A friend put it this way: "Jackson will either suck you in, or it'll chew you up and spit you out."
She was right about the chewing and spitting. Tins of Copenhagen are as big a part of Jackson as beat-up pick-up trucks, drive-through liquor stores, and dark, smokey bars are. Everything about Jackson-from the ski terrain to the long, open highways you have to drive to get here-is burly.
The town of Jackson is 10 miles from the ski resort, a bonus if you've had it with chichi resort villages. Though not immune to the yuppification of the American mountain town, Jackson has maintained its rough-and-tumble feel: The elk-antlered town square and cowboy bars and Old West architecture have character; the motels and car dealerships and greasy spoons don't. All of which effectively camouflages the money that's infiltrated the area-Jackson's real estate market is in the same league as Aspen's and Telluride's.
Another measure of the town is its people: Jackson locals include world-class skiers Doug Coombs and Tommy Moe, ski photographers Greg Von Doersten and Wade McKoy, and the ski bums turned filmmakers at Teton Gravity Research. North of town, the reason for these folks' presence explodes from the flat valley plain: the Tetons, some of the biggest, baddest mountains in the Lower 48. If the way-high country is your calling, you, too, could get sucked in.
BUSINESS MOST NEEDED: an espresso cart-newsstand at the Aspens, a condo neighborhood between town and the mountain.
DON'T FORGET TO PACK: hiking boots, so you can get away from the summer Yellowstone crowds.