The snow-covered landscape of Grand Teton National Park draws cross-country skiers and snowshoers throughout the winter.
Cross-country skiing is popular on park roads and trails in the winter. The main thoroughfare—Teton Park Road—provides stellar views of the Teton Range and is groomed weekly for both parallel and skate skiing (with sections for hikers and snowshoers) from Taggart Lake to Signal Mountain, a distance of 14 miles. Park three miles northwest of Moose at the Taggart Lake Trailhead, where plowing ends.
More adventurous skiers will enjoy side trails to Jenny Lake (eight miles round-trip) or the more challenging Taggart Lake-Beaver Creek loop (three miles, with an elevation change of almost 400 feet).
Another fun area is the Moose-Wilson Road, an easy four-mile round-trip ski from the Granite Canyon Trailhead (where plowing stops). Just don’t ski into the canyon, since avalanches are a hazard. A good optional side route is the trail to Phelps Lake overlook (five miles round-trip with an elevation change of 520 feet).
For unsurpassed vistas of the Tetons, try skiing to the top of 8,252-foot Shadow Mountain, 14 miles northeast of Jackson. From the town of Kelly, drive another five miles north to a parking area (the road isn’t plowed beyond this point), and then ski up the nearby Forest Service road that snakes up the mountain. It’s fairly steep in places and seven miles round-trip. Snowmobilers also use this road, so be ready to move out of the way quickly.
Most park ski routes (other than Teton Road) are not machine-groomed but are often well packed by other skiers. After a new snowfall, you’ll need to break trail as you follow the orange markers. Pick up a brochure describing ski trails from the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center, or find the information on the park website (www.nps.gov/grte). If you’re planning to camp overnight in the park, you’ll need to get a free permit from the visitor center.
Park naturalists lead two-hour snowshoe hikes late December-March (snowshoes provided, $5 donation). No experience is needed. These daily hikes depart the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center at 1:30 p.m. Reservations are required; children must be eight or over. Call 307/739-3399 for details on these and other winter activities in the park.
Snowmobiles have very limited access to Grand Teton National Park. Grassy Lake Road within John D. Rockefeller Jr. Memorial Parkway is open to snowmobilers between Flagg Ranch and Ashton, Idaho. The only other snowmobile access is for ice fishing on Jackson Lake. For the latest, pick up the snowmobiling handout at the visitor center.
© Don Pitcher from Moon Yellowstone & Grand Teton, 5th Edition