Sprinter

April 11, 2024  •  Leave a Comment

spring at Grand Teton National ParkSPOTLIGHT ON SPRINGAfternoon storms forming over the Teton Range create quickly changeable - and dramatic - skies. A few rays of light break through, highlighting the lush springtime foliage.

Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming
Ah, spring!

Tulips, daffodils, trees leafing out, green everywhere...

Or not.

The calendar might say it's spring, but Mother Nature doesn't care about that. After all, last week a Nor'easter dumped a lot of heavy, wet snow on my old stomping grounds in New Hampshire. 

A friend from Arizona is planning a trip up here to visit Grand Teton National Park in a few weeks. She expected she'd see something like what's pictured in the image above. I had to break the news: sorry, no. 

The park doesn't start to wake up - really wake up - from its winter slumber until the latter part of May. 

Right now you can expect what the park service cleverly referred to the other day as "sprinter." A little bit spring, a little bit winter, and very unpredictable.

A few feet of snow remain on the ground in the valley. Expect some trails to be impassable. Others might be icy and/or muddy. Even when campgrounds open for the season (that'll be mid-May at Signal Mountain, in my opinion the best place in the park for camping) they often only partially open at first - and if you do have a site you'll be reminded that you might find snow on the tent pad and it could be very wet. 

This is what you're likely to see if you visit Grand Teton National Park in April:

I sank down knee-deep into the snow in a few spots when trudging around by the barns on the day I captured this photo (a few years ago). It's even deeper than that at the same locations right now. 

Coming to the Tetons in early spring means you need to be prepared for chilly temperatures and snow on the ground. You might think it feels a lot like winter - especially the farther away you venture from the main roads. Bring a ski jacket and boots, not shorts and a t-shirt.

There are signs of spring, though, and I think the park is lovely in April. The ice begins to break up on the Snake River and at the lakes, it's no longer bitterly cold, wildlife is on the move, and roads are passable. Still covered in white, the mountains are stunning. Best of all: it's not crowded. 

Teton Park Road remains closed until May 1st, but you can walk it or bike it until then, both of which are great fun.   

When I'm asked what time of year is the best time to visit the park, it's hard to answer since I don't think it's possible to choose just one. If I had to, it'd probably be early June because spring is my favorite time of year, and that's when spring comes to Grand Teton National Park. Green season. Nothing better.

Next up would have to be late September, and right behind that I'd go with December - but if you're like my buddy and plan to visit in April, you won't be disappointed. Just remember to dress appropriately for quirky "Sprinter" season in Grand Teton National Park.

It may look a lot like winter - but the temperatures are climbing. 


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