Grand Teton in Winter
After leaving the Rendezvous Ski Race in West Yellowstone, my family and I drove south to Jackson Hole. The road through Yellowstone is only open to approved and tracked vehicles in winter, which meant that we had to take the two-hour drive into Idaho, through the Teton Pass, and back up to the town of Jackson. Although this roundabout way bypasses Yellowstone itself, we still saw moose and had great views of the iconic Tetons for most of the drive.
We stayed overnight in the resort town of Jackson, bustling with skiers fresh off the slopes. The next morning, we continued up the valley, past the downhill runs at Teton village, the airport, and the elk reserve to the entrance of Grand Teton National Park. Over the last few years, my family has visited more National Parks in winter than we have in summer. Although some services shut down for the winter, and mountain roads are typically closed, you can see the sights without having to deal with hoards of visitors and bumper-to-bumper traffic. It definitely feels much more like “wilderness” and less like a tourist stop in the off season.
In Grand Teton, the road is only open to vehicle traffic for a couple miles past the pay station, but if you have skis or snowshoes, you can continue on for many miles as the summer road is groomed for winter sport. We arrived mid-morning at the Taggart Lake Trailhead, just in time to see a PistenBully returning from the trail, where a skate lane, two classic tracks, and a snowshoe/walking path are maintained on the snow covering the road. After assembling the Chariot, the three of us headed further into the park on our classic skis, with great views of the Tetons towering to the West.
There were a few other families, skiers, and dogs taking advantage of the beautiful late-winter day, but for the most part, it felt like we had the park to ourselves.
With reports of melting snow back home, we may have to put our skis away until next year. If that’s the case, these spectacular views of the mountains were not a bad way to finish the season.
There have been many articles written about loving our National Parks to death (from Chicago Tribune and New York Times). Visiting in winter is a great way to see the parks and avoid the crowds. On this trip we visited also visited Badlands, Arches, Canyonlands, Dinosaur, and Devil’s Tower, never encountering a full parking lot. In some areas that are typically packed full of tourists, like at the Quarry Hall at Dinosaur and The Window Trailhead at Badlands, we were literally the only ones there.