Winter in Jackson Hole. The breathtaking peaks of the Teton Range are covered with a deepening snowpack, to the delight of downhill skiers and snowboarders at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. Grizzly and black bears and smaller mammals are hibernating beneath the snow, and herds of elk and bison are retreating to the southern end of the Jackson Hole valley, seeking out winter habitat. Pronghorn antelope and mule deer have migrated south to the Red Desert.
As snow covers the valley of Grand Teton National Park, a winter wonderland has emerged, providing ample opportunities for exploration on cross country skis or snowshoes. The guides at Jackson Hole Ecotour Adventures , Hole Hiking Experience and Wildlife Expeditions of Teton Science Schools have been out exploring Grand Teton National Park on ski and snowshoe tours.
Grand Teton National Park provides a small team of Nordic Ski Ambassador volunteers, starting from Taggart trailhead out as far as South Jenny Lake along the groomed trail.
As for all cross country and snowshoe tours, bring water, food/snack, an extra warm layer, hat, gloves, sunscreen. Weather can change quickly -what starts out as a windless sunny day can quickly transform into a winter storm.
Here are some of our favorite spots!
Find GPS trail maps, elevation profiles, directions, and follow your live location on the map for each trail on JHNordic.com/trails/
1. Teton Park Road– Taggart to Jenny Lake to Signal Mountain
Time: 1-6 hrs
Distance: 1 mile to 28.8 miles round trip, you choose the distance!
Difficulty: Easy – Strenuous
Cross Country Skiing (Classic & Skate) or Snowshoeing
Grand Teton National Park’s inner loop road is closed to vehicles in winter time, but, thanks to generous donations and a grant from the Grand Teton National Park Foundation, the road becomes a groomed trail for some of the most scenic Cross Country Skiing and Snowshoeing in North America. From the start of the seasonal road closure at the Bradley/Taggart Trailhead, follow the groomed track of the Teton Park Road as far as Signal Mountain, some 14.4 miles to the North! Explore this groomed trail for as long or short of a distance as you like, the nordic track and relatively flat gradient makes for perfect beginner skiing.
Snowshoers can walk next to the groomed track (to avoid tracking the groomed ski track). many side trips in the untracked snow are possible, such as following Cottonwood Creek north, visiting the historic Lucas-Fabian Cabins (2 milked north of Taggart trailhead), or stopping along the way to gaze up at the spectacular Teton peaks, rising up to 7000 feet overhead.
Grooming begins on 15 Dec, continues to 15 March. Shortly thereafter, the groomed trail over the road itself will be plowed down to pavement. However, adjacent the snow may be deep enough to allow for another month of “crust-cruising” . The Road trail remains closed to vehicular traffic until May 1st.
2. Jenny Lake
Time: 2-6 hrs
Distance: 12 miles round trip
Difficulty: Moderate – Strenuous
Skate or Classic Cross Country Skiing recommended
For those wanting to a medium to longer cross country ski tour to one of Grand Teton National Park’s most scenic locations, Jenny Lake is the spot! In the summer it is one of the parks most popular areas but in winter you just might have it to yourself. Skate or classic XC ski along the groomed trail from Taggart. Or Classic XC ski on the skier track (or break your own trail after new snowfall) through the sage brush meadows along side Cottonwood Creek, west of the groomed track. Stop at the Lucas-Fabian historic cabins en route. Bring a snack to enjoy while looking across Jenny Lake to Cascade Canyon.
Note that lake ice can be thin especially in early winter but eventually the lake freezes over with a thick supportable sheet of ice. Travel at your own risk.
Time: 2 hours
Distance: 4 miles round trip
Difficulty: Easy -Moderate
Cross Country Skiing Recommended, Snowshoeing possible
A shorter option from the Bradley-Taggart Trailhead is a visit to the beautiful Lucas-Fabian Homestead. Located two miles from the parking lot along the stunning Cottonwood Creek skier track or just 300 yards west off the groomed Teton Park Road trail, this homestead could have become a subdivision if not for the work of Harold Fabian, Vice President of the Snake River Land Company. Throughout the 1920’s, Philanthropist John D Rockefeller JR. used his fortune to purchase homesteads in the Jackson Hole Valley which were later added to Jackson Hole National Monument, which in 1950 was added to Grand Teton National Park. Geraldine Lucas was an early homesteader, and independent , competent settler who built the first cabin here -true inspiration !
Video of Lucas Fabian Ski Tour: https://www.facebook.com/jacksonholeecotours/videos/10155252980739103/
Time: 4 hours
Distance: 1-3 miles
Cross Country Skiing, or Snowshoeing
Looking for easy access to Grand Teton National Park near to Jackson Hole Mountain Resort? Check out Granite Canyon and the Moose Wilson Road! Numerous loop and out and back options exist, we like the winding trail to the mouth of Granite Canyon in particular. Along the trail you will pass through aspen forests, sagebrush meadows, mixed conifer forests, and cross the riparian area along Granite Creek, four of the five plant communities found in Grand Teton National Park. Look for tracks and signs from moose and elk, to foxes, coyotes, or even an elusive great gray owl, the largest owl in North America. For more options from the Granite Canyon Trailhead, consider:
Laurence S Rockefeller (LSR) Preserve: see next trail
5. Moose Wilson Road to LSR Preserve
Time: 1.5-3 hours
Distance: 4 miles round trip
Difficulty: Easy -Moderate
Cross Country Skiing or Snowshoeing (un-groomed)
Closed to motor vehicles in winter, the Moose-Wilson road is an ideal trail for beginner to advanced cross country skiing and snowshoeing. Start from the south at the Granite Canyon Trailhead or from the North end at the Death Canyon Trailhead. The snow packed road winds through conifer forest with plenty of options for loops and out and back treks. We like combining a ski up the road with a loop over to the mouth of Granite Canyon and back to the Trailhead, about 4 miles.
6. Two Oceans & Emma Mathilda Lakes
Time: 4-6 hours
Distance: 4 -7 miles round trip
Cross Country Skiing or Snowshoeing -un-groomed trail
This quiet northern corner of Grand Teton National Park offers opportunities for solitude, you might even be breaking your own trail through the powder snow! From a pullout on Pacific Creek Road, follow the Two Ocean Lake Road to the lake and views of the Northern Range of the Tetons. We like looking for tracks and exploring the woods around the lakes on tours. (4 miles)
For a longer adventure, make the ski a loop and visit Emma Matilda Lake on the return trip (7.4 miles). Should you go in March or November , be sure to travel in a group (3+) and bring bear spray, make noise, be alert.
Time: 3-6 hrs.
Distance 1-10 miles
Cross Country Skiing or Snowshoeing
Hermitage Point is at the end of a long peninsula on Jackson Lake, offering stunning views of Mount Moran and the northern Teton Range. The point is 4.8 miles one way (9.6-10 miles roundtrip) from the parking lot at Colter Bay but opportunities exist for shorter loops to explore Heron and/or Swan Lakes. We enjoy looking for track and sign from foxes, coyotes, American martin, red pine squirrel, otter, and beavers along the way.
Time: 2.5-6 hrs.
Distance 2-10 miles
Cross Country Skiing or Snowshoeing
Once Jackson Lake is frozen solid (typically from late January to early March), there is noting like a sunny day to Nordic ski from Colter Bay west onto the lake and circumnavigate some of the closer islands. The views of the full Teton range are spectacular! Be ready to break trail until early March, when the snow may have set up a crust, and crust-cruising over the frozen snow surface becomes possible.
The distance can be a short round trip from Colter Bay to the northwest corner of the first island, to capture the views or continue around one or more islands for a longer adventure.
For Guided XC Ski and Snowshoe Tours:
Jackson Hole Ecotour Adventures: Now in their 12th year of operation, Jackson Hole Ecotour Adventures leads wildlife safaris, cross country skiing tours, and snowshoe tours in Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks 365 days a year. contact: 307-690-9533 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hole Hiking Experience: Leading tours for over 30 years in Jackson Hole, offering 1/2 and 3/4 day Cross-country ski, snowshoe, and wildlife tours in Grand Teton National Park and Bridger-Teton National forests including the Tetons and Gros Ventre Ranges for over 30 years: Contact: 307.690.4453, visit holehike.com ;email: email@example.com
Wildlife Expeditions -Teton Science Schools: Nationally recognized educational non-profit specializing in wildlife tours in Grand Teton and Yellowstone National parks year-round, with cross-country ski, snowshoe and winter Yellowstone snowcoach tours. Wildlife Expedition guides are experts on the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Contact: 307-733-2623 ; firstname.lastname@example.org