JH Nordic Alliance with Cody Downard

Explore more places on skis with this new guidebook

If you are looking for some new ski trails to explore this spring, pick up a copy of the Cross Country Ski Trails of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem Volume 2 by Cody Downard. This extensive cross country ski trail guidebook covers Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks, Jackson Hole, West Yellowstone/Harriman and Teton Valley. The book features 82 of the best trails in this region. Each trail has a detailed description as well as an accompanying topographic map. Included in each trail description are the following: difficulty, distance, elevation gain/loss, approximate time, grooming, fee information, trailhead details, location and directions.

Cody’s book is currently available at: Teton Pines Nordic Center, Peaked Sports, Yostmark Mountain Equipment, Skinny Skis, and online.

Cody wearing his photographer hat at the 2018 Olympics.

Cody skiing on the Bradley Lake Trail in GTNP.

The equinox is coming and with it longer days for exploring. Cody Downard, JH Nordic Alliance partner, co-owner and director of Teton Pines Nordic Center, and photographer has decades of skiing adventures in this area. We asked Cody if he would share a story and a spring tour idea with our readers. Thanks Cody!

A Trip to Fairy Falls in Yellowstone National Park

A trip to Fairy Falls in Yellowstone National Park. Browse more of Cody’s photos at Cody Downard Photography.

My favorite trail in Yellowstone is Fairy Falls. I once had a really cool experience on that trail early one morning after a couple of fresh inches of snow. I was staying at the Snow Lodge cabins and took the skier shuttle to the trailhead that morning. It was -10F, a post snowfall bluebird day and I was the only other human on that trail or in the vicinity. 

I left the trailhead skiing north across the Firehole River. On my right was a frosty, steamy geyser basin and I made out the silhouettes of three wolves in the distance. They vanished pretty quickly so I kept skiing toward the falls. A few minutes later, I heard something ahead of me and realized those wolves had come over to the trail I was on and were walking just a few hundred yards ahead of me.

Once they were out of sight again I followed their fresh footprints for a couple of miles but then lost their trail once they crossed the shallow river back into the geyser basin. It was pretty special being out there in the middle of nowhere as the only human. This park is quite busy in summer, but winter is quite different. If you’d like to get away from the winter crowds and traffic in town, head to Yellowstone in winter.

Shadow Mountain Crust Cruise

Crust cruising near Shadow Mountain, iphone photo provided by Cody.

As we approach spring in the Tetons, crust cruising is on everyone’s mind. When the freeze/thaw cycle begins later in March, head north of Jackson to find that perfect snow. A great place for crust cruising is the Shadow Mountain area*. Head north from Jackson on Hwy 191. Six miles up, turn right at the roundabout and head east toward Kelly. Continue on the main road past Kelly and drive north until the plowed road ends at the Shadow Mountain winter trailhead and parking area. You can ski to the north and the south of the parking area. Even if you are looking for a great spring ski tour and not crust cruising, this is it!

Additional trail resources

*The Shadow Mountain Trail gives details on getting there and the ski tour. You can crust cruise up the road into the forest, or out in the open fields. The Bridger Teton National Forest allows dogs but the Park does not, so please pay attention to the boundary which runs north from the SW to the NE. Basically stay on the east side of the flats, close to the base on the mountain. Be prepared to leash your dog if you see wildlife.

Visit Yellowstone National Park’s explore winter pages on their website for more information on Fairy Falls, or buy Cody’s guidebook.

Happy skiing!  

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