Nature lovers enjoy Wyoming year-round: If you go

PHOTOS BY MCCLATCHY NEWSPAPERS Grand Teton road information: Call (307)739-3614. Temperatures: Maximum temperature in July, 82; August, 81; October, 59; November, 40. Park information: Go to Web sites such as and ...


Grand Teton road information: Call (307)739-3614.

Temperatures: Maximum temperature in July, 82; August, 81; October, 59; November, 40.

Park information: Go to Web sites such as www.grand.teton.national and http://grandteton.area It's wise to do your homework on the Web sites because the National Park personnel are not very helpful.

Admission to Grand Teton National Park: $25 per vehicle for seven days. Winter day use: $5. If you take one of the excursions park admission is extra.


Visitor centers: Moose Visitor Center at the park's south end, open daily all year except Christmas. Colter Bay Visitor Center on Jackson Lake, open mid-May through September. Jenny Lake Visitor Center, open June through Labor Day. Call (307)739-3399.

Jackson Chamber of Commerce: Offers a list of accommodations and is open year-round. Call(307) 733-3316 or go to www.jacksonhole

JACKSON, Wyo. -- Folks who take their nature seriously probably can trek the Himalayas or challenge the steppes of Siberia. But all that adventure can be found closer to home, where the only passport you need is a sturdy pair of knees.

The wondrous state of Wyoming harbors Grand Teton National Park and the town of Jackson at the base of the majestic Grand Teton Mountains. This subrange of the Rockies trails 40 miles across the glacial valley, offering everything from mountain climbing to skiing to wildlife safaris and mountain vistas you've only seen in galleries.

Jackson swells in the summer with family vacationers, but the best time to visit is the fall before official skiing season begins in early December.

The valley is known as Jackson Hole -- hole being an old trapper's word for valley. The town itself is Jackson. Most visitors arriving in November have come to hunt, but the fishing remains good until the 100 back-country lakes ice over. There are three heart-stopping ski areas in the region, none of them for rank beginners.

In fact, most of the permanent residents report they came to Jackson for the skiing and stayed for the lifestyle. The median age in Jackson is 31. There's virtually no unemployment in the area and the population of 20,000 permanent residents swells to more than 3 million visitors per year. Most of them arrive in July or August.

The weather is blustery as you bid adieu to October, but the season is unparalleled for its pristine beauty.


Prices dip after Labor Day and many summer activities continue. There's still time for photo tours, horseback riding and river rafting. One of the best of these is the float trek down the Snake River aboard a rubber inflatable raft guided by a knowledgeable oarsman who knows as much about the area's history as he does about the river.

This trip in the summer runs $49 for adults and $29 for kids. It offers a unique view of the Grand Tetons not accessible by road, so make sure that digital camera is charged up. For details, call (888) 998-7688.

Ninety-seven percent of Teton County is federally owned, and we can thank ol' John D. Rockefeller for having the forethought to buy35,000 acres, which he ceded to the Feds for the national park.

There are great places to stay including the Snow King Resort, the year-round playground at the base of Snow King Mountain that is just six blocks from Jackson's famous town square. A hubbub of activities roils outside your door, including skiing, which dates to the '30s when locals had to scramble to the topon foot.

Now chairlifts take the drudgery out, and you can ski night and day. The hotel offers free shuttles to the airport. Hotel rates from Oct. 14 to Dec. 21 are about $150 per room, while from June through August rooms are about$260. For more information, call (800) 522-5464.

For families and honeymooners, the new Love Ridge condos offer all the comforts of home, plus luxuries not at the homestead. The top rated two-bedroom unit runs about$390 from October through Dec. 21 (this is half the summer price). Call (800) 533-7669 or go to .

Eleven miles northwest of Jackson sits Teton Village with the elegant Teton Mountain Lodge, less than a mile south of the national park. Teton Mountain Lodge lies within walking distance of ski lifts, the Bridger Gondola, mountain biking, rock-climbing classes, kids' activities and shopping. It also sports a massive new state-of-the-art spa. Lodge rooms run$129-$199 from October through November and$199-$399 in the summer. Call (307) 734-7111 or go to .

While you're in Teton Village you won't want to miss the gondola ride to the9,000-foot summit. Here there are three restaurants to revive you, including the fine-dining Couloir Restaurant.


Accommodations are available inside the park, including the art-deco Jackson Lake Lodge, which caters to families. Prices range from $189 to $259 during the summer season. It closes the end of September.

If skiing, snowboarding and mountain climbing occupy the days, the nights are for dining and drinking. For its size the Jackson area is replete with great eateries. At the high end are the Snake River Grill, Cascade Grill House & Sprits at the Teton Mountain Lodge and Westbank Grill at the Four Seasons.

But the real trick here is to eat where the locals go, saving a bundle and experiencing some great grub. Major local secrets include the Teton Thai in Gaslight Alley off the main square, Pica's Mexican Tacqueria and Bubba's Bar-B-Que.

Adventure-filled activities abound from sleigh rides to fly-fishing. Several operators provide wildlife excursions from open-topped vans -- an unforgettable experience with early-morning forays likely to stir up coyote, pronghorn, elk, moose, deer and maybe even a grizzly or a brown bear. Wildlife Expeditions offers year-round visits with a maximum of 10 guests accompanied by a biologist. Call(888) 945-3567 or go to . The Gray Line bus also features an all-day tour for$80. Call (800) 443-6133.

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