Plan Your Trip to Grand Teton National Park

Click to print or save as a quick reference for planning your trip to Grand Teton National Park.

Click to print or save as a quick reference for planning your trip to Grand Teton National Park.

, @Writing2Day

I have truly lost track of how many times I have vacationed in Grand Teton National Park. I think it might be six? As we climb towards Togwotee Pass after leaving Dubois and entering the Shoshone National Forest, I am on the edge of my seat with each new bend in the road thinking this will be the one that finally reveals the Tetons in all their majesty.

It is a wondrous site to behold. It never fails that I find myself wondering what it must have been like to be a fur trapper or explorer who had just climbed this far only to see the massive Tetons looming before them across the valley floor of Jackson Hole. I think I would have decided this is where the journey ends and taken out a claim at the base of the Tetons.

I have vacationed many places throughout my lifetime but I always have to fight with myself not to return to Grand Teton National Park. If it wasn’t so far away from family and friends, I very well may have moved here by now. Fair warning – Grand Teton National Park is a hard place to leave. But a vacation here is the trip of a lifetime.

You will enjoy gorgeous mountain views and crystal clear lakes and streams. Oh, and did I mention the wildlife? Grizzly bears, moose, and elk – oh my! Just to name a view. The wildlife is abundant. If you are having trouble spotting wildlife on your own, just look for a bunch of cars pulled over on the side of the road.

When to Visit Grand Teton National Park

7 Days & Beyond in Grand Teton National Park

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I have been to the park in every season except winter. In general, I would recommend going in the summer months of June, July, and August.  If you are a hiker who wants to hike into the back country or higher elevations, I would suggest waiting until July or August. Snow can and does fall in June and depending on the spring, the higher elevation trails may still be covered in snow. If you want to go see the beautiful fall colors, roughly the third or fourth week of September would be your best bet – a lot depends on the weather.

Throughout the summer months, water is released from Jackson Lake to flow down the Snake River into Idaho for irrigation purposes. Depending on the water needs of Idaho, the water level of Jackson Lake may be severely low by August. If you know Idaho is in a drought, plan on going early in the summer to fully enjoy Jackson Lake. It is quite common for the Colter Bay Marina to be closed down in August due to low water levels on the lake. Not only does this take away from the beautiful reflections on Colter Bay (which will be dry), you will not be able to enjoy lake cruises or guided fishing trips on the lake.

What To See and Do in Grand Teton National Park

  • Snake River Scenic Float Trip – This is a gentle ride down the Snake River starting from the Pacific Creek Landing or Deadman’s Bar and ending up at the historic Menor’s Ferry. The scenery is beautiful. You will have the opportunity to see different wildlife on the Snake River, from moose and grizzlies to bald eagles nesting right above you.
  • Breakfast or Dinner Lake Cruise – Depart from the Colter Bay Marina to cruise across Jackson Lake to Elk Island where you will enjoy cowboy cuisine by the campfire. You’ll feel like you can reach out and touch Mount Moran! Other than some major hiking, this is the only way you will get this close to the west side of Jackson Lake as there are no roads in the mountains.
  • Chuck Wagon Breakfast Ride – Your wagon will meander through the Willow Flats providing spectacular scenery and wildlife. Enjoy some “cowboy coffee” with your delicious cowboy breakfast while you gaze upon the mountains.
  • Oxbow Bend – Splendid reflections of Mount Moran and the Teton Range are every photographer’s dream. Park and sit for awhile. You may get lucky and spot a moose or grizzly bear revealing themselves to get a drink. Just up the road (believe it’s west), you’ll see a stop sign by a dirt road. You can drive down this road to a part of Oxbow Bend that you can’t see from the main overlooks. It’s very beautiful and secluded, well worth the side trip.
  • Signal Mountain Summit – Drive or hike to the top of Signal Mountain. The summit offers panoramic views of the Teton Range, Jackson Lake, and the Snake River winding its way through the valley below. Again, a photographer’s dream!
  • Jenny Lake and Beyond – Take the scenic drive along Jenny Lake. I guarantee you’ll have to stop to take pictures of the view across the lake into Cascade Canyon. If you are only going to do one hike in Grand Teton National Park, Hidden Falls is the one to do. From Hidden Falls, you can choose to continue on to Inspiration Point (overlooking Jenny Lake and Jackson Hole), Cascade Canyon, and even further if you’re planning an overnight hike. You can take the boat ride from the south end of Jenny Lake to the  dock at the base of the Hidden Falls Trail, or you can hike around the lake from the south end. Note, if you want to take the boat ride back plan your hike accordingly or you will have to hike around the lake to get back to your car.
  • Hike to a Mountain Lake – There are many trails leading to mountain lakes. The Hidden Falls Trail (above) on through Cascade Canyon is the route to Lake Solitude in the higher elevations of the park. For ease of the trail and the scenic reward, I highly recommend the Taggart Lake Loop. Taggart Creek flows from the lake along your trail, adding to the anticipation of reaching the lake. Stunning views of the Grand Teton await. You may want to pack a lunch and sit awhile in the solitude. From the Taggart Lake Trail you can choose to continue on to Bradley Lake or take the loop back down the mountain.
  • Go Fishing – If you are a fisherman, you won’t want to miss tossing your fly in the Snake River or trying to land a monster lake trout in Jackson Lake. Guided fly fishing and Jackson Lake fishing excursions are available.
  • Take the Tram from Teton Village to the Top of the Mountain – Half the fun of this excursion is the drive down the Moose-Wilson road through the forest. Be on the lookout for all sorts of wildlife. Once you arrive at Teton Village hop aboard the ski tram. You can’t beat the view from way up here! On a clear day, you can see for miles – past the Gros Ventres Mountains to the Rocky Mountains in the distance.
  • Day Trip to Yellowstone National Park – Because you are so close, if you’ve never been to Yellowstone it is only about a 40 minute drive away from Grand Teton National Park and I would highly recommend taking a day to hit some of the highlights there. Two must sees are Old Faithful and the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River at Yellowstone Falls. There is so much more to see in Yellowstone but it is a huge park and really requires more than a day to do it justice.

These are just some of the highlights of a vacation to Grand Teton National Park. There is so much more to see and do, I think I will plan a future post for more off the beaten path activities.  Enjoy your vacation and feel free to save the checklist I created. You may also enjoy this photo gallery I’ve created.
See Related Posts:  #GrandTetons #GrandTetonNationalPark #Travel

Click to print or save as a quick reference for planning your trip to Grand Teton National Park.

Click to print or save as a quick reference for planning your trip to Grand Teton National Park.

One Response to “Plan Your Trip to Grand Teton National Park”

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