Hiking season is here in Grand Teton National Park and all are eager to start their summer trek. An unknown author stated, “Of all the paths you walk on in life, make sure one of them is dirt.” Grand Teton National Park has some of the best views in the world from those dirt trails. The trails in the Park vary from moderate to advanced and from dirt to rocky terrain. One thing is for sure that there is a trail for everyone in the family.
To enjoy our local trails we want to offer some Rocky Mountain advice to safely hike through and value Grand Teton National Park. These tips have been gathered from our local employees who spend their summers working at Grand Teton Lodge Company and hiking in the mountains on their days off. We hope our trail expertise will help prepare you for your first hike of the season in our beautiful Park.
- Hike With A Buddy – It is important to make noise and talk to your pal while on the trail. The noise you make lets wildlife know you are around, and helps keep them from becoming startled and defensive. Also, if an emergency situation happens you are not alone when following the buddy system. Remember to talk while you walk.
- Carry Bear Spray – In the wilderness grizzly and black bears call Grand Teton National Park their home and we are fortunate to be allowed in it. When a bear is startled it may attack and bear spray can save your life. Find bear spray in the retail outlets throughout the Park, or stop by a local Ranger Station and take it on the trail with you. This applies to all areas of the Park not just the mountains.
- Hike in Boots – These trails although maintained are not paved sidewalks. They have bumps, ruts, rocks, and dirt. A tough boot with hard soles is ideal for the protection of your feet and ankles, especially when it comes to high elevation hiking.
- Travel With H2O – The elevation of Grand Teton National Park has an average elevation of 6,800 feet and reaches up to 13,770 feet at the tallest mountain peak, The Grand Teton. At 6,000 feet in elevation people perspire twice as much as in low elevation due to low air pressure. In high elevation it is important to drink lots of water because it is easy to become dehydrated and not even realize it. Take water with you even on the shortest hike.
- Walk With Poles – Not ski poles but hiking poles or a walking stick. You will not be the only one on the trail with them. Hiking poles help with balance while traveling on uneven terrain, and can save your knees while hiking downhill.
- Wear Sunscreen and Eye Protection – Because the elevation is high in Grand Teton National Park you are closer to sun’s harmful rays. It is easy to get burnt even while the sky is overcast. Also, many of the Park’s trails surround lakes and rivers which will reflect those UV rays right towards you, protect your skin and eyes with UV protection.
- Bring a map – Whether, your hike is a mile or 20 miles it is important to plan your route. Have a map on hand in case you are not sure about the next turn to make. Maps can also be used to chart each of the locations you reach. They are lightweight and easy to carry.
- Be Aware of Weather Changes – In the mountains weather can be unpredictable and storms can roll in while you are on mile 3 of your 6 mile hike. Always carry a light rain and wind protective shell while hiking.
- Pack It In; Pack It Out – This is for your safety as well as others! If you bring along a snack for the trail, remember to take it with you when you leave. Wildlife, specifically bears have a very keen sense of smell and will find a bubble gum wrapper, apple core, or part of a sandwich left behind. These small items can attract wild creatures to humans who they think provide them with food. Remember, a fed bear is a dead bear. Keep the trails clean and safe for everyone by taking your munchies with you.
- Carry a Camera – Grand Teton National Park is famous for its photogenic spots. Nearly everywhere you point your camera can be a perfect shot waiting to be framed. Have your camera with you as you hike because the Park is filled with wildlife and spectacular views to be treasured always.