Skiing the Grand Teton NP's Teton Park Road
Wyoming › Taggart Lake Trailhead
Added by Greg Owens
- Beginner-level Nordic skiing
- Spectacular winter views of the Teton Range
- Solitude and quiet in a popular and busy national park
Northwestern Wyoming’s Teton Range is one of North America’s truly iconic landscapes. With essentially no foothills on the eastern side of the range, the mountains jut practically straight up from the valley floor at 6200’ to 13,770’ at the top of Grand Teton, the second-tallest point in the state. Surrounding Grand Teton on its south and north sides are the other peaks of the Cathedral Group: Mount Owen (12,928’), Middle Teton (12,804’), South Teton (12,514’), and Teewinot (12,330’). This adventure will take you on skis or snowshoes along the Teton Park Road, the inner road of the park that is closed in winter, is groomed for Nordic skiing, and affords some of the best views of the dramatic Teton Range.
The adventure begins at the trailhead for Taggart Lake, located just ~3 miles from the Visitors Center at Moose. Need some last-minute gear? Stop in at Teton Mountaineering in Jackson before heading north to the park on U.S.-191. If you plan to make this an overnight adventure, be sure to stop at the Visitors Center to get a backcountry permit from the rangers. The road is open and plowed to the Taggart Lake Trailhead, so it’s easy to find and get to the parking lot. Gear up with your Nordic skis or snowshoes, daypack or backpack or sled for hauling, and instead of taking the trail to Taggart Lake, simply follow the snow-packed road or the valley floor that parallels the road. In either case, the route is almost completely flat, so the going is easy enough for first-time skiers. The unplowed, groomed path goes 15 miles all the way to Signal Mountain Lodge, but you don’t have to go nearly that far to enjoy the spectacular winter scenery of Grand Teton. You already have good views at the parking lot, and it’s interesting to watch how they change as you head north along the road. Jenny Lake, an immensely popular spot in the summer but a quiet one in the winter, is about 5 mi up the road, making it a good turnaround landmark for a day trip or a great place to set up camp. The opportunities for side trips, like Jenny Lake, String Lake, and Leigh Lake, just to name a few, are almost limitless, but be aware that these side trips are along unmarked, ungroomed routes, and the snow may very well be too deep for Nordic skis. Especially if you’re heading in for an overnight adventure, it’s a good idea to pack snowshoes and another pair of boots for side trips.
If you have a second car that you can leave at Signal Mountain, you can ski the entire 15-mile route. Otherwise, just ski in as far as you like, and return along the same path. Beginning at Signal Mountain gives very different views and is more hilly than the route from Taggart, but it still is appropriate for beginners and is a great way to spend a winter day.
- Nordic skis or snowshoes
- Snacks and water
- Warm, layered clothing
- Daypack for single-day trips
- Backpack or sled
- 4-season tent
- Warm sleeping bag
- Camping essentials for an overnight adventure
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Backpacking, Skiing, Snowshoeing
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A Great Way to Experience Grand Teton National Park in Winter
Grand Teton National Park is a different world in the Winter, and snowshoeing or skiing along the groomed inner road is an experience you won't forget. The beautiful Teton range follows you the whole way, making it hard sometimes to concentrate on your skiing so don't fall! Starting from the Taggart Lake trailhead it's relatively flat, but it's 15 miles one-way to Signal Mountain Lodge so you can get an incredible workout if you decide to do the whole thing. Make sure you have the appropriate clothing and food here as you will have a long way to go to get back to the car if you get in trouble. Also watch the weather forecast carefully. Of course, you can go as far as you like, making it a good activity for families. If on snowshoes, I would recommend taking some time to hike up to Taggart Lake.
Great Beginner's Route
This is one of the best, most scenic places to learn nordic skiing. And even for the advanced, there are dedicated lanes for folks who know what they're doing and want to go fast. Fantastic views of the Tetons and wildlife opportunities the whole way!
You can't beat the winter views of the park while XC skiing! It can get pretty cold, (-20˚F on my visit) but when the sun is out it feels warm. The trail is pretty popular but it's awesome you can take your dog on a winter trail in a National Park.
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