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    How to Experience The Best of Jackson Hole’s National Parks in Winter

    By Visit Jackson Hole

    A snow-covered bison lifting its frosty head in Yellowstone is an unforgettable image.

    Cross-country skiing beneath the Tetons on a bluebird day is another magic moment. A visit to Grand Teton and Yellowstone national parks in winter is the experience of a lifetime. In order to make the most of your visit and enjoy the area safely, you’ll need to plan ahead and prepare for winter conditions.

    Many roads in Grand Teton and Yellowstone national parks are closed in winter, so check closures and conditions before your trip, ensure your vehicle is well-equipped with winter tires, practice appropriate winter driving skills and always have a winter emergency kit in your vehicle.

    Winter temperatures can plunge far below zero—the record low in Yellowstone is -66 degrees Fahrenheit…that’s right, 66 degrees below zero—so you need to be prepared for all conditions and know they can change rapidly. Jackson Hole’s mountains receive more than 450 inches of snow each year on average, so be prepared for cold and snowy conditions and have the proper equipment and training to safely spend time outdoors in these areas. If you’re traveling in avalanche terrain, take an appropriate safety course, know how to evaluate conditions, and consult local avalanche forecasts, including the Bridger-Teton Avalanche Center, before venturing out.

    Winter is full of magic, from marveling at the sparkling ice crystals dancing in the air to the silence of fresh snow gently falling, hearing the crunch of snow underfoot, and looking up at snow-covered peaks. Well-prepared visitors will find numerous ways to experience this special season in the national parks near Jackson, from strapping on snowshoes to explore the trails to clipping on skis for a 28-mile round-trip cross-country ski tour of Teton Park Road to backcountry skiing. If you prefer to head out with a pro, a number of companies offer guided wildlife tours, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, backcountry skiing, snowmobiling, and more.

    Nordic Skiing in Grand Teton National Park. Ice skating on Jackson Lake. Winter Bison in Grand Teton National Park
    Grand Teton National Park

    Just north of Jackson Hole, Grand Teton National Park turns into a winter paradise each year. Many of the park’s roads close to vehicles but welcome human-powered exploration. Park at the Taggart Lake Trailhead to experience Wyoming’s peaceful winter landscape by cross-country skiing or snowshoeing. Exploring Teton Park Road—which is closed to vehicles at Taggart Lake Trailhead in the winter—is a favorite pastime, especially when the road is freshly groomed for cross-country skiing. The road runs along the Teton Range, and the 14-mile stretch to Signal Mountain Lodge is groomed several times a week, providing incredible mountain views for skiers and snowshoers.

    If you’re new to winter recreation or are unfamiliar with the area, hiring a guide is a great way to explore safely and stress-free. Ranger-guided snowshoe hikes are an experiential way to learn about the environment and explore. A number of companies also offer cross-country skiing tours and fat biking tours. A few bring expert skiers out backcountry skiing, ski mountaineering, and also offer avalanche courses.

    Be sure to check the weather and conditions and be aware of winter and temporary wildlife closures, including areas closed for bighorn sheep. Brush up on your winter outdoor safety and enjoy the park’s array of winter activities.

    Wildlife in the Winter.
    Yellowstone National Park

    In winter, you can still access many of Yellowstone’s wonders, including geysers and wildlife. You just have to do it a little differently. Only one road in Yellowstone remains open during winter (though it can close at times due to wintry conditions). While park roads are closed to regular vehicles, over-snow vehicles like commercial snowcoaches and snowmobiles provide access to sections of the park.

    Make an advanced reservation to stay at Old Faithful Snow Lodge and Cabins, which is right by the famous geyser. Be sure to sign up for snowcoach transportation separately in addition to your lodge reservation.

    Snowmobiles are only allowed in the park as part of guided tours or for individuals who receive a permit via Yellowstone’s Non-commercially Guided Snowmobile Access Program, which requires a lottery application well in advance.

    Cross-country skiing and snowshoeing are favorite winter activities in Yellowstone, and a number of routes are available, including groomed options. For any winter excursion, be sure to have the proper gear and equipment and dress for a safe and comfortable trip. Be aware of short winter days and challenging conditions, and always refer to the park’s safety information.

    The one road that’s open year-round—which provides access to Cooke City, Montana—passes through Lamar Valley, a great place to watch for wolves and other wildlife, including foxes and coyotes hunting in the snow. Be aware that grizzlies usually start to emerge from their dens in March, though sometimes this happens earlier, so be prepared for a bear encounter.

    If you’d rather explore with a professional, a number of guided tours showcase the park in winter, including skiing and snowshoeing tours, snowmobile and snowcoach tours, and more. Always check the road status and conditions and be sure to brush up on your winter driving skills before heading to the park. Most services are closed in winter, so pack plenty of snacks and be prepared to be self-sufficient.

    However you choose to explore Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks in the winter, you’ll find incredible scenery, adventure, and experiences. Whether your trip to the national parks near Jackson involves taking a snowcoach to see Old Faithful erupt in winter, joining a guide for a ski mountaineering trip deep in the Tetons, or driving around to photograph wildlife, your memories will last a lifetime.

    Adventure starts here.

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    From awe-inspiring encounters with nature to wild and western activities every kind, Jackson Hole offers once-in-a-lifetime experiences, 365 days a year.

    Eager to glimpse your first bear, moose, or wolf? Challenge yourself with a run down black diamonds or class III rapids? Hook an 18-inch cutthroat? Meet a real cowboy? Watch a Teton sunset? This place is full of experiences you won't find that at home, or anywhere else for that matter. In Jackson Hole, wild adventures aren't just possible—they're already here waiting for you.