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When I first started planning my trip to Grand Teton National Park, I was overwhelmed by how much I wanted to see and do. Once I visited however, I found that the park was easy to navigate, and quickly became one of my favorite parks in the US. This guide will cover all of the best things to add to your Grand Teton itinerary, plus everything you need to know about planning your trip.
Grand Teton Itinerary
Getting to Grand Teton National Park
There are a number of airports relatively close to Grand Teton. The closest, however, is Jackson Hole, which is actually located within the park! Flying into the park is obviously as easy as it gets. However, if that isn’t a possibility for you then I recommend the following airports:
- Idaho Falls (2 hours west)
- Salt Lake City (5 hours south)
- Bozeman (3.6 hours north)
How many days do I need in Grand Teton?
The first thing you’re probably wondering while planning out your trip is how many days to spend in the Tetons. This is really going to depend on how much you plan to hike. If you simply want to drive around and check out the main sites, then you can easily see the park in a single day. However, there are so many amazing hiking trails in the Tetons that I encourage you to check out if you have the time. I spent 4 full days in the park, and easily could have spent an entire week! I would recommend allotting at least 2-3 days for the Tetons on your travel itinerary.
If you’re visiting the Tetons, you’ll want to save at least 2 days for heading up North to Yellowstone National Park as well.
Things to Note:
The Tetons sit at over 6,000 ft, with many of the hiking trails exceeding 8,000 or 9,000 ft in elevation. If you have just arrived from sea level, you may need a day to adjust to the higher altitude. I recommend drinking lots of fluids, getting plenty of rest, and avoiding alcohol. Symptoms of altitude sickness include headaches, fatigue, nausea, and vomiting.
There is tons of wildlife in the park. This ranges from grizzly bears and elk to deer and moose. For the safety of the animals and yourself, please always keep a safe distance from any wild animals. Never leave food unattended, and use designated bear storage for food when camping.
Grand Teton Park Fee
There is a fee of $35 to enter the park. If you plan on spending multiple days in the park, or visiting any of the nearby parks, such as Yellowstone or Glacier National Park, I recommend purchasing the America the Beautiful Pass. The pass costs $80 and gives you unlimited access to any U.S. National Park for an entire year.
Download an Offline Map
Be sure download an offline map as service can be a bit spotty in areas of the park. I found that the pre-downloaded offline Google Map worked well for me! You can also check out maps.me.
Avoid Hiking Alone
If you are hiking alone, I recommend trying to stick close to a group, as there is tons of wildlife on the trails in the Tetons.
Best time to visit Grand Teton National Park
The best time to visit Grand Teton National Park is from mid-May to late September, when you’ll typically experience good weather. However, the summer months will obviously be the busiest months in the park. I visited in mid-September and it was perfect. The park wasn’t too crowded, and the weather was still warm during the day!
You can still visit the park during the winter but some roads and trails may be closed.
Getting around Grand Teton
You will need a car to get around Grand Teton National Park. There are plenty of rental car options at any of the nearby airports. However, another option for visiting the park is with a camper van. We traveled through Grand Teton and Yellowstone for 9 days in camper van and it was truly the best experience. We rented our van from Native Campervans in Salt Lake City, UT.
What to pack?
If you’re working on putting together a Grand Teton itinerary, you’re most likely wondering what the heck to pack for your trip! The weather can be a bit funky, so you’ll want to make sure that you’re prepared. The weather in the Tetons can fluctuate quite a bit throughout the day. When we visited in mid-September is went from 30s at night to 80s during the day.
- Hiking pants or leggings — I wore my favorite Lululemon leggings on just about every single hike while in the Tetons. I own multiple pairs of them and they are totally worth the price! If you’re not planning on any hikes, then you can get away with jeans or shorts as well.
- Hiking boots or sneakers — sneakers are fine for the shorter trails but if you are hiking to Delta Lake or Cascade Canyon, I definitely recommend wearing boots. Unfortunately my checked luggage didn’t make it on my trip, so my hiking boots were left behind. I purchased a brand new pair of boots from Columbia and absolutely loved them. I used them for the first time on a 10 mile trail (questionable decision), and didn’t have any issues with breaking them in. Plus, don’t forget a good pair of hiking socks!
- Warm Layers — I used my Patagonia Nano Puff almost every morning and evening of the trip. It is perfect because it takes up practically no room. On really cold nights, I could layer my Patagonia Better Sweater underneath for extra warmth.
- Workout Tops — I have a few workout tops from Patagonia that I absolutely love! They are performance tops so they dry super quickly, perfect for long, sweaty hikes.
- Sunscreen — the Tetons are located at over 6,000 ft. Be sure to protect your skin and always wear sunscreen when adventuring in the park. I use BioClarity SunFilter on my face and BioClarity SunShady on my body. This is an amazing vegan skincare brand that I’ve been using for years.
- Water bottle – if you’ve been following along my travels for a while then you know that I always use my Vapur water bottle. I purchased my first on in 2015 and have been obsessed ever since. They fold up after use, making them perfect for travel and hiking adventures. I recommend having at least 2 along, especially if you plan on conquering some of the bigger hikes.
- Bear Spray — the Tetons are located in bear country so it is so important to be bear aware. This includes carrying, and understanding how to use, bear spray. Bear spray is not allowed on most aircrafts, so you’ll need to pick it up when you arrive. You can find it at most gift shops, visitor centers, or rest stops in the Grand Teton/Yellowstone area.
- Reusable Cup – I brought a Stojo collapsible cup with me and it was perfect for morning tea (or coffee). It is super compact and it a great way to reduce waste.
- Camera – it is so so worth having a proper camera when visiting the Tetons. An iPhone camera just can’t do justice to the park’s beauty. All of my photos in this blog post were taken on a Nikon D7000 (an older model at this point). If you’re looking for an entry level camera, I also recommend the Sony A6000.
Grand Teton Itinerary: What to do
There is seriously so much to do and see in the Tetons, but I’ve highlighted a few of my favorites spots for you.
If you only have one day, then your time is best spend completing the Grand Teton driving loop. The loop takes 1.5-2 hours to complete, but you’ll want to factor in plenty of time for stopping at every overlook and scenic spot. If you’re coming North from Jackson, turn left at Moose junction onto Teton Park Rd. You can complete the loop in a clockwise fashion. Here are a few musts on a driving itinerary:
- Windy Point Turnout
- Snake River Overlook
- Schwabacher Landing
- Jenny Lake
- Mormon Row
- Jackson Lake (Owbox Bend)
- Glacier Mountain Overlook
I also encourage you to pull over whenever you come across a gorgeous spot! There is so much in the park to see and explore, so don’t worry about sticking to a strict Grand Teton itinerary.
Schwabacher Landing is easily my favorite spot in all of the park, and a must on any Grand Teton itinerary. It is the best at sunrise, when the mountain is reflected in the river bend. It is also super common to see a moose at sunrise, although I wasn’t quite so lucky.If you’re arriving for sunrise, be sure to arrive early as the spot is quite popular among photographers, and can get rather busy. Luckily, it is just a quick 2 minute walk down to the perfect sunrise spot from the car park.
However, Schwabacher Landing is beautiful at any hour so even if you can’t make it for sunrise, don’t skip it! We came back here multiple times, including the middle of the afternoon!
Jenny Lake is a classic Teton lake. You have a few options on how to visit it, depending on how much time you have. If you’re tight on time, I recommend doing a quick driving loop around Jenny Lake scenic drive which is just 3 miles. This will give you a taste of the lake. If you have a bit more time, then you can either hike around to the other side of the lake, 2.3 miles each way, or take the boat shuttle across. Once you’ve reached the west side of the lake, you’ll be able hike a short distance to visit the popular sites of Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point. Hidden Falls can be reached within 0.5 miles, with Inspiration Point just another 0.5 miles after that.
If you enjoy hiking, you’ll want to continue on to Cascade Canyon, which is easily one of the most beautiful hikes in the park. If you take the boat over, you can enjoy a 10 mile out-and-back trail through the canyon. The trail is relatively flat, so it is not too difficult, despite the length. You can find tons more information on hiking to Cascade Canyon, as well as other Grand Teton hiking here.
Mormon Row is a historic district within Grand Teton National Park. These houses at Mormon Row are a popular sunrise photo spot, when the mountains in the background are lit up by the sun.
To get to Mormon Row you will want to head north from the south entrance of the park on highway 191 and turn right onto Antelope Flats Road. Follow Antelope Flats Road for approximately one mile and half until you reach the parking lot.
Delta Lake Tetons hike was easily my favorite lake hike in the park. This hike is definitely not for the faint of heart, as it is over 9 miles, with an elevation gain of over 2,000 ft to reach a crystal blue lake sitting at 9,000 ft. The hike starts at the Lupine Meadows Trailhead, where you with follow the Ampitheater Lake Trail until you see a small ladder on the righthand side, about 3.5 miles into the hike. This will take you on an unmaintained trail over rocks and logs to one of the most beautiful lakes that you’ve ever seen.
Taggart Lake is one of the best, family friendly trails in Grand Teton. Depending on the route, the hike clocks in at between 3 and 4 miles, with little to no elevation gain. Despite the ease of the trail, it still offers some of the best views of the Teton range and Taggart Lake itself.
You can choose between doing the Taggart Lake Trail (out-and-back, 3 miles) or the Taggart Lake Loop Trail (loop, 3.9 miles). While the Taggart Lake Loop Trail is a bit longer, with a bit more elevation gain, I definitely recommend it. It offers more diverse views, the trail is less busy, and there are often wildlife along the trail.
I would recommend doing this trail in the early morning, and then enjoying a mid-morning snack along the lakefront.
String Lake was the first hike that I did in the Tetons and it was one of my favorites — although I guess I say that about every one! The String Lake loop trail is only 3.8 miles, with minimal elevation gain, and can be completed in either direction.
We hiked String Lake clockwise, which was perfect because we ended the hike along the day. This is great if you’re brave enough to take a little swim.
Snake River Overlook
Snake River Overlook is one of the more famous sunset spots in the Tetons. The overlook offers an incredible view of the sun setting behind the mountains, with no hiking involved. Our view was a bit smokey when we visited, so I’ll just have to plan another trip back!
Where to Stay in Grand Teton National Park
There are tons of places to stay both within the park and directly outside of the park.
Camping in the Tetons
We visited the Tetons with a camper van, so we camped within the park. All of the campgrounds in the Tetons are first-come, first-serve, so you’ll want to make sure that you arrive early. Jenny Lake Campground is the most popular, and campers typically start lining up as early as 5am so secure a spot. If you aren’t looking to get up quite so early, I recommend checking out Gros Venture Campground. While Gros Venture Campground is not quite as central as Jenny Lake Campground, it typically doesn’t fill up until a few hours later. You can check out the latest fill times online, but remember that you’ll want to arrive at least an hour before that fill time as there will most likely me a line.
At any of the campgrounds you’ll find dump stations, fresh water, fire pits, and restrooms. The typical rate for any of the sites in the park is $33/night.
If you’re planning to camp in the park, you can find showers at the Signal Mountain lodge. Showers cost $6 for 7 mins, with an additional 70 seconds added with each dollar after that. The showers are located on the right-hand side, directly after pulling off of the main road. You’ll want to head into the laundry room to the right of the showers to purchase tokens.
Staying at a Lodge in Grand Teton
There are a number of lodges that you can stay at within the park, including the Jackson Lake Lodge and the Jenny Lake Lodge. You can find more information on the different lodge options here. The lodges are only open during the peak seasons and rates tend to me quite high, starting at about $350/night.
Where to Stay Outside of the Park
If you want to stay outside of the park, then your best bet is to check out accommodations in either Teton Village or Jackson. Both of these areas have easy access to tons of shops, restaurants, and bars, plus they are close to the park.
If you stay in Jackson, or are driving through, I recommend checking out Snake River Brewing for a beer and some good food!
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