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Of the few communities in the Rockies that have successfully toed the line between promoting themselves as resort towns and retaining some semblance of indigenous character, Jackson is a standout. The million-dollar homes are sprouting all over the valley, but there is still open space, a memory of the cowboy past, and some resistance to letting in too much commercial glitz.

The remaining open spaces allow visitors to imagine what it was like early in the 19th century, when fur trappers first camped here. They were followed by ranchers, who soon became dude ranchers. Today, the community holds an interesting mixture of ski bums, blue bloods, nouveau riche, avid outdoor types, and even a few old-time cowboys. The cosmopolitans of this motley crew came not just with a hunger for scenery, but also with a taste for music, art, and good restaurants, too, and the selection here is unrivaled in Wyoming. The big ski hill lures a younger crowd, with the final ingredient for resort status -- celebrities -- supplied by transplants like Harrison Ford.

Especially for Kids

Snow King may not have the best skiing in the valley, but it caters to kids and families. In the summer, kids can frolic on the Snow King's Alpine Miniature Golf Course and Alpine Slide (tel. 307/733-5200). A round of 18 holes is $8 for adults, $7 for seniors, $6 for kids 6 to 13, and $3 for kids 5 and under. The Alpine Slide is the golf course's untamed neighbor. It's a wild ride down the 2,500-foot ophidian highway running from the top of the blue-and-yellow chairlift to the bottom of Snow King Mountain; it's like a water slide without the water. A trip down the slide is $15 per person.

In the winter, there are ski schools for kids with day-care options at all the ski resorts. Once again, Snow King has a few extras: a tubing hill ($21 for 2 hr. adults, $18 kids 13 and under) and an ice-skating rink, which opens in October and features skating ($6 adults, $4 kids 13 and under; skate rentals $3) and hockey until spring. For more information, call tel. 307/733-3000.

 

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.