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Sunday, August 18, 1996 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Wyoming -- Following The Clintons' Trail In Jackson Hole

Dallas Morning News

JACKSON, Wyo. - The Clintons - Bill, Hillary and Chelsea - had such a good time here last August they decided to come back this month for their summer vacation.

Last summer they fished and hiked. They ran the rapids on the Snake River. They camped out at Laurence and Mary Rockefeller's JY Ranch. They dashed up to Yellowstone National Park, where the president helped feed "bison road kill" to wolf cubs. They hiked around Jenny Lake in Grand Teton National Park.

Clinton also played so many holes of golf the press corps had trouble keeping count.

In search of bears, more tee-times or just some restful time off during the Republican National Convention, the Clintons returned last week to Jackson Hole - and they're veteran explorers this time around.

They considered other vacation options, but Jackson Hole - the name given to the high mountain valley area in the shadows of the Tetons - won out.

With only a couple of exceptions (camping out at the Rockefeller ranch and chowing down with actor Harrison Ford), tourists can do exactly what the Clintons did.

Among highlights from the Clintons' 17-day vacation playbook last year which visitors can duplicate: Moose and more

In a Chevy Suburban, one evening the Clintons took off in search of bison. They were not disappointed. Besides bison, they also spotted a baby moose and what one reporter in the presidential motorcade described as a very large, Theodore Roosevelt-style bull moose.

The place to go: At Gros Ventre Junction north of Jackson, turn east off U.S. Highway 191 and take the road to Kelly. At Kelly, the road turns north and eventually intersects with Antelope Flats Road. Turn left and head back to the highway.

Be forewarned: Both moose and bison can be dangerous. The National Park Service warns bison are not as tame as they look, can weigh 2,000 pounds and can sprint at 30 mph. Shoot the rapids

The first family wasn't about to miss out on what most families do when they visit Jackson Hole in the summer: white-water rafting on the Snake River.

Besides the thrill of seeing the front end of the raft shoot straight up after hitting the Big Kahuna rapid, the 8-mile experience is yet another way to see wildlife. The Clintons spotted one bald eagle on their adventure before it ended at Sheep Gulch, the takeout point.

As with other tourists, the commander-in-chief took paddling orders from river guides, and even the first lady got drenched before the ride was over.

Several outfitters in the Jackson Hole area offer rafting trips.

Chow time

As do many other tourists, the Clintons found their way to Dornan's Chuck Wagon. The first family sat at a picnic table, soaked up the sunset view of the Tetons and sampled the all-you-can-eat $10.75 buffet of barbecued short ribs, mashed potatoes, gravy and cowboy beans.

Dornan's is in Moose, 12 miles north of Jackson. To get there, take Route 191 north and turn left at - where else - Moose Junction.

Watching the cowboys

The first family spent one night watching barrel racing and calf roping at the JH Rodeo, where cowboys rode horses with names such as Storm Cloud and Preparation H.

The rodeo - with cowboys, horses and bulls - takes place at 8 p.m. Wednesdays and Saturdays in Jackson. Ask for the family package to save on ticket prices.

Musical interludes

The president and Chelsea took in a ragtime concert at the Grand Teton Music Festival in Teton Village. The festival takes place every summer.

The Clintons also heard a popular all-female group called The Cow Patsies, who performed at a 75th anniversary women's suffrage event at Jackson Lake Lodge in Grand Teton National Park.

A bit of culture

The first family, needless to say, spent little time indoors during the Wyoming trek. But they did drop by the National Museum of Wildlife Art north of Jackson. The museum houses a 1,300-piece wildlife art collection. And it overlooks the National Elk Refuge, where in winter some 9,000 elk range.

Eat, eat, eat

Besides Dornan's, the Clintons tried a number of the local restaurants. They ate brunch at the elegantly rustic Jenny Lake Lodge. After the rodeo, they stopped at the trendy Cadillac Grille, which serves "eclectic new American" specialties such as grilled wapiti (American elk) and caribou with a brandy-peppercorn sauce and buffalo.

There are many restaurants Clinton has yet to try. But election-year politics may dictate he skip a Chinese restaurant called the Lame Duck. ----------------------------------------------------------------- More information Jackson Hole Area Chamber of Commerce, 532 N. Cache, P.O. Box E, Jackson, WY 83001. Phone (307) 733-3316.

Copyright (c) 1996 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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