Hidden Gems in Grand Teton National Park

You may think you know Grand Teton National Park, but for the savvy traveler, there’s always more to explore! During peak season when the park gets especially crowded, it pays to know about the hidden gems and off the beaten path locations within the park. The following will help you to avoid the crowds and enjoy a peaceful experience at Grand Teton. 

Schwabacher Landing

One of the most underrated locations in Grand Teton National Park is Schwabacher Landing. Located at the base of the Tetons alongside Snake River, this peaceful area offers prime wildlife viewing, and is the perfect place to take a moment for yourself and enjoy the serenity of nature.

Leigh Lake

One of the most beautiful untouched lakes in Grand Teton National Park is Leigh Lake. With mountainous landscapes reflected in the crystal clear waters, relax at the beach here and go for a swim.

String Lake

Created from the outflow of Leigh Lake, String Lake is one of Grand Teton National Park’s most gorgeous, less-trafficked lakes. The String Lake Trail is about 4 miles long and provides an easy and scenic hike with panoramic views throughout. 

Oxbow Bend

An off-the-beaten-path island within the park, Oxbow Bend is a wonderful place to watch the sunset or sunrise. Enjoy striking views of Mount Moran reflected in the lake below and enjoy an undisturbed moment on the road less traveled.

Hidden Falls

A hidden gem just a short hike or boat ride from Jenny Lake, Hidden Falls are strikingly beautiful and well worth a visit, especially during the fall when there are overall less visitors to the park. Enjoy lunch at nearby Jenny Lake Lodge before or after your hike to make the most of your Hidden Falls experience.

Willow Flats

Not far from Colter Bay in Grand Teton National Park, you’ll find this undisturbed area perfect for wildlife viewing. Head here to see grizzly bears, elk, and an abundance of wildlife as they roam through untouched plains in the shadow of towering mountains.

How to Spend a Weekend in Grand Teton National Park

Grand Teton is one of the most picturesque US national parks. From the jagged peaks of the Teton Range to Wyoming’s vast plains, a weekend visit to this park and the surrounding area will give you a comprehensive feel for Grand Teton National Park and a true taste of the Old West.

What to Do

If you only have a weekend to spend in Grand Teton National Park, you’ll want to make sure to hit the highlights. Plan to fly into Jackson, Wyoming, and then drive to and around the park from there.

42 Mile Scenic Loop Drive

Drive along this picturesque loop to get a feel for the area and take in some breathtaking views, stopping for photo ops as you please. You’re likely to see some of the area’s native wildlife along your way! 

Jenny Lake Hike

One of the most iconic destinations in the park, Jenny Lake is a must for weekend visitors. Hiking the 7.7 mile Jenny Lake Trail loop will take you around the lake, offering gorgeous views the entire time. You’ll also have the opportunity to swim and rent canoes or kayaks here. Be wary that this area can get very crowded during peak season.

Hidden Falls

A quick 1.3-mile round trip hike from Jenny Lake, either hike or take the shuttle boat from Jenny Lake to get to Hidden Falls. These massive, powerful falls will leave you speechless and are well worth a visit during the weekend. 

Jackson Lake Cruise

Spend an hour or two on a scenic Jackson Lake cruise for spectacular views of Mount Moran and the surrounding area. You’ll also learn a bit about the history, geology, and folklore native to the region. 

Colter Bay Village

A great way to get a feel for the Old West, spend a few hours touring parts of the park on horseback from Colter Bay Village. Located on Jackson Lake, enjoy beautiful views, swim, kayak, hike, and fish here as well. If time allows, also check out the Colter Bay Indian Arts Museum for a dose of Native American history.

Rafting on the Snake River

Take the morning or afternoon to raft down the winding Snake River. Scenic white water rafting trips are available at different points all along the river and will offer you views of Grand Teton National Park from a new perspective.

Taggart Lake

Head to Taggart Lake for spectacular views and a quick, easy, and rewarding hike. This scenic hike is the perfect way to spend an afternoon during the weekend and you can even stop for a swim here, too!

Mormon’s Row

Take a quick but necessary visit to Mormon Row to view the famed Moulton Barn, a remnant of this historic pioneer settlement framed by the gorgeous Teton Range. You’re likely to encounter plenty of wildlife in this area, so be sure to keep a safe distance when taking photos!

Menor’s Ferry Historic District

Home to the iconic Chapel of the Transfiguration, head over to Menor’s Ferry for views of the breathtaking Tetons through the chapel’s large viewing window. The chapel is still functioning, and typically holds Sunday services.

Explore Jackson Hole

Brimming with ski resorts, Jackson Hole offers some of the country’s best skiing and winter activities. In the summer, head over to the town of Jackson for charming shops and restaurants, as well as a visit to the National Museum of Wildlife Art.


Where to Stay

You have several options for where to stay both in and near Grand Teton National Park. 

Jackson Hole

Stay either in the town of Jackson or at one of Jackson Hole’s many mountain resorts, which are also open for overnight accommodation during the summer.

Colter Bay Village

Colter Bay Village is located in Grand Teton National Park on Jackson Lake and offers a variety of accommodations, from hotels to lodges to cabins to camping. 

Camping

There are lots of options for camping in and around Grand Teton, both for traditional campsites and RVs. If you choose to camp in this scenic area make sure to reserve your campsite ahead of time as they tend to book up quickly and far in advance. 

Park Lodges

There are several lodges within the park itself that offer both overnight accommodation and activities. Some of the more popular lodges in the park include Jackson Lake Lodge and Jenny Lake Lodge.


How to Get Around

The best way to get around Grand Teton National Park is driving between hiking trails, as distances can be far and rugged. However, it is possible to hike or bike around the park, but it’s not for the faint of heart!

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Camping in Grand Teton National Park

Points of Interest in Grand Teton National Park

Grand Teton National Park is home to striking mountain vistas, gorgeous lakes, rivers, and waterfalls. The park lies just south of Yellowstone and just north of Jackson Hole, so both are worth exploring if you have the time while you’re in the area. With so much to do and see, it can be hard to narrow down your itinerary if you are on a tight schedule. Here, we’ll outline the major points of interest in Grand Teton National Park, starting from the north end of the park and heading south.

From North to South:

Colter Bay Village

A charming rustic village located on Jackson Lake, Colter Bay Village offers camping and lodging accommodations (but be sure to make reservations well in advance as they tend to fill up quickly). This is a great area to enjoy spectacular mountain views and partake in swimming, kayaking, hiking, fishing, and horseback riding. The Colter Bay Visitor Center doubles as the Colter Bay Indian Arts Museum, which houses a variety of Native American artifacts.

Jackson Lake

Gorgeous Jackson Lake lies at the north end of the park and offers magnificent views of the Tetons. One of the largest high-altitude lakes in the US at 15 miles long, this is one of the only lakes in Grand Teton National Park that offers boating, including pontoon rental, sailboats, wakeboarding, fishing, waterskiing and more.

Oxbow Bend

Offering incredible views of Mt. Moran reflected in the lake below, Oxbow Bend is a great place to observe a variety of birds and wildlife. One of Grand Teton’s most photographed islands, you can’t miss a trip to Oxbow Bend when you visit the park!

Signal Mountain

One of the more popular summits in Grand Teton National Park, you can access the peak via car or on foot for magnificent views of Jackson Hole and the Tetons. The hiking trail is moderate and is 6.8 miles roundtrip. Driving up the Signal Mountain Summit Road will also take you there quickly and easily.

Hidden Falls

Accessible via the Jenny Lake Trailhead or by shuttle boat across Jenny Lake, you won’t regret a visit to Hidden Falls, a visitor favorite. These powerful and majestic waterfalls will keep you cool with a refreshing mist. Note that these falls are quite popular and can get very crowded during peak season.

Jenny Lake

Perhaps the number one favorite destination for visitors to Grand Teton is Jenny Lake, and for good reason! On a calm day, you’ll be able to see the mountains reflected in this breathtaking lake. Hiking trails around Jenny Lake are incredibly popular and kayaks and canoes are also available for rent here. This area can get extremely crowded, so plan to arrive early in the day or after 4pm to avoid crowds and have options for parking.

Snake River Overlook

A famous location in the park for photo ops, this gorgeous overlook offers views of the stunning Snake River as it winds through lush forest against the backdrop of the splendid Tetons. This iconic lookout point is located just off the highway and can be easy to miss, so you’ll want to drive slowly to keep an eye out for it.

Grand Teton

There’s no question why Grand Teton is the namesake peak of Grand Teton National Park. Standing tall at 13,770 feet, this impressive mountain is visible from as far as Jackson Hole. Only the most experienced climbers will ascend to the summit of Grand Teton, but hikers looking for a more manageable trek with stunning views can opt for the strenuous 19-mile Paintbrush Canyon-Cascade Canyon Loop. 

Schwabacher’s Landing

A relatively off the beaten path destination in Grand Teton National Park, Schwabacher’s Landing takes you down to Snake River and offers splendid views of the Tetons. This is a great location for wildlife viewing and offers a bit of peace and serenity in what can be an otherwise crowded park.

Taggart Lake

Taggart Lake lies at the base of the Grand Tetons and offers beautiful views of the mountain range. A quick and easy 1.5 mile scenic hike to this lake is completely worth it and you can even reward yourself with a dip in the lake! This is a great hike for families with kids.

Mormon Row Historic District

Drive along Antelope Flats Road to reach Mormon Row, a dirt road leading to the iconic Moulton Barn framed by dramatic views of the Tetons. In this historic pioneer settlement, you’ll find a variety of wildlife from bison to antelope, so be sure to keep your distance when you go for that classic photo op!

Menor’s Ferry Historic District

This Old West Historic District was founded when Bill D. Menor settled alongside Snake River and began the ferry service to transport people across Snake River. Menor’s Ferry is currently home to the famed Chapel of the Transfiguration, a still-functioning 1920s chapel whose massive window offers magnificent views of the Grand Tetons.

Jackson

The nearest town to Grand Teton National Park is Jackson. Nearby Jackson Hole is renowned for its ski resorts and phenomenal landscapes. The charming town of Jackson is full of lovely shops, bars, and restaurants and don’t forget to visit the National Museum of Wildlife Art . Jackson is a great option for overnight accommodation outside of Grand Teton National Park. 

Basic Facts about Grand Teton National Park

History

Located in the Rocky Mountains of Northwest Wyoming, Grand Teton National Park officially became a US national park in 1929 with President Calvin Coolidge signing it into law. However, the history of this park stretches back to the 1800s when the superintendent of Yellowstone National Park, Colonel S.B.M. Young, proposed an expansion of Yellowstone to the south to encompass the Teton mountain range. His proposal was met with significant resistance from local ranchers who feared expanding the national park would restrict their hunting and grazing lands.

Eventually, national support for the park advanced, leading to its official establishment in 1929. Fascinated by the Grand Tetons and Jackson Hole area, John D. Rockefeller, Jr. developed a private business that he used as a front to convince local ranchers to sell him their property, which he would in turn donate to the National Park Service. News of his deceit became public, sparking outrage in the community leading to various legal battles. In the end, a compromise was reached in which some privately owned guest ranches were allowed to remain open, and confined grazing and hunting within the park grounds were also permitted.

Landscape

Grand Teton National Park is characterized by the breathtaking Rocky Mountain range, brimming with panoramic mountain views, crystal clear lakes, and an abundance of wildlife. Shaped over the course of billions of years by erosion, glaciers, and earthquakes, the gorgeous landscape of the Grand Tetons is ideal for hiking, climbing, and skiing.

Location

Grand Teton National Park is located in Northwest Wyoming, just north of Jackson and just south of Yellowstone National Park. The easiest way to access the park by flight is from Jackson and from there it’s only a short distance away.

FAQs

Can you camp at Grand Teton?

Yes. There are various campgrounds located throughout the park, though all backcountry camping will require a permit.

What is the best way to get around Grand Teton National Park?

Driving is the easiest and quickest way to get around the park, as distances are vast and terrain can be rugged. However, biking and hiking are also options for getting around.

How many days do you need at Grand Teton?

5-7 days is a reasonable amount of time to visit Grand Teton National Park and will also allow you a bit of time to explore Jackson Hole and Yellowstone National Park. If you have less time and simply want to focus on the Grand Tetons, 3 days could also be sufficient.

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Grand Teton National Park

How to Stay Safe When Visiting National Parks (General Guide)

A visit to any national park poses its own safety concerns, from unpredictable weather to the dangers of wildlife. Be prepared before you go by checking out these general safety tips and guidelines for visiting national parks.

Be mindful of signs regarding safety when visiting national parks

Wildlife

It should come as no surprise that every national park is filled with wildlife specific to its region! Be prepared to encounter your share of wild animals during your trip. It’s important to know what to do you if you have a run-in with a potentially dangerous creature. 

Some basic tips for wildlife safety are as follows:

  • Avoid bears and other animals attacking your tent or campsite by
    • either storing any food, cooking materials, or scented items (including deodorant, lotions, toothpaste, food wrappers, trash, etc.) in a certified bear bag or storage container.
    • or if you’re traveling with a car, locking your food and anything aromatic inside, especially at night.
  • Know what to do if you see a bear, mountain lion, or other potentially threatening animal. Some of these things include:
    • making yourself look as large as possible by spreading your arms wide and yelling
    • throwing objects to scare it away
    • backing away slowly
    • avoiding making eye contact
  • Make plenty of noise while hiking. This will alert animals to your presence so you don’t sneak up and scare them. Keep a safe distance from any and all wildlife when you do encounter it. 
  • Do your research before heading to a national park to know what types of wildlife you may encounter there so you can prepare accordingly.

Weather

It’s important to be prepared for ever-changing weather when visiting any national park. The nature of high altitude or rugged destinations is often characterized by frequent and unpredictable changes in weather. If it’s sunny one minute, don’t be surprised if it becomes windy and rainy the next! Come prepared by wearing plenty of layers and be ready for rain and snow as well as heat and humidity.

Depending on which national park you’re visiting, your region could be prone to wildfires, landslides, earthquakes, or avalanches. Pay attention to notices of hiking trails that are closed for the season or have been impacted by flooding, snow, or any other natural hazard. Make note of any guidelines in place before you arrive and be sure to follow them to keep out of harm’s way.

On the Trails

It is essential that hikers remain on the designated trails in all national parks. This is both for your safety and for the preservation of the natural lands you’re visiting. Be sure to heed park guidelines regarding trail closures as they relate to the time of year and weather conditions during your visit.

If there are restrictions in place regarding swimming in rapids or waterfalls, avoid swimming at all costs! These precautions are put in place for the safety of park visitors and are best observed to avoid any accidents.

Don’t forget to live by the principle “Leave No Trace” when visiting any national park or natural area. This means avoiding littering, disposing of waste properly, and not causing any harm to the fragile ecosystem you are visiting.

Finally, remember to “pack it in, pack it out”, meaning that if you brought it with you to the park, be sure to take it with you when you leave! This includes all trash, food remnants, wrappers, empty containers, etc.

Law Enforcement

US national parks follow US Federal Law, and you’ll need to check ahead for each park’s rules on fishing, camping, etc. It’s also useful to note that every national park has its own rules and regulations when it comes to drugs and alcohol in the park and on campgrounds, so look into that before you go to avoid hefty fines!

Being Prepared

The best thing you can do for yourself before visiting a national park is to do your research ahead of time and be as prepared as possible before you go.

Here are some useful things to bring and look into to prepare for your trip:

  • Bring these items to help your trip run smoothly:
    • Flashlight and extra batteries
    • First aid kit
    • Bug spray
    • Sunscreen and sun hat
    • Proper hiking shoes or boots
    • Emergency whistle
  • Bring plenty of water and sufficient food to last the duration of your trip and a bit longer, just to be safe.
  • Research your route before you leave and have a physical map of the area with you in case your technology gets lost, broken, or isn’t working
  • If you plan to go camping, make sure to reserve your campsite ahead of time and familiarize yourself with your route. Plan to arrive at your campsite during daylight hours so you’ll have time to set up safely.
  • If you’re not planning to stay the night in the park, be sure to set a turn-around time for your hike so you don’t get stuck after dark without proper lodging and provisions.

Other Concerns

If you plan to visit the more popular US national parks during peak season, you’re likely to encounter tons of other visitors which can pose significant safety risks. Watch out for petty theft and remember to secure your belongings and always lock your car doors. 

Be cognizant of the altitude at your national park and take proper precautions against altitude sickness. Take time to acclimate to rising altitudes and don’t push yourself too hard too fast. Hydration is key for avoiding and treating altitude sickness, so remember to bring plenty of water, electrolytes, and altitude sickness medication. Do not rely on water you find along your way for drinking water; always boil or purify even fresh-looking water from streams, rivers, and lakes to avoid waterborne illnesses.

Lastly, avoid hiking solo whenever possible. If it can’t be prevented, make sure to tell someone of your plans and share your itinerary with them before you leave. If you do plan to head out alone, be sure to keep an emergency whistle on you and consider bringing a satellite phone for communication, just in case.

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Wildlife Safety Tips

The 7 Principles