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Playing it Cool in Jackson Hole, Wyoming

Sometimes when our engines quieted and we all fell silent at the same time, we could hear the howling of the snow dogs from far away, the wind carrying their calls over the spectacular snow-covered peaks and troughs that were our playground for a couple of hours.

Most of the time, it was the beautiful roars of snowmobiles zipping across the smothered fields that broke the tranquil, cold winter silence.

We were up at the Togwotee High Mountain in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, in an empty field that was, apart from its enduring evergreens, completely buried in glistening powder on an exquisite blue-sky day for a snowmobiling tour with Scenic Safari. For amateurs, we were barreling far too carelessly and playfully on the snow, grinning like fools while struggling on steep slopes and tipping over at clumsy turns.

And God help us, it was glorious.

Who knew that snowmobiling could be such a liberating and exhilarating experience? Well, those who regularly hit the slopes are privy to this fact, and it’s one of the sundry reasons why many make the pilgrimage to this magnificent mountain region that claims to have the best snow in the country.

Hit the Slopes

Snowmobiling might have been the most memorable experience for us but it isn’t the only flurried fun to be had in Jackson Hole.

For the record, while its claims to have the best snow might be debatable to some, its superabundant snowfall, excellent trails and staggering terrain reminiscent of the Alps aren’t. And it remains the best in the country to shred some powder.

We hit the slopes 20 minutes away at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort whose claims to fame are its world-famous vertical trails and access to amazing backcountry terrain.

As Joe Madera, General Manager of the SpringHill Suites and former Board Chair of the Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce, puts it, “Jackson is like skiing in Europe.”

Slumber in Style

All these adventures almost always begin in Jackson, the main jumping off point to nearby adventures and all around cool town. Ours did at SpringHill Suites by Marriott Jackson Hole where we slumbered in comfort and style.

The contemporary property is only a hop, skip and a jump from the surprisingly bustling downtown as well as the Grand Teton National Park and the Teton Village.

Its convenient location, affordability and locavorean flairs—from its beer and wine tastings at the pool deck to the elk antlers that bedeck it—make it a great Jackson Hole base. It also boasts its own outdoor heated pool and hot tub, which obviously allows for endless unwinding.

However, it’s the suites that really give fierce competitors a run for their money. Each spacious suite on the property is flourished with high-quality furniture. The West Elm sofa beds are sizable and come with a lovely wood tray and an ottoman, while every cozy bed is appointed with a modern headboard, cushy pillows and overhead lights. We especially loved the work desks, each of which comes with a comfortable, Mid-Century Modern chair and a sliding frosted glass divider for privacy.

These suites were just the perfect hideaways to tuck ourselves in after each adventure-filled day.

READ MORE: Is This the Best Ski Town in America?

Explore the Great Outdoors

The great outdoors is never far, and the wild is always beckoning, so we often found ourselves heading back out to heed the call.

Hitting the National Elk Refuge with Jackson Hole Wildlife Safaris, we were excited to spot small herds of elk as well as a gang of bison, a bald eagle and a lone bighorn sheep, even though the snow in the mountains still wasn’t copious enough to drive most of them into the valley.

On a typical day in the middle of winter, however, the area is one of the best places to spot wildlife. (Some might say it’s even better than Yellowstone.) The refuge is not only home to elk, 7,300 strong, it also plays host to moose, bighorn sheep, bison and wolves, making it a legendary destination for wildlife viewing.

Early in the season, those with a keen eye might even spot a grizzly filling up on fish by the river before it goes into hibernation.

Eat Your Weight in Good Food

Back in Jackson, there are plenty of refueling spots for us humans as well. In fact, for such a small town, it is surprisingly teeming with excellent places to eat.

For dinner, pop into Gather where the heaping family-style plates of Brussels sprouts, house-cut fries, Korean ribs and pork buns are just as comforting and delicious as the mains. Or make a beeline for contemporary Trio to sample their luscious cured duck breast, risotto and grilled pork chop.

For truly hearty, homegrown fare, Snake River Grill is the spot. The only things better than their shared starters and main courses are their desserts. Must-try dishes include their truffle fries, bacon wrapped dates, steaks and crème Brulee.

A terrific lunch option is Local Restaurant & Bar, which makes excellent French onion soup, burgers and fries.

READ MORE: Four Must-Have Experiences in Jackson Hole

Party with the Locals

Any Jackson Hole regular will tell you that rubbing elbows and partying with the locals is absolutely necessary to round out the experience. To do so means to stop by The Virginian on Broadway Street, ingest some liquid courage and belt out Sweet Caroline on karaoke in earnest.

But the question still remains: does Jackson Hole truly have the best snow in the country?

I’m hardly an expert in the matter. What I can say is that it is a wild and woolly land where grand panoramas are often paired with grand experiences; an incredible place where sagebrush-covered fields sparkle in the sun and meadows host an overabundance of majestic creatures as the breathtaking, jagged peaks of the Tetons keep a vigilant watch.

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