Best-Kept Spring Secret: Park Biking

We want to let you in on one of Jackson Hole’s best-kept secrets: April is the best month for biking in the Grand Tetons. This may seem antithetical considering the capricious nature of spring in the mountains, but trust us: For one-month only, the Teton Park Road becomes a wide pathway open only to non-motorized travel. That means cyclists, rollerbladers, strollers, runners and walkers are all welcome to partake in the open expanse. Sunny April weekends find the stretch from the Taggart Lake Trailhead to Jenny Lake teeming with families and frolickers. Even when spring winds pick up, intrepid recreationists revel in the opportunity to play on the park road.

A choose-your-own-adventure experience, the plowed portion runs from Taggart Lake Trailhead to Signal Mountain Lodge, a distance of 14 miles. The 28-mile round-trip takes a full afternoon, but scenic pullouts encourage pausing along the way or looping back at any point.

Our ideal itinerary involves waiting for the morning clouds to lift and the pavement to heat up a bit. Pack plenty of warm gear. Don’t be fooled by balmy temps in town; the park is always chillier. Aim to leave by 11 a.m., and stop at Creekside Market for a picnic lunch plus energy bars and drinks. Be sure your Camelback is full. Then beeline for the park entrance. The gate ranger can give you the latest scoop on the road conditions (snow and ice patches tend to linger). Park at Taggart Lake and begin pedaling. Depending on the day, you may not see anyone else for miles on end, and if you do, in-the-know-nods are de rigueur. Take time to refuel with water and snacks; biking at elevation is hard work. Be prepared for headwind on the way back: wearing a windbreaker is always a good idea. At the North Jenny Lake Junction, veer east and take the scenic loop toward the lake, an enchanting stretch through pine glades with breathtaking views of Cascade Canyon. Be sure you pocket your phone or camera; every moment feels worthy of a postcard shot: Wish you were here!

Jackson residents never take Grand Teton National Park for granted, but their gratitude for having backyard access to its splendor peaks in April. Dorothy followed the yellow brick road; we follow plowed park pavement.