New Agreement At Grand Teton National Park Will Provide Winter Grooming For Popular Cross-Country Ski Route

The Teton Park Road in early January, shortly after it's first "grooming" of the year. NPS photo.

Grand Teton National Park provides some outstanding opportunities for winter recreation, and the Teton Park Road, which is closed in winter to motorized travel, is a favorite route for cross-country skiers. A new agreement between the park and Teton County will provide regular grooming for Nordic and skate skiing along the Road.

Under this agreement, Teton County has agreed to pilot a program to groom 15 miles of the snow-covered Teton Park Road between Taggart Lake trailhead and Signal Mountain Lodge within the park.

According to a park spokesperson, "Park officials and the Teton County Board of Commissioners reached this partnership agreement in part to support healthy outdoor recreation on this popular winter trail within Grand Teton. Since 2002, park staff have periodically groomed the snow-covered Teton Park Road whenever time and funding allowed. However, financial and staffing constraints often prevent grooming from occurring on a consistent basis."

Through the new Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), Teton County will groom the Teton Park Road one or more days per week, generally on Saturdays. In addition, park staff will continue to groom other days of the week as time and staffing allow. This agreement allows for grooming to occur until plowing operations get underway to facilitate the spring opening of park roads to vehicles.

Grand Teton National Park Foundation Will Accept Donations To Reimburse County's Costs

As a part of the MOU, Grand Teton National Park Foundation, the park's primary fundraising partner, will accept restricted private donations for the purpose of grooming the Teton Park Road and reimburse Teton County for their costs.

"We look forward to working with Teton County on this new partnership initiative, and we hope that the pilot program will provide a measure of certainty for Nordic and skate skiers who regularly use the Teton Park Road for recreation and inspiration," said Acting Grand Teton National Park Superintendent Kevin Schneider. "Through our cooperative efforts, we are providing an opportunity for park visitors to enjoy healthy activities, such as skiing and snowshoeing, while surrounded by the unparalleled beauty and serenity of a Teton winter."

Project is an Extension of Existing Trail Grooming by Teton County

Teton County/Jackson Parks & Recreation Department already maintains a series of pathways in and around Jackson, and in winter months, County personnel also groom a portion of these pathways for Nordic skiing. The County has the grooming expertise and ability to operate and maintain their own equipment for these purposes. They will now use that same equipment and staff to groom the Teton Park Road within Grand Teton National Park.

"Teton County Parks & Recreation is pleased to participate in this pilot grooming project, " said Steve Ashworth, Teton County Parks & Recreation Department director. "This MOU allows us to expand our current winter trail grooming to include a favorite destination within Grand Teton National Park for locals and visitors, and we look forward to a successful program through the remainder of the season."

The grooming status will be provided on Grand Teton's recorded road condition hotline at 307-739-3682 and posted on the park's Facebook page. The Teton County Parks & Recreation's website will also provide an update on trail grooming status.

Grand Teton National Park continues to offer almost unlimited opportunities for "natural" cross-country skiing and snowshoeing, but strong winds and the resulting snow drifts can make such travel very challenging at times. The grooming of the winter trail on Teton Park Road provides the option of a more reliable and safer route for those who chose to use it.

What is Skate Skiing?

As the name implies, skate skiing is a bit of a hybrid between traditional cross-country (x/c) skiing and ice skating. According to several sources, the skis used my most skate skiers are shorter and narrower than x/c skis, and the poles (if used) favored by most skate skiers are longer. The technique is similar to speed skating on ice, the pace for skate skiers is usually faster...and this activity is a lot more arduous than the traditional version. If you want to burn some calories and stay in shape during the winter, this is one way to do so!

Curious about this growing variation of cross country ski travel? you'll find some YouTube videos here and at this link.

If you're considering a cold-season visit to the park, you'll find a winter trip planner and information about cross- country skiing on the park website.