long you’re out on the trails. It’s better to leave a bit earlier so your child views the adventure as something enjoyable rather than something they’re being forced to do.

Free Ski Day

If you’re around on Jan. 7th, 2024 consider coming by to be part of the Jackson Hole Nordic Alliance’s Free Ski, Fat Bike & Snowshoe Day. This annual event has become a great gathering for the community to visit the ranch, hit the trails for free and try out skis, fat bikes and snowshoes from our amazing partners.

The free day has grown from a humble gathering to one of the more anticipated community events in the Jackson Hole area. You’re guaranteed to have fun and the focus is definitely on families so you’re kids will have plenty of others to play with on the trail.


Winter truly transforms the landscape around our guest ranch. The sounds, smells and sights take a dramatic shift. One great way to experience the season at a slower pace than other activities is snowshoeing.

It’s like taking a walk, just with a special pair of shoes. The pace allows you to completely immerse yourself in the wilderness. You can stop and enjoy the vistas as well as wildlife. Plus, you’ll get one heck of a workout.

We’ve made it easy for guests and visitors to explore our 20 km of groomed Nordic trails with nothing more than a pair of snowshoes strapped to their feet. We’ve got a few tips on how to prepare and what you can expect once you head outside.

Plus, we’ll explain why you might want to consider taking a guided snowshoe tour.

The Basics

Let’s start with your clothing. You’ll want a base layer that wicks away the sweat and dries quickly. An insulating layer is next with something like polyester fleece to keep you warm. Finally, go with an outer layer that will keep out the wind and water.

For footwear, an insulated and waterproof boot is the preferred choice paired with wool or synthetic socks to keep your feet warm and dry. You might also consider a boot covering to keep out the snow.

You’ll finish your gear with a hat, gloves and sunglasses.

The Shoe

The snowshoe itself is a pretty simple design. You’ll lock your foot into the binding, which sits atop the deck that allows you to float atop the snow. Lastly, traction and crampon like cleats on the bottom of the deck help with footing when traversing rugged terrain and icy conditions.

Snowshoe Techniques

Starting on the flat, groomed sections of our Nordic trail is a great place for beginners to get the feel of snowshoeing. It’s an intuitive movement. The only adjustment you’ll need to make is to maintain a wider stance, so you aren’t stepping on the insides of the snowshoe frames.

Stay Safe

Like any outdoor sport, you need to be cognizant of your surroundings and personal limitations to be safe. Stay within your physical abilities. Our trail provides a relatively safe environment to snowshoe. Stay warm, dry and hydrated during your adventure. Never go alone. There is safety in number and plus, it’s more fun when you’ve got others to share in the experience.

Take a Guided Tour

Navigating our groomed trail is easy. But if you really want to let your mind go and just enjoy the experience, take a 2.5 hour private tour with one of our experienced guides. They will design a route that best fits your needs and abilities.

You might stick to the trail or, if the group is more experienced, head off the trail to get the true flavor of the area. Along the way your guide will immerse you in a historical overview of the area and its significant geological formations.

Once your snowshoe adventure is over, you’ll return to the ranch where you can unwind in the lodge, warming yourself by the fire and enjoying a hot toddy.

The early morning sun rises over the ranch, casting a soft glow in the sky as the first skiers head out for early morning runs on our freshly groomed 20 km of Nordic trails.

They probably don’t give much thought to what goes into making the trail surface that perfect corduroy look and smooth surface. Even if they did they probably didn’t realize it started months ago by our team of trail experts and ski fanatics.

“We get excited once we’ve laid the tracks and we get people up here to play in the snow,” said Elee Deschu, one of our expert outfitters and member of the trail grooming team. “It’s a great workout and a lot of fun.”

Early Pre-Season Prep

The winter trail work that Deschu and her husband, Aaron, perform begins in the summer when they’re busy guiding guests on horse rides. In the summer, the ski trails double as the route for horseback riders to explore our beautiful country.

The Deschus pay attention during those rides for downed tree limbs and other debris that needs to be cleared. They’ll come back after the rides to clear away anything that has fallen and to regularly trim back the foliage.

First Snow

Once Mother Nature transitions to the winter, Elee Deschu said it’s a waiting game for enough snow to accumulate. They want a base of 18 to 20 inches of snow. We could leave it alone and let skiers forge their own path. But that makes for a less than ideal experience. Skiing on a trail that isn’t groomed is especially tiring. It’s also a bit dangerous since cross country skis aren’t made for handling powdery snow.

By Thanksgiving or early December, enough snow for a base has arrived. That kicks off a two-step process that begins by sing a PistenBully, which is the same type of snow groomer you see at Alpine ski resorts. The PistenBully is used to compact the snow, push out the air and create that base layer.

It usually takes two or three runs to complete the process and is dependent on the consistency of the snow. Deschu said heavy and wet snow coming from the Pacific Northwest compacts easier compared to drier snow coming north from Utah.

“We’re shooting for a nice even layer on the entire system where nothing is exposed,” Deschu said. “It’s as much art form as it is science.”

Daily Grooming

This is where we set ourselves apart from other trail systems in the area. With the base layer set, a Viking snowmobile becomes the primary machine to fine tune the trails. It drags a Ginzu Groomer, which is a combo tool. The teeth on the Ginzu till up the snow that is then smoothed over into the corduroy pattern by a mat.

The timing of the daily grooming depends on the snow conditions and temperature. If the overnight temperature is going to really drop, the team grooms at night. If they wait until the morning, they risk the chance that the snow will be too cold and crystalized balls would form.

Normal temperatures or a forecast of heavy overnight snow dictates the grooming will be done early in the morning.

Freshly Groomed Trails Make for the Best Skiing

The daily groomed trail is a draw for guests at the ranch and day visitors who visit for the varied terrain and smooth conditions. Deschu said while skiers might not give much thought to the process, they appreciate the results.

“When I’ve groomed when people are out there they’ll wave and want to talk,” she said. “I kind of feel like the Pied Piper because everybody wants to follow you on the fresh trail.”

Mix the beauty of the Grand Tetons with the exhilaration of snowmobiling and you’ll understand why this is one of the more popular winter activities at the ranch for both over night guests and day visitors.

Situated along a spur on the famous Continental Divide Trail, the area boasts more than 500 miles of groomed trails. Our experienced guides will take you through backcountry that is rated as some of the best snowmobile terrain in the country.

Where You’ll Explore

Located in Western Wyoming, the Bridger-Teton National Forest offers more than 3.4 million acres of public land for outdoor recreation enjoyment. The area features pristine watersheds, abundant wildlife and immense wildlands. It is also a large part of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem – the largest intact ecosystem in the continental U.S.

Bridger-Teton offers nearly 1.2 million acres of designated wilderness to explore and boasts more than 3,000 miles of roads and trails and thousands of miles of unspoiled rivers and streams.

What You’ll See

Our guides are permitted for tours that will safely navigate you on a scenic tour around the Bridger-Teton National Forest. Your trip will be tailored to match your preferences and ability. Your journey might include:

  • A ride along the Buffalo Fork River and through the woods in search of wildlife and photo opportunities
  • Streaking along the Continental Divide Trail System, which is some of the best snowmobile terrain in the country

What To Expect

You’ll be riding atop a four-stroke Ski Doo expedition snowmobiles that let riders traverse our trails and handle off road adventures. You can sled through the snow on a three-hour or full-day tour. The full-day trip includes a stop at a historic lodge tucked away in the mountains or along the trail for lunch. Half-day trips include lunch at the lodge.

You can tap into the knowledge of our guides to create a customized tour that meets your interests. Regardless of the trip you choose, our tours are family friendly and suited for riders of all experiences. The safety and avalanche training our guides receive ensure the route you take will be the safest for the conditions on the day of your ride.

No need to worry about packing bulky winter gear. Base layer clothing and a simple outer layer is good enough. We’ll provide a one-piece suit, boots, helmet and gloves.

Back At The Ranch

Once you’re finished, you’ll return to the ranch where you’ll be able to relive your adventure in front of a crackling fire and with a warm toddy in hand. You can plan your next adventure during an evening meal created from locally sourced ingredients and expertly prepared by our chef. You can learn more and book your trip by visiting our snowmobile adventure page.

We’re lucky at the ranch to be able to offer guest activities for both summer and winter. The variety allows for guests to try something they normally might not have experienced, like fat biking in winter.

The trails at the ranch were developed by former ranch owners Hans and Nancy Johnstone, who are former Olympians, and were initially drawn to the area for the prospect of Nordic skiing. Snowmobiling, snowshoeing and fat biking are also popular choices on our 15 km of groomed Nordic ranch trails.

The first time you saw a fat tire bike you may have been a bit startled and wondered why it had such large tires. It’s not just for looks. Those wheels with tubes and treads about two to three times the size of standard mountain bikes provide traction that takes riders places they couldn’t normally traverse, including wet stone, muddy paths or snowy hills.

The Technology
Fat tires are designed to ride at extremely low tire pressure, which allows for greater contact with the riding surface. That’s why fat tires will get good traction even when the ground is covered in snow. Originally designed for riding in sand, fat bikes have evolved for off-road touring as well as groomed-trail riding in multiple seasons.

Since the contact surface is wider, fat tires also provide better balance, which is great for both beginners and those riding somewhat slippery paths. The bigger tires also provide extra cushion, making it a comfortable ride. Fat bikes also take a little more effort to move than a regular bike, ensuring you’ll get a great workout while you ride.

The Gear
When you come to the ranch, we have many options for fat biking. Bring your own or rent ours for either a half or full day. We also provide guided tours, which is a great way to either get the ropes of fat biking, make sure you get to see specific scenery or wildlife, take the trails rated to your experience level, or all of the above.

As far as clothing, your best bet will be to dress like you would for other outdoor winter sports. Waterproof outer layers are a great idea, including ski or snowboard pants. Keep in mind when planning inner layers that your core will heat up and you will get sweaty, which could quickly result in hypothermia in very low temperatures. Also, since it gets dark earlier in the winter, fat bikers frequently find themselves out after dark when temperatures rapidly drop. Lots of warm layers that can be adjusted is a good plan until you get a feel for what works best for you and your environment. A helmet is also recommended.

For a few short rides, waterproof hiking boots should work, although you may need to loosen the ankles. Longer rides and more series winter bikers may want to consider investing in a good pair of winter riding shoes a size larger than normal to accommodate thick wool socks. Other riders use their summer biking shoes, but cover them with waterproof neoprene booties.

Use fat bike gloves or two pair of gloves (one waterproof outer glove and one fleece, heat-retaining glove) to help keep your hands toasty. You may also find a moisture-wicking stocking cap that fits under your helmet will help keep your head comfortable. For your neck, face, and lower ears, a lightweight neck gaiter will keep cold wind away from your skin and help retain heat. Sunglasses or goggles will help prevent snow blindness and also help keep frigid air from stinging your eyes.

 The Après Ride
Once you’re done riding, retire to the lodge for a bit to eat and warm drinks by the fireplace. We’ve got a cozy bar for enjoying a warming beverage before, during or after your adventures.

Overall, fat biking is a fun winter sport for biking enthusiasts wanting to explore our trails as well as less experienced bikers who want to take moderate tours of the countryside. It’s a great way to see nature and get exercise in winter. Ranch trails are available for lodging guests and to day visitors for a small fee. We hope to see you at the ranch during our winter season to check out all fat bikes have to offer.

Did you know that Turpin Meadow Ranch features an Olympian-designed Nordic ski track that stretches over 20km? The trails are popular with locals, who often stop by for an afternoon of skiing and stay into the evening for world-class dining and cocktails at the newly renovated historic lodge.

Designed by two former Olympic Nordic and Biathlon skiers, Hans and Nancy Johnstone, the ranch’s Nordic ski track expands across seven connected loops that show you different perspectives of the Grand Tetons and local landscape. The Johnstones are Jackson Hole locals and have experienced the thrill of many first ski descents in the Grand Tetons. The trails are described by one visitor as “a well-groomed trail system with trails for any level of cross country skier. A great way to spend a day in a remote corner of the Tetons.”

Even better – there are 10 other tracks minutes away where locals go to explore the refreshing winter wilderness of Jackson Hole. Ranging in length from five miles to 14, it is easy to hit the trails and get a taste of what it means to be a true Jackson Hole local.