Black and grizzly bears are roaming throughout the park--near roads, trails and in backcountry areas. Hikers and backcountry users are advised to travel in groups of three or more, make noise and carry bear spray. Visitors must stay 100 yards from bears.
Area closure in the area around Baxter's Pinnacle
An area closure is in effect around Baxter's Pinnacle to protect nesting peregrine falcons. This closure precludes any climbs of Baxter's Pinnacle and usage of the walk-off gully. This closure will be in effect through 8-15-2013.
Area Closure in effect in the Elk Ranch area
A temporary area closure is in effect in the Elk Ranch Area to protect wildlife during the denning and young-rearing period. Follow the link for a map of the closed area.
The Teton Range draws visitors from around the world to trek through Grand Teton National Park’s spectacular landscape. Proper trip planning can make your journey safe and enjoyable. All hikers who plan to camp in the backcountry must obtain a permit from one of the permit’s offices located at the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center in Moose, Jenny Lake Ranger Station or the Colter Bay Visitor Center.
The park’s Backcountry brochure will help with trip planning. First, consider your group and expectations. If you have young or inexperienced backpackers, you may wish to trek along valley trails rather than tackle high traverses. Also consider the number of miles per day, elevation gained, level of difficulty, degree of seclusion, loop or destination trip, and lakeshore versus alpine. Many of the high passes remain snow-covered until mid-July requiring the use of an ice axe for safe travel. Keep in mind, there is no public transportation between trailheads.
Once you have planned your itinerary, decide on your preferred and alternate campsites and dates. Submit an advance reservation request from January 5th through May 15th by fax, mail or on-line; or register in person no more than one day in advance at a permit’s office. One-third of backcountry campsites can be reserved in advance and two-thirds are available for walk-ins. Standard campsites accommodate up to six backpackers and group campsites are for seven to twelve backpackers. These limits protect the backcountry from overuse and help provide a more enjoyable nature experience for all.
Backpackers must use park-approved, bear-resistant food canisters or food storage lockers at campsites below 10,000 feet. Obtain a free canister for use in the park when you register for your trip. Your help is critical to keep bears from becoming aggressive due to receiving human food.
To ensure your safety please take the following backpacking essentials on your trip and know how to use them: a topographic map, compass or GPS, first aid kit, bear spray, food, tent, sleeping bag and pad, headlamp, proper footwear, extra clothing, rain gear, water container, the means to treat water, stove and fuel, insect repellent, sunscreen, trowel for burying human waste and baggies for toilet paper disposal.
Grand Teton National Park offers awe-inspiring backcountry opportunities. Preparing for your trip will help you have a safe and enjoyable visit. We hope your experience brings you memories that last a lifetime and calls you to return.
Winter is a spectacular time to visit Grand Teton National Park offering a very different experience than summer. Crystal-clear blue skies alternate with winter blizzards; snow blankets mountains; and adventure awaits those who explore the park’s winter wonderland.
Winter also poses risks. Whenever you venture out, please let a responsible person know where you are going and when you will return. Prepare yourself by packing extra clothes, food and water. If you venture into the backcountry, you should also bring a first-aid kit, headlamp, repair kit, map and compass, anything necessary to survive an unexpected storm.
Changing weather poses risks. Blowing snow can quickly obscure tracks and landmarks so check the weather report and watch for changing conditions. The park does not mark winter trails. However, a portion of the Teton Park Road is groomed intermittently for winter travel. Snowshoers and those with a dog must stay the multi-use lane. The other lane is for skiers. Clean up after your dog and keep it on a leash six feet long or less; it’s required and shows consideration for others. The wind often picks up in the afternoon, so an easy ski out may become a long, cold trip back.
Explore the park by breaking your own trail, but know your limits. Steep, snow-covered slopes look inviting, but they may turn deadly. Avoid traveling in avalanche terrain unless you are educated about avalanche safety, accept the risks, carry appropriate rescue gear and know how to use it. Use extreme caution crossing frozen streams or lakes. Check the daily avalanche forecast posted at the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center, the only park visitor center open in the winter.
For those hardy souls who enjoy winter camping, get a backcountry permit before your expedition. Permits are required year-round, and are available free of charge at the visitor center. Camping is allowed west of the Teton Park Road and a mile from any trailhead.
Winter is also a special time to view wildlife. Bears hibernate, elk migrate to the National Elk Refuge, and moose linger in the sagebrush. If you catch a glimpse of any animal, please keep your distance and obey all winter wildlife closures, especially along the Snake River north of Moose. The harsh climate makes winter survival challenging; any additional stress from people may be too much.
Stop by the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center at Moose to learn about safely exploring the winter beauty and serenity of Grand Teton National Park.
Tragedy struck just after noon on July 21, 2010. A severe thunderstorm exploded over the Teton Range, trapping seventeen climbers high on the Grand Teton. One climber fell to his death and sixteen other climbers suffered lightning-related injuries. More than 80 rescuers lead by the Jenny Lake Climbing Rangers went to work as the storm raged. Using short-haul techniques and two helicopters, the rangers began to rescue the injured climbers, completing operations nine and a half hours later. What different choices could have prevented this tragedy?
Unfortunately, this scenario has played several times over the years. Thunderstorms may be the most obvious and dramatic summertime weather risk, but visitors face many other hazards due to the unpredictable weather in Grand Teton National Park. Visitors worry about bear encounters, but weather-related injuries claim more victims each year.
As you enjoy the high-altitude scenery and solitude of the park, please be aware of some of the dangers you may face. If you are going on a long day hike, drink water before you leave the trailhead and carry at least two liters of water with you. The low humidity found here evaporates your sweat quickly, so you may not realize how much fluid you have lost. The temperatures may be in the low-80s, but many trails lack shade making it feel much warmer. This combination of altitude, low humidity and exposure may lead to heat exhaustion and dehydration. If you experience heavy sweating, dizziness, headaches, muscle cramps or nausea find shelter from the sun and drink fluids. Seek medical attention if your symptoms don’t improve.
Keep an eye to the sky! Be ready to change your plans quickly in response to the weather. Check at a visitor center or ranger station for the latest weather forecast. The park and the National Weather Service coordinate to provide accurate forecasts for all visitors. Even if the forecast is for sunny skies, carry an extra layer of insulation and rain gear. Most thunderstorms occur in the afternoon or evening, but they can occur at any time. If storm clouds build, or if you hear thunder in the distance, retreat from exposed areas and take shelter. Storms can form very quickly. A warm 80-degree sunny day may turn into a cold 50-degree thunderstorm deluge. Hypothermia is as common as overheating in the park so be prepared.
Grand Teton National Park provides amazing recreational opportunities and beautiful scenic experiences, but the conditions are constantly changing. The best way for you to stay safe during your visit is to be prepared. Whether you are going for a 30-minute walk, a 10-hour hike, or climb a peak know the weather forecast, and always bring plenty of water, food, extra clothing and raingear. Taking these simple steps can make your trip safe and enjoyable.
Did You Know?
Did you know that a large fault lies at the base of the Teton Range? Every few thousand years earthquakes up to a magnitude of 7.5 on the Richter Scale signal movement on the Teton fault, lifting the mountains skyward and hinging the valley floor downward.