More Mild West than Wild West thanks to an overflow of art galleries and high-end lodging, Jackson makes for an enjoyable base, tucked in at the end of Jackson Hole, five miles from Grand Teton National Park's southern boundary. Centered around a tree-shaded square marked by an arch of tangled elk antlers at each corner, the Old West– style boardwalks of downtown front boutiques, galleries, and a range of restaurants and bars. In winter, time is best spent visiting the 25,000-acre National Elk Refuge on the north edge of town (the source of the town square's antler arches), where you can take a horse-drawn sleigh ride among a 7000-strong herd of elk (daily early Dec– early April 10am–4pm; $16; Tel:307/733-9212, Web: www.fws.gov/nationalelkrefuge ); rides depart from the Jackson Hole & Greater Yellowstone Visitor Center along US-26/89/191 several times an hour. Across the highway from the elk refuge, the National Museum of Wildlife Art (daily: summer 9am–5pm; winter Mon– Sat 9am–5pm, Sun 1–5pm; Tel:307/733-5771 or 1-800/313-9553, Web: www.wildlifeart.org ; $10) houses an impressive global collection that trails only Cody's Buffalo Bill Historical Center for best museum in the region.
While busiest in summer with road-tripping national park visitors, Jackson remains a year-round draw thanks to Jackson Hole Mountain Resort (lift tickets $87; Tel:307/733-2292 or 1-888/333-7669, Web: www.jacksonhole.com ), a twenty-minute drive from downtown to Teton Village at its base. Justifiably famous, the resort's 2500 acres of terrain are some of the best in the US for confident intermediates and advanced skiers and boarders. Within town, Snow King ($41; Tel:307/733-5200 or 1-800/522-5464, Web: www.snowking.com ) is an affordable, family-friendly hill that's also lit for night skiing, while Grand Targhee Resort ($66; Tel:307/353-2300 or 1-800/827-4433, Web: www.grandtarghee.com ), an hour's drive away on the Wyoming/Idaho border, is renowned for fresh powder. Come summer, all three resorts offer limited lift-accessed mountain biking, along with a host of other outdoor activities, including hiking and paragliding.