Jackson Hole, Wyoming: Not Just for Skiers

The infinity hot tub at Hotel Terra in Jackson Hole. Courtesy Terra Resort Group Photo by Terra Resort Group
By Carrie Havranek

Many skiers come to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, but even the most uncoordinated travelers will appreciate this community that's filled with top-notch spas, great restaurants, and mellower activities like snowshoeing and wildlife viewing.

Here are six ways to enjoy some of Jackson Hole's best winter activities.

Photo Caption: The infinity hot tub at Hotel Terra in Jackson Hole. Courtesy Terra Resort Group
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Rooms with a view at Hotel Terra in Jackson Hole. Courtesy Terra Resort Group Photo by Terra Resort Group
Hotel Terra (tel. 800/631-6281; www.hotelterrajacksonhole.com) is within walking distance of the Jackson Hole Aerial Tram, which climbs 4,139 vertical feet in four minutes. Upon disembarking, you can begin the day of skiing or snowboarding, or simply soak up the gorgeous views of the Teton Mountain range.

The property's Silver LEED certification means this boutique hotel in Teton Village is more ecologically-minded than most resorts: for example, the lights automatically shut off when you close the door.

This winter, Jackson Hole has unveiled a new Burton Stash course just for snowboarders.

At Hotel Terra, the "Suite Stash: Learn to Ride" package includes three nights in a 570-square-foot Terra suite, with a kitchen; a full day of instruction for two in the Burton Learn to Ride Program; and a Flip Ultra video camera to capture your antics. The day of instruction also includes whatever gear you'd need: boots, bindings and boards, so you don't have to invest money at the outset. The suite easily sleeps four, with a pull-down queen sofa bed, so you could bring the whole family or come with a bunch of friends.
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The lobby at Teton Mountain Lodge & Spa. Courtesy Terra Resort Group Photo by Terra Resort Group
Hotel Terra and its more luxurious sister property, Teton Mountain Lodge (tel. 866/521-9437; www.tetonlodge.com), nearly offer slice their rates in the summertime, when the hiking is unforgettable and Yellowstone, nearby, is most easily toured.
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Jackson Hole Iditarod Sled Dogs. Photo by Bob Woodall
If you a) like dogs and b) want to run sled dogs with a professional dog musher, hang out with Frank Teasley, a 23-year veteran of the sport who is considered the "father of the Iditarod." Teasley operates Jackson Hole Iditarod Sled Dog Tours (tel. 800/554-7388; www.jhsleddog.com). The half-day tour is an 11-mile run that includes hot soup, a hot beverage to warm you up, and lunch to keep you going. The guides pay close attention to the group and the animals -- both those driving the sleds and those you can spot from the sled, such as deer, elk, moose, bighorn sheep, bald eagles, and more. Destinations include Granite Creek Canyon and Bridger Teton National Forest.
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A herd of bison (buffalo) in Yellowstone. Photo by Jason Williams
Thousands of elk share the Jackson Hole area with hundreds of bison, bighorn sheep, and waterfowl. "In the winter, the wildlife is down in Jackson," says Jason Williams, an expert who operates Jackson Hole Wildlife Safari (tel. 307/690-6402; www.jacksonholewildlifesafari.com). "Elk and deer migrate south to the valley. So, in four hours we can see every hoofed animal in Jackson Hole."

In winter, you'll explore the western part of Grand Teton National Park, and spot whatever comes your way -- bison, elk, moose, bald eagles, or trumpeter swans.

Sightseeing Tip: Take a safari during the early part of your stay in Jackson Hole, especially if you have rented a car. "This way you can learn where the animals are and why, and then you can go back on your own to see what you can find," Williams says.
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A snowmobile trail leads from Yellowstone National Park's South Gate and runs along the top of the Lewis River Canyon. Courtesy Jason Williams/<a href="http://www.jasonwilliamsphoto.com" target="_blank">www.jasonwilliamsphoto.com</a> Photo by Jason Williams
As you ride a snowmobile into town from Yellowstone National Park, you may spot a handful of elk hanging out on the side of the road. For eco-conscious travelers, these fuel-efficient snowmobiles are actually less environmentally destructive than snow coaches. The snowmobiles, which take advantage of the latest technology, also have heated seats and handles.

Jackson Hole Snowmobile Tours
(tel. 800/633-1733; www.jacksonholesnowmobile.com) leads day trips and overnight trips through late February or early March. This doesn't mean you sleep in the wilderness—far from it. Overnight trips include restful stays in a hotel, meals, equipment, clothing, boots, and park entry fees.
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Snowshoeing is part of the Hole Hiking Experience. Courtesy Cathy Shill Photo by Cathy Shill
Another popular way to experience Jackson Hole in the winter is by snowshoe. For the past 20 years, the team of professional naturalist guides at Hole Hiking Experience (tel. 866/733-4453; www.holehike.com) has been takings guests through Grand Teton one step at a time. The company specializes in small tours with expert-trained naturalists. Its four-hour trip, called "The Explorer," is open to all skill sets. The six-hour trip, "The Trekker," is more strenuous and gives you a bit more time to explore the backcountry.

During March, daylight starts to stretch out a bit, and so you have more time to observe wildlife.
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