A Winter Guide to Grand Teton National Park
Snow has a way of transforming even the most stunning and familiar landscapes into worlds beyond recognition. This is especially true for Grand Teton National Park. The jagged Teton Mountain Range, pristine alpine lakes and forrested trails all take on a muffled stillness when covered in layers of ice and snow. Diminished crowds and expanded possibilities for adventure make the winter months an ideal time to visit Grand Teton National Park.
Flights to nearby Jackson Hole via Jackson Hole Airport are offered year-round, making air travel to this part of the state easy no matter the season. U.S. Highway 89/191 and U.S. Highway 287/26, which both lead to the Moran Entrance Station, are open and plowed throughout the year.
Is Grand Teton National Park Open in the Winter?
Yes, Grand Teton National Park is open during the winter months; however, road access within the park is limited. U.S. Highway 89/191 and U.S. Highway 287/26 are open from Jackson or Dubois to Flagg Ranch, allowing for visitors to enter the park via the Moran Entrance Station and drive about 16 miles north of Colter Bay Village. Although these roads are maintained, winter storms can appear quickly in the mountains. It’s advisable to drive a vehicle that’s well-equipped for winter conditions and to travel with a winter safety kit. Most roads within the park are closed to traffic.
While most of the park is open to skiers and snowshoers, it is important to note that portions of the park do close completely during the winter months to protect wildlife. Wolff Ridge, Static Peak, Prospectors Mountain and portions of the Snake River are among these closures.
Traveling in the Park
With Grand Teton National Park’s inner park road remaining unplowed during the winter months, travel within the park can be done via snowshoe, ski or snowmobile. The 15-mile stretch of unplowed road from Taggart Lake Trailhead parking to Signal Mountain Lodge is groomed and open to non-motorized use from November 1 through May 1, making this area a snow-covered oasis for for snowshoers and cross-country skiers.
Snowshoeing and Cross-country Skiing
Avid summer hikers will love the chance to strap on a pair of snowshoes or cross-country skis to best explore a snow-covered Grand Teton National Park. In addition to the route from Taggart Lake Trailhead to Signal Mountain Lodge, trails can be found at Colter Bay, Flagg Ranch and Antelope Flats Road. Consider a ranger-guided snowshoe walk if you’re interested in learning more about the park’s ecology. Snowshoes can be rented from the park for a small fee for those taking part in this ranger-led program, which is available from late-December through mid-March. Be sure to make reservations in advance by calling the park at 307-739-3399.
The same lakes that offer boating options with mountainous views during the summer can be accessed for ice fishing in the winter. Jackson Lake, Jenny Lake and Phelps Lake are among the best options for ice fishing in Grand Teton National Park. Be sure to attain a fishing license and rent the necessary gear (including an auger, rod and reel) before heading onto the ice. Or find a guide to share expertise and take some pressure off of gathering the proper gear.
Moose, elk, bison, wolves, trumpeter swans and other local wildlife are exciting to watch during the winter months, when more extreme conditions play a role in already fascinating behavior. Go out for a stroll on your own or learn about Grand Teton National Park’s fauna by going on a guided tour. Jackson Hole Eco Tour Wildlife Adventures (who also offer guided snowshoeing and cross-country skiing trips) and Jackson Hole Wildlife Safaris are among several area companies offering expert guiding services.
Limited vehicle access to roads makes snowmobiling an appealing option within Wyoming’s national parks. In Grand Teton National Park, Grassy Lake Road is open to any snowmobile without the requirement of a guide. Other parts of the park have more strict guidelines, including the requirement of Best Available Technology (BAT) snowmobiles. See Grand Teton National Park’s snowmobiling brochure for more information.
Two lodges are open within Grand Teton National Park during the winter months: Triangle X Ranch and Dornan’s Spur Ranch Cabins, which is open December through March during the winter season. Be sure to book in advance, as lodging in the park fills up quickly. For those who don’t mind pitching a tent in the snow, primitive camping sites are available at Colter Bay.