psychoPEDIA: Daily News

My Town: Jackson, Wyoming
Snowboarder Travis Rice on Hot Springs & Teton Vantage Points

Travis Rice knows a thing or two about mountain life. Not only did the 25-year-old grow up amidst Jackson, Wyoming’s unsurpassed beauty, he is recognized as one of the world’s best snowboarders. Considering Jackson Hole is a renowned ski/snowboard destination, it’s little surprise the native put his acclaim to use locally: recently Rice created The Natural Selection—a snowboarding contest focused on Jackson Hole’s primal terrain and picturesque backdrop (as opposed to X-Games-esque manmade half-pipes).

The contest, which took place this year from January 30th to February 6th, is essentially an extension of Rice’s love of organic snowboarding. And what better a place than Jackson Hole for top professional riders like Nicolas Muller, DCP and Mark Carter to flourish and dribble over gnarly cliffs and snow pillows?

On a recent trip to Rice’s beloved hometown, we enlisted his help as a guide. Over sake after a long day of snowboarding, Rice took the time to share with psychoPEDIA why his love of Jackson remains steadfast, and how The Natural Selection took shape. In his words:

When did you first conceptualize the idea for The Natural Selection?
The idea came around three years ago from frustrations of being in contests. I’d fly to Europe for a contest and only be there for a day with terrible weather. The contest side of it, it’s a great social thing. You get to see friends you haven’t seen all year, go to parties and hang with everyone. Snowboarding is a pretty tight community. But, I’ve been competing every year since I was 16. It had gotten repetitive after a while. The Arctic Challenge [professional snowboarder Terje Haakonsen’s event in Norway], however, is badass. That was my inspiration for The Natural Selection. The Arctic Challenge was based around creating the best environment for a rider to flourish…also, the fact that I’m from Jackson (this place just rips), and the fact that the resort has never really been willing to embrace the snowboarding community.

What do you hope this event do will do for Jackson and the mountain?
I want to the outside world to see a snowboarding event focused on the riding. What I’m sharing, through Jackson, is my love for organic snowboarding. I want people to know that there’s so much more to snowboarding.

What's the first place you'd recommend for people visiting Jackson?
Jackson’s a funny place, because there are equal ways to do it—whether you’re high budget or low budget. If you’re high budget then you can just go for it with everything, yet if you’re low budget then there are ways to poach the high budget! There’s this little place called Granite Hot Springs. It’s about 20 minutes south of Jackson and you have to snowmobile in ten miles; you snowmobile in for the day and soak in these hot springs. It is open seven days a week and run by these hippies. They live out there all winter. There are waterfalls surrounding the hot springs with big [snow] pillows all around as well. At five o’clock though, they drain the hot spring pool out to the river and then the next day fresh water gets poured in.

What about where to stay?
You have two options: you can stay directly in town where there’s more affordable lodging. Or, you can stay in the village, which is right next to the resort - it’s way more convenient to go snowboarding and get on the hill. In the village, my favorite place right now is the Hotel Terra, which is incredible. It’s just sick! There are so many places in Jackson that just throw up this rustic front and a lot of older people come to Jackson for that feel with animal carcasses over the fireplace and logs. I grew up here and I think just being in Jackson is raw and rustic enough. I want to stay in a place that has some current flavor and the Hotel Terra does such a great job. Also, they’re promoting a good cause considering they’re the first silver leaf hotel in Wyoming. Everything that they are about is eco-friendly. It’s the best location on hill as well. Walk in and walk out. Great service…everything.

What are some of Jackson's best restaurants?
In town, there’s a place called Teton Thai. Hands down everyone I take there says it’s the best Thai food they’ve ever had. Epic Thai! Another spot is called The Bunnery. If you wake up at noon and need an incredible meal, go to The Bunnery. Other dinner spots I enjoy are Rendezvous Bistro, which is great and Sweetwater is really good too. Jackson is kind of freakish because there are so many good restaurants. If you move out towards the Village, there’s Mizu Sushi, which means water in Japanese. I’ve eaten sushi on both coasts and in Japan as well and it’s the best sushi I’ve ever had! On hill, The Village Café is the jam for daily lunch and morning coffee. Another super secret spot is called Koshu—so good; that place rules.

Jackson has a lot of wealthy inhabitants. What was it like to grow up within that environment?
My parents and most of my parents’ friends came in and bought a lot of land really cheap and I grew up with their offspring here in Jackson. I lived in a solid middle class environment, yet at the same time the upper class got bigger with property and real estate and golf courses constantly coming in. Not to mention, our taxes are great. A lot of people own second homes here purely because of the taxes. That’s pretty much the biggest reason why. Come on, Dick Cheney lives here!

There’s always talk about how Jackson is known for its incredible meat. What’s the deal?
Jackson is definitely known for its meat. It’s Wyoming! Maybe because there’s wild game running around? Seriously, I have about a band of about 150 elk living in my backyard for a month every year. Elk, deer, bison, moose, whatever! They all live right here. Jackson is right next to Yellowstone National park. If you want to come here and eat meat there are a lot great places everywhere.

Any other spots a first-time visitor shouldn’t miss?
We have a core little snowboard shop called Ill 23. It’s really cool. The National Wildlife Art Museum is out here as well. My original plan with this event, I wanted to have a catered dinner at the museum. It’s basically a castle set in stone!

~Jessica McMenamin

Go There:
Mizu Sushi, 3465 North Pines Way (307) 734-5205
Koshu, 200 West Broadway (307) 733-5283

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