Brown Cannon III
The town is in northwest Wyoming, five hours north of Salt Lake City on I-15 to U.S. 89. Nonstop flights serving JAC from Denver and SLC run from $350. jacksonholechamber.com
Jackson vs. Jackson Hole: Jackson Hole is an 80-mile-long, 15-mile-wide valley surrounded by wilderness, in which the largest town is Jackson.
Other towns in the Hole: Wilson, Moose, Kelly, Teton Village, and Moran.
Cowboy cosmopolitan: It’s not nearly as chichi as Aspen, but Jackson’s gone pretty upscale in recent years (Sandra Bullock vacations here; CEOs have second homes here). But it’s still in touch with its western ranching roots and still draws a wider outdoorsy crowd.
You’ll know you’re there when you see: Four lit-up antler arches at the corners of Jackson’s Town Square.
Dress like a local: Practically everyone in town owns a pair of Alpine Utility Pants by local brand Mountain Khakis (mountainkhakis.com).
Airport bragging rights: Jackson Hole Airport is the only commercial airport in a national park (Grand Teton).
A winter wildlife safari: The best way to mingle with the thousands of elk wintering on the National Elk Refuge, bordering town, is by two-horse open sleigh. Tucked under a blanket on the hourlong adventure, you’re surrounded. The secret? These elk are used to the sleighs, which have visited the herd for 45 years. Also keep an eye out for eagles, coyotes, foxes, bison, wolves, trumpeter swans, ducks, and geese. $18; buy tickets at 532 N. Cache St.; bart5.com
An old-school shop: Hungry Jack’s General Store, up the road in teensy “downtown” Wilson, sells everything but the kitchen sink. Actually, they probably sell that too; it’s just buried in a happy jumble of kitschy belt buckles, ostrich cowboy boots, canoes, and locally made chocolates. 5655 W. State 22, Wilson; 307/733-3561.
The breakfast club: Notice the crowd across the street from Hungry Jack’s? Everyone from ranchers to Hollywood moguls and ski bums jostles for a table next to the soapstone Finnish hearth or a seat at the bar inside the 1930s log cabin of Nora’s Fish Creek Inn. You’ll understand why when you try the banana bread French toast. $$; 5600 W. State 22, Wilson; 307/733-8288.