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Jackson Hole, Wyoming

What to Do
GAIN SOME VELOCITY Jackson Hole Mountain Resort (888/333-7766 or 307/733-2292; www.jacksonhole.com) has a 4,139-foot vertical rise and 2,500 acres of terrain, ranging from gentle slopes and wide-open bowls to the narrow chutes and steep cliffs the resort is famous for. The mountain is so spacious that even on days when the parking lot is packed, you'll get right on the lift and have plenty of runs seemingly all to yourself. A one-day lift pass is $61, but many lodging packages and ski lessons include reduced rates.

EXPLORE THE BACKCOUNTRY Jackson Hole's "open gate" policy gives lift ticket-holders access to the vast territory beyond the trail map. But the out-of-bounds acreage is not patrolled or avalanche-controlled. The resort's trained alpine guides (full-day skiing or snowboarding $455 for up to five people) will keep you from getting lost. Rendezvous Ski & Snowboard Tours (877/754-4887; full-day tour for two $205) leads trips through the outback of Grand Teton National Park and over the Teton Pass.

MAKE TRACKS Novice cross-country skiers can start with the easy terrain at Spring Creek Nordic Center (800/443-6139 or 307/733-1004; www.springcreekranch.com; $10 for a day pass). It has eight miles of smooth trails with panoramic views of the Tetons. Experts can access nine miles of hillier paths from the Jackson Hole Nordic Center (Teton Village; 307/739-2629; $8 for a day pass). If you'd rather snowshoe, call upon Hole Hiking Experience (307/690-4453; www.holehike.com; $60 for a half-day, $85 for a full day, including snowshoe rental, snacks, and transportation). Biologist Cathy Shill or one of her naturalist guides will show you how to track moose, and will share knowledge of the region's winter wildlife and ecology.

HEAR THE SLEIGH BELLS RING When you've worn yourself out, have someone else do the work. National Elk Refuge Sleigh Rides (three miles north of Jackson on Hwy. 26/89; 307/733-5386; one-hour ride $12) has daily departures through the 25,000-acre preserve, where you'll be able to view some of the park's 6,500 migrating elk as well as coyotes and bald eagles.

JUST SAY "MUSH" Jackson Hole Iditarod Sled Dog Tours (800/554-7388 or 307/733-7388; www.jhsleddog.com; half-day excursions $135 per person, full-day $225, including lunch) is run by eight-time Iditarod veteran Frank Teasley. Let one of his mushers take you through the wilderness, where you can help command the dogs or just sit back and enjoy the ride.

Hole for the Holidays
If you're going to be in Jackson this Christmas, make your way to Jackson Hole Mountain on Christmas Eve. At dusk, ski instructors bearing torches will stream down the slopes, creating a ribbon of light. A similar, although smaller, children's parade winds its way along the lower runs from Teton Village that same night. On Christmas Day, the Snow King Resort (800/522-5464; www.snowking.com; brunch for two $50) and the Wort Hotel (brunch for two $56) each host holiday brunch buffets. You'll find Santa in the Stage Stop Building, near the antler arches of the town square, December 15 through 24.


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