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11 ULTIMATE TOP THINGS TO DO IN GRAND TETON NATIONAL PARK
(FOR EVERY BUDGET)
If you are planning a trip to Grand Teton, how do you decide what to see and do?
This Grand Teton bucket list contains 11 of the best experiences (for every budget) you can have.
Here are my ultimate top 11 things to do in Grand Teton National Park:
TOP THINGS TO DO IN GRAND TETON NATIONAL PARK
DRIVE GRAND TETON’S 42-MILE SCENIC LOOP –
ONE OF THE BEST TOP THINGS TO DO IN GRAND TETON NATIONAL PARK
The 42-Mile Scenic Loop Drive is one of the best ways to experience Grand Teton National Park.
The loop consists of two roads: HWY 191/89/26 – OUTER ROAD (one road, just shares three numbers) and Teton Park Road – INNER ROAD.
There are at least 24 overlooks, turnouts, points of interest on the 42-Mile Scenic Loop Drive.
42-MILE SCENIC LOOP DRIVE IN GRAND TETON NATIONAL PARK MAP
It takes about 1-2 hours to drive the loop without stopping. However, if you are planning on stopping at each viewpoint, then, it is going to take you at least 8-10 hours to do the entire loop.
Don’t have time to drive the entire Grand Teton’s 42-Mile Scenic Loop Drive? No problem!
Here are my absolute 4 must-see overlooks on 42-Mile Scenic Loop Drive:
MOULTON BARNS ON MORMON ROW
I am sure you have seen the pictures of the famous Moulton Barns on Mormon Row in Grand Teton National Park. These are the most photographed barns in the world!
By the way, there are two barns that are the famous ones, so make sure to photograph both of them. The T. A. Moulton Barn has a triangle roof and the John Moulton Barn has a 4-sided roof. Also, make sure to explore the other buildings on the row. You will get a better idea what the 19th century frontier life was like.
Schwabacher Landing is one of my favorite spots in Grand Teton National Park! Here, you will see absolutely picture-perfect reflection of the Tetons in the still waters of Snake River.
There is a trail that starts right at the parking lot and meanders along Snake River. At about two-tenths of a mile from the parking lot, you will come across a beaver dam. And, beavers can be very entertaining to watch!
FUN FACTS ABOUT BEAVERS!
- They secrete a goo that smells like vanilla
In fact, it’s sometimes used in vanilla flavorings. Castoreum is a chemical compound that mostly comes from a beaver’s castor sacs, which are located under the tail. It is secreted as a brown slime that’s about the consistency of molasses and smells like musky vanilla. It’s an FDA-approved natural flavoring.
- Beavers are romantics at heart
Or at least they’re monogamous. Dams are usually started by a young male looking for love or by a mated-for-life new couple. A whole beaver family will live in a single dam—mom, dad, young kids, and yearlings.
Beaver in Grand Teton National Park.
- Beavers’ front teeth are orange
And not just because they have terrible dental hygiene. To gnaw through tree trunks, they need extra-strong teeth. Fortunately, their tooth enamel contains iron, which makes them incredibly strong, sharp, and orange. Because the orange enamel on the front of their teeth wears away more slowly than the white dentin on the back, a beaver’s teeth self-sharpen as he chews on trees.
Source: Mental Floss
SNAKE RIVER OVERLOOK
Snake River Overlook is one of the most famous spots in Grand Teton National Park. It was the shooting location for Ansel Adams’ famous 1942 black-and-white photo.
However now, it looks much different. The tree growth obstructs the view of Snake River. However, no matter, that the view of the river has changed since 1942, it is still one of the most iconic views of the Tetons.
OXBOW BEND TURNOUT
Oxbow Bend Turnout is another one of my favorite spots on the 42-Mile Scenic Loop Drive in Grand Teton National Park. Needless to say, it is a very popular spot for photographers to gather and wait for that perfect light.
Oxbow Bend Turnout provides a perfect view of Mount Moran.
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GO HIKING IN GRAND TETON NATIONAL PARK –
BEST ACTIVITY TO DO IN GRAND TETON NATIONAL PARK
Grand Teton National Park is a hiker’s paradise! Go and hike! It is the best thing to do in Grand Teton National Park!
Whether you like leisurely walks, short and easy tracks, or challenging trails, the list of hikes where you are guaranteed to see wildlife and breathtaking scenery is simply endless.
First of all, if you are looking for short or easy hiking trails, then check out my list of 11 Easy Hikes in Grand Teton National Park. Need more ideas, look no further! Check out an extensive list of 17 Best Hikes in Grand Teton National Park.
I know! So many choices! What if you could do just one hike? Then, I say, Hermitage Point Trail is my choice! It offers unsurpassed views of the Grand Tetons.
Now, if you are looking for a hike that is shorter and less strenuous, then my suggestion is to take a shuttle to the west side of Jenny Lake, and then hike to Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point. I honestly feel that this is one of the classic and most popular hikes in Grand Teton National Park.
TAKE A GONDOLA RIDE TO RENDEZVOUS MOUNTAIN –
TOP FREE THING TO DO IN GRAND TETON NATIONAL PARK
Take a gondola ride to Rendezvous Mountain for free!
Teton Village has both an aerial tram and a gondola which you can take to Rendezvous Mountain. The ticket to ride a gondola costs $37 for an adult. However, starting at 5 pm, the gondola ride is free!
You need to plan ahead! People start lining up around 4 pm. So be there no later than 4 pm! But, once 5 pm hits, the line starts moving pretty fast.
The ride to Rendezvous Mountain takes about 12 minutes.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT GONDOLA RIDE TO RENDEZVOUS MOUNTAIN
What you need to know about gondola ride to Rendezvous Mountain:
- the last gondola ride up is at 8:30 pm
- the last gondola down is at 9 pm
- relax on the patio at Piste Mountain Bistro and enjoy the spectacular views
My recommendation is to ride the gondola to Rendezvous Mountain in the morning (unfortunately, it’s not free) and then hike to Marion Lake. It is a great hike with awesome views along the way.
GO FISHING IN GRAND TETON NATIONAL PARK –
BEST ACTIVITY FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY IN GRAND TETON NP
Grand Teton National Park is a fishing heaven! It does not matter if you are a bait, spinner angler, or a fly fisherman. I assure you that you will have a great time fishing in Grand Teton National Park.
BEST FISHING SPOTS IN GRAND TETON NATIONAL PARK
- Snake River
One of the best spots is Snake River just below Jackson Lake Dam. You can float or wade this section of Snake River. It is about 5-mile stretch that offers some good fishing until you reach Pacific Creek.
- Jackson Lake
There are a number of access points around Jackson Lake. In my opinion the best spots are anywhere close to the dam.
- Jenny Lake
There are plenty of access points around Jenny Lake. However, it does get busy, so do not expect any solitude. If you do not mind a little hiking, then follow Jenny Lake Loop Trail and I am sure you will find a good fishing spot.
- Leigh Lake
It is a bit of a hike to get to Leigh Lake, but it is my favorite fishing spot. If you do not mind hiking then head directly to Leigh Lake.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT FISHING IN GRAND TETON NATIONAL PARK
- Wyoming fishing license is required.
- License fees:
Resident – Annual $27.00, One-Day $6.00, Youth (14-17, annual) $3.00, Under 14 (creel limit applies) free.
Non-resident – Annual $102.00, One-Day $14.00, Five-Day $56.00, Youth (14-17, annual) $15.00, Under 14 (creel limit applies) free.
- Purchase fshing licenses at Wyoming Game and Fish offices, online, or license vendors throughout the state.
Within the park, purchase licenses at: Snake River Anglers at Dornans, Signal Mountain Lodge front desk, Colter Bay Village Store, and the Headwaters Lodge at Flagg Ranch.
- Lakes within Grand Teton National Park are open to fishing year-round with the following exception: October 1 through 31 – Jackson Lake is closed to fishing.
TAKE A DIP IN GRANITE HOT SPRINGS POOL –
TRULY, ONE OF THE MOST RELAXING TOP THINGS TO DO IN GRAND TETON
Granite Hot Springs Pool needs to be on your list of things to do in Grand Teton National Park! Nothing can feel better than a dip in hot pool to relax your sore muscles after a long day of hiking.
Photo Credit: Pychap via Flickr
HOW TO GET TO GRANITE HOT SPRINGS POOL
Granite Hot Springs Pool is located at the end of the Granite Creek Road, south of Jackson, Wyoming and of Highway 189.
If you are driving from Jackson, then it will take you about 1 hour to reach Granite Hot Springs.
Granite Creek Road is just a bumpy dirt road, so slow down and watch out for potholes. However, it is all worth it!
Image Credit: Map data 2021 Google
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT GRANITE HOT SPRINGS POOL
Granite Hot Springs Pool is a developed, concrete hot spring pool situated alongside Granite Creek amongst huge spruce, fir and pine forest.
The entry fee is $8 per adult and $5 per child. Summer hours are 10 am till 8 pm and fall hours (after Labor Day) are 10 am till 6 pm.
Source: Bridger-Teton National Forest
WATCH SUNRISE (or Sunset) IN GRAND TETON NATIONAL PARK –
THE MOST ROMANTIC THING TO DO IN GRAND TETON NATIONAL PARK
The Teton Mountain Range faces east, so sunrise provides the best light to illuminate the face of the mountains.
However, sunsets can be as spectacular as sunrises in Grand Teton National Park. The scenery alone is dramatic with the craggy peaks rising above the flat plains.
To top it off, you have Snake River winding its way through pine forests and lush meadows. And, Jenny Lake or Jackson Lake with the most incredible reflections of the Tetons in the water.
BEST LOCATIONS TO WATCH SUNRISE (or Sunset) IN GRAND TETON NATIONAL PARK
Image Source: NPS
- Mormon Row
Mormon Row is a famous spot for sunrise photography in Grand Teton National Park. I have to honestly say that it is one of my favorite spots to photograph the Teton Mountain Range bathed in the morning sun light! Thomas Alma Moulton Barn with the pointed roof and John Moulton Barn with the rounded roof in front of the towering Tetons are an iconic sight.
- Schwabacher Landing
Schwabacher Landing is a is another very popular spot to watch sunrise in the Grand Teton Mountains. My recommendation is to take time and find your perfect spot.
There is a trail that starts at the parking lot and goes along Snake River. At about two-tenths of a mile from the parking lot, you will get to a beaver dam. This spot is the best place to see some wildlife. Be on the lookout for moose, elk, and bison that like to graze in the grassy meadows along the river. It is a perfect place to see bald eagles, osprey and great blue herons.
- Teton Point Turnout
Teton Point Turnout s a great spot that offers awesome views of the mountains and glaciers with Snake River framing the view. It is a very popular spot to watch sunrise or a sunset.
OBSERVE WILDLIFE IN GRAND TETON NATIONAL PARK –
NO DOUBT, IT IS ONE OF MOST FASCINATING THINGS TO DO IN GRAND TETON NP
Grand Teton National Park is home to a wide variety of animals. Grizzly and black bears, bison, moose, elk, pronghorn, and more live throughout the park.
Some of my favorite place to see wildlife in Grand Teton National Park are:
- 8-Mile Scenic Section of Moose-Wilson Road
Hands down, 8-Mile Scenic Section of Moose-Wilson Road is one of the best drives for observing wildlife in Grand Teton. Your chances of spotting moose are pretty good! Be on the lookout for mule deer, elk, black and grizzly bears.
- Blacktail Pond
Blacktail Pond is a great place to see wildlife. It is located about 0.5 miles north of Moose on US Highway 191/89/26. There are some beaver ponds that have been filled with sediment and now support grassy meadows where elk graze and moose munch on willows growing along the river.
Check out some of the other places where you are almost guaranteed to see wildlife: Best Places to See Wildlife in Grand Teton National Park (with Maps and Photos).
RENT A KAYAK OR A CANOE IN GRAND TETON NATIONAL PARK –
HANDS DOWN! ONE OF THE ADVENTUROUS THINGS TO DO IN GRAND TETON NATIONAL PARK
Of more than 100 lakes in Grand Teton National Park, 10 are available for human-powered vessels only.
The most popular lakes to kayak or canoe are:
All three of the above lakes are easily accessible making them very convenient for kayaking or canoeing. Plus, bonus! You are surrounded by the towering Teton Mountains.
If you want some solitude then check out:
However, to get to these lakes requires a bit of a hike! Plus, you have to carry your equipment.
WHERE TO RENT A KAYAK OR CANOE IN GRAND TETON NATIONAL PARK
If you can, then bring your own kayak or a canoe. All you will need is to get a permit.
There are three places in Grand Teton NP where you can rent kayaks or canoes:
What you need to keep in mind is that all the rentals are first come, first serve. No reservations!
Single kayak is $30 per hour (2-hour minimum), and double kayak is $40 per hour (2-hour minimum). Canoes are $25 per hour (2-hour minimum, 3 people max). You can rent a motorboat as well.
At Jenny Lake Boating, you can rent only non-motorized vessels (kayaks and conoes). The cost is $20 per hour (1-hour minimum) and $80 per day.
Single kayak is $22 per hour and $95 per day, and double kayak is $27 per hour and $115 per day. You can rent canoes as well for $25 per hour and $99 per day (max 3 people).
Always wear a personal floatation device (PFD) and do not take it off as long as you are on the water.
Make sure to wear synthetic quick drying clothing. Do not wear anything made out of cotton. It sucks up all the moisture and dries slowly.
It can be cold in the morning, and the weather can change fast. So, dress in layers. Also, protect yourself from the sun (wear a hat and long sleeve shirt).
BEST TIME TO GO KAYAKING OR CANOEING IN GRAND TETON NATIONAL PARK
Hands down, mornings and evenings are the best time to go kayaking or canoeing in Grand Teton National Park! Mornings and evenings tend to be calmer on the lakes.
The wind starts to pick up by the early afternoon.
Keep in mind that the weather can change very fast, so make sure to check the weather forecast before heading to the boat rental place.
GO BIKE RIDING IN GRAND TETON NATIONAL PARK –
ONE OF THE FUN THINGS TO DO IN GRAND TETON
Grand Teton National Park is probably the most bike-friendly park in the United States. It claims to have the most paved trails out of any national park and to top it off, with the most recent completion of the Jenny Lake Pathway, I am sure it can boast to have the best paved trails.
My recommendation is to check out Friends of Pathways (friends of Pathways is a private, 501(c)(3) non-profit that focuses on promoting and advocating a complete pathway system, safer streets and great trails in Jackson Hole).
Following is an excellent bike pathway map in Grand Teton National Park.
Source: Friends of Pathways
If you have a bike, then by all means, bring it with you and you are ready to go!
If you need to rent, then check out some of the bike rental places. Prices vary depending on what type of the bike you are planning to rent and for how long. My recommendation is to stick with a ‘road bike’ and rent it for a day. By the way, on-way rentals are available as well.
- In Jackson: Hoback Sports
- In Teton Village: Jackson Hole Sports
- In Moose: Adventure Sports – Dornans
Also, make sure to check out START Bike. It is a community bike share program servicing the town of Jackson.
EXPLORE JACKSON HOLE –
BEST ACTIVITY FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY TO DO IN GRAND TETON NP
Jackson Hole is located is a cute little town surrounded by awesome views of the Teton Mountains.
Here is my list of places that you need to check out:
If you are staying in Jackson Hole, then I guarantee that you are going to go back again and gain to Persephone Bakery. They have excellent pastries, yummy breakfasts, and delicious sandwiches. Their coffees are creations of art.
Make sure to visit Picnic! It serves the most amazing breakfasts and lunches. The sandwiches and salads are top notch. Try their coffees as well. They know what they are doing!
Their huckleberry ice cream is to die for! It won the Food Network 2013 Best Dessert in Wyoming. But, make sure to try their boysenberry sorbet. It is simply delicious.
I don’t know about you, but I love great pizza. I am recommending Pinky’s G Pizzeria. It is my place to go whenever I am in Jackson Hole. You will not be disappointed.
GO HORSEBACK RIDING IN GRAND TETON NATIONAL PARK –
ONE OF THE MOST FUN THINGS TO DO IN GRAND TETON NP
If you can splurge a little, then consider horseback riding in Grand Teton National Park. It is one of the most fun things to do in Grand Teton NP!
My recommendation is to check out Teton Village Trail Rides and give it a try. They offer 1-hour rides for $55 or 2-hour rides for $75.
QUICK GUIDE TO GRAND TETON NATIONAL PARK
Grand Teton National Park was established in 1929. It covers an area of 310,000 acres.
Grand Teton National Park receives 3.3 million visitors annually.
WHAT ARE THE ENTRANCE FEES TO GRAND TETON NATIONAL PARK
7-Day Entrance Permit to Grand Teton National Parks costs:
- Private Vehicle – $35
- Motorcycle – $30
- Hiker/Biker – $20
If you are visiting multiple National Parks, then you should look into purchasing America the Beautiful – the National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass. It is your ticket to more than 2,000 federal recreation sites across the USA. The pass costs $80 and it is valid for 1 year.
WHAT ARE THE OPERATING HOURS OF GRAND TETON NATIONAL PARK
Grand Teton National Park is open 24 hours every day, year-round. However, from November through April, some roads, all campgrounds, and most visitor facilities are closed or have reduced hours.
WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO VISIT GRAND TETON NP
Are you planning a trip to Grand Teton National Park and wondering when is the best time to visit? No problem! Here is what you need to know:
- Summer (June – August)
Hands down, summer is the best time to visit Grand Teton National Park.
In summer months, specifically, beginning in mid-June, most of the entire park is accessible and open. You will be able to get to pretty much all the hikes, overlooks and points of interests. All the visitor centers will be open and tours as well as programs will be in full swing.
Also, you will have many lodging and dinning options to choose from.
However, the park is most crowded during summer months. Be prepared to share hiking trails with many other visitors to the park. Be prepared to wait for a parking spot as well.
- Fall (September -October)
This is my favorite time to visit Grand Teton National Park! if possible, plan your visit for early September through the beginning of October.
The crowds of visitors are mostly gone and you will be able to enjoy some solitude.
Fall is truly beautiful in the Grand Tetons. When the aspens start to change color and turn yellow and orange, it is simply breathtaking.
- Winter (November -April)
To experience Grand Teton National Park blanketed in snow is a truly magical experience.
What you need to know is that during winter months, the inner park road (from the Taggart Lake Trailhead to Signal Mountain) is closed to all vehicles. The outer road (Hwy 191/89/26) is open year round (weather permitting).
Park facilities are closed for most of the winter months.
- Spring (May)
Spring in Grand Teton National Park is a long awaited time of the year. Finally, the long winter is winding down and wildlife starts to emerge looking for food.
Needless to say, expect snow to cover most of the trails. However, the Teton Park Road (inner road) opens on May 1st each year.
My recommendation is to plan your trip to Grand Teton National Park in the first part of September. If you go later than mid-September, then be prepared for pretty unpredictable weather – rain, snow, freezing temperatures or just simply stunning sunny days as well.
Also, keep in mind that most of the campgrounds and lodges within the park are closed starting at the beginning of October.
INTREPID SCOUT’S POINTERS FOR BEST THINGS TO DO IN GRAND TETON NATIONAL PARK
That is quite a list of things to do in Grand Teton National Park, right? What if you only have time to do a couple of things?
No problem! Here are my absolute 2 things to do in Grand Teton National Park:
- Hands down, of all the things to do in Grand Teton National Park, the number one is to drive 42-Mile Scenic Loop. It is the best way to experience the beauty of the Teton Mountains from the comfort of your car. You can do it in one hour or you can take your time and stop and explore at every turnout and overlook.
- Second, take the shuttle to the west side of Jenny Lake and then hike to Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point.
- Finally, if you are looking for more ideas then check out some of my posts:
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