Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Winter Season Activities Begin Sunday in Grand Tetons

The 2014 winter season begins Sunday, December 15 in Grand Teton National Park and the John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway. This year, as a cost saving measure, the Craig Thomas Discovery & Visitor Center will be closed until April 7, 2014. A phone line (307.739.3399) will be staffed Monday through Friday for park information. An alternative for winter visitor information about the greater Jackson Hole area, including Grand Teton and the JDR Parkway, is the Jackson Hole and Greater Yellowstone Visitor Center on North Cache Street in Jackson, Wyoming. This interagency visitor center is open 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, offering interactive displays and dioramas that highlight the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem and its many features. Wintering elk can be observed on the nearby National Elk Refuge from a wildlife observation deck equipped with spotting scopes.

Ranger-led snowshoe hikes begin Friday, December 27 from Taggart Lake trailhead on the Teton Park Road, three miles north of the park's Moose HQ campus. The snowshoe tours take place at 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Friday and Saturday each week. The two-hour guided walks offer an opportunity to learn about snow science and winter ecology. Previous experience is not necessary, and snowshoes are available for a rental fee of $5 for adults and $2 for children, 8 years or older. Reservations are required and can be made at 307.739.3399.

A Single Day Pass is available to winter visitors at the Moose, Moran and Granite Canyon entrance stations. This winter-season permit allows a one-day entry into Grand Teton at a cost of $5 per vehicle. The single day pass is valid only in Grand Teton and cannot be used for entry into Yellowstone. Winter visitors may choose to purchase one of the following other options for entry:

•$25 Seven-day Pass valid for single vehicle entry into Grand Teton and Yellowstone
•$50 Grand Teton/Yellowstone Annual Pass valid for one year entry into both parks
•$80 Interagency Annual Pass valid for one year entry to all federal land management fee areas

Cross-country skiing and snowshoeing are popular winter activities. Most trails are skier tracked, not groomed. The Teton Park Road becomes a designated trail in winter, open to non-mechanized use only. This road gets intermittently groomed for cross-country and skate skiing from the Taggart Lake parking area to Signal Mountain, but plowing of park roads and other access areas take priority and often preempt grooming operations, which begin only after sufficient snow (at least 2 feet) accumulates on the roadbed. For grooming updates, phone 307-739-3682. Important reminder: Snowshoers should walk adjacent to the groomed ski trail, as snowshoe treads ruin the grooved track set for skier use.

Skiers and snowshoers are not restricted to established trails. For protection of wildlife, however, park visitors are required to observe closure areas from December through March. To obtain trail maps, closure locations, or winter information, click here. Winter closure areas include:

Closed December 1 to April 1— Static Peak, Prospectors Mountain and Mount Hunt (see the park's cross-country ski brochure for area descriptions).

Closed December 15 to April 1— Snake River floodplain from Moran to Menor's Ferry near Moose, Buffalo Fork River floodplain within the park, Kelly Hill and Uhl Hill.

Backcountry users and mountaineers planning to stay overnight in the backcountry must get a camping permit before their trip. Winter backcountry permits can be obtained in person at the front desk of the park's HQ building in Moose between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. on Monday through Friday. During weekends and holidays, persons wishing to get a backcountry permit must call 307.739.3301.The backcountry permits office phone (307.739.3309) will be staffed Monday through Friday 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. On weekends and holidays, this line will not be staffed and only voice messages will be accepted. Permits are not required for day users.

To obtain weather forecasts and backcountry avalanche hazard information, visit, or phone the avalanche hotline at 307.733.2664.

For complete information about winter activities in Grand Teton National Park or the John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway, click here.

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