Grand Teton National Park is one of the most scenic National Parks in the USA. How to get there and what are the best things to do in Grand Teton National Park? Read all about it!
What is Grand Teton National Park?
Grand Teton National Park is home to some of the most dramatic scenery in America. The park is mainly known for its iconic Teton Range. This mountain range stands out enormously in the landscape otherwise fairly flat landscape. In clear weather, you can see the steep dark gray rocks from almost anywhere in the park. Grand Teton (13,775 feet or 4,199 meters) is the highest mountain peak in this area.
The Snake River runs straight through the park and there are also several beautiful large lakes, such as Jackson Lake and Jenny Lake. Remains of old settlements from the beginning of the twentieth century are a special sight in the park. Grand Teton National Park is a must-see on a road trip in Northwest USA. Especially if you like history, beautiful walks and seeing wildlife.
There are 63 National Parks in the United States. Check out the full list.
Where is Grand Teton National Park located?
Grand Teton National Park is located in Northwest USA in the state of Wyoming. The nearest town is Jackson, located about 20 kilometers south of the park.
North of Grand Teton National Park is well-known Yellowstone National Park and so most people combine a visit to both parks during their trip in Northwest USA.
How to get there?
Are you driving to the park? Grand Teton National Park has three different entrances:
- The south entrance (Moose) is about 12 miles (20 kilometers) from Jackson.
- The eastern entrance (Moran) is about 56 miles (90 kilometers) from the town of Dubois.
- The north entrance is reached through the John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway south from Yellowstone National Park. There is no checkpoint here, because you drive from one national park to another national park.
Do you want to visit the park by public transport? You can reach some places in the park by bus from Jackson Hole. This is called the START bus.
Would you like to learn more about the park during your visit and have everything arranged? You can also join an organized tour. This way, you can see many beautiful sights in the park in one day.
What does it cost?
A visit to Grand Teton National Park costs $ 35 (February 2021). These are the costs for one vehicle and your ticket is valid for seven days. Are you planning on visiting multiple parks? Then it is wise to purchase the America the Beautiful annual pass. This pass costs $ 80 and is valid for one year in all national parks in the United States.
Where to stay
Do you prefer to sleep in a hotel, apartment or lodge? Then it’s best to book something in Jackson. Do you prefer to sleep in the park? Then there are various options for camping.
Where to stay in Jackson
Jackson is a small town south of Grand Teton National Park with a population of about 9,000. It is a great place to walk around and explore because it is full of wooden historic buildings. There are also a lot of great accommodations (both the well-known chain hotels and cozy lodges) to sleep in, which are easy to book via Booking.com. A few recommendations:
- Wyoming Inn of Jackson Hole: nicely decorated and cozy hotel (with a fireplace in the lobby!) and within walking distance of the center.
- Parkway Inn: cozy inn with indoor pool and hot tub. Practically in the city center of Jackson.
- Huff House Inn and Cabins: choice of rooms in the inn or a cozy cabin, also located in the city center.
You can find many great accommodations on Airbnb as well, from a bedroom in people’s homes to a cute cabin. Have you never booked anything through Airbnb? Use this link to sign up and you will receive a substantial discount on your first booking.
Camping in Grand Teton National Park
Would you rather sleep in the park itself and are you traveling with an RV or tent? Then I can definitely recommend looking for a place at one of the many campgrounds in the park. Since January 2021, you can reserve a spot for each campsite in advance via this website.
I myself slept at the Jenny Lake Campground (only for tent camping), this was really a perfect location to discover the park. Until recently, this was a first-come, first-serve campground and always filled up very quickly. During my visit in June 2019, I got one of the last available spots at 9.15 am in the morning. Luckily, you can now also make an online reservation for this gorgeous campground.
How much time do you need for Grand Teton National Park?
You can drive past the highlights in a day, but then you won’t be able to stay at any place for too long. I would therefore plan at least two days to visit Grand Teton National Park, three days if you also want to do some great hikes.
What is the best time of year to visit Grand Teton?
Grand Teton National Park is a popular destination to visit all year round. The best travel time is between mid-May to September. Then almost all roads and hiking trails are free of snow. July and August are often the busiest months.
Do you like snow? Then you can also visit Grand Teton during the other months of the year. However, the disadvantage is that many facilities and roads in the park are closed.
The most beautiful sights and best things to do in Grand Teton National Park
Take your time for Grand Teton National Park (preferably at least two or three nights), because there are so many awesome things to do and see!
Mormon Row is the historic district in the valley. Here you can see some of the historic buildings from the early twentieth century. It is a very popular spot among painters and photographers because with the impressive Tetons in the background it is a stunning landscape!
A bit further north you also have the Cunningham Cabin. This cabin is all alone in the valley and it is a lot less touristy here than Mormon Row.
I was so happy that I camped at Jenny Lake for three nights as it is arguably the most beautiful spot in Grand Teton National Park. The Teton Range is right behind the lake and therefore you can see the mountains beautifully as a reflection in the water. There are some great hiking trails, several viewpoints, you can see waterfalls or take a boat trip across the lake.
The Snake River, one of the largest rivers in the Pacific Northwest, and it runs right through Grand Teton National Park. There is a good chance that you will spot wildlife along the river and you also have great views of the Tetons from here. Make a stop early in the morning at Schwabacher Landing, Here you might see a beautiful reflection of the Teton Mountains in the river.
For people that are interested in religion (or just like to visit churches and chapels), you can visit several beautiful wooden chapels in the park. I visited two of them: Chapel of the Sacred Heart and the Chapel of the Transfiguration. Especially the latter is very beautiful because through the window you have a perfect view of the Tetons. It looks like a painting! This chapel is located in the Menors Ferry Historic District, with even more beautiful historic buildings to explore.
Discover the beautiful hiking trails
Grand Teton is a paradise for hikers. There are many options and it is best to ask the rangers in the visitor center which trails are suitable for you. You will immediately receive a map with the route.
During my stay I went on two beautiful hikes in Grand Teton National Park:
- From the Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve to Phelps Lake.
- A loop around Jenny Lake and the Cascade Canyon Trail (these are actually two hikes in one). I will post a description of this hike soon.
And of course: see wildlife!
There is a good chance that you will see wildlife at all the above places. If you haven’t seen enough, I would definitely do the round trip between Moose and Moran, drive on U.S. Highway 191 and Teton Park Road. Here are many viewpoints along the way and chances are you will see some wildlife.
If you want to watch wildlife in Grand Teton National Park, make sure to bring binoculars or a camera with a zoom lens. Also, follow the rules: keep a minimum distance of 90 meters from bears and 23 meters from bison and elk. During my stay, I saw a moose, (grizzly) bears, lots of deer, even more bison, pronghorns, and marmots.
Additional tips for Grand Teton National Park
- Are you going for long hikes or are you camping in a tent? Make sure you have bear spray with you and know how to use it. You can buy bear spray online or one of the visitor centers. A ranger can explain how to use bear spray.
- There is a lot of wildlife in Grand Teton, so don’t drive too fast. Wildlife can cross the road unexpectedly.
- Winters are long in Grand Teton National Park, and although the park is open all year round, not all roads are always free of snow. The Teton Park Road is usually closed between November and May. Check the official website for the latest state of affairs.
Plan your USA road trip
Are you excited after reading this article, and would you like to explore Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone? Start booking your Northwest USA road trip now!
If you don’t live in the US far from Wyoming then it’s best to book a plane ticket. The largest international airport near Grand Teton is in Salt Lake City. Check Skyscanner to find the best connections and the cheapest plane tickets.
It is also best to rent a car or camper at the airport so you can start your road trip right away. When you travel to the US from Europe, it is best to book this via a European website, because then all necessary insurance is included in your rental price. A few good organizations to rent a car or camper are:
Do you need a sample itinerary of a Northwest USA road trip? I made this great road trip from Portland (Oregon) to Yellowstone in 2019.
Read more about Grand Teton National Park
Do you want to read more about Grand Teton National Park and do you want to read more about this place and Northwest USA? Then there are a few travel guides that will make the preparations even more fun!
Frommer’s Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks (Complete Guide)
Read more about Northwest USA
Would you like to explore Northwest USA? Read more:
- The 10 most beautiful places in Yellowstone
- John Day Fossil Beds National Monument | Oregon
- Pacific Northwest road trip itinerary: from Portland to Yellowstone
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