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Jackson Hole gets its name from Davey Jackson, a fur trapper who settled this beautiful valley — known locally as a “hole” — at the base of the Tetons in the early 1800s. And anyone who’s experienced God’s little corner of Wyoming knows that trappers still thrive here. Only now their snares take the form of upscale ski resorts, restaurants, emporiums, and outfitters. But, hey, there are far worse places to get caught — especially after Labor Day. The crowds of kayakers, climbers, bikers, and other adrenaline addicts thin out; the streams of RVs bound for Yellowstone dry up; and the runs at Snow King, Grand Targhee, and Jackson Hole Ski Resort sit idle. Autumn allows the valley to return to its natural order. Elk roam across mountains gilded by turning aspen. Black bears tramp through sage flats. Locals cast for steelheads on the Snake River. Tee times clear at Teton Pines. Tables open at Bubba’s Barbecue and the Mangy Moose Restaurant. And art flowers. From September 8 to 17, the sixteenth annual Jackson Hole Fall Arts Festival takes over the valley. Showcasing works from 35 major galleries, this isn’t some Sunday street fair. It’s an out-and-out celebration of the natural surroundings and Old West charm that inspire painters, sculptors, photographers, and other artists from around the world. Whether or not you can make it to the festival, Jackson’s galleries brim with works by Malcolm Furlow, Beth Loftin, William Matthews, Anne Coe, and hundreds of other modern-day Remingtons. The Martin-Harris (Tel. 307-733-0350) and Mountain Trails Galleries (Tel. 307-734-8150), both right off the Town Square, appeal to serious collectors, while those looking for something a bit quirkier should check out Jonathan the Bear Man’s ursine creations at the West Lives On Gallery (Tel. 307-734-2888). About three miles north of Jackson and overlooking the National Elk Refuge, The National Museum of Wildlife Art (Tel. 307-733-5771) is as dramatic on the inside as it is outside. This fall, an exhibit titled “Powerful Images” will examine representations of Native Americans from within their own cultures and by others. Still, to spend all your time in Jackson Hole looking at paintings of the place is like bringing a television to a baseball game. One of the best places to experience the full spectacle of nature’s “off-season” bounty is the Spring Creek Ranch, a secluded, impeccably appointed resort that sits about 700 feet above the valley floor. Every unit has a fireplace and affords spectacular views of the snow-capped Tetons, including the 13,770-foot Grand Teton and the rock formation known as the “Sleeping Indian.” Spring Creek offers guided horseback tours, bracing hikes through the valley, as well as satisfying ways to slake an appetite in The Granary, a nationally renowned restaurant serving up such local fare as antelope carpaccio, elk tenderloin, and huckleberry cr�me brul�e. The ultra-luxe Amangani resort (Tel. 307-734-7333) shares Spring Creek’s lofty perch. The name comes from a Sanskrit-Shoshone composite meaning “peaceful home.” But even during “low season,” you’ll find that peace comes at a very steep price. Besides, the places that afford true peace lie outside the walls of any hotel or restaurant. They’re the ones you hike through in Grand Teton National Park, or bicycle past en route to the National Elk Refuge. They’re what serves as muse to the thousands of artists exhibiting in Jackson and as haven to at least that many fish, birds, and furry mammals. Jackson Hole’s natural endowments may have led to commercialization, but they also offset it. You just have to go at the right time. You can fly directly to Jackson Hole from Dallas and Chicago (American), Salt Lake City (Delta), and Denver (United). Call the airlines for connecting flight information. For more on the Fall Arts Festival, contact the Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce (Tel. 307-733-3316). Jackson abounds with great restaurants, among them Nani’s (242 North Glenwood, Tel. 307-733-3888), and the Snake River Grill (84 E. Broadway, Tel. 307-733-0557). For a complete listing, go to www.jacksonholewy.net.

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