Biking through Yellowstone offers a feast for the senses.
Snowshoeing Grand Teton National Park provides sanctuary for the soul.
Now, we didn’t come to Jackson Hole to go snowshoeing. The activity that had never crossed our minds, nonetheless been added to a vacation bucket list. But after a 4-mile snowshoe trek around the Taggart Lake Loop, we found ourselves physically exhausted, mentally rested and completely at peace. Less than 20 minutes north of Jackson Hole, the offseason tranquility of Grand Teton National Park delivered a potent and welcome dose of Tetonic Therapy.
There’s something inexplicably calming about the sound of the snow crunching underneath your feet as you awkwardly trudge along trails of fresh powder. A billion pine needles pulsating in the breeze. Unseen birds foraging amongst the snow-covered flora, awakening the forest with their calls. Extended moments of unnerving silence, then the jolting crack of a branch.
Your body reacts. An abrupt head jerk. Eyes open, head on a swivel. Rapid, oscillating movements, part owl, part Oral-B.
Finger on the trigger of the can carabiner’d to your waist.
Is it a bear?
Nope, bird on a branch.
How these eerily mysterious surroundings both fuel the body with adrenaline and simultaneously calm the nerves is a striking example of nature’s impossible symmetry.
An environment of unnatural harshness rivaled only by its natural beauty.
There’s beautiful equilibrium in this place.
Heightened senses & calmed nerves.
Apprehension & adventure.
Mystery & intrigue.
Mind, body & soul.
Grab a dose of Tetonic Therapy, just outside of Jackson Hole.
Plan your trip
From food trucks to frozen trails, finding peace and privacy in an otherwise-crowded tourist destination is a breath of fresh air. We can count on one hand how many people we saw that day during our snowshoe excursion out to Taggart Lake.
Snowshoeing Grand Teton National Park during the offseason is a rewarding experience waiting to happen, if you plan it right. Here are a few tips to get you started:
- Rent snowshoes from the friendly folks at Skinny Skis in Jackson Hole. Their prices were well below what we expected to pay.
- Dress warmly, but be prepared to shed layers as the workout kicks into gear. We both went from 4 layers to 2 in under 30 minutes.
- Bring plenty of water & snacks
- Carry bear spray
Choose a trail
After reading this guide, check out the NPS website. It has a great winter trip planner with trail recommendations, safety tips and other planning details.
As far as snowshoeing, here are 3 great options from the South Trailhead (aka the Taggart Lake Trailhead):
- Jenny Lake Trail: 8 miles round-trip, total climbing: 200 feet. NPS classification: Easy
- Taggart Lake out-and-back: 3 miles round-trip, total climbing: 400 feet. NPS classification: Moderate to difficult
- Taggart Lake–Beaver Creek Loop: 4 miles round-trip, total climbing: 500 feet. NPS classification: Moderate to difficult
Both #2 and #3 traverse steep hills created by glacial moraines. We chose #3 (pictured at right).
Our roundtrip adventure took about 4 hours, including a 45-minute chilled-out hammock session next to frozen Taggart Lake.
The 2nd half of the loop (after we left the lake) was the highlight. Do the loop counterclockwise (like we did) and save the best bits of nature’s beauty for last.
travelhelix tip: the Alltrails app is extremely handy for trail guidance and it works offline!
Find the Taggart Lake Trailhead
The Taggart Lake Trailhead is the easiest jumping off point for the Taggart Lake Loop.
From Jackson Town Square, it’s a 16-mile drive or bike ride north. Once you hit Moose, 3 more miles and you’ll arrive at the Taggart Lake parking area, located right off Teton Park Road.
Biking + snowshoeing: the Jenny Lake combo
After you park, you’ll see a lot of folks on bikes. They’re probably headed towards Jenny Lake. If you’ve chosen the Jenny Lake snowshoe route (option #1 in the Choose a trail section above), consider a bike-snowshoe combo:
- Make the 4-mile ride north to Jenny Lake by bike, with your snowshoes strapped to your back.
- Park your bike at the lake and explore the lake area on snowshoes.
- Then make the 4-mile ride south, back to the Taggart Lake Trailhead, by bike.
Re-fuel after a long day
We’ve been told that Dornan’s is the best place for a bite and a beer in the area. Unfortunately, our trip fell within the 3 weeks they close up shop each year. Offseason sacrifice!
Instead, we endured the 25-minute ride back to downtown Jackson Hole—just before sunset—and enjoyed a delicious meal at El Abuelito.
Our guide to eating in Jackson Hole during the offseason breaks down a few great options for getting your grub on, after a long & exhausting day.
Snowshoeing Grand Teton National Park: Tetonic Photo-Therapy
At this point, we’ll let our pictures tell the rest of the story.
It may be the middle of spring, but it still feels like winter in Wyoming. Eager to embrace the wilderness, without windows? Strap on your snowshoes and take a therapeutic loop around Taggart Lake.
Your mind, body and soul will thank you.
PS—with the exception of a single skunk sighting, today’s snowshoe trek around Taggart Lake was animal-free. Tomorrow, however, would be an entirely different story. Check out our epic drive through wildlife-rich Oxbow Bend, on the way to the South Entrance of Yellowstone!