Visiting Grand Teton National Park

Grand Teton is a favorite vacation spot for us, and we visit at least once a year.

Many people ask us about planning a trip, so we put together this guide for visiting Grand Teton National Park to help you plan the perfect getaway!

Located in Northwestern Wyoming, just 31 miles from Yellowstone National Park, is Grand Teton National Park. It encompasses nearly 310,000 acres of land and is home to a diverse natural landscape that is sure to astound any lover of the great outdoors.

However, in addition to its stunning natural landscape, the park is also known for its rich cultural history and is filled with historic homesteads and cattle ranches that are just waiting to be explored.

So if you’re planning the perfect Grand Teton vacation, then read our extensive guide on things to do in the park.

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National Park Packing List

When you are visiting any national park it is important to be prepared. This includes wearing the proper clothes and shoes to be comfortable for the climate and the terrain.

→ CHECK OUT: National park packing list for summer and winter

For most national parks you will want to bring:

Where to Stay in Grand Teton

Grand Teton, and nearby Jackson, Wyoming offer a wide range of accommodations including mountain-inspired lodges, log cabins, hotels, vacation rentals and campgrounds.

There are lodges, cabins and campgrounds within the park’s boundaries that provide lodging options when visiting.

You can also stay at a variety of accommodations in Jackson Hole, just south of the park.

Use this list of lodging and camping options to determine where to stay near Grand Teton National Park!

Campgrounds/Camping

In terms of Grand Teton National Park camping areas, guests have access to six different campgrounds throughout the summer:

  • Gros Ventre Campground
  • Jenny Lake Campground
  • Signal Mountain Campground
  • Lizard Creek Campground
  • Colter Bay Campground and RV Park
  • Headwaters Campground and RV Park

Of these Grand Teton camping areas, only Colter Bay Campground is open throughout the winter.

However, if you’re looking for slightly less primitive Grand Teton lodging options, then visitors can book a room at one of the park’s many hotels, which include American Alpine Club Grand Teton Climbers Ranch, Colter Bay Cabins, Headwaters Lodge and Cabins at Flagg Ranch, Jackson Lake Lodge, Jenny Lake Lodge, Signal Mountain Lodge, and Triangle X Ranch.

Jackson Hole

Nearby Jackson Hole offers a ton of places to stay. Here are a few of our favorites!

Things to Know Before Visiting Grand Teton National Park

Best Time to Visit

The best time to visit Grand Teton National Park depends on the type of activities you want to do.

The best time to plan a Grand Teton vacation is between mid-May and late-September – the fall colors are amazing! During this time all of the park’s visitor centers, hiking trails, and roads are open and accessible to the public. 

In contrast, winter and spring, between November and April, the harsh Wyoming winter rolls into the area and forces many roads and facilities to either shut down for the season, or have reduced hours of operation, as a result of high levels of snowfall.

If you plan to visit Grand Teton National Park during the winter, be sure to check the Park’s alerts and current conditions page for the most up to date information on the park’s weather conditions  and closures. 

Hours of Operation

Grand Teton National Park is open to visitors twenty-four hours a day, 365 days a year.

However, the most popular months to visit are between May and September, when most park facilities and roads are open.

During this time of year, the park also has a full range of programs for guests to enjoy. 

Weather

Located in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, Grand Teton National Park is known for its incredibly long and cold winters. Typically, the first heavy snowfalls of the season will begin in November and continue through to April, with snow and frost remaining possible during any month of the year.

As a result, during the winter season (between December and mid-April, guests can expect highs between 26 and 49 degrees Fahrenheit and lows between 0.9 and 22 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Now, because snow typically covers the entire area throughout most of the winter, guests who plan on visiting Grand Teton National Park during this time of year should be prepared and have either a four-wheel drive or an all-wheel drive vehicle with all-weather tires .

Visitors should also drive below the speed limit, as weather conditions permit, and always be vigilant of wildlife, like moose, crossing the road.

However, when a severe storm is not rolling through the area, visitors can enjoy cold sunny days and frigid evenings where temperatures drop well below freezing.  

In contrast, in the spring between mid-April and June, guests can expect mild days and cool nights, with highs between 49 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit and lows between 22 and 37 degrees Fahrenheit. Snow and rain are also common throughout this time of year, so park guests will usually find valley hiking trails covered in snow until late May.

During the summer though, between July and August, visitors will enjoy warm days and cool nights, with afternoon thunderstorms common. Highs will also typically be around 80 degrees Fahrenheit while lows will be between 39 and 41 degrees Fahrenheit.

And in the fall, between September and November, visitors will encounter sunny days and cold nights where rain and occasional snowstorms are possible. Average highs during this season are typically between 38 and 69 degrees Fahrenheit, with lows between 13 and 32 degrees Fahrenheit.

Pets

Because Grand Teton National Park is home to a wealth of large carnivores, pet owners need to take special precautions to ensure their pet’s safety while in the park. This is why, all pets inside Grand Teton National Park must be restrained at all times, by a leash that is less than six feet long, and are not permitted on either hiking trails or in local visitor centers. Pets must also be within 30 feet of a roadway at all times and are not permitted in any backcountry areas.

Guests planning to visit the park with pets should also remember that they are responsible for the clean-up and disposal of pet waste, must always keep their pets under physical control (either on a leash or in a kennel/crate/cage), cannot have their pets in public buildings or on swimming beaches, cannot have their pets on boats that are in park waters, cannot leave their pets unattended or tied to an object, cannot have their pets making unreasonable amounts of noise and frightening wildlife, and cannot have their pets on park multi-use pathways. 

However, if you’re ever unsure of where your pet can and cannot go, a good rule of thumb to go by is that if a car can travel in a certain area, then so can your pet. This includes roads, road shoulders, campgrounds, picnic areas, parking lots, etc.

Additionally, even though large portions of the Teton Park Road, Antelope Flats Road, and Moose-Wilson Road are closed every year between November 1 and April 30, leashed pets are still allowed on these roadways as long as long as pet owners adhere to the guidelines mentioned above. 

And if you are thinking of exploring large portions of the park that are prohibited to pets, then please consider contacting either a local pet sitter or a kennel that can help take care of your pet during your Grand Teton National Park visit.

Fees

All Grand Teton entrance fees include a 7-day entrance permit, for a private, non-commercial vehicle, and include admission to both the Grand Teton National Park and the John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway. You’ll need to pay fees whether you enter as a hiker, biker, motorcycle or private vehicle. To purchase an entrance permit to the park, as well as a weekly or annual pass, simply do so online or at the Automated Fee Station that sits adjacent to the Moose Entrance Station.

Additionally, park passes, like the Grand Teton Annual Pass can also be purchased at the Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center and the Colter Bay Visitor Center, with the presentation of a proper form of picture identification, like a driver’s license.

But, if you plan on visiting nearby Yellowstone National Park in addition to your trip to Grand Teton National Park, then consider purchasing the America the Beautiful National Park Pass instead. Doing so will help you save money because rather than paying two separate entrance fees for two different parks, you can purchase one annual, America the Beautiful National Parks Pass that provides you with admission to over 2,000 federal recreation sites across the United States.

Services

That are a wealth of things to do in Grand Teton and services available to guests in the park. Therefore, if you’re planning a Grand Teton vacation, you’ll have access to no less than seven different visitor centers, including the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center, the Jenny Lake Visitor Cente, the Colter Bay Visitor Center, the Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve Center, the Jenny Lake Ranger Station, and the Flagg Ranch Information Station.  

Many of the local Grand Teton accommodations also feature delicious, on-site restaurants like the Jenny Lake Lodge restaurant, the Peaks Dining Room and Trapper Grill at Signal Mountain; the Mural Room, Pioneer Grill, and Blue Heron Grill at Jackson Lake Lodge; the Ranch House and Cafe Court at Colter Bay; Leeks Pizzeria at Leeks Marina; and the restaurant at Headwaters Lodge in Flagg Ranch. 

Additionally, Grand Teton National Park also offers its guests a wealth of seasonal, Ranger-led Grand Teton tours that help educate visitors about the park, the people that used to live here, and the natural processes that have helped create the stunning national park that you see today. 

Some of these ranger-guided programs offer guests fantastic things to do in Grand Teton National Park and include:

Summer (early June through early September)

  • Breaking Trails and Women Inspiring Change – Learn about the women who shaped the the past, present, and future of Grand Teton
  • Map Chat – Learn about the park’s geologic history and about the wildlife that call this place home
  • Nature in a Nutshell – A brief, 20-minute talk about the natural landscape of Grand Teton National Park
  • Tipi Demo – Meet at the Colter Bay Amphitheater for an hour long program about a traditional Plains Indian home
  • Indian Arts and Culture – Meet at the Colter Bay Amphitheater for a 45-minute long program about the American Indian lifestyle
  • Teton Topics – Meet at the Colter Bay Visitor Center Auditorium for a 30-minute talk about the park’s natural and cultural history
  • Murie Home Tour – During this 1.5 hour program, learn all about the history of the Murie Ranch, the family’s life-long dedication to conservation work, and current work at the Center
  • Bear and Wildlife Safety – Learn important tips about how to stay safe while camping and hiking in bear country
  • Coffee with a Ranger – Join a local ranger for one hour to ask him or her anything you like about the park.
  • Twilight Talk – Join a park ranger around the campfire for a 45-minute program where you’ll hear various park stories and learn all about the park’s wildlife
  • Colter Bay Early Evening Talk – Meet at the Colter Bay Amphitheater for a 45-minute ranger talk.
  • Colter Bay Talk – Enjoy a 45-minute, ranger-led, photo-illustrated talk about Grand Teton National Park.
  • Astronomy Night – Enjoy an astronomy video and stargazing outside during this 45-minute program.
  • Family Movie Night – Enjoy a 45-minute, family-friendly video about Grand Teton National Park.

Fall (early September through mid-October)

  • Wildlife Caravan – Ranger-led Wildlife Caravan where you discover some of the Grand Teton’s most iconic wildlife species as you drive through the park in your own vehicle.

Spring

  • Grouse Strut – During the last three weekends of April join a local ranger for an early morning excursion where you watch this incredible bird species attempt to attract a mate.
  • Junior Ranger Day – Celebrate the National Park Service’s birthday at this free event where you’ll meet a woodland firefighter, climb on giant plow trucks, see the tools a bear biologist uses, dress up like a park ranger, and play various games.
  • International Migratory Bird Day – Join a bird-watching caravan and celebrate International Migratory Bird Day at Grand Teton National Park. During this free event, join park staff as you locate, identify, and record all fo the bird species you see. 

Winter (December 26th through mid-March)

  • Snowshoe Hike – Join a ranger for a guided snowshoe walk along the Taggart Lake Trail. Snowshoes are provided, but reservations are required.

Grand Teton National Park Map

Grand Teton National Park: The Ultimate Guide • Renee Roaming

Take a look at all the maps available for Grand Teton! Here are two maps showing the entire park:

AMAZON: Grand Teton Maps

Getting to Grand Teton

By Plane:

Jackson Hole Airport (www.jacksonholeairport.com) is right in Grand Teton National Park in Jackson, Wyoming.

Flying into small airports surrounding the parks can be pricey. If you like to drive, consider flying into Salt Lake City, Utah, and driving about 300 miles to Grand Teton National Park. Or you could fly into Denver, Colorado and drive about 500 miles to the park.

By Car:

Salt Lake City, Utah to Grand Teton: 4 hours and 44 minutes drive time. CLICK HERE for directions and to see the Google Map.

Casper, Wyoming to Grand Teton: 4 hours drive time. CLICK HERE for directions and to see the Google Map.

Boise, Idaho to Grand Teton: 5 hours drive time. CLICK HERE for directions and to see the Google Map.

Bozeman, Montana to Grand Teton: 4 hours 30 minutes drive time. CLICK HERE for directions and to see the Google Map.

Things to Do at Grand Teton

Points of Interest

Possibly one of the most exquisite national parks in the entire country, Grand Teton is home to a diverse array of alpine lakes, mountain ranges, hiking trails, historic buildings, canyons, and waterfalls, all of which are just waiting to be explored.

That’s why there is no shortage of exciting things to do in Grand Teton National Park for any avid lover of the great outdoors. So, whether you want to boat along the Snake River or marvel at the stunning Jackson Hole Valley from atop Signal Mountain, here is a list of stunning top attractions that you must see during your next, Grand Teton vacation. 

Moose and Mormon Row

Located at the Southern edge of the Teton Range, Moose stands as an access point between Jackson and Grand Teton National Park. While here, visitors can hike along Taggart Lake, enjoy stunning views of the Teton Range, gain access to Snake River, stop by the Murie Ranch, and visit Mormon Row, where the iconic Moulton Barns can be found.

Laurence S. Rockefeller Preserve and Moose Wilson Road

If one of the things you want to do at Grand Teton National Park is get back into nature, then this secluded part of the park if for you. Consisting of several quiet roads that are closed to RVs and trailers, this section of the park offers guests access to several trails, including the Phelps Lake Trail, the Granite Trail, and the Death Canyon trail.

Jenny Lake

One of the most visited areas in the park, Jenny Lake is nestled at the base of the Teton Range and is the perfect place from which to access various Grand Teton hikes to Hidden Falls, Inspiration Point, Cascade Canyon, Hurricane Pass, and Lake Solitude. Visitors looking for other things to do in Grand Teton National Park can also take a boat ride across the lake and enjoy fantastic views of Teewinot Mountain, Mount St. John, Cascade Canyon, and the valley of Jackson Hole.

String and Leigh Lakes

String Lake is a shallow lake that has become a popular picnic and swimming area among visitors. However, adventurous park guests can also use their own boat and paddle to Leigh Lake. Once in the area, hikers can stroll along the shores of these beautiful lakes or do a strenuous hike into Paintbrush Canyon.

Signal Mountain

An iconic mountain in Jackson Hole, guests can either hike or drive to the summit for stunning views of Jackson Hole and the surrounding Teton Range. After summiting the mountain, visitors can also grab a boat and explore the nearby, Jackson Lake area. 

Moran and the East

With access to the Snake River and the Two Ocean Lake Trail, visitors to this region of the park can hike around Two Ocean Lake, explore Emma Matilda Lake, enjoy the views from the Grand View Point, and see the park’s immortal, Oxbow Bend. History enthusiasts can also stop by Cunningham Cabin, one of the few buildings in the area that remains from the homesteading era.

Colter Bay

Tucked away in the Northern part of the park, Colter Bay sits along the shore of Jackson Lake and offers guests a variety of different recreational opportunities both on and along the water. Several amazing, Grand Teton hikes are also accessible from here, including the Swan Lake Trail and the Hermitage Point Trail.

Leeks Marina and the North

Just North of Colter Bay sits Leeks Marina, a beautiful, lakefront area where park guests can go camping, launch a private boat, attend an event at AMK Ranch, or enjoy some pizza at the local pizzeria.

Rockefeller Parkway and Flagg Ranch

Connecting Grand Teton National Park with Yellowstone, Rockefeller Parkway is much more than just a roadway. It’s home to Flag Ranch and is the perfect place from which to hike Flagg Canyon and Polecat Creek. Park visitors can also take a scenic drive along Grassy Lake Road, which connects Flagg Ranch to Ashton, Idaho.

Hiking

Although doing some of the many hikes in Grand Teton can be a bit challenging, due to the park’s rugged landscape, high elevation, steep trails, and extreme weather, the experience is still well worth the effort given the stunning level of natural beauty all around.

That’s why, if you’re looking to do some hiking in Grand Teton National  Park, then be sure to check out the following trails.

Aspen Ridge – Boulder Ridge – Enjoy a 2-3 hour front country hike through aspens and boulders as you make your way through Laurence S. Rockefeller Preserve and to Phelps Lake along this moderate loop trail. 

Bearpaw and Trapper Lakes – Hike along the shore of Leigh Lake and through String Lake to enjoy beautiful panoramic views of Mount Moran.

Christian Pond Loop – Enjoy a 1-2 hour hike through local marshlands along this easy loop trail near Jackson Lake Lodge. 

Death Canyon – Static Peak Divide Junction – Trek deep into the Teton Mountain Range on this 4-6 hour, overnight hike to death Canyon.

Emma Matilda Lake – Take a 5-6 hour hike around Emma Matilda Lake and enjoy beautiful wildflowers as well as stunning views of the Teton Mountain Range.

Flagg Canyon – Take an easy, 2-3 hour hike along the Northern portion of the Snake River.

Forks of Cascade Canyon – On this strenuous 5-8 hour hike through Cascade Canyon, trek deep into the Grand Teton Mountain Range.

Garnet Canyon – On this strenuous 4-8 hour hike through Garnet Canyon, go out into the heart of the Teton Mountain Range and enjoy some of the stunning panoramic views there.

Grand View Point – Take a 3-4 hour hike to Grand View Point and admire the sweeping views of the Teton Mountain Range and Jackson Hole.

Hermitage Point – On this easy-moderate, 4-5 hour, overnight hike, trek all the way to Hermitage Point for panoramic views of Jackson Lake and the Teton Mountain Range. 

Jenny Lake Loop – During this 3-5 hour hike, explore the loop trail around Jenny Lake and enjoy amazing views of Cascade Canyon and the Teton Mountain Range.

Heron Pond – Swan Lake Loop Trail – On this easy, 1-2 hour hike, take a scenic loop trail to Swan Lake and Heron Pond.

Hidden Falls – Take an easy to moderate, 1-3 hour hike to the only visitor accessible waterfall in all of Grand Teton National Park. 

Holly Lake – Enjoy a 6-8 hour strenuous, overnight hike up Paintbrush Canyon and to a scenic, alpine lake.  

Inspiration Point – Enjoy a 2-4 hour backcountry hike along one of the most popular trails in Grand Teton that concludes with spectacular views of Jackson Hole, Cascade Canyon, and the Teton Mountain Range.

Lake Solitude – Take an all day, or overnight hike to Lake Solitude, a breathtaking alpine lake in Grand Teton that takes between 8 and 12 hours to get to.

Paintbrush Canyon – Cascade Canyon Loop – This strenuous, 10-12 hour hike can either be done during the day, or overnight, as visitors do a loop hike through both Paintbrush and Cascade Canyons.

Phelps Lake Trail – On this short, but strenuous, 2-3 hour hike, enjoy the breathtaking scenery as you do some front-country hiking to Phelps Lake.

Marion Lake – During this intense, 10-12 hour backcountry hike, traverse up Granite Canyon and visit a local, alpine lake.

Signal Mountain Trail –  Do a 3-4 hour front country hike up Signal Mountain, where you can panoramic views of Jackson Hole below.

Two Ocean Lake Loop – During this 6-7 hour backcountry hike, you’ll trek along a moderately strenuous trail that will take you on a loop around Two Ocean Lake and Emma Matilda Lake.

Taggart Lake Trail – Enjoy an easy, 1-2 hour hike to Taggart Lake which culminates in exquisite views of Teton Mountain Range.

However, if you’d like to do one of the many Grand Teton hikes listed here, but in the company of a ranger, then there are a variety of different ranger-led hikes that guests can join throughout the summer.

Ranger-Led Hikes

However, if you’d like to do one of the many Grand Teton hikes listed here, but in the company of a ranger, then there are a variety of different ranger-led hikes that guests can join throughout the summer.

Taggart Lake Hike – Meet at Taggart Lake Trailhead at 8:30 am daily and do a 2.5 hour hike (3 miles round trip) with a ranger along the Taggart Lake Trail, where you can learn all about the natural landscape here. 

Inspiration Hike – Reserve your space at Jenny Lake Visitor Center for a hike to Inspiration Point with a park ranger. All participants will meet at 8:30 am at the Jenny lake Visitor Center for a 2.5 hour hike (3 miles round trip) to Hidden Falls, where you’ll learn all about the formation of the exquisite natural landscape along the way (Capped at 25 participants, who will take a shuttle boat across Jenny Lake). 

Explore the Preserve Hike – Meet daily, at 9:30 am at the Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve Center porch, for a 2.5 hour hike (3 miles round trip) with a ranger along the Lake Creek Trail, through Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve, and to Phelps Lake for panoramic views of the Teton Range (reservations are required). 

Swan Lake Hike – Meet with a ranger daily, at 4:00 pm at the flagpole in front of the Colter Bay Visitor Center, for a 3 hour hike (3 miles round trip) for a hike through the forest as you learn about the park’s natural history.  

Photographing Grand Teton

There are so many amazing Grand Teton photo spots, no matter what season you visit!

Spring: the foliage is a vibrant green, the wildflowers are in bloom, the mountains are snow-capped and the wildlife is abundant.

Fall: there’s an explosion of bright colors on the trees, and the wildlife is active getting ready for winter.

Winter: the snow covered landscape and mountains are breathtaking.

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