Schwabacher Landing

Best Things to do in Grand Teton National Park

Julie United States 5 Comments

Jagged mountain peaks, lush meadows, scenic lakes, the winding Snake River, historical sites, and miles of hiking trails…this is Grand Teton National Park.

There is something here for everyone. Families will love the short, easy, scenic hiking trails, a boat ride across Jenny Lake, plus the possibility to see elk, moose, and bison. Photographers will have a blast capturing the reflections of the mountain range in the lakes and rivers. Active, adventurous travelers can take their pick from hundreds of miles of hiking trails that journey into the Teton range. If you enjoy fishing, this park is world-renowned for its trout fishing.

Here are the best things to do in Grand Teton National Park.

About Grand Teton National Park

Grand Teton National Park officially became a national park in 1929, making it the 20th national park in the United States. Yellowstone National Park, which sits just 10 miles to the north, was the first national park in the United States (and the world).

This mountain range gets its name from early 19th-century French trappers. They called the mountain range les trois tetons, which means “the three teats.”

Of the large mammals, elk is the most common species that you will see here. During the spring and fall months, they migrate through the park between the National Elk Refuge (just outside of Jackson) to Yellowstone National Park. It is also possible to see bison, moose, black bear and grizzlies.

There are numerous lakes that sit at the base of the Teton range. Jenny Lake is the most famous and most commonly visited, but other notable lakes include Jackson, Phelps, Taggart, Bradley, and Leigh Lakes.

Best Things to do in Grand Teton National Park

Here are the best things to do in Grand Teton National Park on a map.

How to Use This Map: Click the icons on the map to get more information about each point of interest. Click the star next to the title of the map to add this map to your Google Maps account. To view it on your phone or computer, open Google Maps, click the menu button, go to “Your Places,” click Maps, and you will see this map on your list.

Drive the 42-Mile Scenic Drive

This 42-mile loop takes you through the heart of Grand Teton National Park. Drive down the length of the Teton mountain range, along Jenny and Jackson Lakes, and past numerous scenic overlooks. Along the way, you have the option to detour to Signal Mountain, Jenny Lake Scenic Drive, or numerous hiking trails in the park.

How to do it

Two roads form this loop: Highway 26/89/191 and Teton Park Road.

Teton Park Road follows the base of the Teton range between Moose and Jackson Lake. This road is closed from November 1 to April 30.

Highway 26/89/191 is open year-round.

You can do this drive clockwise or counterclockwise. I recommend doing this drive counterclockwise. Start at Moose, visit Mormon Row at sunrise, and then drive north along Highway 26/89/191 to visit Schwabacher Landing and the Snake River Overlook in the morning hours, the best time for photography. Continue on to Oxbow Bend and from here, visit the sites along Jackson Lake or take Teton Road South to Signal Mountain and Jenny Lake.

Signal Mountain

A road trip through Grand Teton National Park would not be complete without a drive up Signal Mountain. From the summit, you get panoramic views over the park, the Teton range, and Jackson Lake.

Don’t miss Jackson Lake Overlook. This scenic viewpoint is located near Signal Mountain Summit and it’s just a 2-minute walk to a viewpoint over Jackson Lake.

Signal Mountain

The view from Signal Mountain

 

Jackson Lake Overlook

Jackson Lake Overlook

How To Do It

Signal Mountain Road is 4.4 miles long and it takes 15 minutes to drive it one way. It’s just wide enough for two cars and there are many bends and switchbacks. At the summit and at Jackson Lake Overlook, there is a parking lot. This road is closed from November 1 to mid-May.

Jenny Lake Scenic Drive

Jenny Lake Scenic Drive is a one-way road that follows along the eastern edge of Jenny Lake. Along the way, stop at the Jenny Lake overlook for one of the best views of the lake.

Jenny Lake Overlook

Kara at Jenny Lake

This road starts near String Lake and the Jenny Lake Lodge and ends near the southern end of Jenny Lake.

Inspiration Point and Hidden Falls

Hidden Falls is a waterfall located in the Teton range next to Jenny Lake.

Inspiration Point is a viewpoint over Jenny Lake.

Since these two spots are located on the same hiking trail, it’s easy to combine both of these into one very scenic hike.

Hidden Falls

Hidden Falls

 

Jenny Lake

Inspiration Point

There are two ways to get to the trailhead: by boat or by hiking trail. The trail to Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point starts on the western side of Jenny Lake. You cannot drive to this side of Jenny Lake. To get here, you can take a shuttle boat from the Jenny Lake parking area or hike 2.4 miles around the southern end of the lake to this trailhead.

Jenny Lake Boating offers a shuttle service across Jenny Lake. Shuttles run every 10 to 15 minutes and cost $18 round trip, $10 one-way for adults. Click here for updated pricing and hours of operation. 

From the boat dock on the western side of Jenny Lake, it is a 0.5 mile uphill walk to Hidden Falls. To continue on to Inspiration Point, it is another 0.5 mile hike, only this time the trail is steeper and more difficult.

With the shuttle boat, the hike to Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point is 2 miles round trip.

Jenny Lake Boat Dock

Jenny Lake boat dock

Pro Travel Tip: Expect big crowds between 10 am and 4 pm in the summer months. This is an extremely popular thing to do. If you want a quieter experience, and good lighting for photographs, save this experience for the end of the day. Catch the 5:30 pm shuttle boat across Lake Jenny, hike up to Inspiration Point and enjoy the view, and take one of the last boats of the day back to the parking lot. Just confirm with Jenny Lake Boating when the final shuttle of the day makes its run across Jenny Lake. When we did this (August 2019) the last boat was at 7 pm.

Go Canoeing or Kayaking on Jenny Lake

Solitude, mountain views, peace and quiet…this was one of our favorite experiences at Grand Teton National Park.

For over an hour, Kara and I paddled around Jenny Lake in a canoe. It was a Wednesday morning in August and we felt like we had the lake to ourselves. Yes, there was the occasional shuttle boat, but other than that, it was just the two of us on the lake.

Canoe Jenny Lake

If you are looking for a great way to avoid the crowds, consider putting this on your list. We rented a canoe from Jenny Lake Boating for an hour and a half (from 7:45 am to 9:15 am) and during this time, we were their only rental customers.

You can also rent a canoe or kayak and paddle to the west dock of Jenny Lake to start your hike to Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point. You pay for the canoe and kayak by the hour. Click here for pricing.

Mormon Row Historic District

In 1890, Mormons from Salt Lake City settled here, establishing 27 homesteads. Mormon Row was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1997.

This is one of the best sunrise spots in Grand Teton National Park. This iconic shot of the historic barn with the Tetons in the background attracts photographers from around the world.

Mormon Row

There are two barns to visit, and photograph, if you are interested. There is the historic barn on Mormon Row (the above photograph) and the T. A. Moulton Barn located on Gros Ventre Road, across Antelope Flats Road.

Watch your step! There are many prairie dogs here that make large holes (burrows) along the dirt road.

Location: Antelope Flats Road, 1.6 miles from Highway 89.

Chapel of the Transfiguration

This is another historic site in Grand Teton National Park and just a short drive from Mormon Row. This small log chapel was built in 1925. During the summer season, St. John’s Episcopal Church offers services on Sunday mornings.

Chapel of the Transfiguration

Schwabacher Landing

For one of the most scenic views of the Teton mountain range, don’t miss Schwabacher Landing. This is a great place to capture the reflection of the mountain range in the Snake River.

You can walk from the parking lot to the river and snap a photo, or continue farther down the trail for slightly different views of the Teton range.

Best Things to do in Grand Teton

Getting Here: This viewpoint is located off of Highway 26/89/191. Turn onto the gravel access road. It’s a one-mile drive on this gravel road to the parking lot and viewpoint.

Snake River Overlook

Channel your inner Ansel Adams and photograph the Tetons from the Snake River overlook. This photography location was made famous when Ansel Adams snapped a photograph here in 1942, while working for the United States government.

Snake River Overlook

Location: On Highway 26/89/191 4.5 miles north of Schwabacher Landing.

Oxbow Bend of the Snake River

This is the place to get the iconic view of Mt. Moran’s reflection in the Snake River.

Oxbow Bend

Oxbow Bend is a popular spot for photographers. Sunrise is the most popular time to visit Oxbow Bend, not only to capture the Teton range but also to photograph wildlife that may be in the area.

Taggart Lake

This relatively short, easy trail is one of the most popular hikes in Grand Teton National Park. Once you reach Taggart Lake, you get amazing views of the Teton mountain range.

Taggart Lake

Taggart Lake Grand Teton

This hike is 3 miles round trip. To get to Taggart Lake, it is an uphill walk through an aspen, spruce, and lodgepole pine forest. Be alert for bear. From Taggart Lake, you can continue farther to Bradley Lake, but this adds another 2.5 miles onto the total distance.

Getting Here: The trailhead is located on Teton Park Road south of Jenny Lake. There is a fairly large parking lot here. Midday, this parking lot was completely full. Consider doing this hike early or late in the day to avoid the crowds.

Hike to Leigh Lake

This pretty little hike takes you along String Lake to Leigh Lake. It’s flat, it’s easy, and it’s great for all ages and ability levels.

String Lake

If you simply hike to Leigh Lake, it’s just 1.8 miles round trip. If you go farther, walking along the eastern shore of Leigh Lake, the hike becomes 3.7 miles round trip.

We loved this hike. The views across String Lake, especially with the reflections of the mountains, was beautiful. It also didn’t feel that busy, with just a few groups of hikers on the trail.

Location: The trailhead, named Leigh Lake Trailhead, is located just north of Jenny Lake. Take String Lake Road to the large parking lot and you will see the sign marking the trailhead.

Visit the Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve and Visitor Center

The Rockefeller family played a huge role in preserving the land of Grand Teton National Park. This reserve is an 1,100 acre refuge located within Grand Teton National Park and was donated by the Rockefeller family in 2001.

In 2008, the visitor center was built on this parcel of land. The visitor center is beautiful and it was the first property in Wyoming to be certified in Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, the highest accolade for environmentally friendly building practices.

Hiking to Phelps Lake, mentioned next, is a very popular hike to do on the preserve.

With a parking lot that can only accommodate a small number of cars, this preserve is meant to be quiet, serene, and meditative. It’s estimated that only 300 people per day visit the reserve, which is just a tiny fraction of the number of people that visit Grand Teton National Park per day.

Parking at the reserve can be a challenge. Plan to get here before 9 am to get a parking space. After 9 am, expect to wait for a spot, and depending on the day and the time that you get here, your wait could be several hours long.

Getting Here: The Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve is located on Moose Wilson Road.

Hike to Phelps Lake

This is another popular hike in Grand Teton National Park. This 3.3-mile loop starts at the Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve and takes hikers out to the beautiful Phelps Lake. It’s an easy hike that is perfect for families and hikers of all ages.

To do this, you combine the Woodland and Lake Creek trails into a loop, with the start and finish at the Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve.

Alternative to Hiking to Phelps Lake: Drive to Death Canyon Trailhead and hike one mile to the Phelps Lake Overlook. This will give you a panoramic view over Phelps Lake. The road to the Death Canyon Trailhead is called Whitegrass Ranch Road and is accessed from Moose Canyon Road. This is a rough gravel road and the NPS recommends having a 4×4 for this drive.

Drive Moose Wilson Road

Moose Wilson Road is an 8-mile paved and dirt road that connects Jackson with Grand Teton National Park. Rough in some spots, it is acceptable for cars but having an SUV or 4×4 makes the drive easier. Expect lots of potholes and slow speeds for the portion that is unpaved.

Moose Wilson Road

Along the way you have a decent chance of spotting wildlife. At the northern end of Moose Wilson Road, near where it meets Teton Park Road, we spotted a momma moose and two calves.

Moose

This road is closed from November 1 to mid-May. RV’s and trailers are not permitted on Moose Wilson Road. It is also subject to closure from grizzly bear activity and weather conditions. Check the road status here before you go. 

Lakeshore Trail

The Lakeshore Trail is a mostly flat trail that offers views across Jackson Lake to the Teton mountain range. It is a 2-mile loop that starts and ends at the Colter Bay Visitor Center on Jackson Lake.

Lakeshore Trail

Jackson Lake

Take Your Pick from Longer Day Hikes

Journey into the Tetons on one of these longer, more challenging day hikes.

Cascade Canyon: This hike starts at the west dock on Jenny Lake. Hike up to Inspiration Point and continue to follow the trail into the Teton mountain range. This hike is 10 miles long with roughly 1000 feet of elevation gain.

Lake Solitude: This hike starts at Jenny Lake, goes through Cascade Canyon, and continues on to Lake Solitude. It’s 15 miles in length and physically demanding.

Static Peak Divide: With gorgeous alpine scenery, this tough, 16-mile trail is a big day hike. But if you want epic views of the Tetons without going on a multi-day backpacking trip, this is a great one to consider.

For more information about hiking in Grand Teton National Park, click here.

Bonus! Don’t Miss Teton Village at Jackson Hole

This is not located inside of Grand Teton National Park, but it’s just a short drive away. If you want stunning alpine views, a chance to ride a gondola or cable car, and to take your pick from numerous hiking trails, Jackson Hole is worth the visit.

Kara and I rode the tram up to Corbet’s Cabin on Rendezvous Peak. At an altitude of 10,450 feet, it’s one of the highest views in the area. From here, you can ride the tram back down to Jackson Hole or hike to one of the other chairlifts or gondolas on the mountains. We hiked the Cirque Trail, a 1.8 mile mostly downhill trail to Bridger Gondola and then rode this back into town.

Jackson Hole Hike

Hike Jackson Hole

If you want to take a break from hiking, you can also visit the Adventure Park, go shopping, dine at one of the restaurants, or go horseback riding.

Learn more here.

Plan Your Visit

Entry Fee for Grand Teton National Park: $35 per vehicle, valid for 7 days

Hours: Grand Teton National Park is open 24 hours a day, year-round. For opening hours of the visitor centers and current conditions, click here.

Planning Your Time

One Day: With one day, visit Mormon Row at sunrise, drive the 42-mile scenic loop drive, visit the overlooks along the drive, and hike to Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point. Consider driving to the summit of Signal Mountain for views over the park.

Two Days: On day two, visit the Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve and hike to Phelps Lake or consider doing a longer day hike. In the afternoon/evening, go canoeing or kayaking on Jenny Lake or visit Jackson Lake and walk the Lakeshore Trail.

When To Go

The best time to visit Grand Teton National Park is from mid-May through the end of September, when all of the roads and visitor centers are open.

June, July and August are the busiest months in the park. Expect big crowds on the hiking trails, difficulty finding a parking space midday, and sold out lodges inside of the park.

We visited Grand Teton National Park in mid-August. To avoid the crowds, the best time to visit the park is between 6:30 am and 11 am, and 6 pm to 9 pm.

The best time for wildlife sightings are at dawn and dusk.

If you want to see the park ablaze in fall colors, September is best time to visit.

From November through mid-May, Teton Park Road is closed, along with several other scenic roads, such as Moose Wilson Road and the road to the summit of Signal Mountain.

Grand Teton

How to Get Here

The closest airport is Jackson Hole Airport, which is located in the park. In fact, Jackson Hole Airport is the only commercial airport located within a national park.

Other nearby airports include Idaho Falls Regional Airport (94 miles, 2 hour drive) and Salt Lake City International Airport (280 miles, 4.75 hour drive).

Where to Stay

Grand Teton National Park

There are numerous lodges and campgrounds available inside of the park. Click here to learn more about your options.

Teton Village at Jackson Hole

Ski resort by winter, outdoor playground by summer. This resort offers hotels and restaurants, plus gondolas, chair lifts, and a cable car that will whisk you up to Rendezvous Peak for stunning views over the Tetons.

If you like the idea of staying in a resort town just outside of the park, this is a great place to consider.

Jackson

From Jackson, it takes just 15 minutes to drive to Moose (the southern end of Grand Teton National Park) and 30 minutes to drive to Jenny Lake. With a large number of accommodations and restaurants, this is a great place to base yourself for visiting the park.

This is where we have stayed both times that we visited Grand Teton National Park.

Wyoming Inn at Jackson Hole. This is one of the highest rated hotels in Jackson. It is not located in the city center, so you will have to drive to the town square and park your car if you want to visit the heart of Jackson. But we loved the spacious room, excellent Wi-Fi, and comfy beds.

Wyoming Inn

Cowboy Village Resort. On our first visit to Grand Teton National Park, this is where Tim and I stayed. Western-style cabins come equipped with a private bathroom and a kitchenette.

The Wort Hotel. If you want an upscale experience in the city center of Jackson, the Wort Hotel gets rave reviews.


If you have any questions about Grand Teton National Park, let us know in the comment section below!

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Comments 5

  1. Hey thank you for your blog. It has been so helpful. We are planning a trip to see Yosemite, Sequoia and Death Valley from Las Vegas in 6 weeks. Also we are going to be going to the Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone. I hope you have something before we go about Yellowstone. But everything else has been very helpful thank you.

    1. Post
      Author

      Hello Tara. Yes, I will be writing about Yellowstone soon. I plan to write a bunch of articles, it will take me some time, but I’m doing my best. 🙂 Keep checking back. Cheers, Julie

  2. I was so happy to see this in my email this morning!! I’m going to the Grand tetons, Yellowstone, & Glacier NPs in 2 weeks and as I was planning the trip I was bummed that you guys hadn’t been there yet because your writeups on the Utah national parks were SO helpful when I was planning that trip. Looking forward to reading the rest of your writeups on this area to see if I missed anything in my planning lol! Cheers 🙂

    1. Post
      Author

      Hello Elise! Expect big crowds at the parks, but in 2 weeks, maybe it won’t be so bad. On most days, Kara and I would visit the parks from 6:30 am to noon, take a break when it was the most crowded, and go back out in the evening. I will probably only get 2 or 3 articles written before your trip, but if you have any specific questions let us know! Cheers, Julie

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