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It’s not quite high noon, but a showdown is on in front of Jackson Hole Sports in Teton Village, Wyoming, on Sunday morning. A young boy dressed in full cowboy regalia strolls up to another wearing a full-face helmet and body armor on his shoulders, back, elbows, knees, and shins.
“Say hello,” the cowboy’s mother prompts. “Hello,” he says, and pulls the trigger on his cap gun, firing a loud pop into the grass at his feet. The boy dressed like a Power Ranger in black plastic doesn’t respond, just grips the handlebars of his full suspension mountain bike and pedals off to load the chair lift. The duel can wait—there are six new downhill mountain bike trails ready for riding.
The Jackson Hole Bike Park opened this past June, designed by Gravity Logic, the minds behind downhill trails for Whistler/Blackcomb in British Columbia and Winter Park in Colorado. Jackson Hole invested $1 million in lift-accessed trails ranging from beginner to expert running off the Teewinot high-speed quad. Banked trails, big berms, wooden bridges, and plenty of high-flying jumps draw everyone from parents with young kids to hard-charging teenagers to seasoned ski instructors making the most of summer.
For first-timers, instructors teach lessons on basic skills. Lucky Charm is a beginner trail that is four feet wide with gentle banked turns and a wooden bridge section, and it has plenty of flow to get the newbies hooked. Moving up to the intermediate trails will put more jumps in your path on Bandit, and or send you on a roller coaster ride through the winding banked turns of Bronco.
There’s plenty for the experts too. I didn’t venture down that path, but I caught glimpses of bikers tearing through the trees and taking flight as I cruised along at mellower speeds. Visit this Saturday, August 27, for the Red Bull Final Descent, a 12-hour downhill mountain bike race where competitors will see who can rack up the most laps. —Olivia Dwyer
The Jackson Hole Bike Park is open daily through September 5, and on weekends through the end of September. For information on hours, lift tickets, rentals, and trails, click here.