When I close my eyes and imagine a mountains, the rugged mountain range of the Grand Teton National Park is what comes to mind. The beauty and majesty of the snowy peaks of Tetons is not an exaggeration. Although small in land mass compared to other national parks, especially Grand Teton’s neighbor, Yellowstone, this park offers an array of beauty to explore.
Many of my stops were marred by the raging wildfires of 2018. As a result, I only had a chance to get glimpses of the Teton range. Even so, they mesmerized me and it gave me a chance to focus on other beautiful aspects of the park. As with many of the parks I visited on my road trip, my only regret was that I didn’t plan to spend more time exploring this beautiful and famous place.
WHAT TO SEE/EXPERIENCE AT GRAND TETON
From hiking, boating and mountaineering, Grand Teton National Park is truly an adventurers paradise but if adventure is not what you’re up for, the park also offers many opportunities to sit by a serene body of water and relax.
Hiking: At first glance, Grand Teton National Park may seem like an intimidating place to hike, but the over two hundred miles of trails offer trails for all levels of experiences and abilities. They also give glimpses into the stunning landscape of the park from lush valley floors, mountain meadows, alpine lakes and of course the famed Teton mountain range.
– Hermitage Point Loop
– Hidden Falls
– Lake Solitude
– Schwabacher Landing
– Cascade & Paintbrush Canyons (Backpacking Hike)
Climbing: It should not be surprising that climbing is one of the most popular activities in Grand Teton. Permits are not required for climbing but overnights trips will need a backcountry camping permit.
Water Adventures: Whether it’s fishing, boating, or swimming, there is a lake at Grand Teton that will fit your needs.
- Fishing – Grand Teton is open for fishing year round with some exceptions. A license is required to fish and can be obtained at several locations inside the park or around town. There are also several fishing guides that operate in the park and listed on the park website.
- Boating & Floating – There are several lakes and rivers to engage in water adventures. A boat permit is required to operate a motor boat in the park and can be obtained at several visitor centers. Floating is permitted in some water ways. Details on permits and where different water activities are permitted can be found on the park website.
Scenic Drives: Driving through one of the many scenic drives is another way to enjoy the Teton Range. There are many turnouts to take in the views, watch wildlife, and take those iconic photographs. Road in Grand Teton are open spring through fall.
- Jenny Lake Scenic Drive (15-30 mins)
- Moose-Wilson Road (20-60 mins)
- Signal Mountain Summit Road (30-60 mins)
- Teton Park Road (30-60 mins)
There are several options for getting to Grand Teton from driving, flying and using a shuttle service from one of the larger cities that border the park.
Airports: Two major airports and one regional airport serve Grand Teton National Park.
– Jackson Hole Airport (5 miles)
– Idaho Falls Airport (95 miles)
– Salt Lake City Airport (286 miles)
Shuttle Service: Two shuttle services provide transportation to and from Jackson Hole but you will need a car to explore Grand Teton National Park from there.
– Salt Lake Express Shuttle Service
– Jackson Hole Alltrans Shuttle Service
Entrance Fees: As with other National Parks, there is an entrance fee for Grand Teton National Park.
- Cars/Other Vehicles, $35; Motorcycles, $30; & Bicycle/Walk-In, $20/per person (seven day pass)
- Annual Grand Teton Pass (unlimited visits to Grand Teton): $70
- Annual National Park Pass (unlimited entrance to any public lands operated by NPS): $80
There are a range of lodging options inside Grand Teton National park including hotels, cabins, and campgrounds.
Hotels: There are seven hotels ranging in style and types of accommodations within the park.
- Climber’s Ranch (Jun – Sep), bunk rooms and guests bring their own bedding, food and cooking equipment
- Colter Bay Cabins (May – September), log and tent cabins in the Jackson Lake area
- Headwaters Lodge (June – September), log and camper cabins and also close to Yellowstone
- Jackson Lake Lodge (May – October), full-service, resort style hotel
- Jenny Lake Lodge (June – October), rust yet luxurious cabins and close to Jenny and String Lakes
- Signal Mountain Lodge (May – October), lakefront apartments, log cabins, and motel-style rooms
- Triangle X Ranch (May – October & peak winter season), dude ranch with weekly stays
Camping: There are seven campgrounds within Grand Teton National Park and it is a great way to immerse yourself into the natural grandeur of the park. In addition to established campgrounds, there are also plenty of opportunities for backcountry camping (requires a backcountry permit). Most established campgrounds in Grand Teton have pay showers and laundry facilities.
- Gross Ventre Campground
- Jenny Lake Campground (tents only)
- Signal Mountain Campground
- Colter Bay Campground
- Colter Bay RV Park
- Lizard Creek Campground
- Headwaters Campground
Gateway Towns: There are several towns/cities close to Grand Teton National Park. Jackson Hole, Wyoming is the closest and largest city and offers a wide range of accommodations. It is also conveniently located near the Jackson Hole Airport. All campsites require reservations and open in January for the entire season.
- Moose Entrance
- Jackson Hole, Wyoming (3 miles)
- Jackson, Wyoming (13 miles)
- Moran Entrance
- Moran, Wyoming (2 miles)
- Granite Canyon Entrance
- Teton Village, Wyoming (2 miles)
- Jackson, Wyoming (13 miles)
- Driggs, Idaho (35 miles)
If camping is your jam and the campsites at Grand Teton fill up, there are plenty of national forests and other dispersed camping areas outside the park. When I visited, I was hoping to find a hotel near Moran. Because it was peak season and the wildfires were raging, it was hard to find a hotel and it was getting dark so I found a campsite rather easily off the road.
- Rockefeller Parkway (dispersed campsites)
- Targhee National Forest
- Bridger-Teton National Forest