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Staying Safe at Grand Teton National Park

Be prepared to address safety concerns before your trip to Grand Teton National Park to ensure that your visit runs as smoothly and safely as possible! There are several potential dangers to watch out for in this park, ranging from wildlife concerns to severe weather, including intense bouts of lightning. 

Wildlife

You’re likely to encounter your fair share of wildlife at Grand Teton, from bears and wolves to bison and elk. The best ways to stay safe when you come across wildlife are as follows:

  • Keep your distance. It’s important to keep a safe distance from wild animals you encounter in the park. Be especially wary of animals with offspring as they’re likely to be more protective and aggressive.
  • Don’t feed the animals. It’s also important to adhere to Leave No Trace principles when visiting the park to avoid negative environmental impact.
  • Store food safely. Keep food and all scented items (deodorant, lotions, perfumes, toothpaste, empty food wrappers, etc.) stored safely in your car or tied up in a bear bag out of reach for bears and wild animals. This will prevent animals from being attracted to your campsite. 
  • Make noise while hiking. The last thing you want to do is sneak up on a bear or wild animal on the trails. Clap your hands, sing, and make plenty of noise to alert bears to your presence as you hike.

Weather

Be prepared for rapidly changing weather in Grand Teton National Park, and take special note of lightning precautions. The mountainous terrain makes for unpredictable weather, so wear plenty of layers to be ready for anything. 

In the summer storms are common in this area, so it’s essential to take shelter before a storm hits. Avoid lightning by keeping away from mountain tops, lone trees, and staying off the water.

Other Concerns

There are several other safety concerns to make note of before heading out on your trip to Grand Teton: 

  • Altitude: Be wary of the altitude as you hike, as this mountainous region has peaks reaching up to more than 13,000 feet. Prepare for altitude sickness; make sure to bring the necessary medications with you and remain hydrated during your trip.
  • Water: Do NOT drink water from lakes or streams unless you’ve purified it first, even if it looks clean! Waterborne diseases like Giardia are common when drinking untreated water.
  • Driving: Practice safe driving while in the area. Grand Teton can get quite crowded, especially during peak season, so it’s important to drive safely to avoid accidents. Keep an eye out for animals crossing the road, be wary of road conditions, and mind the local speed limits.
  • Stay on the trails. Stay on marked trails to avoid getting lost and damaging the environment. 

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Grand Teton Safety

U.S. Hidden Gems: Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve

Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve in Northern Alaska is easily one of the best kept secrets in the US. Wild rivers run through glacier-carved landscapes in this vast and untouched national park. Head to Gates of the Arctic to immerse yourself in true wilderness in the heart of Arctic Alaska.

What to Do

There are no officially designated trails or roads anywhere within the park; Gates of the Arctic is a truly untouched wilderness, changing only as nature intends. A genuinely remote destination with rugged landscapes and abundant wildlife, any trip to this national park will be nothing short of an adventure. Float down rivers in rafts or inflatable canoes, hike and wander through the wilderness as you please. Make camp alongside picturesque alpine lakes, go fishing, and observe wildlife in its natural habitat. Take in the timeworn beauty of the Brooks Range and look on from a safe distance as caribou graze. This is a popular region for migratory birds due to the endless summer sunlight, making Gates of the Arctic an ideal destination for birdwatching. 

Prepare for frigid temperatures in winter and cold but milder temperatures in summer, accompanied by 24-hour sunlight throughout the season. Here, human life has coexisted with ancient ecosystems for thousands of years. Be prepared to adhere to “Leave No Trace” principles in order to leave minimum impact on the natural environment in which you’re visiting. 

The main draw for visiting this hidden gem is experiencing rugged wilderness in its purest form. Come here to attain complete peace, serenity, and solitude. 

How to Get There

A truly off the beaten path destination, even just getting to the Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve will be a journey. To access the park, you’ll need to fly from Fairbanks, Alaska to the gateway towns of either Bettles, Anaktuvuk Pass, or Coldfoot, Alaska. From there, you will  be able to catch an air taxi into the park itself.

If you plan to visit the park on your own, know that you will be veering far off the beaten path with no established services or assistance within park boundaries. You will have limited options for communication, so it is essential that visitors to Gates of the Arctic be completely self sufficient and capable of caring for themselves and their travel companions in case of emergency. This includes arriving with your own means of shelter, food, water, and anything else you may need during your journey. 

Alternatively, for those who still want to experience the backcountry but aren’t prepared to make the trip alone, there are several local air taxis that provide day trips, overnight camping trips, and flight-seeing trips to the park’s remote destinations. By air taxi, you’ll also have the option to visit the nearby Noatak Preserve and Kobuk Valley National Park to explore the sand dunes. Organizing your trip through a third party company provides a safer, stress-free option for visiting this secluded destination. 

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Gates of the Arctic- National Parks Service

Directory of Commercial Visitor Service Providers

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.