- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 20, 2016

JACKSON, Wyo. (AP) - Late on a Saturday afternoon in early April, the Taggart Lake parking lot in Grand Teton National Park was full with kids playing, people loading and unloading bicycles and one group in a full-blown snowball fight.

A section of Teton Park Road is now open to nonmotorized recreational use until May 1. That means there’s a 15-mile segment of tempting pavement stretching from the Taggart lot northward to Signal Mountain Lodge, the Jackson Hole News and Guide reported (https://bit.ly/1qD2INk).

All kinds of bikes could be seen on the path, as well as people just walking. Some people brought their dogs along on leashes, and others rolled on inline skates while pushing strollers.

Bryan Lords was supposed to longboard while his wife, Jessica Lords, walked, but their son Atticus had other plans. The plan was for the 3-year-old to pedal his own tiny bike, but he decided the most fun would be riding with his dad on the skateboard.

“It’s one of our favorite things about early spring,” Jessica Lords said.

They went only about a mile down the road, but they usually get farther and try to make it out to the road as often as possible. In past years the couple has ridden bikes, but Jessica, being six and a half months pregnant, wasn’t keen on the idea this time.

“I am not going to ride my bike pregnant,” she said.

Just down the road Roxy Boyle, of Idaho Falls, was handing out homemade peanut butter granola bars to fellow cyclists taking a break halfway from the Taggart Lake parking lot to the Jenny Lake pullout.

Boyle was joined by a group of friends who had also traveled from Idaho Falls to enjoy the sunshine and exercise under the Tetons. The women planned a multisport day that involved cross-country skiing near Taggart Lake and then joining with others to bike past Jenny Lake.

Boyle’s friend Curt Karg has a goal to come out and bike on the road four times in April, which for locals doesn’t seem like much but is a bigger commitment when it requires driving the two hours from Idaho Falls.

“We first heard about it last year,” said his wife, Margie Karg. “So we called again this year to see if it was open.”

They were able to use their Senior Pass to drive into the park up to the parking area. Fees or park passes are still required at entrance gates.

As the group from Idaho Falls hopped on bikes and rode away, Brandon Smith pedaled by with a fishing pole and skis strapped to his back. Following suit, his friends behind him had bike trailers filled with an auger, more fishing supplies and cross-country skis.

The trio had spent the day ice fishing on Leigh Lake after driving to the park, biking to String Lake and then skiing to Leigh Lake.

Along with the more springtime activities, you may still catch the glimpse of people cross-country skiing along the sides of the road or heading into the mountains on a long alpine tour.

At times the air will be so peacefully quiet that it feels like you’re the only one in the park. And other times you hear children laughing, bike wheels spinning and friends chattering.

Eliyah Howard, 3, wore a princess helmet and cuddled up with her Olaf doll behind her dad, Adam Howard, in a covered yellow-and-white trailer.

“We’re having fun!” she yelled from inside behind the mesh.

It was the first time the Rafter J family had been on the road because Eliyah’s brother Titus, 5, was able to ride his bike all by himself. Howard is hoping to come back to the park road with his wife, whom they were waiting to pick up at the airport after their ride.

“It’s nice not having to worry about getting hit by a car,” Howard said.

Cars won’t be able to use the road until May 1, when it opens to public vehicle travel. There may be park vehicles and road crews on the roads, and it is advised to keep a safe distance when you see them.

Dogs are allowed to be walked on the road but must have a leash no longer than 6 feet. Owners are also required to use waste disposal bags, which are located at the Taggart Lake parking area.

Along with the sunshine and warm weather comes the emergence of bears, so park officials remind visitors to be alert, to bring bear spray and to use their common sense and good judgment. If you see a bear, officials request that you report it to the nearest visitor center or ranger station.

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Information from: Jackson Hole (Wyo.) News And Guide, https://www.jhnewsandguide.com

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