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Cross Country Skiing Grand Teton National Park

cross country skiing Grand Teton Cross Coutry skier takes in the view by on Bradley Lake Trail
Cross Coutry skier takes in the view by on Bradley Lake Trail

There is nothing more overwhelming than first seeing the landscape of Grand Teton National Park, where mountain ranges capture hearts, not just the old, but even the young. Adventures abound when the winter rolls in, making it one of the top places for winter vacations activities, cross country ski beneath the majesty of the heart of the Teton Range. Since John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway stays open long after most of Yellowstone is closed for winter, Grand Teton becomes king of the hill during the season of snow. The user-friendly flats to Jenny Lake or the hills around Bradley Taggert Lakes offer something for everyone. Ski Grand Teton Park for endless terrain for exercise and viewings of wildlife and beautiful scenery.

Pets are not allowed in the backcountry. Dogs on a leash or in harness pulling a dog sled or skier may travel on Grassy Lake Road and on the frozen surface of Jackson Lake. Dogs on a leash are permitted on plowed roads.

Overnight ski tourers, ski mountaineers, and snowshoers must register at park headquarters in Moose and obtain a free camping permit. Wildlife harassment is prohibited. Winter is stressful on wildlife. Approaching too close to wildlife increases their stress. Retrace your steps Areas closed to protect wildlife

Snake River bottom from Menor's Ferry at Moose north to Moran Junction, Buffalo Fork of the Snake River in the park, Willow Flats, Kelly Hill, Uhl Hill, and Wolff Ridge. Closures for the protection of bighorn sheep include: Static Peak, Prospectors Mountain, and Mount Hunt including peaks 10988, 10905, and 10495; all areas above 9900 feet (3000m) and south-facing slopes on Mount Hunt above 8580 feet (2600m); Banana
Couloir is open.

The very geology and layout of the park provides incredible places for many miles of trails for snowshoeing, cross country skiing,

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Adverting around Yellowstone


A new book by Montana photographer Tom Murphy reveals a side of Yellowstone National Park that few people have seen, much less understood and appreciated.
Winter, the park’s longest and hardest season, is celebrated—“respected” may be a better word—in Murphy’s large format, hardcover book, Silence & Solitude: Yellowstone’s Winter Wilderness ($29.95, Riverbend Publishing). The book’s 130 photographs range from sweeping panoramas of backcountry landscapes to details of delicate ice crystals. Many of the photographs show wildlife trying to survive in near-arctic conditions: bison stoically standing in a geyser’s warm steam, hundreds of elk following one another single file through belly-deep snow, and a red fox leaping high in the air to come down hard on crusty snow and pin a mouse to the ground.

In his foreword to the book, popular author and Outside magazine editor-at-large Tim Cahill writes, "These are photos that mirror a man’s passion, and I know of nothing like them anywhere. Tom Murphy is an artist of major distinction. More often that not, the image itself tells a story. This is because Tom, who has been a guide in the park for two decades, knows the flora and fauna and the natural rhythms of the place in the way that he knows the beating of his own heart. Consequently, his photographs are not simply stunning or striking: they are also knowledgeable and even wise.”
Murphy, 51, was the first person licensed by the National Park Service to conduct photography workshops in Yellowstone. He spends 80 to 100 days within the park each year, and once he skied solo for 125 miles across the park. That trip, made during one of the worst winter storms of the decade, took 14 days.
“I seek out the winter here because I find things that are difficult or impossible to find anywhere else,” Murphy writes in the book’s introduction. “I make these photographs because I love the quiet beauty of this wilderness. I hope others feel, through my photographs, the wondrous elegance, symmetry, surprise and power of the place.”
Murphy also provided the film for a new video by Montana Public Television on winter in Yellowstone. The video and a CD of the video’s music are companion items to the book and share the same title, Silence & Solitude: Yellowstone’s Winter Wilderness.

Outside Magazine editor-at-large

“Don’t you think this idea is,” I asked gently, “oh, vaguely suicidal.” My thrifty photographer friend, Tom Murphy, wanted to ski across Yellowstone National Park: a two-week backcountry ski expedition where there would be little or no possibility of rescue in case of an accident or an unforeseen emergency. He wanted to slog through a country noted for 50 degree below zero temperatures and blinding blizzards and snow twenty feet deep in order to take pictures. Tom is not a high tech guy and owns none of the latest warmest gear. It seemed to me that his cameras would freeze up, along with his fingers, and hands and perhaps his entire body, and that it was possible he might very well die in the name of photography, which sounds noble enough from a distance, but moronic when the potential victim is a friend. It was an impossible trip. In order to navigate the country, for instance, one would be obliged to cross rivers fed by hot springs, rivers that consequently did not freeze and ran waist deep in the shallow sections so that it is necessary for a traveler to strip from the waist down, shoulder pack and skis, then ford the river, half naked, in the freezing cold, through the near-frozen water. Tom had just asked if I wanted to come with him—this was in back in 1985—I said, “uh, no.”
For the record, I need to say that Tom is also the world’s most “frugal” outdoorsman: his pack is 20 years old, as are his skis, and he wears thin red dress socks under his old leather boots, socks that, he is proud to say, cost him 50 cents a pair. But his gear does the job. He gets across the park in the winter, something few of us could accomplish. In the same way, his cameras are simple: he is concerned with composition and light and information that tell a story. That’s all. And that’s more than enough. Tom Murphy goes out in the winter in his silly red dress socks and he brings back these wondrous, these stupendous images. This book is the closest most of us will get to a backcountry ski trip through Yellowstone. It is a fine thing to have Tom Murphy as our guide. He a passionate naturalist, an artist of major distinction…and, as it turns out—red dress socks not withstanding—a man not nearly as suicidal as I once imagined. Sartorially challenged maybe, but not suicidal.



Teton Region Cross Country Ski Trails
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Grand Teton National Park

Flag Ranch Area map • Polecat Creek Loop Trail Easy, 2.5 miles, elevation change: 50'. The south side parallels the Grassy Lake Road, which is open to snowmobiles. The west side follows a bench above Polecat Creek. Flagg Canyon Trail North Difficult, 4.0 miles roundtrip, elevation change: 120'. Follow the east side of the Polecat Creek Loop Trail and travel north for 0.5 miles. Turn east (right) at the marked trail junction. The trail crosses the snowmobile trail; use caution and watch for snowmobiles and snowcoaches. The flagged trail continues on the east side of the the Flagg Canyon Trail north (left) to reach the South Gate of Yellowstone National Park. This section contains a few short, steep sections that can easily be avoided. Use caution and avoid cornices where the trail follows the edge of the cliff above the Snake River. Return via the same route or take the groomed snowmobile trail. Flagg Canyon Trail South Easy, 4.0 miles roundtrip , elevation change: 40'. Reach the Flagg Canyon Trail as described for Flagg Canyon Trail north. At the junction with the Flagg Canyon Trail, turn south (right). The southern half of the Flagg Canyon Trail leads 1.2 miles to end at the highway near the bridge over the Snake River. The trail is suitable for beginners. Return via the same route.

Colter Bay Area map • Swan Lake-Heron Pond Loop The trailhead is located 300 feet south of the Colter Bay Ranger Station. Park in front of the ranger station or near the trailhead on the road. Easy, 3 miles roundtrip, elevation change: 40'. The trail crosses an unplowed parking area, then passes the Hermitage Point Trailhead. Continue to the right of the trailhead sign and follow an old road for the first 0.4 mile. The trail then forks to either Swan Lake or Heron Pond. Ski 2.2 miles in either direction on the loop trail to return to this junction. Skiing on the ponds is not recommended. Beyond Heron Pond unflagged trails lead to Hermitage Point; this loop adds 5.8 mi. (60' elevation) to the trip.

Cross Country Skier Moose Grand Teton National Park
Sharon Hunter kicks and glides her way down Moose Wilson Road past, what else, a couple of moose.
Taggart Lake Area map •  Parking Area The parking area is located 4 miles northwest of Moose Junction on Teton Park Road. Jenny Lake Trail Easy, 7.6 miles roundtrip, elevation change: 100'. Follow the unplowed road 1⁄4-mile to Cottonwood Creek, then ski north along the creek. The trail follows the west side of the creek, crosses several meadows, then climbs a low moraine, and ends at an overlook of Jenny Lake. The terrain is mostly level and is excellent for beginners. Skiing on Cottonwood Creek is not recommended. Return via the same trail. Another option is to follow the unplowed road (not flagged) to the east side of Jenny Lake. To reach the flagged ski trail from the unplowed road, cross the bridge over Cottonwood Creek and head west along the edge of Jenny Lake. Taggart Lake-Beaver Creek Loop Difficult, Taggart Lake and return – 3.2 miles roundtrip, elevation change: 277'. Taggart Lake/ Beaver Creek Loop – 4 miles roundtrip, elevation change: 397'. From the parking area, ski directly toward the mountains. Turn north (right) and follow the trail as it climbs over the moraine. The trail forks in about one mile. The right fork climbs 0.7 mile for a view down to Taggart Lake. The left fork takes you directly to Taggart Lake. If
you return the way you came, you will encounter a steep, tree-lined section that is at times icy and treacherous, requiring downhill skiing ability. Another option is to turn south, cross the bridge over the lake outlet, and follow the trail that climbs the moraine. Then ski down the steep open slope and follow the Beaver Creek trail to the east to return to the parking area.

Moose Wilson Road Area map • Phelps Lake Overlook. The trailhead for Phelps Lake is located 3.1miles south of Moose on the (west) right side of the Moose-Wilson Road and is accessible by vehicle only from Moose.Moderate, 5.2 miles roundtrip, elevation change: 520'. The trail follows a narrow, unplowed road for 1.7 miles to the Death Canyon trailhead. Then the trail climbs westward through a forest and over an open slope to reach the Phelps Lake overlook. Do not continue beyond the overlook because of high avalanche hazard. The return trip is downhill.Moose-Wilson RoadParking for the skiable section of the Moose- Wilson Road is available only on the Teton Village (south) end of the road. Easy, 4 miles roundtrip, elevation change: 100'. Park at the south end of the unplowed road. The trail is mostly flat and is a good choice for beginners.

Signal Mountain Area map • Follow Highway 26/89/191 to Moran Junction, then 5 miles west to Jackson Lake Junction, then south 3 miles on the Teton Park Road. Signal Mountain Summit Road Moderate, 12 miles roundtrip, elevation change: 700'. Park near Signal Mountain Lodge. Ski the unplowed road south for about one mile until you reach the unplowed road that goes east (left) to the summit of Signal Mountain.
Jackson Hole

• Cache Creek - located on the southeast corner of the town of Jackson east of Snow King Ski Resort. This is a busy trail but it does provide a quick access out of the town of Jackson.

• Game Creek - travel south from Jackson on Hwy 89/191 approx. 7 miles, and turn left onto road #30455 9Game Cr. R.) toward Game Creek. Parking is on left less than a mile up this road

• Granite Creek Hot Springs - Go 12 miles south of Jackson and head south on Hwy 191 through the beautiful Hoback Canyon. About fifteen miles up turn on Granite Creek Road and right away you are at the trail head. It is a ten mile ski to the Granite Hot Spring but even if you make it a shorter trip you will still enjoy it. This is a popular groomed snowmobile and dog-sledding trail.

• Gros Ventre Road - go about 7 miles north of Jackson to the Kelly turn off and after go through the town of Kelly go about another 2 miles then turn right on Gros Ventre River Road, follow it until it ends at the parking area above Slide Lake. The exposed red cliffs juxtaposed against the snow is a beautiful site. This is Rocky mountain Bighorn Sheep wintering grounds and the chances of seeing some are about 90%. This is a popular groomed snowmobile trail.

• Shadow Mountain - is about 15 miles north of Jackson, look for Antelope Flats Road then turn left when the road ends and follow it till it ends. This Trail is about an 8 mile loop with about a thousand foot elevation gain that provides great views of the Tetons

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