5 Must-Do Winter Activities at the Grand Teton National Park (2022)
Winters in Wyoming are a magical time, especially when you get to explore the beautiful Grand Teton National Park. In the winter, there are many unique and exciting opportunities that you must explore at the Grand Teton National Park. You get to also see a quieter side of this breathtakingly beautiful park as there is a sudden drop in the number of visitors the park sees as few travelers are able to brave the cold and snow. While the summer months see more than 800,000 visitors, the winter months witness just around 50,000 people at the park.
It is a sight to behold indeed as you see the majestic Teton Range all covered in snow, wildlife in their winter element, and the peaceful lull that falls over the national park. However, there are hurdles to cross as well. Many of the park services are not open during the winter, and many roads are also closed to cars, allowing them to be used for recreation and by the wildlife. For many visitors, though, these challenges are nothing compared to the thought of cross-country skiing and snowshoeing in the foothills of the Tetons. Along with this, there is the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see wolves, moose, and elk roaming around against the stunning, stark white backdrop.
Traveling through Grand Teton National Park in the Winter
Since the inner park road of the Grand Teton National Park remains unplowed in the winter months, any travel inside the park has to be done via snowmobile, ski, or snowshoe. The 15-mile stretch of the unplowed road stretches from the parking at Taggart Lake Trailhead to the Signal Mountain Lodge. This stretch remains open for non-motorized use from November 1 to May 1, and the entire area transforms into a snow-covered oasis for cross-country skiers and snowshoers.
5 Must-Do Winter Activities at the Grand Teton National Park
Here’s a complete winter guide for travelers planning to visit the Grand Teton National Park in the winter.
1. Cross-country Skiing and Snowshoeing
If you are a dedicated summer hiker, then you will love the opportunity to put on a pair of snowshoes or get into cross-country skis to explore the snow-covered Grand Teton National Park. Apart from the route that takes you from Taggart Lake Trailhead to the Signal Mountain Lodge, there are many other trails that you can find at Flagg Ranch, Colter Bay, and Antelope Flats Road.
You can even consider taking a ranger-guided snowshoe walk if you are keen on learning more about the ecology of this beautiful national park. And don’t worry if you don’t have your own snowshoes, as snowshoes can be easily rented from the park for a small fee, but this is only for those who are taking part in the ranger-led exploration program. This ranger-led exploration is available from late December to mid-March. However, make sure to call and reserve your spot first, as places fill up quickly.
2. Wildlife Watching
The winter months make it even more special to watch the abundant wildlife of the park roam around the stark white snow. Moose, bison, elk, wolves, trumpeter swans, and many other local wildlife come out during this time. You can go for a stroll yourself, or you can also book a guided tour to learn more about the Grand Teton National Park’s fauna. Ecotour Adventures and Jackson Hole Wildlife Safaris are some of the companies that offer such expert guiding services to the wildlife in the area, and if this is your first time visiting the park, it is a great idea to book a tour to get an up close experience with the wildlife here.
3. Sleigh Rides
For getting an once-in-a-lifetime unique opportunity for winter wildlife watching just outside of the Grand Teton National Park, you must check out the National Elk Refuge. This refuge is one of the most important habitats for a wide variety of wildlife in the entire Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, and in the winter especially, it transforms into a shelter for a large herd of wintering elk. Visitors who come to this wildlife refuge prefer to book a winter sleigh ride to get a closer look at the elk and to learn more about this wintering Wyoming elk herd.
4. Ice Fishing
An exciting activity offered in Grand Teton National Park in the winter months is ice fishing. The same mesmerizing lakes that offer boating options to visitors in the summers to take in the beautiful mountainous views now transform to give access for ice fishing in the winter. Jenny Lake, Jackson Lake, and Phelps Lake are some of the best options for ice fishing in the park. However, before you can indulge in this incredible winter activity, you have to get a fishing license and rent the required gear, including a rod, an auger, and a reel before you head onto the ice. It is also possible to find a guide at the park, who will help you get experienced and also help you find the necessary gear. There are many places near the park that let you rent ice fishing gear.
Perhaps one of the most exciting winter activities at the Grand Teton National Park is that of snowmobiling. Since there is limited vehicle access to the roads inside the parks, snowmobiling is an appealing option to explore the interiors of all the national parks in Wyoming. At the Grand Teton National Park, the Grassy Lake Road is open to allow any snowmobile to ply without needing a guide. Some of the other parts of the park have more strict guidelines in place, one of which includes the requirement of having only the BAT (Best Available Technology) snowmobiles to run these areas.
If you decide to visit the Grand National Teton Park while braving the snow and cold of the famous Wyoming winters, you can find accommodation at two lodges that remain open during these cold months. These are the Triangle X Ranch and Dornan’s Spur Ranch Cabins. These lodges open in December and close in March. Be sure to book your stay in advance as the lodging in the park tends to fill up very quickly. Otherwise, for those who don’t mind camping out in the snow, there are many camping sites available at Colter Bay and other places throughout the Grand Teton National Park.