Trip Number: 13417A
Staff: Elaine Grace
- Snowshoe the Winter Wonderland of Grand Teton National Park
- Experience the excitement of watching a foraging moose or
a bounding coyote
- Find inspiration staying at Triangle X Guest Ranch, the park's only
open accommodation in the winter
- All snowshoeing equipment and 4 days of professional biologist/naturalist
- An all-day dog sled trip to Granite Hot Springs
- Transportation between Jackson Hole Airport, the Ranch, Jackson Hole,
and surrounding trailheads
Photo: Triangle X Ranch
Warning: you may experience signs of scenic overload on this peaceful snowshoe
trip at the base of Grand Teton National Park. You don’t need to know
how to snowshoe to enjoy this trip. If you can walk, you can snowshoe! Instruction
and equipment will be provided by experienced guides from Hole Hiking Experience,
based in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
There is nothing quite as overwhelming as first seeing the landscape of the
Grand Tetons in winter. The park’s contours and geological makeup have
created the perfect venue for snowcoach enthusiasts, dog mushers, cross-country
skiers and snowshoers. What Jackie Skaggs, Public Affairs Officer at Grand Teton
National Park, told ABC News in 2010, "The Tetons are so iconic and so
dramatic because you have this flat plane, the valley of Jackson Hole, and you
have this abrupt vertical rise of these granite peaks. Few places have the solitude
and serenity that Grand Teton National Park has during the winter." Over
eight peaks are higher than 12,000 feet with Grand Teton standing at 13,770
feet. The peak was given the name Grand Teton, or “large breast”
in French by Iroquois or French-Canadian settlers.
February is the perfect time of year to enjoy sunshine, warming temperatures,
wildlife, and the snow-covered Tetons. The winter season, with its peaceful
quiet, offers a sharp contrast to the busy summer season. In winter, much of
the Teton Park Road (also called the inner park road) is closed to vehicles.
The unplowed section of the road (15 miles from Taggart Lake parking area to
Signal Mountain) is open only to skiers and snowshoers. Snowshoeing is one of
the best ways to experience the exhilaration of winter travel and see wildlife
and/or signs of wildlife in the snow. Our snowshoeing tours will be through
open meadows, aspen groves and coniferous forests where moose, wolves, bears,
weasels, coyotes, snowshoe hare, and many other forest inhabitants share the
The 2013 season marks the 87th year of operation for the Triangle X Ranch.
The Triangle X Ranch experience will give you a most unforgettable vacation.
This authentic working dude ranch offers unsurpassed cross-country skiing, snowshoeing,
photography, and wildlife viewing right out your front door. After a full day,
return to the comfortable lodge and relax western style with a warm fire and
a large outdoor jacuzzi. Triangle X Ranch is also ideally located to enjoy winter
activities in both Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park.
Jackson Hole provides numerous opportunities to enjoy winter recreation, and
Triangle X is the perfect place to stay while you discover winter in this amazing
Day 1: You will be picked up at the Jackson Hole Airport and
transported to the Triangle X Ranch just north of Moose, Wyoming. We will check
into the Triangle X Ranch accommodations (private rooms in historic cabins with
full bathrooms). There will be a welcoming orientation meeting after a delicious
dinner at the Triangle X Ranch.
Photo: Triangle X Ranch
Day 2: After breakfast, we will receive snowshoeing gear and
instruction from Hole Hiking Guides. We will then depart in a van to a nearby
trailhead where we will explore the Taggert/Bradley Lake area as the majestic
granite peaks tower above you as sentinels of the wild. Field topics will include
mammals and winter ecology. You will receive a box lunch (made to your specifications)
to be eaten "in the field." The use of fanny packs and binoculars
are included on all snowshoeing days. We’ll return to a lovely homemade
dinner followed by lively conversation about conservation, a dip in the Jacuzzi,
and maybe a moonlight walk.
Day 3: We will journey into Death Canyon and discover the
history of the area. The canyon was formed by glaciers that retreated at the
end of the last glacial maximum approximately 15,000 years ago, leaving behind
a U-shaped valley. The canyon has many Whitebark Pine stands, particularly near
the tree line.
Day 4: We will travel across the valley to view the entire
Teton Range while exploring Shadow Mountain and the home of wolves, moose and
elk. By leaving the base of the Tetons, we will be privy to dramatic views of
the Tetons and surrounding mountains.
Day 5: Today we are in for a real thrill -- dog sledding with
Frank Teasley’s Iditarod Sled Dogs! For many visitors, this is the highlight
of their winter trip to Jackson Hole. We will meet our Iditarod Sled Dog guides
in Jackson Hole at 8:15 a.m. and be transported to the trailhead for Granite
Hot Springs. The trek to Granite Hot Springs is 10 miles each way, and you can
drive your own dog team part of the way. Our tour features a soak in the 108-degree
water of Granite Creek natural hot springs -- a relaxing interlude after driving
your dog team. We will return to Jackson Hole around 4:00 p.m. and head back
to the Ranch.
Day 6: We will travel to the north end of the park where we
will snowshoe to Emma Matilda Lake and Two Ocean Lake, looking for signs of
wildlife behavior and animal tracks in the snow. Actually, Two Ocean Lake is
a single lake that sits on the Continental Divide. The lake drains into nearby
Pacific Creek that feeds the Snake River.
Day 7: Sadly, this will be our final day together. After a
leisurely breakfast, we will venture to Jackson Hole where we will have several
options for activities. You may decide take a horse-drawn sleigh ride into an
elk herd that numbers in the thousands on the National Elk Refuge. Or perhaps
exploring the National Museum of Wildlife Art, with its collection that dates
from 2500 B.C. of 5,000 catalogued items from 500 artists is more your cup of
tea. We will return to the Triangle X Ranch for our final good-bye dinner, followed
by a conservation talk by a park ranger.
Day 8: After breakfast, we’ll depart to the Jackson
Hole Airport. Expect to arrive at the airport no later than 10:30 a.m.
Photo: Triangle X Ranch
Trip participants will be picked up at the airport in Jackson Hole, Wyoming
and shuttled to the Triangle X Ranch in Grand Teton National Park at the start
of the trip. Trip participants will be shuttled back to the airport in Jackson
Hole, Wyoming at the conclusion of the trip. Shuttle services will also be provided
throughout the trip.
Accommodations and Food
The trip includes seven nights’ lodging, all breakfasts, lunches, and
dinners and snacks. We will stay seven nights at the Triangle X Ranch (6,800’
elevation) located ten miles north of Moose, Wyoming near the south fork of
the Snake River. This is the only accommodation open in the winter in Grand
Teton National Park. Each of the distinct 20 log cabins originated in Jackson
Hole. Perhaps your home for the week housed an early settler family in the late
1800s, later being moved to the ranch and gazing eternally out at the Tetons.
Or maybe your log cottage took shape right above the hand-hewn soil at Triangle
X. You will be served the finest of meals by Triangle X’s own four-star
cooking staff in the dining room lighted with deer horn chandeliers with a spectacular
view of the Tetons. The small occupancy will offer you intimacy. The large fireplace
will give you a quiet retreat and a chance to pass on stories of the day's events.
Standard arrangements are for single-occupancy rooms within the 1-, 2-, or
3-bedroom cabins with a full bath.
Photo: Mieke Schlaroo
A minimum snowshoeing ability of "beginner" is suggested. Snowshoers
should be able to snowshoe on rolling terrain. Most of the terrain we’ll
cover is not steep, but good balance and a familiarity with varied snow and
trail conditions are necessary. Participants should be in good physical shape.
We will generally travel three to five per day on snowshoes. Participants may
also take non-snowshoe rest days on their own at the Triangle X Ranch.
Equipment and Clothing
All snowshoeing equipment will be provided by Hole Hiking. Other equipment
& clothing needs (provided by participant) include:
- Day pack
- Small piece of closed cell foam to sit on snow
- Water bottle
- Sunglasses and/or goggles
- Sunscreen/lip protector
- Binoculars (unless you want to share those provided by Hole Hiking Experience)
- Pocket hand & foot warmers
- Insulating underwear
- Mid-weight insulating layer -- wool or fleece
- Waterproof & windproof outer layer -- jacket & pants
- Pants -- wool or fleece
- Neck gaiter
- Gaiters (unless you want to use those provided by Hole Hiking)
- Insulated boots
- Evening shoes and clothing
- Bathing suit for the Jacuzzi at Triangle X and Granite Hot Springs
Photo: Crista Valentino
A number of activities occur within Grand Teton National Park (GTNP) pre-date
the park’s existence and may conflict with the National Park Service (NPS)
mandate. In light of ongoing concerns about these activities and their possible
ecological and social impacts, GTNP
management has identified them as “critical issues” that need ongoing
and active management.
These issues include:
1) The Jackson Hole Airport, the only commercial airport in a national park
in the contiguous United States and the busiest airport in Wyoming
2) The Jackson Lake Dam, which regulates the water level of Jackson Lake (which
is a natural, not human-made, lake) for primarily agricultural purposes and
some flood control
3) The grazing of cattle and horses
4) Inholdings in the park (private land owned within the park)
5) Hunting (annual elk hunting is allowed within the park boundaries in the
fall and early winter to reduce the number of elk to levels that federal and
state wildlife managers believe the habitat can support)
While a number of national parks also have these types of activities or developments
within them (and these generally pre-date the existence of the park), GTNP is
perhaps unique in the extent to which these types of activities occur within
See the How to Apply for an Outing section for more details on registering for this trip and details
about our Reservation and Cancellation Policy.
The payment of a deposit does not confirm you as a member on the trip. Participants must be approved by the trip leader. After signing up for this trip, you will be sent a confirmation packet containing approval materials (Participant Approval Questionnaire, Medical Form, Liability Release Form). Each applicant (including those on the waitlist) must fill out these forms and promptly mail them to the trip leader. The leader will review the approval materials and notify you of your acceptance in a timely manner.
Elaine Grace joined the Sierra Club in 1972. She worked at Grand Teton National Park as a Park Technician from 1973 through 1976, mostly in the summers. She is currently retired after a 32-year career with the National Park Service, the USDA Forest Service and the US Fish and Wildlife Service. After living in Alaska for 20 years, she moved to the Big Island of Hawaii where she enjoys gardening, bicycling, snorkeling, hiking, hula dancing and beach combing.
Julie Koivula has been a Sierra Club member for more than 25 years. She retired from teaching and coaching at the high school level. She also taught swimming and is a first aid/CPR instructor for the American Red Cross. She has her wilderness first aid certificate, and she loves to hike, bike, canoe, kayak, ski and play many other sports. She now leads and assists on a variety of Sierra Club outings, including backpacking, canoeing, service, biking, and archaeological survey trips. Julie is the Co-Chair for the Midwest Outings Subcommittee.
General Notes About Sierra Club Trips