Hotel at a Glance: Elk Country Inn
Elk Country Inn is four blocks from Jackson's iconic Town Square, which is marked by four thick archways made entirely of elk antlers. It's the centerpiece of downtown Jackson, where down-home restaurants and upscale boutiques emit an Old West vibe. After a day of shopping downtown or skiing at one of the nearby mountains, you can head back to the inn to warm up. Whether to head to the hot tub or the fireplace? That's up to you.
- Hit the slopes: free shuttle service from the inn to Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, Snow King, and Grand Targhee
- Free snacks: fresh fruit in the mornings and cookies at 5 p.m.
- Famous watering hole: The Million Dollar Cowboy Bar, just half a mile away
- In-room amenities: TVs in traditional rooms; TVs and kitchenettes in log cabins
Jackson, Wyoming: Wildlife and World-Class Skiing in the Old West
Jackson may be the only place on earth where you might see a rodeo cowboy, rock climber, and Hollywood starlet on the same block. The former frontier outpost draws visitors of all stripes for its special blend of Old West flavor and jaw-dropping natural beauty. Old-fashioned saloons and high-end galleries line the town square, but a few miles north in Grand Teton National Park, you’ll find nothing but wilderness.
Though summer and winter are Jackson’s high seasons, you’ll encounter lighter crowds in spring and spectacular foliage in the fall. As the snows begin to melt in May, the rivers swell and fill with rapids. There are about a dozen rafting outfitters in Jackson that run whitewater trips on the Snake River and scenic floats on a calmer stretch upstream, where you’ll have a chance to see eagles, moose, and pelicans.
By early December, the ski lifts are up and running at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, famed for its challenging terrain and laissez-faire backcountry policy. Back in town, the much smaller Snow King Resort boasts the only night skiing in the area; unlike the slopes, the lift tickets aren’t too steep—about $40 for a full-day adult ticket.
Ski bums are seduced by Jackson’s epic snowfalls, but a different species objects to the cold. Each winter, about 12,000 elk migrate to the valley floor, where the temperatures are milder. At the National Elk Refuge, which borders downtown Jackson, conservationists lead horse-drawn sleigh rides to view the mammals up close, mid-December through early April. If the elk prove elusive, head across the street to see them in bronze or watercolor at the National Museum of Wildlife Art.