Journey to a land dominated by towering peaks, apex predators, & majestic beauty – an epic guide to visiting Grand Teton National Park.
Grand Teton National Park
About Our Travels to Grand Teton National Park
Over the years, largely due to the film my brother Jim and I co-produced being picked up by National Geographic (see below), we’ve had a lot of requests from friends, family, and strangers to create itineraries for their trips to Grand Teton National Park.
What started many years ago as lengthy text messages, then a google doc, has finally been turned into an “official” Grand Teton National Park Guide.
My brother Jim and I first visited Grand Teton National Park back in 2016 with a small film crew and were tasked with finding the most beautiful places in the park. What an undertaking! Grand Teton is truly one of those places that anywhere you look seems to be postcard worthy.
Since that trip I have returned almost yearly to bask in the pristine beauty that comprises Grand Teton National Park. I prefer Grand Teton to Yellowstone which is located just north of the park because of the overall scenery, wildlife, and crowds.
Earlier this year we (me & my brother/co-founder Jim – pictured above) ranked all of the national parks and Grand Teton made the #2 spot on the list!
Is Grand Teton Still Worth the Visit?
In recent years the park has seen a massive influx in folks (like myself) who want to get a glimpse of this breathtaking destination. Who can blame us! However, one question I’ve been getting asked more and more lately is “is it still worth it to visit Grand Teton despite the crowds?”
The answer is, yes. It just requires a bit more due diligence and planning these days to have the best possible time.
This post is different from others in that our goal is for you to see the most amazing sites (including wildlife), beat the crowds by going to some of the lesser traveled (but equally amazing) spots, and visit the park safely.
I want you to be able to visit Grand Teton in a way that leaves it great condition for the next folks. I’ll also cover things to do, best places to eat, where to stay, getting to the park, and more.
Ready for the trip of a lifetime? Let’s get started!
Grand Teton National Park Guide
About Grand Teton National Park
Located in the spectacular Jackson Hole Valley and encompassing nearly 500 square miles, Grand Teton National Park boasts an awe-inspiring array of pristine wilderness, glacial lakes, winding rivers, diverse wildlife, and the magnificent Teton Range.
This is a land dominated by towering peaks, apex predators, and majestic mountain beauty.
The park derives it’s name from the mighty Teton Range popularly known as simply the Tetons, or the Grand Tetons. The park’s creation and eventual scale (in terms of acreage) was largely made possible by John D. Rockefeller Jr., son of the famous oil tycoon.
Things to Know Before You Visit
Entrance Fees: You can expect $20-$30 per vehicle but we suggest you go ahead and purchase the America the Beautiful Pass (which can be found at the entrance gates to most national parks). This pass gets you into all National Parks, Forests, Monuments, and more including 2,000 sites for free after a one time $79 fee.
Sunscreen: For many of us visiting national parks in the summer means lots of sun. Seriously, some of these parks can zap you if you don’t wear sunscreen. We happen to like this one because it works AND it’s not full of a bunch of chemicals.
Leave No Trace: We’re big fans of Leave No Trace, here at MTJP. Want to learn more? Read about the seven principals of Leave No Trace here.
Insect Repellent: You hope not to need it, but you want to have it. We typically bring an Eco-Friendly Insect Repellent with us just in case.
Dogs are not allowed on trails in most national parks due to their potentially disruptive presence with the natural ecosystem. The basic rule is they are allowed where cars can go so be sure to check the rules before bringing along your furry friend.
Details About Grand Teton National Park
Location: Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Established: February 26, 1929
Size: 310,000 acres
Native Land: Bannock, Blackfoot, Crow, Flathead, Gros Ventre, Nez Perce, Shoshone
Visitors: 3,289,638 (in 2020)
Entrance Fees: $35 per vehicle; $70 annual pass (or $80 for America the Beautiful Pass)
Grand Teton National Park Map
RELATED: Best Grand Teton National Park Maps
Where is Grand Teton National Park?
Grand Teton National Park is located on the Western side of Wyoming in Jackson Hole. The park shares a border with the more popular Yellowstone National Park to the north, the less-visited Bridger-Teton National Forest to the east, and the even lesser-visited Caribou-Targhee National Forest to the west.
Getting To The Park – Directions & Location
There are many ways to get to Grand Teton. The deciding factors in getting to Grand Teton are cost and time.
Closest Airport: JAC – Jackson Hole, WY (distance 0 miles from the park)
The fastest way to get to Grand Teton National Park is by plane, flying into Jackson Hole Airport (JAC). The airport is basically in the park and offers sweeping views of the Tetons from the grounds. If money is no issue and time is paramount this is the way to go. Major airlines such as Delta service this airport so finding a flight shouldn’t be a problem – the price, however is typically steep.
The cheapest way to get to Grand Teton is by simply driving to the park. This is a great, budget friendly option. Depending on your access to a car and the distance you’re willing to drive (see my national park road trips post), you may want to fly somewhere more affordable and rent a car from there.
My recommendation is to check both rental car prices and flight prices at other nearby airports like Salt Lake City (SLC) – 5 hours away and Twin Falls (TWF) – 4.5 hours away. The savings for finding an alternative airport to fly into and rent a car from can sometimes be in the thousands.
Grand Teton National Park Video
About the Grand Teton Video
GRAND TETON 8K is the culmination of nearly a month spent filming in the spectacular Jackson Hole Valley and the foothills of the Teton Mountain Range. Encompassing nearly 500 square miles, Grand Teton National Park boasts an awe-inspiring array of pristine wilderness, glacial lakes, winding rivers, diverse wildlife, and the magnificent Teton Range.
Journey with More Than Just Parks as we explore a land dominated by towering peaks, apex predators, and majestic beauty. This is Grand Teton. Filmed primarily in stunning UHD 8K.
To make this film happen we spent nearly a month in Grand Teton during June & July. Of all the films we’ve shot this one features the most wildlife. We captured bison, elk, moose, bears, foxes, beavers, and more.
Grand Teton Weather & Seasons
Weather in Grand Teton can be fairly unpredictable so always come prepared for a range of weather regardless of what time of year you plan to visit.
Best Time to Visit Grand Teton
The best time to visit Grand Teton National Park is late spring and early summer (the end of June & beginning of July). Visitation during this time of year has not yet hit it’s peak, temperatures are warm enough but still mild, and wildlife is on the move.
The downside of visiting during this time of year is precipitation and mosquitoes. It’s difficult to time when exactly the mosquitoes hatch each year but basically the same reasons that make it a great time to visit for you apply to them.
Grand Teton National Park Seasons
Spring in Grand Teton
Spring can be a great time to visit Grand Teton National Park as crowds are down and temperatures are on the rise. I recommend late spring (think June) for the best experience. Make sure to plan for rain if you visit in the Spring as it’s all but guaranteed.
Late June can bring mosquitoes so pack bug spray (I recommend this eco-friendly one)
Summer in Grand Teton
Summer is the best time of year to visit Grand Teton National Park as temperatures are pleasant reaching the upper 70s with lows in the mid 40s. Wildflowers pop all over the park during July creating some dazzling displays. Wildlife is out and about with bears coming down from the mountains, wolves rearing pups, and more.
The major downside to summer is the crowds. Popular places like Jenny Lake will be at capacity by mid-morning with lines and traffic. If you’re planning to visit this time of year make sure to plan early wake ups and pack your patience.
Fall in Grand Teton
Fall can be a great time to visit Grand Teton National Park as visitation plummets with kids going back to school. Peak fall foliage in the park can be spectacular but happens earlier than most of the country, typically in mid to late September.
Winter in Grand Teton
Winter is a favorite time of year to visit the park for snow enthusiasts. There are great skiing opportunities and all sorts of breathtaking scenery to take in with none of the crowds.
Winter is my least favorite season to visit Grand Teton but it doesn’t have to be yours.
Best Things to Do in Grand Teton National Park (+ what to see & where to see it)
See Reflections at Lower Scwabacher Landing
As one of the most heavily photographed locations in Grand Teton National Park, Lower Scwabacher Landing is popular due to the mirror reflection of the tetons in the water creating a stunning photo composition. This is one of the best spots in the park to see a sunrise.
Sunset at Snake River Overlook
Perhaps the best place in the park to see sunset, Snake River Overlook is one of the most heavily photographed locations in Grand Teton National Park. This location was actually made famous by Ansel Adams back in the day.
Since Adams famously photographed this spot, the national park service has allowed trees to grow in and obscure this treasured viewpoint.
Soak in Some of the Best Wildlife Viewing Anywhere in the World
Grand Teton is home to an incredible array of wildlife, much of which can be viewed safely and easily when following best practices. For more on where to see wildlife read on.
Hike One of the Many Scenic Trails
Some of the most beautiful hiking trails in America happen to be in Grand Teton. A few of our favorite hikes include:
- Taggart Lake Loop
- String Lake Loop
- Death Canyon
- Cascade Canyon Trail
- Jenny Lake Loop
- Amphitheater Lake Loop.
Raft the Wild & Scenic Snake River
The Snake River is a congressionally designated Wild & Scenic River meaning it is stunningly beautiful. There’s no better way to soak it in then rafting down it.
Catch a Glimpse of the World Famous Moulton Barn
The Moulton Barn is part of the area known as Mormon Row in the park which features a few beautiful and historic barns. Located off of the aptly named Antelope Flat Road, this barn is surrounded by some great wildlife viewing areas.
Watch an Epic Sunrise From Oxbow Bend
Grand Teton is most beautiful during the sunrise hour of the morning. The best place in Grand Teton to catch a sunrise is from Oxbow Bend where the reflection of Mount Moran dazzles on a clear day.
Where to Stay in Grand Teton – Camping & Lodging
Camping in Grand Teton
Grand Teton is home to 6 campgrounds containing 1052 individual campsites (including standard, hiker/biker, electric, full hook up pull through, and group) and an RV park with an additional 122 sites. That may sound like a lot but these sites fill up fast, especially during the peak summer season.
For detailed camping & camp site information including availability, seasons, and more visit the park service site here.
Grand Teton Lodging – Hotels & Lodges
Grand Teton National Park is home to some of the most beautiful national park lodges in the world. The Jackson Lake Lodge & Jenny Lake Lodges are considered by many to be among the crown jewels of the entire system. The catch is the price – most of these lodges come with a hefty price tag which makes staying at one of these unattainable for most American families.
Prices at the Jackson Lake Lodge for example start at $356/night for their classic “two queen room” and run all the way up to nearly a thousand dollars for their “Moran Suite”.
If you think that’s steep, just ask for a “Deluxe Suite Cabin” at the Jenny Lake Lodge which sleeps 4. The price? A cool $1,770.00 dollars per night.
When Yellowstone (Grand Teton’s neighbor to the north) was created as the first national park it was done so with the phrase “for the benefit and enjoyment of the people.” The question today regarding the lodges is which “people” were the legislators referring to?
List of Lodges at Grand Teton National Park (with 2021 prices):
- Jenny Lake Lodge (rooms ranging from $576 – $1,770)
- Jackson Lake Lodge (rooms ranging from $356 – $880)
- Colter Bay Cabins (“tent cabins” starting at $79 – up to $276 for more deluxe options)
- Signal Mountain Lodge ($288 – $528)
- Headwaters Lodge & Cabins (“camper cabins ” starting at $81 – up to $341 for the “premium cabin”)
Other Lodging Options
For more lodging options check out the town of Jackson which has a few hotel and B&B options. They will also likely be pricey regardless of the time of year.
Beat the Crowds on the Bridger-Teton National Forest
If you’re tired of wading through national park crowds we don’t blame you! Parks are crowded these days, especially Grand Teton (although Yellowstone is 10x more so). But don’t worry, there’s an easy way to escape the masses.
Check out the Bridger Teton National Forest which shares a border with Grand Teton National Park and has equally as stunning views with a fraction of the visitors. The forest is minutes from the park and has breathtaking scenery, amazing wildlife, and nearly all of the same scenery as the park.
You don’t take my word for it. Just watch the 3 minute video I co-produced above!
Grand Teton Photos
I have taken thousands of photos of Grand Teton National Park over the years. These are some of the ones that best represent this amazing place.
Where to See Wildlife in Grand Teton National Park
Grand Teton is the best national park to view wildlife within the lower 48 states. So many of our favorite and most iconic animals call Grand Teton home. Seeing them can be a bit tricky – it’s about knowing where and what time to go.
Make sure you give wildlife distance in the park, especially bears. If a bear crosses the road in front of you stay in your car. Your actions not only put yourself at risk but the bear as well. Be sure to go over the National Park Service’s 7 Ways to Safely Watch Wildlife before your visit to Grand Teton.
Beaver – The best place to see beavers in Grand Teton is Upper Schwabacher Landing. The dams they’ve created in that area are astounding.
Bison are seen all over the park but especially near the Moran Junction at Elk Ranch Flats Turnout.
Grizzly Bear – Willow Flats Overlook is probably the most reliable place to spot Grizzlies in the park.
Black Bear – I’ve seen black bears off the Highway 89 at the Christian Pond Loop, stalking the trash bins at the Jackson Lodge, and in the field off Lupine Meadows Road.
Elk – Great places to see elk are Elk Ranch Flats Turnout & Lupine Meadows Road.
Fox – Foxes are found throughout the park. I recommend the Blacktail Ponds Overlook is a great place to start.
Pronghorn – Elk Ranch Flats Turnout, Lupine Meadow Road, & Antelope Flat Road are great places to spot pronghorn antelope.
Moose – Moose-Wilson Road is the top spot to see moose in the park but Lupine Meadows Road is another good one.
Wolves – I’ve only seen two wolves in the park, both were off of Pacific Creek Road headed up Lozier Hill.
More Places to See Near Grand Teton
- Yellowstone National Park is located just 10 minutes north of the Grand Teton Northern Entrance. In the words of Andy Dusfresne, if you’ve come this far you might as well go a little further! Just be prepared for lots of humans and traffic.
- Bridger-Teton National Forest is a must-see while you’re visiting Grand Teton. It’s literally right next to the park and offers more solitude and equally amazing scenery. Odds are you’ll cross in at some point and not even realize it.
- Jackson, Wyoming is a great place to stop in and grab a bite while you’re in the park. If you forgot something at home, odds are they’ll have it somewhere in town.
Summary | Leave us a Comment!
That’s a wrap folks! Hopefully you feel like you’ve got a good handle on your next trip to Grand Teton National Park. Please leave me a comment below and let me know if you have any questions or comments.
Hope to see you on the trails sometime soon!
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