7 Delightful Dog-Friendly Hikes Near Denver

So, you’re here because you have a hunger for adventure. We love to see it! Whether you’re a Denver native or a tourist planning a future trip or currently visiting the area, we’ve got some great, dog-friendly options for you!

Boasting vivid landscapes of forests, mountains, mesas, high plains, plateaus, canyons, desert lands and rivers, Colorado is one of the most beautiful states of the southwestern United States.

Denver, the capital and most popular city, is known as the “Mile High City” because its official elevation measures at exactly one mile above sea level! (Bet you tourists didn’t know that one!)

This means that hikes near Denver require a little extra stamina due to the lower oxygen levels at elevation, so don’t be surprised if a hike marked as ‘easy’ ends up leaving you feeling a little winded! It’s just one thing to prepare for before visiting Denver.

Denver is where the great outdoors, and Mama Earth, meet urban and artsy sophistication. What people adore about this treasure of a city is that, as mentioned, it offers the best of both worlds. Denver’s an outdoor city with renowned cultural attractions.

It’s got buzzing craft breweries for you beer-drinkers (pun intended,) chef-driven dining your tastebuds will come to worship, bumping music scenes for the dancing folk, and the Rocky Mountains just around the corner.

Alright, you’ve been let in on our little secret: We love this city.

What’s one of the best ways to experience it, you ask? Day hikes.

A day hike refers to a hike that can be completed in a day. (Yeah, nothing gets past you, huh?)

No, really, that may sound obvious but knowing hiking lingo is quite important for this hobby or pastime. Hiking for multiple days, for example, is referred to as backpacking.

The common rule of thumb is that the average hiking extraordinaire can generally walk between 2.5 and 3.5 miles per hour. So, with that estimation in mind, a trained walker can walk up to 20 to 30 miles per day.

A day hike can be any amount you can walk while the sun is up!

The Best Dog-Friendly Day Hikes in Denver

North Table Mountain

View of North Table Mountain, seen at sunset, surrounded by a small town, a mesa with a flat top.

This mountain is more of a mesa. A mesa is an isolated, flat-topped hill with steep sides. When the sun rises, you’ll see the details of its steep sides framed by the lower surrounding town of Golden, Colorado.

Trails stretch in abundance waiting for hikers, photographers and mountain bikers alike.

This is perfect for walkers who may not have tons of spare time on their hands, but are in need of a good stretch of the legs and breath of fresh air to their lungs.

The trails of Table Mountain are accessible year-round; however, it’s the most beautiful and picturesque during the spring and early summer months when flowers start to bloom.

In their unique and unruly wildness, each petal reaches towards the sky and serves as a reminder that the loveliest things are free.

Hike Breakdown:

Distance: 2.7 – 7.7 miles

Duration: ~ 1-4 hours

Difficulty: Moderate

Dogs: Leashed only

Drive Time From Denver: 25 minutes

Meyer Ranch Open Space Park

Yellow house with red shutters near the Meyer Ranch open space with evergreen trees on a hillside

Extending 30 minutes outside of Denver, Meyer Ranch offers three different hiking options. That’s what makes this spot so great, there’s something for everyone, from easy to moderate.

You’ll see meadows so big they could swallow you whole, vibrant flowers, as well as your friendly neighborhood deer and elk.

Bonus activities here include going on a mountain bike ride or picnic. It’s a fantastic area in Aspen Park and the relatively new ramada makes the perfect spot to bust out the snacks for a picnic!

Additionally, if you’re stopping by during the winter, there are perfect hills for sledding!

We’ve mapped out three dog-friendly hikes near Denver in Meyer Ranch below!

Hike Breakdown:

Distance: 2.4 – 4.8 miles round trip

Duration: ~ 1 – 2.5 hours round trip

Difficulty: Easy – Moderate

Dogs: Leashed only

Drive Time From Denver: 30 minutes

Hike Options in Meyer Ranch

Lodgepole Loop (3 miles / Moderate)

Directions:

Owl’s Perch Trail South

Straight left down to next junction →
Continue right to the Lodgepole Loop for 1.2 miles →
Arrive back to Owl’s Perch Trail
Going left will bring you back to the parking lot

Sunny Aspen Trail Loop (3 miles / Moderate)

Directions:

Owl’s Perch Trail South
Straight left down to next junction →
Continue right to the Lodgepole Loop for 0.6 miles →
Take right onto Sunny Aspen Trail for 0.8 miles to return to Lodgepole Loop
Going left will bring you back to the parking lot

Old Ski Run Trail (4.8 miles / Moderate)

Directions:

Owl’s Perch Trail South
Straight left down to next junction for .2 mile →
Go left onto the Sunny Aspen Trail for .5 mile →
Arrive at Old Ski Run Trail
The Ski Run trail loops 2 miles out and back →
Return the way you came via Sunny Aspen Trail

Chautauqua in Boulder

Three peaks showing a cliff face of granite, covered in evergreen trees, with yellow and bright green grass in the foreground, on an overcast day hiking near Denver.

The Chautauqua Trail has 1,747 reviews and 4.5 stars on one single trail review site. So, yeah, you could say it’s a crowd favorite!

This heavily trafficked hike leads to many other popular trails such as the Royal Arch and Flat Irons. So, if you’re just getting started at the end of the Chautauqua, you can always hit one of the other treks as well!

On the Chautauqua, you can expect a lot of width, a little incline, and a boatload of wildflowers, vistas, and views of the rugged Flat Irons.

Fun (historical) fact: This is the only Chautauqua west of the Mississippi River that continues in unbroken operation since the peak of the Chautauqua Movement of the 1920s.

Hike Breakdown:

Distance: 3.6 miles

Duration: 2 hours

Difficulty: Moderate

Dogs: Leashed Only

Drive Time From Denver: 35 minutes

South Boulder Peak

Yellow grass with light snow on the ground, a scattering of evergreen trees on the ground, with a triangular mountain peak, with a partly cloudy sky.

We needed to have a difficult one on the list for all you weathered day-hikers!

South Boulder Peak will demand a lot out of you! It’s a 3.7-mile hike one way nestled above the South Mesa.

In the famous Flatirons, near Boulder, hikers can also hit Bear Peak and return through the Fern Canyon for an 8.7-mile loop.

If a tiring (but, rejuvenating!) thrill is what you seek, South Boulder Peak is just that. You’ll be stunned by the views. Don’t take our word for it.

Hike Breakdown:

Distance: 7.4 miles round trip or 8.7 mile loop

Duration: ~ 3 – 5 hours

Difficulty: Difficult

Dogs: Leashed Only

Drive Time From Denver: 45 minutes

Tips for Day Hiking Near Denver

Red rock covered in a green mossy sheen, with hiking path visible in the distance, on a hike near Denver

Day hikes are fantastic for beginner hikers to hone in on and build up their skills, no matter how newfound those may be.

The key takeaway I want to imprint on new day hikers is this: Research, research, research. Find trails that are well-marked, well-maintained, and will be easy to get to and from your stay.

You never know how tired you will be when you’re finished with the hike, and want to make sure you aren’t too far from “home.”

Be sure to study a map before you begin your trek. Here are a few things to consider:

  1. Scope out the area to consider how hard it will be for you in terms of time and energy.
  2. Make a note of water sources if you are not bringing your own. If you aren’t, be sure to bring a water filtration system like the GRAYL water bottle, which can filter any potentially contaminated water from an unmaintained source and make it perfectly safe to drink.
  3. Decide ahead of time your calculation of when to turn back and at what time. Be realistic about your energy level and also keep in mind what time during the day this will all take place, especially if it is a new spot. You don’t want to run out of daylight and get turned around!
  4. If you’re tackling a sunset hike or a sunrise hike, be sure to bring a headlamp. In fact, this is just good practice no matter what time of day you’re hiking. It’s lightweight but could save you from a nasty tumble in the dark or worse, getting disoriented, if your hike ends up being in the dark longer than you expect.
  5. Anticipate landmarks. That way, if you take a wrong turn, you’ll notice and know what to look out for.

Finally, pack a lunch so that midday you can take care of your body, soul and mind! Exercise is key, but in order to take on the challenge to your best ability, rest and nutrients are just as important… if not more important!

To piggyback on the previous point, a small sack or pack to store your food and water source will be of GREAT value to your trip. Pack smart as to not weigh yourself down but, with that, be strategic in choosing the right essentials!

Why Hike Near Denver?

Paved path with sandstone orange rock formations forming peaks in the sky

In case you run into any motivation issues while hitting that alarm button and planning to head to the trails, we’re gonna end this thang with some health benefits.

So, bring on the phenomenal benefits:

  • Reduced risk for heart disease
  • Lower stress levels
  • Enhanced mental state due to endorphins
  • Improved mood
  • Increased control over healthy weight
  • Lower cholesterol levels
  • Lower body fat
  • Improvement in bone density
  • Increase in coordination and flexibility
  • Enhanced connection with others
  • Better quality of life
  • Lots of that sweet, sweet Vitamin D!

So, despite your achy legs, you’re gaining countless benefits. And, in Denver?

We may be a little bit biased, but we’d say you’re combining the best activity with the best location. You. Just. Can’t. Beat. It. Folks.

We hope this guide of dog-friendly hikes in Denver was everything you needed and more, as well as the navigation, tips, tricks, and health benefits.

We’d love to hear about your Denver hiking experiences below! As well as any day hiking information you may be itching to share with us.

Pin This Guide to Day Hikes Near Denver

Grand Canyon in Winter: 19 Things to Know Before You Go

Snow covered landscape of the Grand Canyon in the winter months

If you have always dreamed of gazing into the Grand Canyon, you have probably pictured its 6,000-foot tall cliff walls, glowing red landscape, and unparalleled desert scenery.

Looking down into one of the world’s largest canyons and the many layers of rock revealed by the force of the Colorado River is like looking back in time millions of years.

Although Grand Canyon National Park sees unbearably hot temperatures in the summer, the winter in Grand Canyon is a little more bearable… and sees fewer crowds.

Snow blankets the North Rim, accenting the overhanging red rock, and visitation dips quite a bit compared to the steady traffic of summertime.

Although the shift in seasons may change the scenery, there are still many fun activities to do while bundled up in Grand Canyon National Park in the winter!

Grand Canyon Winter Road Closures

Snow covered landscape at the Grand Canyon in winter, red rocks with patches of white snow with the sun rising above the canyon at sunrise.

North Rim Scenic Drive and All North Rim Roads

If you were hoping to visit the North Rim in Grand Canyon National Park, you will have to wait until mid to late spring.

The North Rim Scenic Drive and all amenities in the North Rim area close down during the winter months.

In fact, this road is only open for a short window of time: between May 15th and October 15th. (Read more differences between the North Rim and the South Rim here.)

This scenic road is a common access point for visitors arriving at the park from northern states, but be warned, the South Entrance is over 4 hours driving from the North Entrance if you end up on the wrong side of the canyon.

Desert View Drive (South Rim)

Grand Canyon in morning light covered in snow, with snow blanketing the layers of rock in the canyon as well as some of the trees.

The scenic stretch of road known as the Desert View Drive or East Rim Drive is open year-round to private vehicles.

The drive travels along State Route 64, connecting the South Entrance of Grand Canyon National Park near the town of Tusayan to the East Entrance in the neighboring Navajo Nation.

Although the road is technically open 365 days per year, the park service may elect to close the road due to inclement winter driving conditions.

The weather can change quickly in Grand Canyon National Park in winter, so it is important for visitors to frequently check for weather updates as they prepare to drive to the park.

Hermit Road (South Rim)

Winter landscape at the Grand Canyon, white snow blanketing the higher elevation pockets of the park and tops of the mesas, and the valley below showing red rock and orange rocks

During peak visitation, the Hermit Road, which spans from the South Rim area to Hermit Trailhead where the road dead-ends, is closed to private vehicle traffic.

From March through November, the road can only be traveled by biking, walking, or hopping aboard the free Hermit Road (Red Route) Shuttle.

Once the season of high-visitation is over, the road opens up to private vehicle traffic.

For the months of December, January, and February, visitors can drive along the Hermit Road and park in designated parking areas to access hiking trails and viewpoints.

Grand Canyon Winter Hours of Operation and Facilities

A snow covered visitor center at the North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park
The North Rim Visitor Center before winter closure can still get covered in snow

Although the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park is always open to the public, some of the facilities undergo reduced hours of operation come wintertime.

Remember the North Rim and all facilities are closed between mid-October and mid-May.

If you are visiting Grand Canyon National Park in the winter, you will want to be aware of these changes to facility hours and seasonal closures:

Grand Canyon Village (South Rim) Facility Hours

Grand Canyon Visitor Center: 9:00 am – 4:00 pm

Grand Canyon Visitor Center Park Store: 9:00 am – 6:00 pm

South Rim Backcountry Information Center: 8:00 – noon; then, 1:00 pm – 5:00 pm

Yavapai Geology Museum: 9:00 am – 5:00 pm

Verkamp’s Visitor Center: 9:00 am – 5:00 pm

Desert View (South Rim) Facility Hours

Watchtower Kiva Shop: 8:00 am – 6:00 pm

Watchtower Stairs: 8:00 am – 5:30 pm, stairs always close 30 minutes before the store

Tusayan Museum: 9:00 am – 5:00 pm

North Rim

All facilities and roads are closed for winter at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, so don’t even factor this into a winter trip.

Visitor Centers in Winter

Man standing a few feet from the edge of the Grand Canyon in the snow, wearing a hat, sweater, and jeans.

Visitor centers in Grand Canyon National Park are open in the winter, except select holidays. It is always a good idea to begin a national park trip with a stop at the visitor center.

This is a great way to make sure you have the most up to date information, and it allows you to review your itinerary with professional park staff.

They may even have some insider tips to share with you!

Winter Camping in Grand Canyon National Park

Grand Canyon camping tents near the Grand Canyon
Image provided by Airbnb

Many who come to Grand Canyon National Park choose to camp during their visits.

During the summer months, there are three different campgrounds to choose from: North Rim Campground, Desert View Campground, and Mather Campground.

However, North Rim and Desert View Campgrounds both close in October.

Mather Campground on the South Rim as the only front country year-round camping option in Grand Canyon National Park.

For those planning to stay at Mather Campground during their winter visit, advanced reservations are highly recommended.

As the only open campground in the park, spaces fill quickly! Reservations can be made online up to 6 months in advance.

Not into camping? There are also great Grand Canyon Airbnbs available in the winter.

Winter Safety in Grand Canyon National Park

Icy Trails

Icy trails at Grand Canyon in winter, with snow on the sides and in the canyon itself interspersed with red rock, with visitors at the end of the trail.

With limited daylight, cold nighttime temperatures, and limited sunlight in the deep canyon during the winter, one of the greatest cold season hazard in winter in the Grand Canyon becomes icy trails.

Many of the most popular trails remain open year-round. It’s not uncommon to have clear dry trails. However, ice may be lingering in the shaded areas.

To prevent slipping on icy trails, many hikers choose to carry along Yaktrax or spikes. These handy accessories will help you keep your footing on slick surfaces!

Hypothermia

Woman wearing hat, jacket, jeans, and snow boots at the Grand Canyon in winter, with her arms up in the air as the sun sets.

When your body temperature falls to dangerously cool levels, you begin to experience hypothermia. Wet clothes from snow or rain combined with cold winter temperatures can create a high-risk.

To avoid hypothermia, the park service recommends wearing non-cotton clothing, eating high-energy foods before chill takes effect, and staying dry. Hypothermia is five times more likely to occur in wet conditions!

Rockfall

Snow covering red rocks at the Grand Canyon, other parts of the canyon left untouched by snow, as fog rolls on the top of the canyon

Rockfall is a year-round hazard in Grand Canyon National Park. When recreating within the steep canyon, be aware and alert.

If a rockfall occurs, the park service advises visitors to safely move out of the way. If it is not possible to move out of the way of falling rock, seek shelter behind a large and stable rock feature and place your backpack over your head.

Although rockfall can occur at any time, the risk can become increased due to water freezing behind the cliff walls.

When the water freezes, it can cause the cracks behind rocks to expand occasionally lodging the rocks out of place.

Winter Driving Conditions

Checkpoint for entering Grand Canyon in winter, with a sign that reads "icy road ahead" with little light, either at dusk or dawn.

The elevation on the South Rim is 7,000 feet, and winter weather conditions are not uncommon!

Throughout the winter months, visitors driving the park roads should use caution and slow down. Snow and ice may be lingering on the roads.

Things to Do in the Grand Canyon in Winter

Backpack into the Grand Canyon

View as you hike into the Grand Canyon in winter, with snow covering the top edges of the red rocks and blanketing the trees.

Backcountry permits are hard to come by during the busy season. Once the winter months come around, a permit to camp in the backcountry is a little easier to come by.

Backpacking is one of the best ways to experience the vastness of the Grand Canyon while exploring more remote terrain.

One of the most recommended overnight backpacking trips in the Grand Canyon is to Bright Angel Campground.

This trail has a lot of sun exposure making it difficult to do in the heat of summer, but comfortable during the wintertime!

This backcountry camp offers potable water and toilets year-round, and it is at the very bottom of the canyon about 1/2 mile from the Colorado River.

Bright Angel Campground is about 10 hiking miles from the South Rim.

Keep in mind the first day would be primarily hiking down into the canyon, while your second day would be mostly uphill! The trail’s high sun exposure keeps it free of snow and ice most of the time.

Mule Trips

Mules wearing a winter pelt and saddle traveling into the Grand Canyon, which has some snow on the side of the trail.

There are mule trips offered year-round on Grand Canyon National Park’s South Rim.

Going on one of these excursions in the wintertime offers a welcome relief from the hot summer sun!

Winter mule trips vary in length and type of terrain. If you are short on time and not a fan of traveling steep terrain on a mule, you may enjoy the Canyon Vistas Ride. This excursion is a short 3-hour scenic trip along the canyon rim.

Visitors with more time to spare can choose to book a multi-day trip that includes an overnight stay at the Phantom Ranch.

The historic and well-known ranch sits at the bottom of the Grand Canyon on the east side of Bright Angel Creek.

A mule trip to Bright Angel Creek is a great alternative to backpacking!

Winter Landscape Photography

View of the North Rim from Yaki Point in winter at the Grand Canyon South Rim in Arizona, high elevation points blanketed in snow surrounded by trees.

Grand Canyon National Park’s breathtaking landscape becomes something even more picturesque once the snow begins to fall. The tall canyon walls become dusted with snow and the cliff’s red colors pop.

Visitors hoping to capture Grand Canyon’s winter landscape can travel the Desert View Drive along State Route 64 while using the marked turnouts and designated parking areas to find the perfect angles.

Since many of the trails stay open year-round, photographers can also hike to scenic vistas, such as Grandview Point and Mather Point.

Pin This Guide to Winter in the Grand Canyon!

11 Best Hikes in Glacier National Park

With over 734 miles of scenic hiking trails, Glacier National Park has a wealth of hiking to explore.

There’s a trail for every experience level and age group from a family-friendly boardwalk hike around the massive old-growth cedars near Lake McDonald to challenging mountain passes that offer rewarding views of the pristine landscape below.

Pack your backpack, grab your camera, and don’t forget the bear spray. These are the best day hikes in Glacier National Park you won’t want to miss!

Best Hikes in Glacier National Park

Grinnell Glacier

Brilliant turquoise blue water surrounded by white glacial ice, with green grass with red wildflowers on the edge, surrounded by tall mountain edges lightly covered in snow.

Mileage: 10 miles or 7 miles using the boat shuttle

Elevation Gain: 1,600 feet

The Many Glacier Valley in Glacier National Park is a true hiking paradise. One of the most commonly suggested hikes in this area is to see Grinnell Glacier. There are at least 35 named glaciers in the park, and Grinnell is one of the most accessible.

Now, let’s talk about how to get there…

From the Grinnell Glacier Trailhead, hike along the north shores of Swiftcurrent Lake and Lake Josephine. The mountain views from this section of the trail are beautiful!

The trail doesn’t begin to gain much elevation until you have passed the lakes. The last 3 miles are fairly steep, but at least there are plenty of wildflowers to occupy your attention as you climb. Seeing a glacier up close is worth the effort!

If you’re short on time or can’t manage a 10-mile hike, you can shave off 3 miles from the trek by using the park shuttle boats. Taking the shuttle boats costs a small fee and may require advanced registration. The boats can be used to shuttle across Swiftcurrent Lake and Lake Josephine.

Grinnell Glacier Alternative: Grinnell Lake Trail

Male hiker wearing blue jacket and blue backpack sitting after doing some Glacier National Park hiking, looking over the teal colored Grinnell Lake, surrounded by mountains dusted with some remaining snow.

Mileage: 7 miles

Elevation Gain: 1,600 feet

The trail to Grinnell Glacier can hold snow for much longer than the lake trail below.

If hiking through snowfields on a steep trail sounds uncomfortable, you can still enjoy a nice view of Grinnell Glacier from a lower elevation at Grinnell Lake.

Hikers can also use the boat shuttle to eliminate a few hiking miles.

St. Mary and Virginia Falls

Waterfall cascading over a cliff, with trees surrounded the edges of the cliff with a small sunburst poking through the trees.

Mileage: 3 miles

Elevation Gain: 450 feet

Hiking in Glacier National Park isn’t complete without a trip to St. Mary and Virginia Falls!

At the western end of St. Mary Lake, there is trailhead parking for the falls. You can also use the shuttle bus to get to this scenic waterfall trail.

Once you’re at the trailhead, hike downhill toward the St. Mary River. You will mostly be hiking through a historic burn area, which has beautiful wildflowers every spring.

Soon after you reach the river, you will come across St. Mary Falls. Take the bridge across St. Mary River to continue on your way toward Virginia Falls.

You can continue hiking on what is now the Continental Divide Trail for as long as you’d like, or flip around and head back to the trailhead.

Avalanche Lake

Green mountains with waterfalls cascading down the sides of it, towards the pool at the bottom that is Avalanche Lake, surrounded by pine trees and blue sky.

Mileage: 4.5 miles

Elevation Gain: 750 feet

Early in the springtime, many of the park roads are still closed for snow removal. Avalanche Lake is one of the first alpine lake trails to become accessible as the roads reopen!

From the Trail of Cedars Trailhead, follow signs to the Avalanche Lake Trail. The trail climbs steadily uphill while paralleling the icy blue waters of Avalanche Creek.

For a more secluded experience, continue 0.7 miles to the other end of the lake. It’s arguably a better view than the main beach!

Trail of Cedars

The brilliant turquoise Avalanche Creek, surrounded by mossy boulders and cedar trees on this easy Glacier National Park hike.

Mileage: 1 mile

Elevation Gain: 50 feet

The Trail of Cedars can be wandered before or after visiting Avalanche Lake.

The area includes boardwalks that weave through the impressive cedar trees.

There are plenty of interesting interpretive displays to read through and if you look carefully you may be able to spot the resident deer roaming around. This is a great place to wander with young or new hikers!

Redrock Falls

Small cascade over red rocks at Redrock Falls, a popular hike in Glacier National Park, surrounded by trees and blue sky.

Mileage: 4 miles

Elevation Gain: 285 feet

Head to the end of the road in the Many Glacier Valley to access this scenic waterfall. Park at the Swiftcurrent Trailhead and follow the Swiftcurrent Pass Trail.

You will come to the cascading waterfall after about 2 miles of hiking. Many small side trails wander around the falls offering different viewpoints.

If you were hoping to spot a moose during your trip to Glacier National Park, this is your best bet! Moose frequent the wetland area about 1.5 miles into the trail.

No luck? Take the short detour to Fishercap Lake and scan the shoreline. The best times to spot moose are in the mornings and evenings.

The first best part of this hike is the waterfall, but the second-best is that it ends close to the general store, which sells huckleberry ice cream!

Swiftcurrent Pass

View of glacial mountains which have eroded to leave a valley behind, covered in green grass and foliage, with small emerald greenish-blue lakes in the deep valley below it.

Mileage: 14 miles

Elevation Gain: 3,766 feet

Often considered the most challenging day hike in Glacier National Park, the trail to Swiftcurrent Pass is full of outstanding views, alpine meadows, emerald lakes, and wildlife. If you are rugged enough to take on this trail, you won’t be disappointed by the beauty it holds!

As you would if you were hiking to Redrock Falls, park at the Swiftcurrent Trailhead and follow the appropriately named trail. You will get to see Redrock Falls, Redrock Lake, and Bullhead Lake along the way. Both lakes offer great views and provide excellent habitat for moose!

Soon after Bullhead Lake, you will begin your ascent up toward the pass. Make your climb up the many switchbacks for an excellent view of the valley below. The trail is pretty narrow and steep in some spots, which doesn’t pair particularly well with a fear of heights.

Iceberg Lake

Blue glacial water topped with some unmelted glacial ice, surrounded by reddish-brown rocks lit up orange-red by the last of the afternoon light, on a popular hike in Glacier National Park

Mileage: 9.3 miles

Elevation Gain: 1,450 feet

Begin your trek to Iceberg Lake from the Iceberg Ptarmigan Trailhead, which is nearby the trailhead used to access Redrock Falls and Swiftcurrent Pass.

From the trailhead, follow signs to stay on the Iceberg Ptarmigan Trail. Soon after you reach Ptarmigan Fall, you will arrive at a junction. Here, you will veer left and follow the Iceberg Trail.

Your efforts will be rewarded with an epic view of the emerald blue lake and floating ice chunks. The lake is surrounded by 2,000’ tall cliffs that are frequented by mountain goats.

In addition to the goats and bighorn sheep you will probably see, keep an eye out for moose, bear, and deer. This trail is a wildlife photographer’s dream!

Highline Trail

A dirt path winding through the beautiful green mountains of Glacier National Park, with some purple wildflowers and views of the other glacial mountains in the park.

Mileage: 15 miles

Elevation Gain: 2,578 feet

Due to the long mileage and difficulty of this scenic hiking trail, it is often done as an overnight backpacking trip. Although challenging, seasoned hikers could make this particular trek in a single day.

For those wishing to embark on a multi-day adventure, the Highline Trailhead is the starting point for endless miles of exploring, including a popular route that traverses most of the park.

Park at the Logan Pass Parking Area or take the shuttle bus to access the trailhead. You’ll want to get on the trail early! Follow signs to Highline Trail and begin your steady climb up. This scenic trail will bring you along the garden wall followed by an opportunity to detour to the Grinnell Glacier Overlook. Adding the detour to Grinnell Glacier makes the total distance closer to 17 miles.

Continuing on, you will  eventually reach the Granite Park Chalet, which historically provided accommodations for visitors to Glacier National Park. Now, it is a National Historic Landmark and a comfortable backcountry camp for backpackers.

After taking in the view at the chalet, head back the way you came toward Logan Pass. Keep an eye out for wildlife, there are many reports of hikers encountering grizzly bear and mountain goats!

This trail is very exposed, and anyone with a sensitivity to heights is encouraged to seek other options.

Upper McDonald Creek Trail

Brilliant emerald-turquoise waters at Upper McDonald Creek, surrounded by rocks covered in green moss and trees.

Mileage: 5 miles

Elevation Gain: 278 feet

Hikers of all levels will love this scenic creek-side trail. Beginning from the Upper McDonald Creek Trailhead, which is only a short drive past Lake McDonald.

The trail starts by wandering through an old-growth forest. This section of trail is a common place to spot grazing mule deer. As you continue, you will encounter the glacial-blue Upper McDonald Creek.

This is an out and back trail, so continue as far as you feel comfortable before turning around and heading back toward the trailhead.

Florence Falls Trail

Mileage: 9 miles

Elevation Gain: 1,174 feet

This is just one of the many spectacular waterfalls in Glacier National Park. Begin this out and back hike at the Jackson Glacier Overlook, where there is a good amount of parking available.

Along the way, you’ll pass Deadwood Falls. This 10’ falls may be stout, but it’s quite loud as it spills into Reynolds Creek. The main event is further down the trail.

Florence Falls is a tower of cascading falls. Each cascade ranged in height from 30 to 50 feet! Bear frequent this trail in the springtime because of the abundance of cow parsnip that grows in the area.

Be bear-aware anytime you are hiking in Glacier National Park!

Pin This Guide to Glacier National Park Hikes

The 10 Best Grand Teton Day Hikes

Many people travel to Grand Teton National Park to get a glimpse of the iconic Teton Range, scout out some of the area’s diverse wildlife, and go on a scenic hike in the Tetons.

With over 200 miles of beautiful hiking trails in Grand Teton National Park, there’s no shortage of choices.

Every experience level and age group can find a trail they will enjoy from a family-friendly nature walk in Colter Bay to challenging mountain passes that offer rewarding views of the pristine landscape below.

Load up your backpack, grab your camera, and don’t forget to pack the bear spray. These are the best day hikes that Grand Teton National Park has to offer!

Best Day Hikes in Grand Teton National Park

Taggart and Brady Lakes

Still lake at Taggart Lake reflecting the Teton range above it, surrounded by trees, rocks, and foliage.

Distance: 6 miles

Elevation Gain: 585 feet

A trip to Grand Teton National Park is not complete without a hike to Taggart and Brady Lakes. These lakes are nearby each other and are both worth visiting.

Being such a scenic hike, this is a well-well-trafficked trail. With that said, there is limited parking at the Taggert Lake Trailhead, and arriving early is highly recommended so you can find a parking spot easily.

Take in the stunning views of Grand Teton, the tallest mountain in the Teton Range, from the parking area. When you are ready to get your blood flowing, depart from the trailhead and hit the trail. When you come to the first trail junction, veer right and follow the sign toward Taggart Lake Trail.

A little farther down the trail, you will come to yet another junction. The trail is very well marked. Just remember you are following the signs to Taggart and Brady Lakes! A map helps too!

Next, cross the sturdy footbridge over Taggart Creek. Look upstream to get a glimpse of the cascading waterfall. The trail begins to climb a bit starting here. Make your way through the forest of lodgepole pines and thick aspen groves.

After you’ve hiked about 1 mile, you will come to another trail junction. Heading left will take you to Taggart Lake. However, if you wish to visit both of the lakes keep right and check out Brady Lake first. Just a little way farther, and you will be rewarded with multiple scenic overlooks of Taggert Lake!

Once you come to the Valley Trail Junction, keep right and you will shortly arrive at the shores of Bradly Lake. When you are finished soaking up the Teton views, head back to the Valley Trail Junction and take the Valley Trail this time to get a closer look at Taggart Lake and complete the loop back to the trailhead.

String and Leigh Lake

Narrow footbridge crossing a section of String Lake surrounded by green trees at the start of this Grand Teton hike.

Distance: 4 miles

Elevation Gain: 50 feet

Begin your hike at the String Lake Picnic Area. At the trailhead, you will find stunning mountain views from the sandy beach at String Lake. This is a great spot to refuel with some lunch or cool off with a dip in the chilly lake.

The trail wraps around the shore of String Lake until you come to a junction that will lead toward Leigh Lake. Unlike String Lake, accessing the shore of Leigh lake can be a little trickier. Keep an eye out for a well-used trail down to the lakeshore.

From Leigh Lake, continue back the way you came and complete the loop around String Lake. For a much longer hike, you can choose to hike to Bear Lake from Leigh Lake. This would add an additional 4 miles to the hike.

Jenny Lake: Inspiration Point and Hidden Falls

Giant boulders in front of the view from Inspiration Point, showing lots of evergreen trees in front of a brilliant blue lake with some clouds on the horizon but an otherwise clear sky.

Distance: 2.5 miles

Elevation Gain: 330 feet

If you make a visit to hike in Grand Teton National Park, definitely plan for a stop at Jenny Lake! There is so much to do at Jenny Lake, it is well worth dedicating a half-day to.

Who doesn’t love a waterfall hike? The hike to Hidden Falls is one of the most beautiful in the park. This trail is short enough that it is considered a novice and great for families. Hop on the boat shuttle at the docking area. This will cut off about 5 miles from the hike and offer beautiful mountain views as you cross the lake. There is a small fee for taking the boat shuttle.

Once on the other side of the lake, begin your hike on the Cascade Canyon Trail. The trail climbs quite a bit before reaching Hidden Falls and the viewing area. Hidden Falls is a towering 100’ and is often regarded as the most scenic waterfall in Grand Teton National Park!

Continue on your way up to Inspiration Point. Since it is less than a half-mile from Hidden Falls, it’s worth the climb, but if your legs are exhausted, you can always choose to turn back to the boat dock. Inspiration Point offers a great view of Jenny Lake and the distant mountains.

Jenny Lake Loop

Hiking in Grand Teton National Park along the perimeter of Jenny Lake, a brilliant sapphire blue lake surrounded by rocks and pine trees.

Distance: 7.5 miles

Elevation Gain: 275 feet

This scenic loop around Jenny Lake offers countless photo opportunities and chances to gaze up at the stunning peaks known as the Cathedral Group in the Teton Range!

The loop begins at the Jenny Lake Trailhead and stays fairly close to the lake throughout the entire hike. This is a great long hike for those hoping to avoid super strenuous hills or elevation gain.

Along the way, you can choose to veer off to visit Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point, which are mentioned previously.

If you were hoping to experience solitude while hiking in Grand Teton National Park, this may not be the ideal trail for you. Although scenic and rewarding, this is a very popular trail. The road is nearby part of the trail too, and it can interrupt the quiet of nature at times.

Phelps Lake Overlook

View over the sapphire blue Phelps Lake surrounded by pine forest on a clear, cloudless day with mountains on the horizon.

Distance: 2 miles

Elevation Gain: 400 feet

The Phelps Lake overlook is a fairly easy hike that wanders through a pine forest and aspen groves before opening up to a scenic viewpoint. This hike begins at the Death Canyon Trailhead, which is located at the end of a rutted dirt road.

From the trailhead, you will enter the forest and follow the well-maintained trail for 1 mile. Phelps Lake sits at over 7,000’ in elevation and is a common place to spot moose and waterfowl.

Surprise and Amphitheater Lakes Trail

Still lake reflecting back the mountains and foliage above it, covered in some light snow that hasn't yet melted.

Distance: 10.2 miles

Elevation Gain: 2,900 feet

This hike is perfect for anyone looking for a low-mileage overnight backpacking trip or a challenging day hike! At just over 10 miles round trip, you can expect the first half of the trail to be an uphill slog. However, the dessert of this rugged incline is two pristine alpine lakes surrounded by beautiful rocky cliffs.

Begin the trek at the Lupine Meadow Trailhead and head toward Glacier Gulch. After many switchbacks, you will first reach Surprise Lake. A little farther down the trail awaits Amphitheater Lake.

Lake Solitude

Green and brown grass, with some pine trees sparsely populating the landscape, and a tiny blue lake at the foot of mountains on a remote Grand Teton hike.

Distance: 7.5 miles

Elevation Gain: 2,350 feet

Another hike that begins at Jenny Lake is the beautiful hike to Lake Solitude. Surrounded by mighty peaks, Lake Solitude is a great challenge for anyone looking to experience an alpine lake, possible wildlife sightings, and seasonal wildflowers.

The hike to Lake Solitude begins just like the hike to Inspiration Point, with a boat ride across Jenny Lake. This time, when you make it up to Inspiration Point, you will continue climbing on the trail instead of turning around.

The trail will level out a bit after Inspiration Point as you enter into Cascade Canyon. In the early summer, you will see a variety of colorful wildflowers. As you always should while hiking in Grand Teton National Park, be bear aware as you make your way deeper into the canyon.

The trail passes by a series of ponds before the scenery transformed into a pine forest. Keep trekking along until you finally arrive at the lake!

Lake Solitude sits just above 9,000’ in elevation and should only be tackled by experienced hikers that are prepared for a challenge.

Christian Pond Loop

A blue river or pond surrounded by yellowing grass with some low mountains behind it

Distance: 3.5 miles

Elevation Gain: 250 feet

This easy loop is well-known for wildlife and wildflowers!

Begin your hike to Christian Pond from the trailhead parking next to the horse corrals at the Jackson Lake Lodge. As you approach the pond, be on the lookout for moose and elk grazing as well as trumpeter swans gliding through the shallow water.

The trail leads to the shores of Emma Matilda Lake before looping back toward the trailhead. Take a little detour and hike along the lake’s edge. Another great spot for wildlife viewing! When you’ve taken in all in head back to the Christian Pond Loop and back to the trailhead.

Colter Bay Lakeshore Trail

A mostly still lake reflecting the mountains of the Teton Range beautifully in its glassy, slightly rippled surface.

Distance: 2 miles

Elevation Gain: 150’

The Lakeshore Trail in Colter Bay is a perfect walk for families or anyone new to hiking in a national park! The trail is made up of two scenic loops and can be shortened as necessary to meet your experience and comfort level.

From the Colter Bay Visitor Center, walk toward the marina and find the trailhead for the Lakeshore Trail. From the trail, hikers can easily access the rocky shore of Jackson Lake to take photos or scout for wildlife.

Pin This Guide to Grand Teton Hikes!

Winter in Zion National Park: What to Know Before You Go

Many outdoor enthusiasts argue that winter in Zion is the best time to visit this beloved national park in southwest Utah!

Home to Angels Landing and the famous Emerald Pools, Zion National Park is often ranked as one of the most visited national parks in the United States.

However, in the winter, Zion’s tall canyon walls become accented in powdery white snow, and the crowds of summer become a distant memory. 

Although the shift in seasons may change the scenery, there are still many fun activities in Zion National Park in the winter! However, there are a few things you should know about visiting Zion in winter, first.

Zion Winter Road Closures

Curve in the road going through a snow covered section of Zion National Park in the winter on a sunny day

Zion Scenic Drive

During peak visitation in the summertime and between December 24th – January 2nd, the Zion Scenic Drive can not be accessed by personal vehicle.

All visitors wishing to explore the Zion Scenic Drive by vehicle must use the park’s shuttle bus system.

The wintertime buses generally run between 8 am and 5 pm and can be used to access trailheads for hikes like Emerald Pools and the West Rim.

When the shuttle bus is not operating in Zion National Park, visitors can use their personal vehicles to access the trailheads and attractions along the Zion Scenic Drive.

The park service recommends arriving at trailheads early in the day because trailheads do fill up. Once a trailhead is full, there will be no more parking allowed, so it is a good idea to have a secondary plan in place.

Zion Mount-Carmel Highway

For visitors traveling from Springdale, UT to the eastern side of the park near Mt Carmel Junction, the Zion Mount-Carmel Highway is the shortest route. This drive does pass under the famous Zion Mount-Carmel Tunnel, which is just over 1 mile long!

Passenger vehicles can pass through the tunnel at any time, but oversized vehicles do have a few prerequisites and restrictions.

All vehicles 11’4” tall or taller or 7’10” wide or wider, including attachments and accessories, will require a tunnel permit. Tunnel permits can be obtained at the entrance stations and cost $15 in addition to park entrance fees.

The final obligation of oversized vehicles using the tunnel is that the vehicles must use the tunnel during operating hours, which are between 8:00 am and 4:30 pm in the winter.

Semi-trucks, vehicles over 13’1”, and single vehicles over 40’ long are prohibited. For more information on prohibited tunnel vehicles or using the tunnel, contact Zion National Park at (435) 772-3256.

Kolob Canyons Road

Wintertime conditions such as impassable snow and icy roads can cause frequent temporary closures on Kolob Canyons Road. The road is maintained throughout the wintertime and is open to private vehicles year-round.

Kolob Terrace Road and Lava Point Road

The Kolob Terrace Road is open year-round. However, 4-wheel drive and tire chains may be required to pass safely through the winter driving conditions.

West Rim Road

The West Rim Road closes during the winter season.

Zion Winter Hours of Operation and Facilities

Snow on the valley floor of Zion National Park, next to a small river, with snow-covered trees and red cliff rock faces showing a winter Zion landscape

Although Zion National Park is always open to the public, some of the facilities do undergo reduced hours of operation come wintertime.

If you are visiting Zion National Park in the winter, you will want to be aware of these facility hours and seasonal closures:

Zion Canyon Visitor Center: 8:00 am – 4:00 pm

Zion Canyon Wilderness Desk: 8:00 am – 10:00 am and 3:00 pm – 4:30 pm

Park Store: 8:00 am – 5:00 pm

Kolob Canyons Visitor Center: 8:00 am – 4:30 pm

Zion Human History Museum: closed

Zion Nature Center: closed

It is always a good idea to begin a national park trip with a stop at the visitor center. This is a great way to make sure you have the most up to date information, and it allows you to review your itinerary with professional park staff. They may even have some insider tips to share with you!

Winter Camping in Zion National Park

Snow-covered mountain near the Watchman Campground, with a partly cloudy sky in the background. Red rock showing behind the snow.

Many who come to Zion National Park choose to camp during their visits. During the summer months, there are three different campgrounds: Watchman Campground, South Campground, and Lava Point Campground.

However, Lava Point and South close in the fall leaving Watchman Campground as the only front country year-round camping option in Zion National Park in winter.

Although there are many other lodging accommodations and campgrounds in the town of Springdale, UT, winter visitors with their hearts set on camping at Watchman Campground should plan to arrive early for first come, first serve camping beginning in December.

The campground capacity does reduce for the winter season in Zion!

Winter Safety in Zion National Park

Icy Trails

With limited daylight and cold nighttime temperatures in the wintertime, one of the greatest cold season hazard in Zion Canyon becomes icy trails and icy chains.

Many of the most popular trails, including Angels Landing, remain open year-round. It’s not uncommon to have clear dry trails.

However, ice may be lingering in the shady sections of high elevation trails, which can be especially dangerous on trails like Angels Landing which have sheer-face drops and require the use of chains for leverage!

To combat icy trails, many hikers choose to carry along Yaktrax or spikes. These handy accessories will help you keep your footing on slick surfaces.

Hypothermia

A woman in a lavender top and leggings hiking the ridge of Angel's Landing covered in a light snow, looking over a snow-covered valley in Zion in winter.

When your body temperature falls to dangerously cool levels, you begin to experience hypothermia.

Although Zion National Park is well-known for its mild wintertime temperatures, wet clothes combined with lower temps found in the narrow canyons can create a high-risk.

To avoid hypothermia, the park service recommends wearing non-cotton clothing and eating high-energy foods before chill takes effect.

Thermal layers and leggings will keep you a lot warmer than cotton, and be sure to also bring a waterproof jacket in case of rain, sleet, or snow.

Rockfall

Rock formations covered in snow, surrounded by fog on a wintry day in Zion national park

Rockfall is a year-round hazard in Zion National Park. When recreating within the steep canyon, be aware and alert.

If a rockfall occurs, the park service advises visitors to safely move out of the way. If it is not possible to move out of the way of falling rock, seek shelter behind a large and stable rock feature and place your backpack over your head.

Although rockfall can occur at any time, the risk can become increased due to water freezing behind the cliff walls. When the water freezes, it can cause the cracks behind rocks to expand occasionally lodging the rocks out of place.

Rain is also a big risk for causing rockslides, so even if it’s not freezing or snowing, you do have to be aware when visiting Zion in the winter!

Things to Do in Zion in Winter

Snowshoe to Observation Point

Kolob Canyon walls covered in a light snow which shows from underneath the red rock, a stormy sky with dark clouds above.

If you are fortunate enough to visit Zion National Park after a fresh snowfall, you may be able to cross country ski or snowshoe on some of the park trails! The higher elevation areas in Zion can hold snow from late October until March.

Kolob Canyons’ high  elevation makes it a great place to have fun in the snow all winter long. However, if you are looking for a snowshoe adventure in the main part of Zion National Park, you must check out the trail to Observation Point!

Beginning from the Weeping Rock Trail, hike up the switchbacks and out of the deep canyon. You may not need snowshoes at the beginning part of the hike, but the East Rim is known for holding deep snow. Check current conditions with a ranger before departing!

The trail to Observation Point is much wider than the trail to Angels Landing, but it has quite a bit more elevation gain. From Observation Point, you will be 700 feet higher than the summit at Angels Landing! This 8-mile round trip hike includes a look at Echo Canyon as well as one of the most iconic views in all of Zion National Park.

Take a Scenic Drive Through Zion Canyon

Snow-covered canyon walls with a sunny sky with some clouds, a plowed road that is empty winding through Zion in winter.

Parts of the Zion Scenic Drive are closed to private vehicles during the summer season. Once the crowds disperse, the shuttle bus shuts down, and visitors are allowed to travel through this section of Zion National Park in their own vehicles.

Traveling this scenic route in your personal vehicle allows for the opportunity to stop as needed and take in the gorgeous canyon views. This 57-mile scenic drive is well worth the trip with chances to see wildlife and the ability to stop frequently for photographs. The drive takes about 1.5 hours depended on the number of detours you choose to explore!

Most travelers begin the drive near St. George, UT, and continue through Zion National Park toward Mt Carmel Junction.

Try for Wildlife Viewing

Two goats or sheep with horns looking at the camera, perched on some snow on a red rock landscape in Zion National Park in winter.

There is no better season than winter to spot some of Zion National Park’s wild turkeys roaming the canyon.

Although some of the park wildlife hibernates during the wintertime, it is still possible to spot mule deer, bighorn sheep, and even eagle along the Virgin River!

Binoculars and a keen eye may be necessary to spot some of these well-camouflaged residents. Roaming the park after a fresh snowfall may make it easier to spot deer and bighorn sheep.

Practice Your Wintertime Photography

View of Zion's red rock cliff landscape juxtaposed with bits of white snow in the higher elevation crevices of the canyon on a blue sky winter day in Zion National Park

Zion National Park’s beautiful landscape becomes something even more picturesque once the snow begins to fall. The tall cliffs become dusted with powdery white snow and the wall’s red colors begin to pop.

Visitors hoping to capture Zion’s winter landscape can travel the Zion Scenic Drive while using turnouts and designated parking areas to find the perfect angle. Since many of the trails stay open year-round, photographers can also hike to scenic vistas like Angels Landing and Observation Point.

Pin This Guide to Visiting Zion in Winter!

Winter in Glacier National Park: 21 Things to Know Before You Go!

Towering peaks, lush meadows, alpine lakes, and abundant wildlife sightings await visitors in Glacier National Park no matter the time of year.

A well-known piece of the Crown of the Continent, Glacier National Park is home to over 700 miles of hiking trails, making it a paradise for outdoor adventures!

In the summertime, grizzly bear can be spotted grazing in the meadows and the tall peaks of the Northern Rocky Mountains reflect in the icy blue waters of Lake McDonald. The highest peaks in Glacier can hold deep snow all summer long depending on the year, but many of the hiking trails are accessible without snowpack between June and September.

Glacier National Park quickly begins to transform into a winter wonderland come late fall. Although the backcountry in Glacier National Park is more accessible during the warm season, there is still much to explore and see once the snow begins to fall.

However, a winter vacation to Glacier National Park still requires some forethought and planning due to challenges that snow and closures present. Here’s everything you need to know about visiting Glacier National Park in winter!

Glacier National Park Winter Road Conditions

Going to the Sun Mountain from the East Tunnel of the Going to the Sun Road, the sides of the mountain are covered in a light snow, road has been plowed before the road closes in Glacier National Park in winter.

Going-to-the-Sun Road

The stretch of road between the Lake McDonald Lodge and St. Mary Entrance is closed throughout the wintertime. When the road closes is entirely dependent on weather and road conditions.

The Going-to-the-Sun road reopens again once the national park operators can plow the alpine section of road clear of snow and it is deemed safe for private vehicle traffic. Due to the somewhat unpredictable mountain weather, there are no set opening or closing dates.

This road is considered one of the best scenic drives in the USA, but in the wintertime, it is socked in under many feet of snow with even deeper snowdrifts!

Once spring approaches, the road sees various stages of reopening. Be sure to call ahead for an accurate and updated road conditions report.

West Entrance to Lake McDonald Lodge

This is the only section of road that stays open year-round, weather permitting. This ten-mile stretch of road from the West Entrance to the Lake McDonald Lodge is plowed throughout the winter to allow for private vehicle traffic.

Just beyond the Lake McDonald Lodge, the road is gated to prevent further travel.

Many Glacier Road

The road to the Many Glacier Hotel is closed between November and April due to impassable winter road conditions. Folks who wish to explore this section of the park in the snow must either snowshoe or ski down the road.

Two Medicine Road

This road also goes unplowed during the wintertime and is considered closed once the snow is impassable. Call to talk to a ranger at Glacier National Park for current road conditions.

Inside North Fork Road

The Inside North Fork Road travels the western boundary of Glacier National Park leading travelers towards the Canadian Border. During the summer, the road is bumpy and is best taken at a leisurely pace. Once the snow begins to pile up, the road closes to private vehicle traffic.

Camas Road

The Camas Road, which connects West Glacier to Polebridge closes due to impassable snow conditions. However, it does transition into a fun scenic snowshoe trail once the snow is deep enough.

Winter Weather in Glacier National Park

An empty bench with footstep tracks next to it, looking out over Lake McDonald and all the snow-covered mountains surrounding it.

Winter in Glacier National Park can be summed up in a word: cold. I mean, the word ‘glacier’ in the name should be a hint!

Here is the average temperatures for winter months in Glacier National Park (which I’ll call November through March)

November: Average highs of 33° F and average lows of 21° F, with approximately 19 days of rain or snow.

December: Average highs of 27° F and average lows of 14° F, with approximately 19 days of rain or snow.

January: Average highs of 30° F and average lows of 17° F, with approximately 19 days of rain or snow.

February: Average highs of 32° F and average lows of 14° F, with approximately 16 days of rain or snow.

March: Average highs of 39° F and average lows of 20° F, with approximately 18 days of rain or snow.

Winter Hours of Operation and Facilities in Glacier NP

Snow-covered evergreen trees next to a lake, in front of a pyramid-shaped mountain covered in light snow.

Although recreation in Glacier National Park is technically open year-round, some of the facilities undergo reduced hours of operation or close completely come wintertime.

However, note that restrooms and potable water are available at the Apgar Visitor Center year-round.

If you are planning to visit Glacier National Park during the off-season, which is between late September and early May, you will want to be aware of these changes to facility operations:

Apgar Visitor Center: Closed during the winter. Outdoor informational exhibits are open year-round.

Logan Pass Visitor Center: Closed during the winter.

St. Mary Visitor Center: Closed during the winter.

Apgar Village Camp Store: Open intermittently throughout winter.

Backcountry Permit Offices: Call to assure staffing.

Note: All in-park lodging is closed during the wintertime, so you will want to stay in a nearby town, like West Glacier, Hungry Horse, or Whitefish.

Since Glacier National Park is home to such a rugged winter environment, it is a good idea to begin your trip by calling ahead to talk with a park ranger.

Where to Stay near Glacier National Park in Winter

Since you can’t actually stay in the park in the winter, you’ll have to stay nearby. Luckily, there are plenty of great options: these ones are all in Whitefish, which has the most options in terms of accommodations, but you can also look at West Glacier, Hungry Horse, or Kalispell.

Luxury

Lodge at Whitefish Lake: This cozy 4-star lodge boasts a beautiful location, an on-site spa, cozy rooms, and an award-winning restaurant — what else could you want when visiting Glacier in winter? The Spa is a great place to relax after a day recreating in Glacier National Park, with massages, facials, treatments, a steam room, a hot tub, a relaxation room, and more in their wellness center!
>> Book your stay the Lodge at Whitefish Lake here

Mid-Range

The Firebrand: This chic boutique hotel is one of Whitefish’s newest offerings, and it’s a great place with tons of personality. Amenities include a fitness center, ski storage and ski pass sales, and on-site restaurants and bars. Cozy robes and luxe en-suite bathrooms make each room feel spa-perfect.
>> Book a stay at the Firebrand here

Budget

Grouse Mountain Lodge: This cozy lodge is no-frills, but it’s a lovely place to stay in the winter when all you want is a roaring fireplace, lovely log cabin vibes, and snow-covered scenery! It has some great amenities including an outdoor firepit and hot tub as well as an indoor pool and a Finnish-style dry sauna.

Winter Camping in Glacier National Park

The unfrozen surface of Lake McDonald in early winter in Glacier National Park, reflecting the snow-covered mountains with a patch of fog on a sunny winter day.
Lake McDonald, where you’ll find the only winter Glacier campground at Apgar Campground

Many national park travelers like to camp during their outdoor adventures. Glacier National Park is home to thirteen front-country campgrounds, which are spread throughout the one million acre park!

During the busy season between May and most of September, many of the popular campgrounds are on an online reservation system and are full each night.

Out of the thirteen front-country campgrounds, Apgar Campground on Lake McDonald is the only one that stays open year-round.

The campground sees reduced site availability and primitive camping only during the cold season. Primitive camping in Glacier National Park means there are vault toilets open, but no potable water available.

Luckily, if you are unable to snag a site inside the park, there are plenty of camping opportunities and lodging accommodations ranging in levels of luxury nearby in West Glacier and Hungry Horse.

Winter Safety in Glacier National Park

A man wearing weather-appropriate clothing hiking through the snow, exhibiting winter safety guidelines in Glacier National Park in the snow.

Hypothermia

When your body temperature falls to dangerously cool levels, you begin to experience hypothermia. Wet clothes combined with freezing outside temperatures can create a high-risk environment.

To avoid hypothermia, the park service recommends wearing non-cotton clothing and doing everything possible to avoid submerging yourself in water.

According to the National Park Service, water is the number one cause of fatality in Glacier. If you are recreating near water, avoid walking on slippery rocks and crossing over moving water on thin snowbridges.

Staying Found

Trails covered in a fresh layer of snow can become difficult to follow. As you snowshoe, ski, or hike along, pay close attention to trail markers and junctions signs. Cell phone coverage is spotty to nonexistent in most areas of Glacier National Park. If you do become lost, stay where you are, and wait for rescue.

Always pack a map with navigation tools, and remember to tell someone where you are going before departing for the trail. If you are unsure of your abilities, always go with companions.

Avalanche

The deep powdery snow combined with the steep mountain terrain in Glacier National Park is the perfect formula for avalanches.

If you plan to recreate in the backcountry during the winter season, you should be professionally trained in avalanche safety and know how to use the appropriate safety gear.

Snowbridges

The thin layers of snow and ice covering water, crevasses, or massive snow caves can be difficult to detect. The fragile ice can give way to your body weight and leave you victim to the hazards below.

Before recreating on glaciers, in snowfields, or near bodies of water in the winter, be sure to talk to a park ranger about snowbridge safety.

Wildlife

Glacier National Park is home to diverse and magnificent wildlife. Although there will be many great opportunities to view wildlife, always make sure you are doing so safely. If it is a hoofed animal, such as moose, elk, sheep, and goats, keep back 75 feet. For grizzly and black bears, always try to maintain a distance of at least 300 feet.

Although bear hibernate in the wintertime, Glacier National Park is still grizzly country. Carry bear spray and follow appropriate bear aware protocol while recreating.

Things to Do in Glacier National Park in Winter

Go for a Scenic Drive

Icy surface of Lake McDonald as seen in winter, wth snow and ice on the banks of the lake, with snow-covered mountains in the distance.

As you have learned, many of the roads in Glacier National Park shut down due to impassable snow in the wintertime. However, there is still enough roadway open to private vehicle traffic for a fun drive through the snowy mountains!

The section of road between the West Entrance and the Lake McDonald Lodge remains open year-round due to the exceptional plow operators. The 10-mile stretch of road winds along the scenic and picturesque shore of Lake McDonald.

Although you may not get to see the lake’s colorful rock shores in the wintertime, you can still appreciate the towering peaks, such as Stanton Mountain, McPartland Mountain, and Heavens Peak, in the background.

This drive is perfect for photographers hoping to capture the beauty of Glacier National Park’s front country. As you drive along, use the frequent turnouts to access the lake’s shore and capture every accessible angle.

It is common to spot whitetail deer roaming along the roadway, but keep an eye out for other wildlife like moose, elk, fox, and coyote.

The bear may be fast asleep during your visit, but if you’re coming during the late fall or early spring, it is possible to spot bear grazing along the shore.

Go cross-country skiing and snowshoeing

Female hiker in snowshoes with trekking poles wearing a black jacket and baby blue pants, looking over a snow-covered mountainous landscape in Glacier National park in the winter time.

Winter is the dominant season in Glacier National Park and all of northern Montana, since all the other seasons are so short-lived!

To make the best of the snowy months and continue exploring, strap on a pair of snowshoes or cross country skis.

The Apgar Village has a variety of ski and snowshoe trails for everyone to enjoy. For a short 3-mile outing, consider exploring the Lower McDonald Creek Trail.

Those who are looking for something a little longer in the Apgar Village area might like the 6-mile round trip trail to Rocky Point, which offers multiple viewpoints featuring Lake McDonald and surrounding peaks!

Take a scenic snowmobile ride

Snowmobile tracks on the frozen lake at Whitefish Lake in Whitefish, MT with houses and lodges in the background.

For those looking for a little high-octane adventure, rent a snowmobile and explore the backcountry areas around Glacier National Park for yourself.

While snowmobiling is not permitted within the park itself, you can snowmobile just outside of the park’s limits. Snowmobiling is one of the most popular winter activities for visitors to Northern Montana, with snowmobile tours departing from common bases like Whitefish and West Glacier.

I recommend traveling with Action Rentals, who offer independent and guided snowmobile rentals departing from Whitefish, MT.

Book a snowmobile rental here!

Go ice climbing

A woman in a pink jacket and red pants climbing up the icicles of a frozen waterfall with climbing equipment and harness.

Winter’s answer to rock climbing is ice climbing!

This fun activity allows you to scale up beautiful, otherworldly landscapes like frozen waterfalls and icy, snow-covered cliff edges, equipped with little more than ice picks and a harness.

Ice climbing is dangerous to do solo, so make sure you go with a trusted guide like Whitefish Vertical Adventures.

What to Pack for Glacier National Park in Winter

Baby blue and pastel pink sky at sunrise over the trees and mountains of the Montana winter landscape in Glacier National Park

Waterproof Parka: In the snow of Glacier in winter, you’ll want a really warm winter jacket, like this ultra-insulated North Face parka. I admit it’s a bit pricy, but it comes with a guarantee that it’ll last a lifetime.. and I tested this guarantee by sending in a zipper to be fixed which got damaged after 4 years of abuse wearing it every winter day to cycle 15 miles — my jacket came back like new and better than ever.

I’ve had my North Face parka for literally 10 years, and it’s held up from winters biking through New York City to multiple trips north of the Arctic Circle in places like Tromso and Abisko. It’ll serve you well in Glacier in winter!

Get the exact jacket I have here! 

Waterproof Pants: If you’re cross-country skiing or snowboarding or doing some winter hiking, you’ll absolutely want waterproof pants. Jeans put you at risk of hypothermia if you get wet, so avoid at all costs.

Snow Boots: Since you’ll likely be trudging through quite deep snow both in Glacier National Park and wherever you set up your base, you’ll absolutely need proper snow boots for a trip to Glacier in winter. I love these stylish and warm Sorel boots for women, which are waterproof and warm but also have plenty of traction. For added steadiness on your feet, throw on some Yaktrax to the bottom for grip on icy surfaces and pathways. These are a godsend (they saved me from eating it many times when I was in Tromso!)

Warm Leggings: There are two choices when it comes to a cozy base layer for your bottom half: fleece-lined for people with sensitive skin like me, and merino wool for people who don’t find wool itchy like I do. I own several pairs of these fleece-lined leggings in a variety of colors (I have black, gray, and maroon). Be sure to wear waterproof layers over this if you’ll be out in the snow, though! For people who like wool, merino wool leggings are the way to go – the absolute warmest you can get. However, it’s too much wool for me to handle, but I have particularly sensitive skin.

Fleece-Lined Knit Hat: If you enjoy fashion, winter can be a bit of a drag because you basically commit to one jacket (typically in a neutral color) for an entire season. I absolutely live for livening up my look with tons of different colors of knit hats. I have one in virtually every color, but I love red and yellow best for the best ‘pop’ of color against the snow. Since I have so many hats, I don’t really have anything special: just a snug knit hat lined in fleece and with a pompom that does absolutely nothing to add warmth but I love them anyway.

Thermal Top Layer: Again, what kind of thermal you go for will definitely depend on whether or not you have any skin sensitivities and if you can handle wool. I hate wool on anything but socks, so instead, I go for thin performance thermals like this Heat Plus layer from 32 Degrees. However, if you’re a fan of wool, a merino wool base layer will keep you insanely warm. Better yet, wool doesn’t trap odors the same way other materials do, meaning you can re-wear it several times before your under-layers will need to be washed — great for people who pack light!

An Enormous Scarf: I go for big, warm, and infinite-style scarfs. I tend to opt for bright, bold colors to liven up my look. I love these ones — they’re cheap and feel cashmere-soft, but they aren’t pricy like it.

Touchscreen Friendly Gloves: You’ll likely want to have your hands out of your pockets at times when you’re navigating on Google Maps, looking up something you’ve bookmarked (maybe this blog?), etc.! Most gloves these days tend to be touchscreen-friendly, but check before you buy. These gloves are cute, smartphone-compatible, and inexpensive.

Waterproof Gloves: You’ll also want to layer waterproof gloves over your touchscreen gloves if you’re snowshoeing or cross-country skiing, or anything where you are out and about in the snow and need your hands out for balance or gripping poles, etc.

Headlamp (and Extra Batteries): Glacier National Park in winter can get dark early — and quickly! — due to the early sunset time that naturally occurs in winter… plus the mountains making it get dark long before that! Bring a headlamp in case any outdoor excursions take longer than expected. You don’t want to get lost after dark in the snow. This Petzl headlamp is highly-rated and affordable.

Waterproof Backpack: You’ll want to keep your belongings dry, especially if you’re doing long treks on cross-country skis or snowshoes in the snow or freezing rain. Bring a waterproof backpack — you won’t regret it, especially if you’re carrying pricy camera equipment.

Snowshoes (optional): Many trails in Glacier National Park in winter will require proper snowshoes (different than snow boots — these allow you to ‘float’ on top of snow instead of sinking through it!) as well as trekking poles if you want to do some winter exploring. You can also rent them, but they’re pretty cheap to buy and will last you for future winter trips, so I recommend investing in them if you are a fan of snow travel.

Camera: You’ll want a camera to capture all that Glacier National Park winter beauty. I use and love my Sony A6000! It’s mirrorless, so it’s lightweight and perfect for a high-quality camera that won’t weigh you down. Be sure to bring a handful of extra batteries! Trust me, I’ve learned from many an experience in the cold photographing the Northern Lights that batteries burn out sooo much faster in the cold.

Battery Pack: Going off of what I said above, extend that to your phone as well! Cold weather depletes cell phone batteries extra quickly, so if you’re using your cell phone as your primary camera and navigation device (and who doesn’t these days?) you’ll absolutely want the ability to power up without a wall outlet while you’re out enjoying nature. I rely on an Anker battery pack to keep all my devices charged in the cold — and as a blogger who takes frequent winter trips to the Arctic and beyond with way more gear than a normal person needs, it’s served me very well!

Your Complete Guide to Winter in Queenstown By a Local

When the Northern hemisphere begins to heat up, New Zealand becomes one of the very few ski locations around the world. As the days shorten and the mercury drops, many head to New Zealand’s most idyllic town – Queenstown.

Located in the very south of New Zealand’s South Island, Queenstown is a winter lover’s paradise. The surrounding mountains are dipped in snow, warm mulled wine is sold in every bar, and winter sport enthusiasts fill the town. It’s vibrant, fun, and a little bit cold!

Winter is the perfect time to explore Queenstown and there’s so much to see and do! From festivals under lights, fireworks over the lake, and of course ski parties up in the mountains, you won’t get bored during winter in Queenstown.

So without further ado, here’s a guide to enjoying winter in Queenstown including events, things to do, and more!

About Winter in Queenstown

Winter in Queenstown officially runs from June to August; however, cold temperatures begin in early May and you can expect snowfall as late as November.

The ski fields around Queenstown also open in early June and stay open until the middle of October. Depending on the year, these dates can change (but only slightly.)

During the Australian and New Zealand school holidays which run at different times in late June and early July, Queenstown is at its busiest in winter.

At these times, hotels in Queenstown completely book up and those wanting to visit should be prepared by booking accommodation and tours well in advance.

Despite summer being Queenstown’s busy season, winter in Queenstown still draws a large crowd. With plenty of festivals and off-season prices on tours and attractions, winter is a surprisingly cheap time to visit Queenstown.

Winter Weather in Queenstown

Queenstown doesn’t get that cold when compared to other winter destinations around the world such as Canada.

In fact, winter temperatures throughout the season average highs of 9C and lows of 0C. With that said, it’s common to see temperatures drop to –5C in town and –10C in the mountains, even during the day.

For this reason, visitors should come prepared with winter clothing like warm jackets, beanies, and gloves.

Winter in Queenstown usually brings lots of sunshine with the odd snow shower. Throughout the winter, Queenstown sees around 3 to 4 snow days where heavy snow will cause issues such as road and business closures in town. Other than that, snowfall is limited to the mountains with light rain usually reaching Queenstown.

Road conditions in Queenstown are fine during the winter, but on surrounding mountain roads such as the route to Wanaka via Crown Range Road and those to the ski fields, can become icy and carrying snow chains are required! If you plan on driving in the winter months, allow time for delays during your visit.

Winter Events in Queenstown

LUMA

LUMA is a light festival held in the Queenstown Gardens that’s been running since 2015. During the event, organizers fill the Queenstown Gardens with impressive light displays that expand every year. Within the gardens, there are also pop-up bars and food stalls.

LUMA is an annual event that that runs on the Queen’s Birthday long weekend on the first weekend of June. Although a smaller event than the Queenstown Winter Festival, LUMA still draws a crowd and is a really fun event.

Queenstown Winter Festival

The Queenstown Winter Festival is one of the largest festivals in Queenstown. The yearly event is huge and usually runs for four days around the 3rd week of June. Dates do change every year so be sure to check the Queenstown Winter Festival website for official dates.

During the four-day event you can expect lots of entertainment including the Red Bull Rail Jam (where skiers and snowboarders perform tricks down a rail in the middle of town), live music from popular New Zealand bands, and even fireworks.

Winter Pride

Queenstown is a place known for its diversity, inclusion, and acceptance of everyone from all walks of life. It’s one of the reasons I love this place so much and why Winter Pride is such a huge event.

In 2021 Winter Pride will run from the 27th of August to 5th of September. Although some of the entertainment is free, there are also paid events such as dinners, private parties, even comedy nights.

During Winter Pride the streets of Queenstown are buzzing, and it’s a great time to visit!

10 Best Things to Do in Winter in Queenstown

Head up the mountain for skiing or snowboarding

It should come as no surprise that the best things to do in Queenstown in winter is hitting the slopes. There are three different ski fields all located within close proximity to Queenstown – so it’s safe to say you have plenty of choices!

The closest ski field to Queenstown is Coronet Peak but this ski field really struggles to get good snow. Instead, venture a little further and go to The Remarkables. This is my favorite ski field in Queenstown and my local recommendation.

The third ski field you can visit from Queenstown is Cardrona. Although I love it there, it’s over an hour drive away making it just a little far to go on a regular basis.

You can either drive yourself to the ski felids that all have ample parking, or take a shuttle from Queenstown centre for about $20 NZD per person.

Regardless of which one you choose, you’ll always have fun skiing or snowboarding from Queenstown!  

Enjoy a scenic cruise

The best thing about winter in Queenstown is how beautiful it is. There’s just something about snowcapped mountains that I love! One of the best ways to admire the views is on a scenic lake cruise.

There are a few scenic cruise options in Queenstown but they all more or less follow the same route on Lake Wakatipu. For budget travelers, the Spirit of Queenstown cruise is a good option as it starts at only $39 NZD per person. This cruise lasts for 90 minutes and has a bar on board that sells snack, tea, and coffee, as well as beer and wine.

Book your Spirit of Queenstown cruise online here

Another cruise, and the most popular, is the TSS Earnslaw.

Although more expensive, you’ll get to cruise Lake Wakatipu on a 1930’s steamship (and it includes a BBQ feast!)

Book your TSS Earnslaw cruise online here!

This lunch cruise with a BBQ feast lasts 3.5-4 hours with a lunch or dinner stop at Walter Peak High Country Farm. The views from out on Lake Wakatipu are unrivaled!

Go on an epic road trip

Winter road trips are the best. Not only are the road much quieter but the scenery is even more beautiful. From Queenstown you can go on quite a few including the road trip from Queenstown to Wanaka. However, my favorite is the drive to Glenorchy.

On this epic road trip, you’ll be able to take in views of Lake Wakatipu as you wind you’re way to Glenorchy. Along the way, you can stop at Moke Lake or enjoy hikes such as Bob’s Cove Track. It’s truly beautiful, and the best part? You get to enjoy all the best things to do in Glenorchy once you arrive.

Eat Fergburger

What better way to warm up than with Queenstown’s best burger. Fergburger is famous all around New Zealand and it’s easy to tell when you see the huge line out the door every day. During lunch and dinner hours you’ll need to wait over an hour to get your burger, but seriously it’s worth it!

Their “Classic Ferg” burger costs $12.95 NZD so it’s definitely one of the cheaper things to do in Queenstown. They also have lots of different burgers including venison, vegetarian, chicken, and pork. With that said, you can’t beat the classic with extra cheese!

Visit Milford Sound

A day trip to Milford Sound is easily one of the best things to do in Queenstown!

Every day thousands of people make the journey there to cruise through this stunning fiord and enjoy breathtaking views.

In winter, not only is Milford Sound more beautiful, but it’s much less busy. With fewer boats, fewer people, and less noise, you’ll actually get to enjoy the calm of Milford Sound.

Visiting Milford Sound is most commonly done on an organized tour from Queenstown. These include your transport, guide, and cruise for around $200 NZD.

Book a top-rated tour of Milford Sound online here – this tour even includes a picnic lunch, as well as a 2-hour Milford Sound cruise and photo stops at Te Anau, Eglinton Valley, and Mirror Lakes.

Drink mulled wine

Mulled wine wasn’t invented in New Zealand but during the winter it’s so common you’d think it was. For those who don’t know, mulled wine is just warm wine that’s flavored with spices… it’s delicious!

One of my favorite things to do in the winter months in Queenstown is to head into town and visit one of the rooftop bars to enjoy a mulled wine by the fire.

The best place in Queenstown for this is at The Sundeck. They have lots of heaters at every table and serve amazing mulled wine!

Relax at the Onsen Hot Pools

Onsen Hot Pools are the most famous hot pools in New Zealand. Seriously, if you want to enjoy Onsen Hot Pools you’d better book soon as this place often books up months in advance for the entire winter!

Of course, if you are one of the lucky ones who secure a booking, you’ll get to enjoy a steaming hot private pool overlooking the Shotover Canyon.

The pools are large enough for up to four people (but two is most comfortable in my opinion.)

For two people it cost $126 NZD for an hour soak and there are both semi-indoor and outdoor tubs – but all have breathtaking views!

Go on a hike

Hiking in winter is not only more fun, but the lack of people makes it even more peaceful.

There are a few easy trails in Queenstown for those without winter hiking experience including Mt Crichton Loop Track and the famous Queenstown Hill. Both are relatively easy and although icy conditions can occur, most of the time the trail is fine without crampons.

If you’re more experienced then you could tackle one of the best hikes on the South Island – Ben Lomond Track. This grueling hike is even harder in winter and involves a 1,400-meter elevation gain over 7 kilometers one way.

All up, it’ll take you 7 to 8 hours in winter and you’ll need alpine equipment and experience to summit Ben Lomond.

Visit an ice bar

It’s already cold outside, so why not head to one of Queenstown’s ice bars? In fact, depending on the day it may be warmer inside!

With a warm jacket on you’ll get to sip cocktails or mocktails in a bar completely made of ice out of a glass made of ice. Cool, huh?

Queenstown is home to two ice bars called Minus 5 Ice Bar and Below Zero Ice Bar. Both are much the same and prices are almost identical so it doesn’t matter which one you go to.

Entrance to both is $32 NZD for adults and includes one cocktail. It’s a unique experience that you have to do once!

Taste wine in the Gibbston Valley

The best part about wine is that you can drink it at any time of the year. In Queenstown, the closest and best wine region is the Gibbston Valley. This region is famous for producing some of the best Pinot Noir in the world. It’s seriously good!

From Queenstown, you can either do a self-drive tour, hop-on-hop-off tour, or full guided tour with lunch!

I’ve done all three and prefer either the self-drive option or a full guided tour. On a guided tour you can sit back and relax while your guide does all the work for you.

All you have to do is taste wine and eat great food! Who wouldn’t want to do that?!

Book your guided wine tour online here – this tour includes 18+ wine tastings across 4 unique wineries and a tour of New Zealand’s largest underground wine cave!

Where to Stay in Queenstown

When it comes to picking a great place to stay in Queenstown during the winter it’s important you know exactly what you’re coming for. That’s why below you’ll see recommendations based on winter specific attractions.

JUCY Snooze Queenstown: For budget travelers, there are a few great options in Queenstown but my favorite is JUCY Snooze. This hostel is clean, comfortable and they have a rooftop bar and restaurant that serves amazing pizza. They have both dorm rooms and privates for guests and it’s located in the heart of town!
>> Check photos, reviews, and availability here

Hilton Queenstown Resort and Spa: If you plan on skiing up at The Remarkables Ski Area then the Hilton is the closest hotel to the ski field. In fact, you’ll actually save yourself around 5 minutes each way! The Hilton is also beautiful inside and out and with a free shuttle to town it’s convenient too!
>> Check photos, reviews, and availability here

Swiss-Belresort Coronet Peak: If Coronet Peak is your chosen ski field then Swiss-Belresort is a top choice. It’s actually located just below the ski field access road so you can be at the chairlift in 10 minutes! The hotel also has a free shuttle to town.
>> Check photos, reviews, and availability here

Crown Plaza Queenstown: For those who love to stay close to town Crown Plaza Queenstown is perfect. It’s conveniently located in the heart of town along St Omar Park. They even have rooms with lake views!
>> Check photos, reviews, and availability here

Conclusion

Winter in Queenstown is a magical time to visit this remote mountain town. From fun in the mountains to fun in town, there’s no shortage of amazing things to see and do in Queenstown in winter!

The best part is you’ll avoid the crowds at many of the best attractions as well as enjoy cheaper prices on tours and excursions in winter in Queenstown. It’s a win-win if you ask me!

Author Bio

Bailey is a full-time travel blogger who visited Queenstown on a working holiday. However, after spending a year there, Queenstown stole her heart and she has since decided to make the move there permanently. Her blog, My Queenstown Diary, documents her love for Queenstown in the form of travel guides. If you liked this article be sure to follow along here for more!

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Arches National Park in Winter: 23 Things to Know Before You Go!

Among the five iconic national parks in Utah, often referred to as the “Mighty Five” or “Big Five”, Arches National Park may be the most recognizable.

From Delicate Arch’s feature on the Utah state license plate to influential photos of natural arches from the park across social media, Arches National Park is widely advertised.

In the summertime, the park is bustling with visitors in hot weather attire eager to see all the top attractions in the park. During the warm season, the trails are active in the morning and quiet down by high-sun in the afternoon.

Winter presents a much different version of Arches National Park. In the winter, fresh snowfall accents the red canyon walls and natural arches. Although visitation tends to drop with the daily average temperature, there is still much to see and explore in Arches National Park in the wintertime.

Winter Weather in Arches National Park

Snowy view of Arches National Park in the winter, looking through one arch and seeing a larger complex of arches through the "window", red rock covered in snow.

Arches National Park in winter is generally pleasant and not too cold, with periodic (though not guaranteed!) snow.

While Arches isn’t extremely cold in the winter, it is at a relatively high elevation. The lowest elevation part of the park is 4,085 feet at the Visitor Center; the highest elevation is at 5,653 feet. Therefore, Arches experiences more snowfall than lower-elevation parks at a similar latitude.

The table below shows average temperatures in Arches National Park during the winter:

MonthHigh TemperatureLow Temperature
December41° F20 °F
January40° F18° F
February49° F25 °F

In addition, it rains or snows approximately twice a month, so while it is certainly possible for there to be snowfall in Arches National Park in the winter time, it’s by no means guaranteed, and warm daytime temperatures means there is a chance it will melt quickly!

Arches Entry Price in Winter

The price to enter Arches National Park in the winter is the same as the rest of the year, $30 per vehicle for a 7-day pass (see more info on the NPS website).

However, most people combine a trip to Arches and Canyonlands National Park at the very least, and often, they’ll also add on other Utah National Parks to their trip.

If you plan to see more than two national parks in a year, then I highly recommend investing in an America the Beautiful pass! It gives you one year of free entry to all National Parks and other federally-administered protected areas (National Forests, National Seashores, etc. — over 2,000 sites!) for the low price of $79.99.

Plus, 10% of that goes back into the National Park Foundation to keep the land pure, beautiful, and accessible for all.

 Buy your America the Beautiful annual pass online here! 

Winter Road Conditions

Arches Scenic Road

View of Arches National Park's famous Balanced Rock (a circular rock on top of a rock pillar) and another rock formation jutting out from the landscape, orange rock covered with a base of white snow.

The Arches Scenic Road is the main paved road through the park. From this main road, visitors can access the most popular attractions in the park, such as Balanced Rock, Devils Garden, Double Arch, and more! As the main access route in the park, the Arches Scenic Road remains open year-round.

Closures can occur on the Arches Scenic Road for snow removal operations. Call or visit the Arches Visitor Center for a current road conditions report. Be sure your vehicle is suited to travel the potentially icy roads following winter weather.

Salt Valley Road

In warm season’s dry conditions, the Salt Valley Road, which connects Arches National Park’s main paved road to the Klondike Bluffs and Tower Arch Trailhead, is a two-wheel-drive road fit for most vehicles. Although come wet or snowy conditions often seen in the off-season, the road can become impassable even with four-wheel-drive capabilities.

This road is not well-marked and is entirely unpaved. The 10-mile stretch connecting the Devils Garden area of Arches National Park to Highway 191 outside of the park makes a great alternative entrance or scenic detour during promising weather. The road also offers a faster and more direct exit from the park toward the amenities of town.

Arches Winter Hours of Operation and Facilities

A small red brick building covered in snow surrounded by a red rock landscape with a light dusting of snowfall.
The Old Arches Visitor Center (no longer operational) covered in snow

Although Arches National Park is normally open year-round, some of the facilities do undergo reduced hours of operation come wintertime. Drinking water and restrooms are available to the public 24 hours per day regardless of the season. If you are planning to visit Arches National Park during the off-season, which is between the end of November and mid-March, you will want to be aware of these changes to facility hours:

Arches Visitor Center: 9:00 am – 4:00 pm

Park Store at Arches Visitor Center: 9:00 am – 4:00 pm

* The Park Store and Arches Visitor Center are both closed on December 25th

Since Arches National Park is such a fragile environment, it is a good idea to begin your trip with a stop at the visitor center.

At the Arches Visitor Center, you can learn all about the importance of black soil in the area and why you must stay on maintained trails at all times.

The rangers at the visitor center can also provide updated park information and a complete review of your travel itinerary. They may even have some insider tips to share, such as where to spot winter wildlife or the best places to watch the sunset!

Winter Camping in Arches National Park

Two tents in a red rock Utah landscape near Arches National Park with people sitting at a picnic table.
A campground outside of Arches National Park

Many national park travelers like to camp during their outdoor adventures. Arches National Park is home to only one front-country campground, the Devils Garden Campground.

During the busy season between March and most of November, the campground is on an online reservation system and is full every night. However, outside of that timeframe, the Devils Garden Campground transitions to a first-come, first-served system.

There are 25 campsites available during the winter season, which is reduced from the usual 51 sites. It is wise to arrive early to claim a spot! Of course, you’ll need to come equipped with plenty of winter camping gear — it gets below freezing at night!

There are also options for free dispersed camping in Utah!

Luckily, if you are unable to snag a site inside the park, there are plenty of camping opportunities and lodging accommodations ranging in levels of luxury nearby in Moab, UT.

Best Places to Stay in Moab, Utah

Luxury Glamping: Under Canvas Moab knocks it out of the park in terms of comfort, style, and entertainment, and is frequently cited as one of the best glamping lodges in the entire United States!

Book your stay at Under Canvas Moab here!

Budget: Aarchway Inn is just a tiny bit outside of Moab and has gorgeous settings with that classic Utah red rock all around, a lovely swimming pool, and well-appointed rooms. Check out rates, reviews, and availability here.

Winter Safety in Arches National Park

Icy Trails

A pathway leading to Delicate Arch with lots of snowfall on the path ahead, red dirt on the path

With limited daylight hours and colder temperatures in the wintertime, one of the greatest hazards in Arches National Park in winter is icy trails. Many of the most popular trails, including Devils Garden, remain open year-round. It is not uncommon to have clear dry trails a few days after a snowfall. However, ice may be lingering in the shady sections of shady trails like the Delicate Arch Trail.

Yak-tracks or spikes are a good idea for keeping traction on slick trails. Always wear shoes with good traction and use extra caution along steep sections of trail where there is a fall risk. 

Dehydration

Although there is a decreased risk of heatstroke in the wintertime, the cool weather can be deceiving. Dehydration is a risk during all seasons! When recreating in Arches National Park during the winter months, make sure you drink plenty of water throughout the day. Water is available year-round outside of the Arches Visitor Center and the Devils Garden Campground and Trailhead.

Staying Found

Trails left behind in the snow leading up a hill to a large orange arch on a cloudy day

Trails covered in a fresh layer of snow can become difficult to follow. As you hike along, pay close attention to cairns and junctions signs. Cell phone coverage is spotty to nonexistent in most areas of Arches National Park. If you do become lost, stay where you are and wait for rescue.

Always pack a map with navigation tools, and remember to tell someone where you are going before departing for the trail. If you are unsure of your hiking abilities, go with companions.

Rockfall

Rockfall is a year-round hazard in Arches National Park. When hiking along the steep trails and cliff walls, always stay aware and alert. If a rockfall occurs, the park service advises visitors to safely move out of the way. If it is not possible to move out of the way of falling rock, seek shelter behind a large and stable rock feature and place your backpack over your head.

Although rockfall can occur at any time, the risk can become increased due to water freezing in cracks in the sandstone. When the water freezes, it can cause the cracks behind rocks to expand, occasionally lodging the rocks out of place.

Things to Do in Arches National Park in Winter

Take a Scenic Drive

View from afar of the beautiful Turret Arch (which looks like a castle made of natural rock arch) against a backdrop of snow-covered tall mountains, with some light snow on the ground as well.

Tour Arches National Park with a scenic drive through the remarkable red rock landscape. It is possible to see some of the well-known attractions in the park right through your car window. Taking a scenic drive is a great option for chillier winter days, so you can turn up the heat and sip on hot chocolate!

From the Arches National Park main entrance, drive up in elevation on the main scenic road after a quick stop at the Arches Visitor Center. If you have around 4.5 hours to spare, then you have plenty of time to explore all the paved roads in the park with a generous 10 minute stop at each viewpoint!

On your scenic driving tour of Arches National Park, be sure to detour toward The Windows Section, Wolfe Ranch, and Delicate Arch Viewpoint. These are, without a doubt, some of the best attractions to drive to in the park!

If you would like to pair a hike with your scenic drive of Arches National Park, plan to arrive at the trailhead parking early in the day. Trailhead parking for Delicate Arch and Devils Garden can fill early in the day on weekends and holidays.

Tackle Some Arches Winter Hikes

Throughout the winter season, hiking trails in Arches National Park remain open to visitors.

Here are our three favorites!

Delicate Arch

A view of a single orange sandstone arch against a backdrop of snow-covered mountains and a blue sky.

If you only have time for one wintery hike while visiting Arches National Park, make sure you explore the trail to Delicate Arch!

The 3-mile roundtrip hike to see Delicate Arch up close and personal can take about 2-3 hours depending on conditions. This trail has many shaded sections with steep drops and can become icy. You may want to carry yak-tracks along to use across icy sections, but avoid using them on bare sandstone.

Why is this the best winter hike in Arches National Park? Delicate Arch, with the snow-covered La Sal Mountains lining the background, offers amazing scenery! This arch is arguably one of the most recognizable in the national park.

Landscape Arch

A view of a long, delicate arch spanning 300 feet across two rock formations, with brush and red rock landscape in the foreground of photo.

Devil’s Garden is one of the best hiking areas in Arches National Park in the winter due to its easy terrain and see one of several gorgeous arches all along one easy trail.

There are two main hikes here: one to Landscape Arch, one to Double O Arch (more on that below)

One of the coolest arches you’ll find in the Devils Garden area is Landscape Arch, the longest arch in North America — with a massive opening of 306 feet in between its two sides!

This arch won’t be around forever (in fact, much of the arch already collapsed in the 1990s, but it still remains intact, despite being just 6 feet wide at its narrowest points)

It’s a 2-mile roundtrip hike to Landscape Arch, which is a great turnaround point if you don’t want a challenging Arches winter hike.

Double O Arch

The famous Double O Arch in winter, two arches one on top of the other in the winter snow with a sunburst coming through the top arch.

if you want to make it a bit harder for yourself, continue on to the Double O Arch — cautiously, especailly if there is snow. The footing is rocky and at times there are narrow sections with steep drop-offs on either side.

Only attempt this hike in the snow if you are a confident and experienced winter hiker! If there isn’t snow, you should still exercise caution, but it will be less challenging as the tricky footing will be easier to spot.

The hike to Double O Arch is 4.1 miles roundtrip, and while it’s a doozy of a hike, it is well-worth it even if it presents some extra challenges in winter.

Indulge in Some Wintry Landscape Photography

A view of a hiker as seen through a large circular arch, entering a winter wonderland of red rock and snow.

If you are lucky enough to visit Arches National Park soon after a fresh snowfall, you simply must explore the park with a camera in hand! The fresh powdery snow lining the red rock features and magnificent natural arches is something that very few people are lucky enough to see in person.

Although Arches National Park does typically receive a half-foot of snow each year, it melts quickly once met by sunshine.

Some of the best places to explore for winter landscape photography are The Windows Section and Devils Garden. Both of these areas offer maintained hiking trails and opportunities to photograph snowy arches.

Take a 4×4 Tour of Arches (and Maybe Canyonlands!)

A sunrise view of a snow-covered Mesa Arch illuminating the canyon below, lots of detail covered in snow, on a cloudy day.

If you’d like to take a break from winter hiking in Arches National Park, another great way to see the epic Utah winter landscape is by 4×4 tour!

You can take a half-day 4×4 tour leaving from Moab, which will tour Arches off-road and you’ll get to see several spots that car-trippers will never get to see, including Tower Arch, Eye of the Whale Arch, the Marching Men, and more.

Book this half-day 4×4 tour!

Alternately, you can opt for a full-day 4×4 tour that encompasses both Arches and Canyonlands, ticking two Utah National Parks off your bucket list with one off-roading adventure.

In addition to seeing Arches, you’ll also get to explore the massive Canyonlands park. This tour covers the Island in the Sky part of the park, one of the more accessible parts of the park, and includes driving along Shafer Trail, seeing Tower Arch, and getting to check out ancient fossilized dinosaur tracks!

Book this full-day 4×4 tour of Canyonlands and Arches!

Marvel at Dead Horse Point State Park

A landscape resembling the Grand Canyon with lots of layered rock carved away by the bend of a river, all the layers of rock are covered in a light snow, alternating orange and white colors.

While this guide covers traveling to Arches National Park in winter, one of the best things about Moab is just how close it is to several incredible national parks and state parks.

Head outside the park for a half-day trip to Dead Horse Point State Park, which is one of the most beautiful places to visit in Utah — and it’s even more spectacular in the winter if you’ve been lucky enough to get a bit of snow!

What to Pack for Winter in Arches National Park

A woman with blonde hair and a maroon jacket walking down a cleared path with snow on each side in Arches National Park winter landscape of snow and red rocks.

Warm Jacket: In the cold weather of Utah in winter, you’ll want a high-quality jacket with down like a North Face parka. It’s pricy to be sure, but it comes with a lifetime guarantee. It may be a little warm for day use or use when hiking, so a fleece layer underneath is a great choice so you can mix and match to keep yourself comfortable.

Snow Boots: I suggest these cute and cozy Sorel boots for women, which are waterproof and warm but also have plenty of traction, and they work just as well for regular hiking. Add some Yaktrax to the bottom for grip on icy surfaces if you’re doing any tougher hikes.

Warm Leggings: I own several pairs of these fleece-lined leggings in a variety of colors (I have black, gray, and maroon) – I love them under jeans for winter hiking. For people who like wool, merino wool leggings are the way to go – the absolute warmest you can get!

Fleece-Lined Knit Hat: I like a snug knit hat lined in fleece and with a pom pom that does absolutely nothing to add warmth but tons to add cuteness!

Thermal Top Layer: You don’t need crazy warm thermals for Utah in winter, but I like this Heat Plus layer from 32 Degrees.

Touchscreen Friendly Gloves: Taking off your gloves to use your phone when navigating on GPS, looking up something you’ve bookmarked, etc. is so annoying. Most gloves these days tend to be touchscreen friendly, but check before you buy. These gloves are adorable, touchscreen-compatible, and affordable.

Headlamp (and Extra Batteries): Arches National Park in winter can get dark early — and quickly — due to the early sunset time. Bring a headlamp in case any hikes take longer than expected! This Petzl headlamp is highly-rated and affordable.

Waterproof Backpack: You’ll want to keep your belongings dry, especially if you’re doing long hikes and it starts to rain or snow. Bring a waterproof backpack — you won’t regret it, especially if you’re carrying pricy camera equipment.

Camera: You’ll want a camera to capture all that Arches winter beauty. I use and love my Sony A6000! It’s mirrorless, so it’s lightweight and perfect for a high-quality camera that won’t weigh your pack down. Bring extra batteries as they burn out faster in the cold.

Battery Pack: Cold weather depletes cell phone batteries insanely quickly, so if you’re using your cell phone as your primary camera and navigation device (and who doesn’t these days?) you’ll absolutely want the ability to power up without a wall outlet while you’re out enjoying nature.

I rely on an Anker battery pack to keep all my devices charged in the cold — and as a blogger who takes frequent winter trips to the Arctic and beyond with way more gear than a normal person needs, it’s served me very well!

Pin This Guide to Arches in Winter!

Grand Teton in Winter: 30 Things to Know Before You Go

Anyone who loves the aesthetic beauty of snowy mountains will be in awe by the winter views in Grand Teton National Park!

The peaks rocky slopes become artistically contoured by the frequent arrival of fresh powder, and the area trails become snow-covered.

Grant Teton National Park and its gateway town of Jackson, WY come to life with winter visitors eager to explore.

If you love getting outdoors in the wintertime and enjoy the brisk mountain air, Jackson Hole and Grand Teton National Park in winter are the perfect destinations for you!

Outdoor enthusiasts from all over the world flock to this winter wonderland for the epic ski terrain at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, backcountry skiing in the Teton Range, mountaineering, snowshoeing, cross country skiing, and the encompassing mountain views.

Grand Teton in Winter FAQs

A moose walking through the snow with snow-covered Grand Teton range behind him in winter
Is Grand Teton open in winter?

Absolutely — Grand Teton National Park is open 365 days a year, including the winter season! However, once there is significant snowfall, many roads and areas in Grand Teton do close down. We go into those closures later in the article

Can you drive through Grand Teton in winter?

The two main highways in Grand Teton are open in winter: Highway 89/191 and Highway 26/287. Many park roads close to vehicle traffic in winter and become groomed trails for winter sports, including Teton Park Road and Moose-Wilson Road.

What is the best time of year to visit Grand Teton National Park?

It truly depends on what you enjoy doing and how comfortable you are in the cold! If you’re looking to enjoy hiking but aren’t a fan of snow, then Grand Teton in winter is obviously a bad idea. But if you can find joy in winter sports like cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and winter wildlife tours, then I’d say winter is Grand Teton National Park is one of the best times of year due to the stunning snow-covered scenery and serious lack of visitors!

What is there to do in Grand Tetons in the winter?

So, so much — we’ll go into it all later in the post! But let’s start with winter hiking, cross-country skiing (Nordic skiing), guided backcountry skiing, guided wildlife tours including sleigh rides to see local elk, snowshoeing, and warming up after all your adventures in nearby Jackson Hole which is a lively place to be in the winter!

Grand Teton Winter Weather

A classic view of Grand Teton National Park in winter: peaks covered in snow with blue skies

In a word? COLD! So cold, in fact, that the coldest temperature Wyoming ever experienced was measured in Moran, Grand Teton National Park — a bone-chilling 63 degrees below zero Fahrenheit in 1933!

But don’t worry — that’s not exactly the average temperatures in Grand Teton in winter.

Here are the breakdowns for winter temperatures and weather conditions in Grand Teton National Park, and what to expect on a month-by-month basis from November through March.

November: Average high of 35° F and an average low of 14° F, with 11 days of rain/snow

December: Average high of 25° F and an average low of 3° F, with 12 days of rain/snow.

January: Average high of 25° F and an average low of 0° F, with 12 days of snow/rain.

February: Average high of 30° F and an average low of 2° F, with 10 days of snow/rain.

February: Average high of 39° F and an average low of 11° F, with 10 days of snow/rain.

Grand Teton Entry Price in Winter

View over a winter Grand Teton landscape with a river, trees, and snow-covered mountains.

The Grand Teton entry price is the same year-round. For vehicles, it costs $35 for a 7-day pass. For people entering on foot, it costs $20 for a 7-day pass.

If you’re planning on visiting Yellowstone in winter as well, that’ll be $70 per vehicle for both parks, as there is no combined ticket for just the two parks. However, for $10 more, you can buy a National Parks Pass valid for an entire year.

If you plan on visiting both parks, I highly recommend investing in an America the Beautiful pass! It gives you one year of free entry to all National Parks and other federally-administered protected areas (National Forests, National Seashores, etc. — over 2,000 sites!) for the low price of $79.99.

Plus, 10% of that goes back into the National Park Foundation to keep the land pure, beautiful, and accessible for all.

>> Buy your America the Beautiful annual pass online here! <<

Jackson Hole and Greater Yellowstone Visitor Center

Wood, stone, and glass building with snow piled high and on roof with the words "Visitor Center" and one person entering the building

Every trip into a national park should begin with a stop at a visitor center! Visitor centers are the perfect place to get the most recent information on road conditions and chat with professionals that have expert knowledge of the area.

The Jackson Hole and Greater Yellowstone Visitor Center is located in Jackson, WY, just outside of the national park and next to the National Elk Refuge.

In addition to offering an official update on road conditions and information on winter safety, this visitor center has phenomenal views, interesting interpretive displays, a bookstore operated by the Grand Teton Association, and ticket sales for sleigh rides into the National Elk Refuge.

Visitor Center Hours

During the winter season in Grand Teton National Park, the Visitor Center hours for the Jackson Hole Visitor Center are between 9 AM and 5 PM seven days a week.

Although the visitor center is open year-round, holiday visitors can expect to find the center closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. Be sure to get all the info you need in advance!

Once you have all the information you need, you’re ready to explore a wintry Grand Teton National Park!

Where to Stay in Grand Teton in Winter

An aerial photo taken with a drone of Jackson Hole town with a river winding through it and mountains on the edge of town

There is nowhere to stay in Grand Teton National Park itself in the winter, as all the in-park lodging ends mid-October. Therefore, you’ll want to stay in nearby Jackson Hole or Teton Village.

Luckily, there’s no shortage of incredible accommodations there! Here are our top picks for where to stay near Grand Teton.

My top choice? The chic yet laid-back Wyoming Inn at Jackson Hole! This cozy inn features Western-style decor complete with a roaring fireplace, warm woodsy colors, rustic design touches, and large, modern rooms.

Added luxury amenities include a fitness center with Peloton equipment, a large hot tub, complimentary tea, hot chocolate, and cookies by the fireplace, and a delicious on-site restaurant.
>> Check photos, reviews, and availablity here

Traveling on a budget? Then I would opt for the beautiful The Elk Country Inn, which is highly rated and affordable for cost-conscious travelers. Just 4 blocks from the central Town Square in Jackson Hole, the rooms are modern, spacious, and clean.

The ambiance is a bit generic hotel, as opposed to hip places like Wyoming Inn, but it’s warm and comforting nonetheless. There’s also an indoor swimming pool and fireplace: a score for a budget-conscious place.
>> Check photos, reviews, and availability here

Looking for the ultimate in luxury? If cost is not a factor, the stunning Teton Mountain Lodge and Spa (which is a Noble House Resort) is the obvious choice! This is as luxurious as it gets in the Grand Teton area. There are a variety of room types, all with a gorgeous fireplace and cooking area, so you can find everything from queen studios to bi-level two-bedroom suites.

It’s located in Teton Village, just over a mile from Grand Teton National Park and close to several ski runs in case you’re traveling with skiers. There is a phenomenal on-site restaurant, a lively bar area for apres-ski drinks, indoor and outdoor hot tubs, an indoor heated pool, a massage and spa center, and a gorgeous outdoor heated pool that’s lit up beautifully at night for after-dark dips.
>> Check photos, reviews, and availability here

Grand Teton NP Winter Road Conditions and Closures

A view of a plowed road leading through a pine forest with a clear view of the Grand Teton winter range ahead

Winter-like conditions in Grand Teton National Park and Jackson Hole can last from November until mid-April.

During that time, the park closes many of its roads to keep visitors safe during winter travel. The park service strongly encourages 4-wheel drive and tires that are suitable for snow-covered roads during winter in Grand Teton.

Grand Teton Winter Roads Open Year-Round

For those traveling from Jackson, WY, John D. Rockefeller Jr. Parkway/ HWY 191 remains open through the winter up until the Flagg Ranch, which is just before the boundary of Yellowstone National Park.

Although the roadway is plowed, those who choose to travel on this route should expect the road to be snow-covered and icy. Drive with caution.

Seasonally Closed Roads

Beginning on November 1st, the Teton Park Road is closed to private vehicle traffic from the Taggert Lake Trailhead to Signal Mountain Lodge. The road remains closed throughout winter until April 1st.

Although the Teton Park Road closes to private vehicle traffic, it does open up to many more fun winter activities, which we will get to in a bit!

Most other park roads close on November 1st or when the park service determines that the road is impassable due to snowfall.

Always check on conditions at the Jackson Hole Visitor Center before entering the park!

Grand Teton Winter Tours

Three bighorn sheep clustered together in a snow-covered Grand Teton in winter landscape

There are tons of winter tours if you prefer a more structured experience in Grand Teton in winter, led by a knowledgeable guide who is passionate about the region and exploring it safely and conscientiously.

Here are a few of the best Grand Teton tours and activities you can do in the winter!

Snowmobiling: The beautiful Heart Six Ranch offers full-day snowmobiling tours of their region in the Grand Teton mountains, including a tasty lunch at a beautiful mountain lodge and gear rental (bring your own warm base layers). This is a full-day tour from 8 AM to 4 PM or later, so it’s great for whiling away a day in the backcountry of Grand Teton in winter!

>> Book your snowmobiling excursion here <<

Wildlife Tour: Want to see the best winter wildlife in Grand Teton National Park? That means a pre-dawn wake-up call to spot some of the most beautiful animals in the park on a sunrise wildlife tour. This small-group tour (maximum size: 7 participants) includes a pre-dawn pickup, tasty breakfast, and several hours of wildlife spotting with an expert guide before returning to your hotel for a cozy afternoon nap or fireside lounge!

>> Book your sunrise wildlife tour in Grand Teton here <<

Full-Day Private Tour: For an all-day private guided tour of Grand Teton for small groups up to 4, this is the best tour to pick if you want total privacy for your group or family for social distancing or just enjoyment purposes. This tour focuses on winter wildlife spotting and photography spots in Grand Teton, but as you are the only participants on the tour, you can speak with your guide to try to customize aspects of the itinerary.

>> Book your private guided tour of Grand Teton here <<

Cross Country Skiing in Grand Teton National Park

A father and son enjoying cross-country skiing on a winter day in Grand Teton National Park with blue skies and snow.

Skiing into Grand Teton National Park is an experience unlike any other. The area’s powdery snow is perfect for ski touring, and the views are unbeatable.

There are many professional outfitters located in Jackson that can equip you with everything you need to get out and glide through Grand Teton National Park. If you are visiting during the holidays or for spring break, you may want to reserve your rental gear in advance to secure availability!

Teton Park Road

For those interested in cross country skiing in Grand Teton, the Teton Park Road is a great place to start.

The Teton Park Road is groomed from the Taggert Lake Trailhead, where you will likely park your vehicle, all the way to Signal Mountain Lodge.

That’s nearly 15 miles of beautifully groomed trail to explore beginning in mid-December, depending on conditions. The trail passes popular attractions like Jenny Lake and the southern end of Jackson Lake.

Whether you decide to ski only a few miles or the whole stretch of the road, on a bluebird day you’re guaranteed epic views of the Cathedral Group, which includes Grand Teton, Mount Owen, Teewinot, Middle Teton, and South Teton. 

Moose-Wilson Road

Another great option for some in-park cross country skiing is the Moose-Wilson Road.

To ski along the groomed trail on this scenic road, park at the Granite Canyon Trailhead. The road is groomed for about 3 miles, where it ends at another trailhead.

Round trip, the trail offers 6 miles of the wonderful forested scenery. During the winter, skiers often use this road to access Phelps Lake.

Skiing with Pets in Grand Teton

A faraway view of horses in the distance and mountains with footsteps in the snow.

Did you know your favorite four-legged friend can join you as you ski?

Regardless of snowfall, the Teton Park Road does close on November 1st to private vehicle traffic. However, the road begins to welcome leashed pets!

Once the snow begins to fall, leashed pets must stay in the multi-use lane. Pets are also welcome on the Moose-Wilson Road following the November 1st closing.

Use caution whenever traveling off-trail and be aware of the current avalanche conditions.

Snowshoeing in the Tetons

A family embarking together on a snowshoeing adventure in Grand Teton National Park away from camera towards the mountains.

For anyone uninterested in cross-country skiing, snowshoeing is another great way to get outdoors in the wintertime!

There’s an easier learning curve compared to cross-country skiing, and snowshoes are very cheap to pick up your own pair so you can have them with you all winter season long. Here’s a well-reviewed affordable pair that also comes with snowshoeing poles.

One thing to note: on mixed-use trails, do not snowshoe in the cross-country ski tracks! The cross-country skiers use this to return to the trailhead more easily. It’s poor trail etiquette to snowshoe over their tracks.

Ranger-Led Tours

Grand Teton National Park offers a fun program called, “Explore Winter: Snowshoe with a Ranger”.

Participants can join a park ranger for a snowy hike in the Taggert Lake area. This is a great opportunity to learn how to be safe while recreating in the winter, ask questions about the park, and explore the Teton’s beautiful landscape.

Reservations for this ranger-led program must be made in advance on the park’s official website. Snowshoes, historic of those used in the U.S. Army’s 10th Mountain Division during World War II, are provided to all participants. 

Groomed Trails on Moose-Wilson Road and Teton Park Road

The groomed trails in Grand Teton National Park, mentioned above in the cross-country skiing section, are also open to snowshoeing!

Remember to avoid walking on top of the ski tracks whenever possible.

Colter Bay

If you’re interested in a self-guided snowshoe excursion, there are a few other areas to consider.

A popular spot for winter hiking and snowshoeing is Colter Bay. The Colter Bay trails are adjacent to Jackson Lake and offer picturesque views of the Teton Range on clear days!

To access the Colter Bay parking area, visitors should use John D. Rockefeller Jr. Parkway/ HWY 191. From the town of Jackson, this area is a 1-hour scenic drive.

Backcountry Skiing in Grand Teton in Winter

A man skiing doing a large jump in the backcountry landscape of the Grand Tetons with a powder trail behind him.

The Teton Range is a well-known paradise for mountaineering, climbing, and backcountry skiing. However, these activities aren’t for the faint of heart or the inexperienced.

Grand Teton National Park encourages all snow-season backcountry users to carry the appropriate safety equipment and have expert knowledge of avalanche safety.

There is still a way to explore the winter backcountry for intermediate skiers, however. For those eager to get deeper into the Teton’s remote terrain, a guided backcountry ski trip might be in order.

There are many professional outfitters that are permitted to offer guided backcountry ski trips into Grand Teton National Park! Teton Backcountry Guides is one such company.

Going with a professional guide is a great way to learn about winter safety and ensure that the mountain routes you run are thoroughly assessed for avalanche danger.

The helpful folks at the Visitor Center can help you find a guide company that offers exactly what you’re looking for.

Winter Wildlife Viewing

An elk with giant horns in focus with mouth open and a blurry background with one other elk behind.

Get out of the chilly winter air and warm up on a scenic drive to seek out some area wildlife.

Grand Teton National Park is home to bison, deer, elk, coyote, bear, and even wolves!

Although bear settle in for hibernation in the wintertime, many of the park’s other wildlife remains active.

Hit the road for a drive along John D. Rockefeller Jr. Parkway/ HWY 191 from Jackson, WY. Take all opportunities to pull off of the road and scout the open landscape.

A good pair of binoculars or a spotting scope will be extra helpful for locating wildlife in the distance.

Wolves in Willow Flats Overlook

The Willow Flats Overlook is well-known as one of the best places to scout for wolves in Grand Teton National Park.

Grab a parking spot and set up shop for a little while. Be patient in your search, and remember to have fun!

The National Elk Refuge

Elk can often be seen just outside of the park in the winter at the National Elk Refuge in Jackson Hole.

The refuge also is a popular place to spot other types of mammals and migratory birds.

Sleigh Rides to See the Elk

Two brown horses in profile wearing bridal, reins, and other horse gear in order to bring travelers on a sleigh ride.

Wintertime visitors can get a close-up view of the massive elk herd that inhabits the refuge by booking a horse-drawn sleigh ride!

Tickets and reservations for the sleigh rides are available at the Jackson Hole and Greater Yellowstone Visitor Center.

What to Pack for Grand Teton in Winter

A view of the famous "Grand Teton Cabin", a wooden structure shaped almost like a sombrero hat, with a sunrise light glow on the tips of the mountain range behind.

Packing for Grand Teton in winter requires some extra consideration, especially in the clothing department.

Waterproof Parka: In the snowy weather and freezing temperatures of Grand Teton in winter, you’ll want something like this wonderful North Face parka. It’s pricy to be sure, but it comes with a lifetime guarantee (which I’ve tested by sending in my zipper to be fixed after four years of use and abuse cycling in it all winter long – my jacket came back looking like new!).

I’ve had this one for ten years and it’s held up beautifully from everything to biking in NYC in winter to visiting North of the Arctic circle in TromsoAbisko, and Finnish Lapland. It’ll certainly do you just fine in Grand Teton in winter!

>>> Get yours here! <<<

Waterproof Pants: If you’re doing any winter hiking, skiing, snowshoeing, snowboarding, etc. (basically, anything more intense than just a stroll around town) you’ll want waterproof pants: trust me, jeans just won’t do when you’re dealing with snow this deep.

Snow Boots: For snow boots for walking around Yellowstone National Park as well as whatever town you’re using as your base, I suggest these cute and cozy Sorel boots for women, which are waterproof and warm but also have plenty of traction. Add some Yaktrax to the bottom for grip on icy surfaces and pathways. These are a godsend!

Warm Leggings: You have two options for ultra-warm leggings in winter – fleece-lined for people with sensitive skin like me, and merino wool for people who don’t find wool itchy like I do. I own several pairs of these fleece-lined leggings in a variety of colors (I have black, gray, and maroon). I wear these underneath my waterproof pants in the snow. For people who like wool, merino wool leggings are the way to go – the absolute warmest you can get!

Fleece-Lined Knit Hat: I live in several different colors of knit hats in the winter. Since your jacket is likely a dark or neutral color, it’s fun to liven up your look (and photos) with a selection of colorful beanies. I like a snug knit hat lined in fleece and with a pom pom that does absolutely nothing to add warmth but tons to add cuteness!

Thermal Top Layer: Again, this’ll depend on if you like wool or not. I don’t, so I go for thin performance thermals like this Heat Plus layer from 32 Degrees. However, if you’re a fan of wool, a merino wool base layer will keep you insanely warm and it won’t trap odors, meaning you can re-wear it several times before it needing a wash — great if you like to pack light.

An Enormous Scarf: The bigger and thicker and more wrappable the scarf, the better. I tend to opt for bright, bold colors to liven up my look. I love these ones — they’re cheap and feel soft like cashmere but aren’t pricy (or in my opinion, itchy!) like it!

Touchscreen Friendly Gloves: Taking off your gloves to use your phone when navigating on GPS, looking up something you’ve bookmarked, etc. is so annoying. Most gloves these days tend to be touchscreen friendly, but check before you buy. These gloves are adorable, touchscreen-compatible, and affordable.

Waterproof Gloves: You’ll also want to layer waterproof gloves over your touchscreen gloves if you’re snowshoeing or cross-country skiing and generally out and about a lot in the snow when you can’t put your hands in your pockets.

Headlamp (and Extra Batteries): Grand Teton National Park in winter can get dark early — and quickly — due to the early sunset time plus the mountains making it get darker even before that. Bring a headlamp in case any hikes take longer than expected! This Petzl headlamp is highly-rated and affordable.

Waterproof Backpack or Dry Bag: You’ll want to keep your belongings dry, especially if you’re doing long hikes in the snow or freezing rain. Bring a waterproof backpack — you won’t regret it, especially if you’re carrying pricy camera equipment — or even a dry bag for added protection.

Snowshoes (optional): Many trails in Grand Teton in winter will require proper snowshoes (different than snow boots!) and poles if you want to do some winter trekking. You can also rent them, but they’re pretty cheap to buy and will last you for future winter trips!

Camera: You’ll want a camera to capture all that Grand Teton winter beauty. I use and love my Sony A6000! It’s mirrorless, so it’s lightweight and perfect for a high-quality camera that won’t weigh your pack down. Bring extra batteries as they burn out faster in the cold.

Battery Pack: Cold weather depletes cell phone batteries insanely quickly, so if you’re using your cell phone as your primary camera and navigation device (and who doesn’t these days?) you’ll absolutely want the ability to power up without a wall outlet while you’re out enjoying nature.

I rely on an Anker battery pack to keep all my devices charged in the cold — and as a blogger who takes frequent winter trips to the Arctic and beyond with way more gear than a normal person needs, it’s served me very well!

>>> Get your battery pack here <<<

Travel Insurance for Grand Teton

View of the Grand Tetons at sunset with sun colors lighting up the mountains in pastel pink and lavender and a snow-covered landscape everywhere else.

I always recommend travel insurance, but in winter, that goes even more so. Travel insurance protects you from everything from accidents to trip cancellation to illness and more.

I use and recommend World Nomads as my travel insurance provider and have been a happily-paying customer for four years of near-constant travel!

If you’re just planning on doing basic winter activities, you can go ahead with the Standard plan, but if you’re planning on anything more extreme — including snowmobiling, skiing, snowboarding, etc. — you’ll want to upgrade to the Explorer plan for full coverage.

Get a free quote for coverage here!

Concluding Thoughts on Visiting Grand Teton in Winter

Grand Teton National Park is a wealth of outdoor adventure and scenic views in the wintertime.

With so many activities to choose from, there’s no wonder why this area makes a perfect destination for winter travel!

Pin This Guide to Grand Teton in Winter!