Though winter seems to be unusually late in coming this year, activities for the winter season at Grand Teton National Park and the adjoining John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway begin December 15.
The Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center is open year-round and winter hours run from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. To observe the Christmas holiday, the Discovery Center (12 miles north of Jackson) will be closed on December 25.
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 National Park. 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 fee areas
Ranger-led snowshoe hikes begin Wednesday, December 26, at the Discovery Center. This 2-hour activity is offered every day at 1:30 p.m., and previous experience is not necessary. 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.
Backcountry users and mountaineers planning to stay overnight in the backcountry must get a non-fee permit before their trip at the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center. Permits are not required for day users. To obtain weather forecasts and avalanche hazard information, stop at the Discovery Center, visit the backcountry website www.jhavalanche.org , or call the avalanche hotline at 307-733-2664.
Cross-country skiing and snowshoeing are popular winter activities in the park. Most trails are skier tracked, but not groomed. The Teton Park Road (TPR) is currently a designated trail, open to non-motorized use only. The TPR gets intermittently groomed in winter for cross-country and skate skiing from the Taggart Lake parking area to Signal Mountain; however, plowing of park roads and other access areas take priority and will often preempt grooming operations.
In addition, grooming will only begin after sufficient snow (at least 2 feet) accumulates on the TPR. Important reminder: Snowshoers should walk adjacent to the groomed ski trail, as snowshoe treads ruin the grooved track set for skiers' use.
Skiers and snowshoers are not restricted to established trails; however, for protection of wildlife, they are required to observe closure areas from December 15 to April 1. To obtain trail maps, closure locations, or winter information, go to the park's website at http://www.nps.gov/grte/planyourvisit/maps.htm or visit the Discovery Center in Moose, Wyoming. Winter wildlife closure areas include:
* Snake River floodplain from Moran to Menor's Ferry near Moose
* Buffalo Fork River floodplain within the park
* Kelly Hill and Uhl Hill
* Static Peak and Prospectors Mountain
* Mount Hunt areas (see the park's cross-country ski brochure for descriptions)
Leashed pets are allowed on the park's plowed roads and turnouts, the unplowed Moose-Wilson Road, and the Grassy Lake Road. Pets are not allowed in the backcountry, which includes all other park areas beyond the plowed roadways.
The unplowed TPR is open to visitors who wish to walk, snowshoe or ski with their leashed pet. Dogs are restricted to the TPR winter trail, and must be restrained at all times on a leash no longer than 6-feet in length. Dogs must also be leashed while in the parking areas at Taggart Lake or Signal Mountain. Please keep dogs off the groomed ski tracks as a courtesy to other trail users.
Mutt Mitt stations are in place at the TPR trailheads to dispense plastic bags for pet waste; trash receptacles are also available for disposal of used bags. Pet owners are required to clean up their pet's waste and properly dispose of the bags in the receptacles provided. Some pet owners have left used bags along the side of the road, and when these bags become buried in snow, they cause problems for rotary snow plows during the spring road opening. If pet owners do not comply with the rules and regulations-especially with regard to pet waste disposal and leash rules-it is possible that pets will be prohibited from the TPR in the future.
Snowmobilers may use the frozen surface of Jackson Lake for the purposes of ice fishing only. A Wyoming State fishing license and appropriate fishing gear must be in possession.
On Jackson Lake, snowmobiles must meet National Park Service air and sound emissions requirements for Best Available Technology (BAT). Before operating a snowmobile in Grand Teton, review the regulations and approved BAT machines at http://www.nps.gov/yell/parkmgmt/current_batlist.htm, or stop by the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center in Moose, Wyoming.
Snowmobiles may also use the Grassy Lake Road in the John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway (JDR Parkway) for recreation. The BAT machine requirement does not apply to snowmobile use on the Grassy Lake Road between Headwaters Lodge & Cabins at Flagg Ranch and Caribou-Targhee National Forest.
Dog sleds are not allowed on the Teton Park Road or on Grassy Lake Road in the JDR Parkway.