Off-the-slopes fun

You don’t have to ski to enjoy the snow

Just 60 miles from Yellowstone National Park and surrounded by Grand Teton National Park and Bridger-Teton National Forest, the choice of outdoor winter sports in Jackson Hole, Wyo., is as vast as the mountain scenery. We were there for a weekend and could have gone snow-shoeing, ice skating, tubing, cross-country skiing or taken a sleigh ride. Instead, we chose two very different modes of alpine travel: snowmobiling and dog sledding.

We rented snowmobiles from Grand Teton Snowmobile Rental to explore the back country on the Continental Divide Trail System winding through parts of Bridger-Teton National Forest, the largest contiguous national forest in the lower 48 states.

Will rode with his father, sitting between him and the windshield, and I drove my own machine. While it was certainly fun and Will loved "snow speeding," I found snowmobiling with a young child somewhat stressful. We tried to limit our speed to less than 30 miles per hour, but it's tempting to "zoom." With Will yelling "Faster, Daddy, faster" above the roar of the engine, I was constantly monitoring the speedometer and his father's driving. Bob respected my maternal safety concerns and let me take the lead to control the speed demon in both my boys.

The snowmobile rental ($89 per driver plus tax and fuel, $25 per passenger) includes the machine, snowmobiling suits, helmets, boots and gloves and about 3.5 hours of ride time. The suits insulated us from the brisk wind and the snowmobile's hand and seat warmers kept us toasty while we toured parts of the 50-mile, self-guided trail winding through forests, foothills and meadows.

While snowmobiling was exhilarating, dog sledding was serene. The only sounds in the mountain meadow were the slosh of the heavy snow spewing aside as 12 huskies pulled our 450-pound sled. We took turns mushing during the 90-minute adventure. Will yelled out with Iditarod spirit "Gee" (right), "Haw" (left) and "MUUUUUSH!"

The ride was relaxing and educational as our guide Luke Moorhead explained the history of dog-powered transport, how sleds are built and canine care.

Arrive early at the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort's Saddlehorn Activity Center to pet the friendly dogs. Costs for the meadow dog sled ride are $120 adults, $80 ages 10 and under (reservations required).

If you choose to snowshoe instead, the resort offers free guided tours at 10 a.m. Saturdays and 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Wednesday and Friday (rent snowshoes and poles for $16).

Kit Bernardi


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