Grand Teton National Park is a year-round playground for Jackson locals. While summer brings caravans of RVers and visitors galore, winter in Grand Teton is the quieter season when locals go for a cross-country ski under the famous peaks or even along the park road while it's closed to vehicles. Other enticing options: hop aboard a fat bike, strap on some snowshoes, or grab your four-legged friend for a snowy walk. Without the crowds and commotion during summer, the park transforms into a magical winter wonderland under a blanket of white and adds a whole new sense of wonder to any exploration.
But enjoying adventure in winter can take a little more prep and planning. The park offers advice on the essentials of a winter outing, including water and high-energy snacks, sunscreen, a first-aid kit, space blanket, headlamp, navigational equipment, sunglasses, and extra warm clothes, among other items. Also important to note: The park doesn't mark or flag trails in the winter time, so be sure you know where you're going (and be mindful that winter weather can make visibility tough and quickly fill in your tracks!).
As always, be sure to check the weather and avalanche forecast before venturing out and, if you're heading into avalanche terrain, be sure you have the skills, experience, knowledge, and equipment to stay safe. With that, here are nine awesome adventures to check out in Grand Teton in winter.
1. Join a ranger-led snowshoe hike.
Let a ranger show you the way on a ranger-guided snowshoe hike . From mid-December through mid-March, hikes are offered several times a week from the Taggart Lake Trailhead. This winter, the two-hour hikes are typically held on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays at 1:30 pm and 3:30 pm. Call 307-739-3399 for more information or to sign up. Snowshoe rentals are often available for a suggested donation of $5.
2. Savor fresh lines on a backcountry ski.
Experienced backcountry skiers can find some great lines in the park. Local skiers enjoy 25 Short, which is known as one of the easier Grand Teton National Park peaks, but be aware that it still requires extensive backcountry experience. Wimpy's is another favorite that offers a 3,000-foot line combined with one of the shorter approaches in the park. Maverick is located between 25 Short and Wimpy's, and it's another local favorite. Before heading out, be sure to check the avalanche forecast and have the appropriate skills, knowledge, equipment, and experience to travel safely in avalanche terrain.
3. Cross-country ski to Jenny Lake.
Kick and glide under the Tetons on this eight-mile round-trip journey to Jenny Lake . Begin at the Bradley and Taggart Lakes trailhead and enjoy spectacular scenery on this fairly flat route that only features 200 feet of elevation change.
4. Explore Moose-Wilson Road on skis or snowshoes.
Skate skiers and classic skiers alike will enjoy gliding along Moose-Wilson Road. Several miles of the road are closed in winter, offering a great place for cross-country skiing or snowshoeing. You can start from the Granite Canyon Trailhead (past Teton Village) or from the the northern end of the road off of the Teton Park Road.
5. Go for a snowy walk with a four-legged friend.
Not a skier or snowshoeing fan? Don't fret: Unless there's been a recent heavy snowfall, you can typically walk along the snow-covered park road without snowshoes. The road is groomed for classic and skate skiing, and one lane is reserved for skiing while the other lane is open to walkers and snowshoers.
Bring your dog along for the adventure, too, if you have it on a leash under six feet long. You do have to stay on the road, though. (Dogs are only allowed on Teton Park Road and Moose-Wilson Road).
6. Snowshoe to Taggart Lake.
The plowed Teton Park Road ends right at Bradley and Taggart Lakes Trailhead, which is a perfect place to get out and explore. Snowshoe to Taggart Lake for a four-mile route with rolling hills or head out on the four-mile Taggart-Beaver Creek Loop, which includes about 500 feet of climbing along sometimes steep hills.
7. Picnic on the Phelps Lake Overlook.
Head up to Phelps Lake Overlook and enjoy gorgeous views of the lake without the crowds of summer. This 5.2-mile round trip snowshoe has about 730 feet of climbing. Looking for a slightly mellower route? Head to Phelps Lake itself, which is a moderate four-mile round trip with 300 feet of climbing.
8. Pedal around the park with a fat-tire bike.
Pedal your way along the park roads on a fat-tire bike. Many miles are open to bikers, but be sure to reference the park's map to see where bikes are allowed in winter. Snow bikes are not allowed to travel over snow in the park, so stick to plowed roads and be sure to observe winter wildlife closures.
9. Fuel up post-adventure at Dornan's.
After a day of play, stop at Dornan's for some pizza and an adult beverage. Perched on a bar stool, you can see the Cathedral Group of the Tetons through the panoramic windows on a clear day. Be sure to stop by on Mondays for Hootenanny open-mic nights.