This article provides an overview of things to see and do in Grand Teton National Park and the surrounding area along with useful links to other websites for additional travel related information.
At a Glance
The Grand Teton Mountains are the youngest mountain range in North America. They are also the most rugged and most beautiful mountains in the U.S. This tiny offshoot of the Rocky Mountain Cordillera is but 80 miles (130 km) long and less than half as wide. The Grand Teton range forms the western rim of a large upland plain surrounded by mountains known as Jackson Hole. Their jagged peaks rise almost vertically for about 4,000 feet (1250 meters) above the 12 mile (20 km) wide valley of Jackson Hole. Several large lakes lie at the base of the mountains providing wonderful reflective pools. This makes the views of the Grand Teton spectacular and very photogenic.
Grand Teton National Park contains nearly all of this mountain range and most of the large valley of Jackson Hole with its enclosed lakes, rivers and streams. The park is located in the northwestern corner of Wyoming near the borders of Idaho and Montana. It directly borders on Yellowstone National Park to the north. Highway 191 passes from the northern entry at Yellowstone National Park, skirts along the shores of Jackson Lake, and follows the Snake River southward to the town of Jackson, Wyoming at the southern end of Jackson Hole. Aside from the Teton Park Road that parallels 191 along the western edge of the valley and Highway 26 that heads east to the village of Dubois, Wyoming, there are very few roads in this park. Access to the peaks is primarily via hiking paths or horseback trails into the mountains.
Sightseeing, Hiking and Wildlife Viewing
Grand Teton National Park is the place to go if you want to escape civilization and wish to experience the unspoiled wilderness of the old west. The entire state of Wyoming covers nearly 98,000 sq. miles (254,000 sq km) and has a population of less than a half million. Wyoming is about the size of the United Kingdom with less than one percent of its population! The park is even more desolate as it contains no towns or villages within its 485 square miles. It does offer hundreds of miles of hiking paths, horseback trails and mountain climbing routes.
The most popular activities in Grand Teton National Park are sightseeing, wildlife viewing, photography, hiking, backpacking and camping. There are numerous vantage points along the roads and many short walking trails to additional vistas. You can drive to the top of 7,593 foot (2,314 meter) Signal Mountain for unparalleled views of Jackson Hole, the Grand Teton Mountains and Jackson Lake. For serious hikers and backpackers, there are a variety of trailheads easily accessible from the roads and from the campgrounds. A small ferry can take you across Jenny Lake for quick access to some of the lower alpine trails into the mountain valleys or up to the summits. At Teton Village just south of the park boundary, an aerial tramway rises over 4,000 feet to the top of a 10,450 foot (3,185 meter) mountain with some high-country trailheads.
Horseback Riding, River Rafting & Mountain Climbing
Horseback riding is another popular activity. Stables are located at Jackson Lake Junction, at Coulter Bay Village and at Flagg Ranch within the park. You can rent horses or participate in guided rides through many of the scenic areas. Many of the ranches near the park offer horse rentals and riding expeditions into Grand Teton Park.
The Snake River that flows the length of the park, is a great place for both white-water and calm-water boating or rafting. Several outfitters in the local area rent canoes, rafts or kayaks. They also offer guided whitewater adventures or scenic float trips on the Snake River.
The vertical rock faces and severe ruggedness of the mountains make a great place for mountain climbing, bouldering and alpine trekking. The peaks offer some world class technical climbing but they also offer trekking routes to the summits that can be completed without technical expertise. The American Alpine Club maintains a climbers ranch with dormitory accommodations, showers and cooking facilities a few miles south of Jenny Lake.
Grand Teton Weddings
The rustic log Chapel of Transfiguration sits on a rise just within the southern entrance of Grand Teton National Park. A large window behind its altar frames the magnificent beauty of these rugged mountains. This chapel has become a favorite spot for folks to get married. I think it is one of the ten most spectacularly beautiful places to have a wedding in the U.S.
Jackson Hole Airport (JAC) is small, but has several major U.S. carriers operating flights in and out of it. It is about a 5 minute drive north on Highway 26 to the south end of Teton Park Road.
From Idaho Falls
Idaho Falls Regional Airport (IDA) is not very large, but has several major U.S. carriers operating flights in and out of it. It is about 2 hours drive west on Highway 26 to Highway 31 and head northeast until to arrive at Victor. From here take Highway 33 into Wyoming where it turns into Highway 22. Continue over the Teton Pass and down into Jackson where you take Highway 191 north to the southern end of Teton Park Road.
Where to Stay
In the Park
The lodges and campgrounds are listed from the most southern end of the park (nearest the town of Jackson) to the northern most end of the park.
American Alpine Club Grand Teton Climbers’ Ranch is run by the American Alpine Club, but you don’t need to be a member or even a climber to stay here. Accommodations consist of communal coed dormitories with wooden bunkbeds that can sleep one person and their gear or two people snugly. The rooms are not heated or air conditioned and guests must provide their own sleeping pad, pillow and bedding or sleeping bag. There is also a library, cook shelter and bathhouse. Bicycles are available on site as well.
Triangle X Ranch is located just off Highway 191/89 and, although technically in Grand Teton National Park, requires a 30 minute drive north or south to access Teton Park Road, which is the main road through the park. With that said, this is a beautiful place with well appointed cabins and rooms and plenty of outdoor activities including horse back riding, river trips, cross-country skiing and much more.
Jenny Lake Lodge is a luxury resort on the shores of Jenny Lake. Accommodations consist of 37 well appointed cabins and a highly rated restaurant serving a 5 course prix fixe menu.
Signal Mountain Lodge overlooks Jackson Lake and offers well appointed rooms and cabins. There is also a restaurant, bar, gas station, general store and marina nearby.
Jackson Lake Lodge is a full service hotel an amazing view of Jackson Lake and the Teton Range. Accommodations consist of cottages and lodge rooms. There are also 3 restaurant, a small gift shop, a gas station and medical clinic located here.
Colter Bay Cabins are located in Colter Bay Village, which is right on the shores of Jackson Lake. Accommodations consist of basic log cabins and tent cabins. All log cabins come with linens, towels, and coffee makers. Some log cabins have their own bathroom while others share a bathroom. Tent cabins have pull-down bunks with simple mattresses and a wood-burning stove, but do not have any electricity nor is any bedding provided. There are also two restaurants, a gas station, general store and ranger station located here.
Headwaters Lodge & Cabins at Flagg Ranch is at the northern end of the park. Its more remote location means less crowds, but also means more driving to get to the main parts of Grand Teton National Park or Yellowstone National Park. However, this lodge is in a beautiful area with plenty to do if you don’t feel like driving. Accommodation s consist of comfortable cabins and a full service campground with full hookups. There are also two restaurants, a gift shop, a convenience store, a gas station and a ranger station located here.
All Grand Teton National Park campgrounds are reservation only and must be booked in advance. Bookings can be made at Recreation.gov – Grand Teton.
Gros Ventre Campground is the park’s largest campground and is located near the shores of the Gros Ventre River. It has electric only hookups and flush toilets, but no showers.
Jenny Lake Campground is a tent only campground. Trailers, RVs, campers and pop-ups are not allowed.
Signal Mountain Campground is located near Signal Mountain Lodge in an open lodgepole pine forest. It has some electric only hookups, flush toilets and coin operated showers.
Colter Bay Campground is a large campground located near Colter Bay Village in a lodgepole pine forest. It has electric only hookups, flush toilets, a dump station and coin operated showers.
Colter Bay RV Park is also a large campground locate