Dream Honeymoons: Elks, Ski Jumps and Snowshoes in Wyoming
You knew you couldn’t go wrong when you saw photos of Four Seasons Jackson Hole, which anchors the foot of Jackson Hole’s Rendezvous Mountain with the gravity of a grove of colossal pine trees. Though not pint-sized, it evokes a rustic cabin atmosphere, which is exactly what you had in mind for a cozy, yet active, winter honeymoon near Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks. The hotel, luxurious, but earthy, rambles along the slope like the mighty Snake River nearby. It offers every amenity imaginable for honeymoon repose. You arrive on a snowy day, early enough to take advantage of en-suite boot and ski fitting — literally, you try on ski boots in your swanky room, as you overlook the slopes. She’s thrilled. “Let’s get going!” she says. You throw on your ski layers and walk out the back door of your hotel to the gondola.
For several hours, you partake of some of Jackson Hole Mountain Resort’s 133 runs. Good thing you are adept skiers, as this well-groomed retreat, renowned for its challenging inclines, has very few beginner hills. The snow, a type of powder sometimes called “champagne,” has a light, effervescent texture. You liken skiing through it to a magic carpet ride. By day’s end, the two of you are ready to relax. That means a splash fight in the Four Seasons’ meandering, heated, outdoor pool. Afterwards, that 20-minute soak in the hot tub, surrounded by snow, ensures total bliss. You end the evening, with dinner at the hotel’s Westbank Grill, which serves you the best filet mignon in recent memory. But the day is not over yet. You’ve made special arrangements for a surprise for her. When you return to the room, she opens the door to discover rose petals strewn throughout the suite, the large bathtub filled with hot water and bubbles, a bottle of champagne and chocolates — her favorite.
The next day, you hit the slopes early. As fearless skiers, both of you have a long held bucket list item of tackling the world’s most terrifying (read: rewarding) ski adventures. Today you plan to barrel down Corbet’s Couloir, an acclaimed chute, distinguished for its nearly vertical top. Often closed during bad conditions, this double black diamond run, flanked by soaring rock walls, beckons. You’ve hired a ski guide, not just to show you the best way down, but to coach and encourage you as you attack Corbet’s — just in case you falter. As it happens, she’s braver than you. She dives in first, free-falling for 10 or 20 feet to a narrow landing strip, then whooshing in pretty s-shapes down the rest of the slope, as it flattens out to mere expert level status. The guide looks at you with raised eyebrows. He’s impressed! You knew you’d married the right woman. Impressed yourself, you follow in her ski steps, testing your mettle. After a big inhale, you plunge into the air, flying for at least 15 feet, then landing — not as steadily as she did, but — with a modicum of athletic prowess. You grin all the way down the mountain.
While the euphoria of conquering Courbet’s Couloir seems impossible to top, you discover otherwise. The concierge has organized a late afternoon horse drawn sleigh ride across the wilderness expanses of northern Montana to the acclaimed National Elk Refuge. The romantic ride through the snow, beside mountains and snow-covered trees, ends amid a herd of hundreds (thousands?) of elk. The majestic animals mill about as you take photos. Your jaws drop in awe. After the elk sightings, your horses deliver you to a private teepee camp, where the Four Seasons has set up a multi-course gourmet dinner. The clear night sky boasts more stars than you knew existed.
During your stay, you mosey into Jackson to shop its streets, pose beneath the iconic antler arch, and eat in its truly memorable restaurants. (The goose leg confit at landmark The Snake River Grill won’t be forgotten.) You skip the ski slopes one day to go dog sledding, something the Four Seasons’ arranged. The exhilarating, all day trip includes lunch. You end up at Granite Springs, a natural, geo-thermal pool, with healing waters. Another day you showshoe, you also ride innertubes down the mountain, ice skate in the village and enjoy a spa treatment called the Tree of Life, which invokes the Japanese tradition of forest bathing. But the last day, all you want to do is ski. It’s that good. You’ll be back “Seems like a good place to bring the kids — someday,” she says, winking at you.