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LOOKING TO VISIT GRAND TETON NATIONAL PARK IN THE WINTER?
Yes! 100% worth it. There you go. That’s all. I kid. I’ll break it down for you a bit more than that. Short answer: yes.
Long answer: yes, but there are some things to consider before you take the (polar) plunge to visit Grand Teton National Park in the winter.
So read on to help plan your trip a little better. And trust me, you’ll want to (probably) go after reading this.
Travel Services I Recommend:
AllTrails – This is my favorite hike tracking app.
America the Beautiful – The national park pass is essential.
Booking.com – This is great for finding and booking hotels.
Get Your Guide – I recommend Get Your Guide for booking tours.
National Park Obsessed – This is the best national park planner.
Skyscanner – Skyscanner is great for finding and booking flights.
Enterprise – This is my rental car recommendation.
See all my resources here.
National Park Goodies
- If you’re planning to visit three or more national parks within a year from your trip, definitely get the America the Beautiful pass. It will save you money in the long run if you’re going to more than three parks in a year. Buy the pass here.
- If you’re planning on doing a lot of hiking on your trip, or even at home, check out AllTrails! This is my favorite app to find, keep track of, and track my hiking activity. And it’s FREE! Sign up here.
- This Ultimate National Park Planning Bundle is a must-have. You get two ebooks and a planner, saving 50% by getting them as a bundle! If you want all the details, this is the bundle for you. Buy the Ultimate bundle here.
- This National Park Planner (one of the ebooks from the bundle above) is perfect if you just want some guidance in your planning. Buy the planner here.
- Get yourself a National Park journal for all of the NPS sites (400+!) to keep track of your travels!
- Consider reading some of these books set in national parks before your big trip, on your adventure, or once you get home to take you back to the parks until next time.
Visiting Grand Teton National Park in winter
Visiting Grand Teton National Park in winter is one of the best experiences! I absolutely loved our time there in the winter of 2017 and I think about going back all the time.
These tips will help you make sure you’re prepared for a winter visit to Grand Teton and Jackson Hole.
It will be snowy
Like, really snowy. Last winter I think they got between 400 and 500 inches of snow. That’s somewhere between 33 and 41 feet in case you were wondering.
Some years they get less, some more, but it will be snowy. It’s pretty hard to beat the Tetons in winter though.
I tended to notice a pattern of like, five days of solid snow then a couple sunny days then it would start snowing again. It wasn’t always like that, but usually, when it snowed, it snowed for a few days.
One good thing about so much snow is that it’s always way prettier with a fresh layer on the trees. Also, keep in mind that it can be tough driving in deep or slushy snow.
It will be cold
This last winter wasn’t too bad. It was only below zero a couple days. It usually stayed above, but that’s always different, too.
Just come prepared and you’ll be fine. Some things to bring to Grand Teton in winter would be a warm jacket and layers to go under it.
If you’re snowshoeing or anything, it can get warm. Gloves and a spare pair just in case they get wet, warm socks, toe warmers (trust me, the big box is worth it if more than one of you is going), a scarf, and good boots.
The main road in the park is closed
The main scenic road in the park is closed in Grand Teton in the winter. There are a few miles open on both ends, but it does eventually close.
There are snowshoeing and cross-country skiing trails open in those areas though. Moose-Wilson road in the park is the same way.
Most are closed, but there are like three miles open on both ends. Some roads can close for a few days if there is a lot of animal activity, like wolves taking down a moose. That happened last winter. I don’t think it’s regular, but it can happen.
So are a lot of other roads
Some of the other roads in the area are closed as well. Most have part of the road open, but the middle sections are closed and this leads to a lot of backtracking, but that’s just more wildlife spotting opportunity. Some roads that are closed in the Tetons in winter are:
- Antelope Flats
- Gros Ventre Road
- Mormon Row
- All Yellowstone roads (if you plan on going up that far)
But like I said, these all have sections of the road that are still open in the winter. You just can’t go all the way on them hence a lot of backtracking, but it’s totally worth it.
But there is some of the best skiing in the US
You’ll probably be staying in Jackson Hole on your trip and they have some of the best skiing in the US. Jackson Hole Mountain Resort and Snow King are great places to start.
And if skiing doesn’t sound good, you can give snowboarding a shot. And if both of those sound awful, Snow King has snow tubing as well. You could spend a day or two on the slopes between searching for wildlife in the Tetons.
While there isn’t downhill skiing in Grand Teton National Park in winter, you can go cross country skiing if that’s your thing. Here is where you can cross-country ski in and out of the park:
- Teton Park Road
- Moose-Wilson Road
- Shooting Star Nordic Track
- Teton Pines Cross Country Ski Center
- Grand Targhee
- Trail Creek Nordic Center
- Emily’s Pond
And killer snowshoeing views
And if everything above just sounds terrible, or you just want to try it, you can rent snowshoes in town and spend a day snowshoeing at the base of the Tetons, around Gros Ventre, or up at Flagg Ranch.
This is the kind of activity you’ll really want those toe warmers for, believe me. No matter where you go, it’s going to have killer views of the snow-covered Tetons or any of the other surrounding mountains.
Plus, snowshoeing is actually really fun and a (maybe not so) surprisingly good leg workout. Just make sure not to get too close to the tree trunks. I got stuck by one.
Also, make sure they’re on tight. One of mine fell off once and my entire leg sunk into the snow and I had to get help out to put the shoe back on. Just make sure you don’t snowshoe or walk on ski tracks. Here are some places to snowshoe near Jackson Hole:
- Flagg Ranch (technically Yellowstone)
- Two Ocean Pond
- Teton Park Road
- Moose-Wilson Road
- Taggart Lake Trailhead
- Cache Creek Trailhead
It’s cold walking around town
If you want to walk around town to do a little shopping and gallery hopping, it will be cold. Again, use those toe warmers! But it’s still worth it. There’s so much cool art and fun little shops.
You can’t go to Jackson and not wander around town, just be careful of ice on the roads and sidewalks. Here is an awesome guide to downtown Jackson.
But there are way fewer tourists
There are way fewer people to scramble around the sidewalks with when you visit Jackson and Grand Teton in winter. There are still a good number of people in the winter, but compared to the summer, it’s crazy how much less busy it feels.
It’s definitely a perk traffic-wise and when it comes to escaping the cold and browsing in the shops. It’ll make finding hotels easier, too.
And tons of wildlife to be seen
I saw like, no wildlife here when I visited in the summer. Like, none. Just a few elk in Yellowstone. That doesn’t mean there isn’t wildlife. There’s tons of it.
We just saw almost all of it in our time in Grand Teton in the winter. We saw about a zillion moose, a billion bison, a ton of bighorn sheep, a few coyotes, three bears, and one wolf.
We even saw five baby bison and a momma and baby moose in one spot! We watched them for like fifteen minutes. It was the coolest. We saw a couple of moose wandering around town, too.
One tip for spotting wildlife: look for brown blobs in the bushes and other cars pulled over. Definitely bring binoculars for those far away critters, too.
Things to do in the Grand Teton in winter
After seeing the Tetons in winter and summer, I love it so much more in winter! At least as of right now. I definitely need to go back and see more in the summer though.
I would highly recommend visiting Grand Teton National Park in winter for an awesome park experience. You may not be able to hike like on a summer visit, but there is still plenty to keep you busy in the park.
Look for wildlife
My favorite thing to do was to just drive around and look for wildlife. If you don’t love, or don’t feel comfortable, driving in snow, there are always wildlife safaris you can go on and they will take you to the best places to see the wildlife.
Rent a pair of snowshoes in town and hit the, well, snow, I guess. One of the best areas for snowshoeing was Gros Ventre. It’s flat and a great place to see wildlife (especially moose and bison) and you get to admire the river, too.
Along the section of Moose-Wilson Road is also good for snowshoeing. There really isn’t a bad place for it, it will just depend on if you want any (or how much) elevation gain.
This is technically in the National Elk Refuge, but it’s still a fun way to get closer to the elk. It’s closer to town and great for people that love seeing wildlife and families, especially.
If you want to do something a little more adventurous in Jackson, do some snowboarding, skiing, or snowtubing.
Warm up in the galleries
Finally, head into town and spend a couple of hours walking around the main square enjoying all the shops and galleries.
There are tons of art galleries in Jackson (some I like more than others) so everyone should be able to find something. Here are some of the Jackson Hole galleries:
- Wilcox Gallery
- Mountain Trails Gallery
- Horizon Fine Art Gallery
- Turner Art Gallery
Hotels near Grand Teton National Park
Rustic Inn – I LOVE the Rustic. Like, so much. I’ve stayed there a few times and would 100% stay again. It’s beautiful in a wonderful location not too far from downtown. It’s not particularly budget-friendly, but it is amazing.
The Wort – This is another really fancy, not budget-friendly hotel, but The Wort is even closer to the town square. It has a modern log cabin vibe in a gorgeous building.
Elk Refuge Inn – This little Inn is a couple miles from the town square, but it’s right across from the National Elk Refuge and all the rooms have a view. It’s decently priced and probably totally worth it for the view.
Antler Inn – I haven’t stayed here but know it’s a great budget option right in town. It has rustic-looking cabin themed rooms and it’s perfect for walking around town.
Is Grand Teton National Park worth visiting in winter?
Absolutely yes! Maybe not if you really, really hate cold, snow, and winter in general, but if those don’t apply then yes!
I absolutely love Grand Teton National Park in winter and will sing it’s praises forever and ever and tell everyone to go then.
Grand Teton winter FAQ
Have questions about visiting Grand Teton National Park in winter? I might answer it below! If I didn’t, leave a comment and I’ll answe there!
How much snow does Grand Teton National Park get?
Grand Teton National Park averages 172 inches of snow per year. That’s a lot. The year we were there it got over 200.
The first heavy snowfall usually happens by November 1 and continues through April but, surprisingly, snow and frost are possible in any month.
Is Grand Teton National park cold in winter?
Yes! The winter we were there it only got below zero a couple of times, so it wasn’t horribly cold, but it’s not warm.
Average highs in the winter are high 20s and low 30s during the day. At night expect single digits for the most part but possible temps in the low teens.
Are there bears in Grand Teton in winter?
Technically yes, but your chances of running into one in the winter are much lower. Most will be hibernating, which they start to come out of in March. While you likely won’t see one, I’ve included some bear safety below, just in case.
When is winter in Grand Teton?
I would say November through April could be considered winter in Grand Teton National Park. We left for the season I think in late March 2017 and I want to say snow was melting near Jackson by then but it varies by year.
Be bear aware!
While you’re visiting Grand Teton National Park you’ll want to be bear aware. There are both black and grizzly bears in the area.
They usually try to avoid people but may behave unpredictably if they, their young, or their food source feels threatened. Grizzlies are often much larger and have a distinct shoulder hump.
While you’re hiking you’ll want to carry bear spray and have it somewhere easy to access, not buried in your backpack. I would avoid bear bells. You’re voice is a more effective way too alert bears to your presence and bells are annoying.
What to bring to Grand Teton in winter
Hand and toe warmers – If you don’t want to get thicker gloves, bring some hand warmers. If your feet get really cold really easily, definitely bring toe warmers. They’re a game-changer. Buy hand warmers here.
Warm socks – I love my Darn Tough socks. I only have one pair right now but I think next time I need hiking socks, I’ll get these again.
Patagonia Synchilla – I think of my Patagonia sweatshirts, the Synchilla is the warmest. I have two of these and really like them.
Have you been to Jackson and the Tetons in the winter? Do you want to go? What is your favorite thing to do there?