So there’s this guy. A passionate skier with access to a helicopter. Spare time. Loads of money. And he wants to build a resort in the range that’s so dramatic, it prompted Teddy Roosevelt to utter, “These are the first mountains I’ve seen that look like mountains should look.” Hence the birth of Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, founded by Paul McCollister in 1963 and deemed this year by SKI readers to be the best in North America. A surprise upset, perhaps—but our only surprise was that JH hadn’t won sooner. “There is Jackson Hole, and then there’s everyone else,” summarizes a reader. First, terrain. No. 1 in Challenge, The Big One boasts the longest continuous vert in the U.S., with lines so gnarly (Alta Zero, Unskiable, Expert Chutes) they pucker your gut from the lift. (“If Corbet’s is too tame, might I suggest S&S?” a reader goads.) But JH earns No. 1 in Terrain Variety too, for its rolling groomers (Werner and Grand) and adventurous kids’ Stash Parks. Readers also name it No. 1 in Character—a real town with deep Western roots. There’s luxury here, which, depending on which side of the Four Seasons bar you’re on, can be good or bad (“Way too expensive for nonzillionaires”). Others complain of cauterizing cold, isolation, and a “long” drive from town. But McCollister knew what he was doing all right, and the No. 1 Overall Satisfaction ranking would have made him proud. “This is my baby,” he once said. This year, nobody puts baby in the corner.  —Kimberly Beekman