Tips for Visiting Grand Teton in December – 2022 Ultimate Guide


15 Tips for Visiting Grand Teton in December

December in Grand Teton: Are you thinking of visiting Grand Teton in December? December is a wonderful time to visit Grand Teton National Park.

Grand Teton in October
Mount Moran view from Oxbow Bend beside Snake River of Grand Teton, Wyoming. Color of tees and environment changing due to autumn change to winter.

December is one of the least busy months of the year to visit Grand Teton but I have included tips and tricks for visiting that will help you plan your trip.

In December, there are plenty of winter activities. Every month is unique and different in the park so make sure to take advantage of the days.

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National Park Entrance Fees 

To enter the National Parks, you’ll need to pay an entrance fee or have a National Parks Pass also known as American the Beautiful Pass.

It costs $80 for a yearly America the Beautiful Pass. This gives you access to all national parks and federal areas that charge fees. The America the Beautiful Pass is well worth it!

I purchased my first one in 2016 and it’s such a money-saver! Plus 10% of sale proceeds go to the National Park Foundation.

15 Things to do in Grand Teton in December

Visitor Center

Any tour of a national park should begin with a visit to a visitor center! Visitor centers are a great place to get the most up-to-date information on road conditions and meet locals.

In addition to offering an official update on road conditions and information on winter safety, this visitor center offers stunning views, engaging interpretive displays, a Grand Teton Association bookshop, and ticket sales for sleigh journeys into the National Elk Refuge.

The Visitor Center is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in November.

Sleigh Ride Tour

Visitors can book a horse-drawn sleigh tour to see the refuge’s massive elk herd in December.

This refuge provides a vital habitat for a variety of wildlife in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, but it is primarily used by a large herd of wintering elk in the winter. At this wildlife refuge, visitors can book a winter sleigh ride to get a closer look at the elk and learn more about this Wyoming herd.

The sleigh rides are sold and booked at the Jackson Hole and Greater Yellowstone Visitor Centers.

Signal Mountain Lodge

Consider Signal Mountain if you’re looking for things to do in Grand Teton in December. The mountain, which stands at 7,720 feet above sea level, offers breathtaking views of the Teton Range, Snake River, and Jackson Hole.

The East View Overlook and Jackson Point Overlook on the summit offer spectacular views. Keep a watch out for black bears and mule deer when exploring Signal Mountain Marina. If you get down there, you can rent a kayak or a boat and go for a swim.

Furthermore, Grand Teton National Park’s Signal Mountain Trail is a popular hike. It’s a 6.8-mile track those winds through a twisting pine forest and links to the Signal Mountain Lodge, where you may dine after your climb. 

Snowshoeing

Grand Teton National Park is stunning at any time of year, but when it’s snowed in, it takes on a supernatural quality. Snowshoeing, like hiking, is a great opportunity to get out into nature and experience it in full surround sound.

Snowshoeing at Jackson Hole can take many forms. If you’re new to snowshoeing or the area, a guided snowshoeing tour is a great way to get started. You have a couple of choices. 

You can opt to try the full-day snowshoeing and wildlife experience, where you can spend the morning snowshoeing in Grand Teton National Park and the afternoon searching for elk, moose, bighorn sheep, foxes, and trumpeter swans in the National Elk Refuge. Binoculars, snowshoeing equipment, lunch at a nearby restaurant, and pick up from your hotel are all included. This is a fantastic adventure in December.

However, you can also try a 4-hour easy snowshoeing guided hike if you have limited time, have never snowshoed before, or are unsure of your fitness level, this is the best choice.

The paths chosen are easy, and there will be an experienced guide who will offer advice and techniques. The pace will be slow. Snowshoes, hiking poles, and even binoculars are included in the package. A maximum of 7 people is allowed to participate. There are also morning and afternoon trips available.

Cross-country Skiing

It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to ski into Grand Teton National Park. The area’s fluffy snow is great for skiing and the vistas are spectacular.

If you’ve never done it before, this is a great place to start. There are several sites with groomed tracks, and the Grand Teton mountains, which are always covered in snow, provide a stunning backdrop.

The Grand Teton has approximately 14 miles of groomed Nordic/cross-country skiing routes, making skiing a breeze.

Many knowledgeable outfitters in Jackson can provide you with everything you need to get out and glide across Grand Teton National Park. If you plan on traveling in December, you should book your rental gear ahead of time to ensure availability.

Photography Tours

Grand Teton National Park offers a variety of photo opportunities every year, but the park’s winter setting is especially beautiful and a favorite of amateur and professional photographers alike.

grand teton in november
Morning on the beaver pond at Schwabacher Landing in Grand Teton National Park

If you’re an amateur photographer wishing to improve your skills—or simply want the opportunity and access to photograph the park’s wildlife and jaw-dropping terrain up-close—consider booking a private photo tour or workshop with a professional guide/photographer.

Alpen Glow Tours, Grand Teton Photo Tours, and Jackson Hole Wildlife Safaris are among the companies that provide half-day, full-day, and multi-day tours. You’ll witness landscapes, wildlife, and amazing photo opportunities at sunrise and/or sunset, depending on the trip you take.

Your guide will walk you through every aspect of shooting technique and equipment.

Wildlife Viewing

Take a scenic drive to seek wildlife in the area to warm up from the cold winter air. Grand Teton National Park is home to bison, deer, elk, coyotes, bears, and even wolves. Even though bears hibernate during the winter, much of the park’s other wildlife remains active.

Bison walking towards the camera at the Yellowstone National Park

Moose, elk, bison, wolves, trumpeter swans, and other local species are especially fascinating to see during the winter months when more harsh weather adds to their already fascinating behavior. Learn about the flora and fauna of Grand Teton National Park by taking a self-guided tour or a guided tour.

Drama is most likely to be more prominent throughout the winter, especially during December. Predators such as wolves and mountain lions prey on prey that has been weakened by the hostile climate, increasing competition for space and food.

The Willow Flats Overlook is well-known as one of the greatest places to observe wolves in Grand Teton National Park. Take up residence in a parking lot for the time being. Remember to be patient and have fun while searching!

National Elk Refuge

Elk can be seen outside the park in December at the National Elk Refuge in Jackson Hole. The refuge is also a popular destination for wildlife and migratory birds. The National Elk Refuge is located right before the Grand Teton National Park entry to the north of Jackson.

The Jackson Elk Herd was protected and restored here, as well as a haven for a variety of other animals, birds, and fish.

In the winter, elk migrate from the mountains into the valley floor in Jackson, Wyoming, making them visible to motorists. The Game and Fish Department expects that 5,000 elk will come to the valley this month.

Just outside of town, a barrier extends for several miles alongside the roadway, preventing any collisions between elk and cars on the road. They are not encircled by a fence, but rather roam freely!

Remember to be quiet and patient if you wish to photograph the Elk herds. They are frightened, and even a cough will scatter them from your shot. If you position yourself as a silent observer, they may easily walk into your frame.

Snowmobiling

Grand Teton Snowmobiling is a great way to explore when everything is blanketed in snow! You can do it alone, hire a snowmobile and trailer locally, or participate in a guided tour.

A snowmobile tour can take you to breathtaking natural areas that are otherwise inaccessible in the winter. Hold on to your hat as an expert guide takes you on a tour of the snowy landscape. 

You can also relax in a quiet soak at Old Faithful or the Granite Hot Springs in Yellowstone National Park, the Gros Ventre Range, Togwotee Pass, or Greys River.

Due to the limited access to highways in Wyoming’s national parks, snowmobiling is a popular activity.

Any snowmobile can travel Grassy Lake Road in Grand Teton National Park without a guide. Other areas of the park, such as the use of BAT (Best Available Technology) snowmobiles, have more stringent rules.

Gondola Rides and Aerial Trams

At the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort’s Teton Village, two different types of cable cars scale the mountains. Even if you don’t ski or snowboard downhill, riding one or both up the mountain for amazing views is fantastic.

The Bridger Gondola rises 823 meters (2700 feet) in altitude. There are a few small private gondolas available, and there is enough to do at the top, including three restaurants. You can ride for free after 5:00 p.m.

Furthermore, a famous attraction in Jackson Hole is the Aerial Tram, which goes from the Mountain Resort to the summit of Rendezvous Mountain at 10,450 feet. The Tetons, Jackson, the Snake River Valley, and Grand Teton National Park are all visible from the Tram.

At the bottom of the mountain at Teton Village, both of their stations are practically close to each other. You can also enjoy the views and freshly baked waffles at Corbet’s Cabin, located at the summit.

Ancient Petroglyphs

Visitors can see prehistoric petroglyphs created by the Shoshone Indians on a winter tour. Petroglyphs are carved drawings in rock or stone.

The spiritual significance of the Eastern Shoshone people on the Wind River Reservation east of Jackson is described by a guide.

A visit to the National Bighorn Sheep Center in Dubois is also included in the program.

Dog Sledding

To live out your winter western dream, go dog sledding in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. You’ll be towed by a team of huskies on a sled. It doesn’t get more authentic than this! A musher guide and a team of Alaskan sled dogs will lead you through the wilderness, where you’ll learn about local species and view deer, elk, moose, bighorn sheep, and bald eagles.

Dog sledding trips are available for half or full days. The full-day tours also include a relaxing soak in Granite Hot Springs’ natural spa-like waters.

Being pulled behind a team of dogs in the snow is a fantastic experience. In Jackson Hole, a two-hour dog sledding trip across the river valley along the Buffalo Fork River is provided.

Ice Fishing

Ice fishing is available on the same lakes that offer boating with mountain vistas in Grand Teton National Park. Jackson Lake, Jenny Lake, and Phelps Lake are among the park’s best ice fishing spots.

Before going out on the ice, make sure you have a fishing license and the proper equipment (such as an auger, rod, and reel). Find a guide who can share their knowledge and take the stress out of assembling the necessary gear.

Backcountry Skiing

In the Teton Range, mountaineering, climbing, and backcountry skiing are all popular activities. However, these activities are not for the faint of heart or inexperienced. According to Grand Teton National Park, all snow-season backcountry users should pack proper safety equipment and have a professional grasp of avalanche safety.

Intermediate skiers, on the other hand, can still go exploring in the snow. Those seeking to explore more of the Tetons’ remote terrain may benefit from a guided backcountry ski trip.

A professional guide is a great way to learn about winter safety and make sure that the mountain routes you’re running have been thoroughly assessed for avalanche risk.

The Visitor Center’s trained staff can help you find a tour operator that offers just what you’re looking for.

Cross Country Skiing on Teton Park Road

The Teton Park Road is a great place to try out cross country skiing. The Teton Park Road is maintained from the Taggert Lake Trailhead to Signal Mountain Lodge.

Starting in mid-December, weather permitting, there will be approximately 15 miles of well-kept routes to explore. Jenny Lake and the southern end of Jackson Lake are two of the trail’s most popular destinations.

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