Is Jackson Hole facing an identity crisis? The exclusive Wyoming ski town has just about everything going for it: world-class slopes, A-list locals and some of the most expensive real estate on the planet. And that’s the problem. The Hole, it seems, is desperate not to become Aspen, Colorado’s unapologetically ostentatious winter wonderland for one-percenters. And so conspicuous consumption is conspicuously avoided and a relaxed dress code of blue jeans and cowboy boots is rigidly observed, even as the area’s net worth nearly rivals that of a Gulf oil state. But, protestations aside, are the two really so different?

YEE-HAW
Jackson Hole

APRÈS-SKI
Aspen

Aspen Skyline

ARRIVED ON THE SCENE

2000s

ARRIVED ON THE SCENE

1940s

NOTABLE CRANK

Kanye West

Kanye West

NOTABLE CRANK

Hunter S. Thompson

Hunter S Thompson

UNOFFICIAL TOWN VEHICLE
(ACCORDING TO A LOCAL)

GMC Yukon Denali

2016 GMC Yukon XL Denali

UNOFFICIAL TOWN VEHICLE
(ACCORDING TO A LOCAL)

AWD Tesla

AWD Tesla

FAMOUS WATERING HOLE

Million Dollar Cowboy

Million Dollar Cowboy

FAMOUS WATERING HOLE

Living Room at Hotel Jerome

Living Room at Hotel Jerome

CULTURAL INSTITUTION

Longest-Running Shoot-Out (1957)

Shootout

CULTURAL INSTITUTION

Wheeler Opera House (1889)

Wheeler Opera House

Pow Factor (Advantage: Aspen)

JACKSON HOLE
NUMBER OF SKI RESORTS

3
(Jackson Hole Mountain
Resort, Snow King Mountain
and Grand Targhee Resort)

ASPEN
NUMBER OF SKI RESORTS

4
(Aspen Mountain, Aspen
Highlands, Buttermilk and
Snowmass)

SKIING AREA

2,500 acres

SKIING AREA

5,527 acres

ACREAGE PER RESIDENT

0.1

ACREAGE PER RESIDENT

0.3

IN-DEMAND SKI PRO

Tommy Moe

One of two American men to win
an Olympic gold medal for
downhill, plus Olympic silver
in 1994

IN-DEMAND SKI PRO

Chris Davenport

World Extreme Skiing Champion,
Olympic commentator, first person
to ski every 14,000-foot peak in
Colorado

 

Cold Hard Cash (Advantage: Jackson Hole)

JACKSON HOLE
PER CAPITA INCOME

$229,825
(1st in US.)

ASPEN
PER CAPITA INCOME

$158,313
(3rd in US.)

AVERAGE INCOME OF THE
TOP 1%

$22,508,108
(1st in US.)

AVERAGE INCOME OF THE
TOP 1%

$6,620,696
(7th in US.)

MOST EXPENSIVE HOME
FOR SALE

$69,500,000

MOST EXPENSIVE HOME
FOR SALE

$49,500,000

MOST EXPENSIVE IN-SEASON
RENTAL

$104,000

MOST EXPENSIVE IN-SEASON
RENTAL

$252,000

Verdict:

If you consider the gravitational pull of its wealth, Jackson Hole has done a remarkable job keeping its cultural signifiers more giddyup! than Gstaad. But billionaires and celebrities cosplaying as cowboys doesn’t make a resort town the new Sundance—it makes it Westworld.