Situated near the popular ski resort Jackson Hole, Grand Teton National Park is one of the most scenic places in Wyoming. The jagged peaks rising from the sprawling plains dotted with tranquil alpine lakes, and historic landmarks at this national park draw photographers from all over the world. Add 200 miles of hiking trails, and you have one of the best places to adventure in the Western United States!
In this blog post, I’m going to tell you about 10 best things to do in Grand Teton National Park, so you too could have a great time on your trip.
Grand Teton offers the best weather from mid-May through the end of September when you can hike, camp, and kayak on lakes. However, it is also the busiest time at Grand Teton with July and August typically seeing the highest visitation. During this time, campgrounds are busy, and hotels are often booked up, especially on weekends.
Plan your trip for weekdays if you want to visit Grand Teton in summer. If your trip falls on weekdays, your best bet is to start early (about 6-8 a.m.) before hiking trails get busy and roads get jammed with traffic. This is also a great strategy if you want to rent a kayak or canoe at Grand Teton.
Mornings and late afternoons are the busiest, and evening and dusk are perfect for wildlife spotting .
Grand Teton Tours
Some visitors spend only one day in Grand Teton as part of their West Coast road trip. For example, some travelers who go from Grand Teton to Yellowstone, only do a quick overview of the park. If you are one of them, consider booking one of Grand Teton tours. For example, A safari tour of the Grand Teton and the the Hot Air Balloon Ride in Jackson Hole are some of the popular options.
Top 10 Things To Do In Grand Teton National Park
The best way to see the Grand Teton National Park is to drive around the 42-mile loop that takes you through the most scenic areas of the park such as Jenny Lake, numerous overlooks and the views of the Teton Mountains.
The loop is formed by two roads: Teton Road Park that is closed from November 1 to April 30 and Highway 26/89/191 which is open year-round. I drove it clockwise (although you can also do the same drive counterclockwise), staring from Moose Lake and then visited Mormon Row Historic District with stops at a few overlooks such as Glacier View Turnout, Schwabacher Landing or Teton Turnout.
1. Snake River Overlook
This spot that became famous after Ansel Adams snapped his famous shot here, Snake River Overlook is accessible from the roadside parking lot that sits about nine miles north of Moose Junction. Although the famous photo of this overlook dates back to 1942, the tree line now obstructs the view that was captured in the famous photo.
Still, no matter how much it has changed, this overlook is well worth a stop!
2. Schwabacher Landing
Located along US Highway 26/89/191, Schwabacher Landing is one of the most beautiful overviews of the Grand Tetons. With the mirror-like Snake River and the green meadows, this spot makes for a perfect spot to capture a photo of the iconic Tetons.
3. Glacier View Turnout
Glacier View Turnout is another scenic overlook that provides a much bigger picture of the three iconic peaks: Middle Glacier, Teepee Glacier, and Teton Glacier.
4. Mormon Row Historic District
Mormon Row is a historic district that was established by Mormon settlers that came to the area from Idaho in the late 1800s. Only 6 homesteads remain today of the original 27, and John Moulton Barn and T.A. Moulton Barn are the most photographed among them with the towering Grand Teton mountains behind them!
PRO TIP: Sunrise hours have the best light if you want to take photos of the famed shed. It is also the time when you will see fewer people here. Mormon Row Historic District has been dubbed the most popular shed in the world, so you will most likely see at least a few professional photographers taking pictures.
How To Find Mormon Row
The entrance to the Mormon Row Historic District is located off Highway 89, slightly north of Moose Junction. If you are going to drive through the Grand Teton clockwise as I did, you will see a sign that says Antelope Flats just before you get to Moose Junction. Take that road and drive for about 1.5 miles before you arrive at an old barn at the junction which is Mormon Row.
The first barn is John Moulton Barn that sits near the stucco house. And the second barn is T.A. Moulton Barn on Gros Ventre Road. If you keep going on the gravel road along the Mormon Row, you will arrive at the other side of Antelope Flats Road in about 3 miles.
5. Chapel Of Transfiguration
Chapel of Transfiguration is a historic site that sits just north of the park’s entrance. The small log chapel was built in 1925 is another favorite sot for photographers who come to Grand Teton and it holds services every year from May through September.
6. Phelps Lake
Right near Phelps Lake, you will find Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve and Visitor Center. The Rockefeller family was one of the key players in helping to establish the Grand Teton National Park.
While the 3.3-mile loop around Phelps Lake within the preserve is one of the most popular things to do in Grand Teton after visitors enter the park, the visitor center is beautiful and a must-visit in itself.
It was built under environmental standards and is certified by the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), a green building certification program.
7. Taggart Lake
Hiking the Taggart Lake Loop is one of the most popular things to do in Grand Teton National Park. Half of the hike takes you through the first, while another half opens views of the majestic Tetons.
A hike to the neighboring Bradley Lake adds another 2 miles to your trip. I recommend doing this hike early in the morning, as it gets fairly crowded during midday.
PRO TIP: When you do Grand Teton hiking, always carry a bear spray! This is a bear country, and you should always be prepared for a bear encounter even when you embark on a popular trail.
8. Jenny Lake
Jenny Lake is one of the most popular spots in Grand Teton. From hiking to boat riding and enjoying waterfalls, Jenny Lake is a place you can’t miss when visiting Grand Tetons.
I recommend spending at least half a day at Jenny Lake. Here are some of the best Jenny Lake activities:
Jenny Lake Scenic Drive
A focal point of the park, Jenny Lake Scenic Drive skirts the eastern shore of the lake, and is better to leave for early morning so you could avoid the crowds. The road begins near String Lake and leads toward the southern end of Jenny Lake.
Located a quick hike away from Jenny Lake, Hidden Falls is one of the most popular things to do in Grand Teton National Park.
Inspiration Point is a panoramic overlook that sits along the same trailhead as Hidden Falls, you should combine both.
To get there, you can either take a Jenny Lake Ferry that runs every 10-15 minutes or by hiking the trail around the lake. It costs $18 for a roundtrip and $10 one-way for a roundtrip for an adult; and $10 and $8 for a roundtrip and one-way for a child, respectively.
The boat departs from the western side of Jenny Lake and brings you straight to the trailhead. A hike to Inspiration Point is about 0.5 miles and a hike to Inspiration Point is 0.5 miles. The trail from Hidden Falls to Inspiration Point gets progressively steeper.
9. Jackson Lake
Located at the northern end of the park, Jackson Lake has a Colter Bay Village nearby with a restaurant, hotel, campground, and amenities such as stores and gas stations. Here you can also find Colter Bay campground and marina where you can rent a kayak, a canoe, or hike nearby Hermitage Point Trailhead.
I did a canoe ride at 9 a.m. when the cones were aplenty, and the place wasn’t busy. Although there is a minimum of two hours that you can rent a kayak or canoe for, time flies because the area around Half Moon Bay is so huge and has little islands, islets, and so much scenery!
10. Signal Mountain
The turnout to Signal Mountain is to the left of Signal Mountain Road. Drive up to the top of the mountain to get a sweeping view of the Grand Teton National Park and Jackson Hole in the distance.
The road is closed from November through May.
Grand Teton Camping
Camping at Grand Tetons is the least pricey alternative as campgrounds start $30 per night for tent spots and go up from there if you have an RV. If you travel during summer, you need to arrive early (before noon), as it might be tough to get a camping spot if you walk in later in the afternoon or the evening.
Here are a few Grand Teton Campgrounds:
– Colter Bay Campground – One of my favorite camping spots in Grand Tetons sits along the shores of Jackson Lake. Colter Bay Campground is big and sits right a big convenience store, a visitor center and Half Moon Bay where you can rent a kayak or canoe.
PRO TIP: This is the only campground (along with the Headwaters Campground) at Grand Teton that accepts reservations!
– Jenny Lake Campground – This is a popular campground available on first-come, first-serve basis. This campground doesn’t allow RVs, has no hook-ups, and has only 49 sites.
– Signal Mountain Campground – Another super popular campground with the view of the Teton Range that tends to fill up pretty quickly. If you want to stay more than a day, get here early morning.
– Gros Ventre Campground – This campground is about 9 miles from Jackson, and offers views of the Gros Ventre River. It’s less busy than omore popular campgrounds, but what’s cool about it is that it offers plenty of space with 300 camping sites!
– Lizard Creek Campground – This campground is less busy than others on the list, however, it is also less developed. It is located far north along Jackson Lake in the middle of the forest and is generally good for your last night if you are going to Yellowstone the next day.
When other campgrounds at Grand Teton get full, this is your best bet, as it is slow to fill.
Grand Teton National Park Hotels
There are several hotels within Grand Teton National Park. Most of them cost around a few hundred dollars during a high season from July through September, so it’s a good idea to book them ahead of time.
Here are a couple of options:
Colter Bay Cabins
Jackson Lake Lodge
Signal Mountain Lodge
Hotels Near Grand Tetons
Located outside of Grand Teton National Park, Jackson, a renowned ski resort and adventure paradise has the biggest selection of accommodations near Grand Teton National Park. Here you can find simple hotels and 5-star resorts with grand views.
Here are a couple of hotels for different price points near Jackson.
– Snow King Resort is a nice resort with scenic views. Its western-style rooms offer a nice atmosphere and are great tor lea after a day of hiking and exploring!
– Pony Express Motel is an inexpensive and stylish accommodation in Jackson that will help you save up a chunk of change if money is a concern. What’s awesome is that you can also rent a bike at this accommodation.
– The Lodge at Jackson Hole – Gorgeous rustic hotel stated just over a mile away from the Jackson Town Square. The area around is gorgeous and tranquil which makes this hotel popular for a relaxed trip.
– The Wort Hotel – This hotel gets great reviews and is a good choice for those travelers who are looking for a high-end place.
Grand Teton History
The Grand Teton Mountain Range is one of the best places to visit in Wyoming. It was discovered in the early 19th century by the French trappers who were making their way through freezing Western Wyoming.
The Native American tribes that have inhabited this area for thousands of years. Grand Teton has become a national park only in 1929 with the help of John D. Rockefeller, government acts and effort as early inhabitants were against the park as they saw it as an infringement on their freedoms.
How Many Days To Spend In Grand Teton National Park
Grand Teton National Park is much smaller compared to the super-popular national parks such as Yosemite, Yellowstone, or Grand Canyon. Many travelers who visit Grand Teton, typically also visit Yellowstone National Park located just one hour north before heading to other national parks in Utah or Montana.
If you included this national park in your itinerary, spend 3 days in Grand Teton to get a good feel of the park and avoid rushing through.
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