The Mountain Goat Gallery

The Moose-Wilson Road: Ready for Hikers and Bikers

Posted by Jim Steele on April 17th, 2008 filed in Grand Teton National Park

If you just can’t wait until the snow melts and the mountain passes become accessible, join the club. In the meantime, we have to stay in the valley. Give the Moose-Wilson Road a try.

During the summer, the Moose-Wilson road is open to cars, connecting Teton Village and Moose. In the winter, the three-mile section between the Granite Canyon trailhead and the turnoff to the Death Canyon trailhead is open for cross-country skiing. For now, that section is plowed, but remains closed to cars through April, so it’s a great place to ride your bike, walk Fido, or take a hike.

To get there, just take Wyoming 390 north from Wilson and Teton Village; the trailhead is about 2.5 miles from Teton Village. After Teton Village, there is a Grand Teton National Park entrance gate, so don’t forget your park pass. From there, the road narrows and the pavement ends. It’s not far from the entrance gate to the Granite Canyon trailhead parking area. The road is gated just past the parking area.

The alternative is to come from the north. From Moose, turn on the Moose-Wilson Road near the Moose Post Office. You’ll be able to drive as far as the turnoff to the Death Canyon trailhead and White Grass Ranch, which is three miles from Moose.

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This three-mile section of the Moose-Wilson road meanders through the forest, up and down rolling hills. You won’t see a lot of sweeping views of the Tetons, but there are areas where the forest opens up enough that you get a good idea of what the south end of the Teton Range is all about.

The first mile is not paved. After about a mile, you will see the first turnoff to the former JY Ranch to the northwest. The JY Ranch was at the south end of Phelps Lake. The ranch buildings have been removed and the land was donated to the National Park Service by Laurance S. Rockefeller. It has been open to the public since November 2007, as the Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve. As of April 17, the roads to the Preserve had not been plowed. The trip to the shore of Phelps Lake makes a great cross-country ski trip in the winter.

After the first turnoff to the Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve, the road is paved. Before long, you will cross a narrow bridge over Lake Creek, which flows out of Phelps Lake. After Lake Creek, there is another turnoff leading west to the Preserve. This road is becoming part of the Preserve’s trail system.

Next, you will see signs for the Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve. A short road south of the Moose-Wilson Road will lead to a parking area and to the Preserve Center, which has been designed to help people feel closer to nature through the Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve. The Center opens this summer. A road leading to near the Preserve Center has been plowed; take this short side trip and you will be rewarded with a cool view.

The next stop is the gate at the turnoff to the Death Canyon trailhead and White Grass Ranch. From here, the road is open to automobiles. You could continue three miles to Moose or turn around. As of April 17, the road to the Death Canyon trailhead has not been plowed.

The unpaved portion of the road was muddy in places but very passable on April 17. The paved portion was mostly clear of snow.

There’s something surreal about stopping in the middle of a paved road and hearing nothing but the sounds of the forest. The road won’t be open to cars for a couple of weeks, so give the Moose-Wilson Road a try!

Any trail tips or updates? Leave a comment.

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