The Teton Range hosts eight jagged peaks over 12,000 feet in elevation, all nestled against open wildflower meadows and glacial lakes situated within the valley referred to as Jackson Hole. Grant Teton National Park is home to 900 flowering plant species, and is swathed in coniferous forests, with moose, bear, bison, elk and smaller mammals. The 485-square-mile national park offers three year-round entrances: North (from Yellowstone), East (Moran Junction) and South (Moose Entrance; from Jackson).
Jagged mountain range, alpine lakes, snaking river, AND grizzly bears abound in Grand Teton National Park
With 240 miles of trails and dozens of overlooks along the scenic parkway, Grand Teton National Park offers viewpoints for everyone. Peak season for the over 4 million annual visitors is mid-summer, but the park is open all year, with limited facilities during winter. Most areas of the national park range in elevation from 6,500 to 10,000 feet. Though a day trip can be done, two to three days there is recommended to see all its splendors.
5 Noteworthy Highlights in Grand Teton National Park
Picturesque Landmark: Grand Teton and the Central Peaks
Best by Horseback: 14-mile trek to Lake Solitude via Cascade Canyon
Sunrise: Dawn’s rays caress the crags from many park viewpoints and cast calm reflections upon lakes; experience the full moon behind the Tetons in early morning
Night Photography: Anywhere in the park with the Tetons as backdrop
Wildlife: Bison, moose and bears aplenty
Grand Teton National Park Campgrounds
There are 1200 sites between seven campgrounds and RV parks. Individual campsites are all first-come, first-served, with daily capacity reached from June through August. Group sites (with ten or more people) and certain RV sites can be reserved in advance.
Grand Teton National Park campgrounds are open from May through September/October depending on the site; check in advance if traveling in the spring or fall. The only winter camping is in the Colter Bay Visitor Center parking lot. Campground stay maximums: seven days at Jenny Lake, 14 days at all other campgrounds, with no more than 30 days in the park per year. Price range is $22 to $70 per night.
Gros Ventre Campground
What you need to know: This campground has 300 sites, with two dozen electric hookups and ten ADA-compliant/accessible sites. Group campsites can be reserved in advance. Sites accommodate RVs up to 45 feet.
Amenities: picnic table, parking spot, flush toilets and cold water, potable water, ice, trash, staff on site and cell reception. No showers on are on site.
Why this campground? The largest campground, it is bordered by the Gros Ventre River and provides viewpoints of the Tetons and quick access to Jackson in the south. Bison, moose and deer frequent the area.
Family-Friendly Hikes and Activities: Explore the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center (open March through October) and partake in the Grand Adventure (Junior Ranger program). Take a stroll through history at Menor’s Ferry Historic District or hike the Lake-Creek Woodland Trail Loop to Phelps Lake (moderate, 3.3 miles).
Other nearby more strenuous hikes: Death Canyon (for a shorter moderate hike of 2 miles, stop at Phelps Overlook) and Granite Canyon (12 miles). If you have a four-wheel drive vehicle, drive down Schwabacher’s Landing for signature photography of sunrise reflected in the Snake River and meander along Fishermen’s trails for wildlife: moose, otters and beavers.
Hidden Treasure: At dawn, drive along Gros Ventre Road/Kelly Road to wander toward Lower Slide Lake, taking in sagebrush and cottonwood, eagles, moose, elk and bison. Return via Antelope Flats Road and down Mormon Row to capture one of the most photographed objects in Grand Teton: John Moulton Barn with the mountains as backdrop.
Jenny Lake Campground
What you need to know: This small, coveted campground sits a few hundred yards from vistas of the lake and mountains. With 49 tent-only sites (ten ADA-compliant/accessible sites), plan to arrive before 8 a.m. to snag a site as competition is fierce.
Amenities: picnic table, fire pit, camp store, flush toilets, potable water, ice, trash, staff on site and cell reception. There are no showers on site.
Why this campground? Jenny Lake is centrally located, provides amazing views of the lake and mountains, and is access point to many trails, boating and viewpoints.
Family-Friendly Hikes and Activities: Jenny Lake Visitor Center, ranger programs, and the very crowded (avoid by going earlier/later) Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point Trail are a stone’s throw away. Pay to take a boat across (there and/or back), combined with the lakeside trail to cut down the 5 to 7-mile loop by half.
For those with more endurance, escape the crowds and continue on to Cascade Canyon. An easier trail loop meanders around String Lake (3.5 miles) and/or keep on walking along Leigh Lake (another 1.8 mile). All three lakes offer water rentals. Stack cairns lakeside as sunshine kisses the craggy Tetons.
Hidden Treasure: Enjoy sunset from Snake River Overlook near Jenny Lake. Wake early for sunrise on Jenny Lake.
Colter Bay Campground
What you need to know: Colter Bay is one of the larger campgrounds with 330 sites and group (reservable) campsites.
Amenities: camp store, laundry, cell phone reception/internet, firewood, ice, trash, staff on site, potable water, flush toilets and coin-operated showers. Nearby Colter Bay RV Park has over 100 RV sites with full hookups.
Why this campground? Colter Bay is a hub of activity with access to watercraft and islands, hiking trails, peninsulas, small lakes and bike trails.
Family-Friendly Hikes and Activities: Check out Colter Bay Visitor Center or historical landmark Jackson Lake Lodge. Rent kayaks or canoes and visit one of Jackson Lake’s fifteen islands. Swim and picnic at Colter Bay Swim Beach.
Hike Hermitage Point Trail (moderate, 9.7 miles), a long but enjoyable hike to Jackson Lake or shorter trails such as Lakeshore (2 miles) for views of the Teton Range across the lake, or hike around both Heron Pond and Swan Lake (3 miles, combined) through bird habitat.
Hidden Treasure: Sunrise and sunset views on Jackson Lake with reflections of Mount Moran and the Tetons.
Signal Mountain Campground
What you need to know: This campground (and nearby Lizard Creek) is operated by Signal Mountain Lodge with over 80 sites (24 RV hookups).
Amenities: staff on site, camp store, laundry, cell phone reception/internet, firewood, ice, trash, potable water, flush toilets and coin-operated showers.
Why this campground? Enjoy a short walk or view of the northern Tetons and Jackson Lake from the campground. Both tents and shorter-length RV sites are available. This area is east in the park near the Moran entrance, providing unique views of the Tetons to the west.
Family-Friendly Hikes and Activities: Drive the scenic Signal Mountain 5-mile road to two overlooks. Wake early to capture a unique, illuminating view at sunrise. Join rangers on talks and guided tours for free at any of the nearby visitor centers or ranger stations. At Two Ocean Lake trailhead partake in a picnic and a secluded moderate hike (6.4 miles) with stunning views of the Tetons.
Observe wildlife at Oxbow Bend where the Snake River calms and otters, beavers, moose and songbirds delight. Trails around other lakes include Christian Pond Loop (easy, 3 miles) or longer, strenuous Emma Matilda Lake and Grand View Point.
Hidden Treasure: The park is home to several glaciers. Snag a view of Teton Glacier (from Teton Glacier turnout), Falling Ice Glacier (from the Mount Moran turnout) and Skillet Glacier (from Oxbow Bend turnout).
Headwaters at Flagg Ranch Campground
What you need to know: The Headwaters RV Park (unlike the campground there for tents) takes reservations and has 97 sites with electric hookups. There are 34 tent sites. Amenities: fire pit, picnic table, camp store, laundry, firewood, ice, trash, staff on site, potable water, flush toilets and hot showers.
Why this campground? This campground is five miles north of the Grand Teton park boundary and could serve as launching pad to Yellowstone’s South Entrance (two miles). It is surrounded by wilderness and is primarily an RV campground.
Family-Friendly Hikes and Activities: Hike the easier Polecat Creek Loop (2.5 miles) or Flagg Canyon Trail (4 miles) through forests, wetland, meadows and along the Snake River. Drive a few miles on the gravel Grassy Lake Road for views of the Snake River.
Hidden Treasure: Learn about the Rockefeller legacy at the information station. Grab a free backcountry site along Grassy Lake Road.
“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity” – John Muir
Grand Teton National Park Backcountry Camping
Find solitude with backcountry hikes and camping. There is year-round availability with permits. A third of the sites can be reserved in advance. Obtain walk-in permits at Jenny Lake Ranger Station, Craig Thomas and Colter Bay Visitor Centers.
Opt for a more strenuous hike to Static Peak or Lake Solitude. This is bear country. Read rules and regulations to be well-prepared. Kayak or canoe to one of the backcountry sites on the islands in Jackson Lake.
Scenic Drives and Excursions Near Grand Teton National Park
Grab your map, and drive the forty-five-mile US-89/US-191/US-287, collectively named the John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway, which runs through the entire park, south to north, and is nicknamed the “outside road.” Teton Park Road or the “inside road” is open May through November and is equally stunning.
Got biking on the mind? Road cyclists try Teton Park Road and mountain cyclists go for Grassy Lake Road. Side trips from the primary roads running through the park include Signal Mountain Road (takes you to the summit of the mountain) and one-way Jenny Lake Scenic Drive.
Raft, kayak or canoe the Snake River. Go wildlife-watching along Moose-Wilson Road (a bumpy shortcut between Teton Village and Jenny Lake) to see bears grazing on berries or along Antelope Flats Road (just north of Moose Junction). See bison, moose, bear, beavers and migrating elk or newborn bison and pronghorn.
Insider Tips for Visiting Grand Teton National Park
The closest large airport is in Salt Lake City (seven hours away); Jackson Hole Airport is in Jackson, WY, a large town just four miles south. Arrive before mid-morning to get a campsite; have a Plan B for campgrounds/sites. Trailheads fill quickly, so park at trailheads before 9 a.m. and venture from there.
Like its northern neighbor Yellowstone, the climate is arid at high elevation and can dip to cold temperatures even in summer. Pack layers. Expect afternoon thunderstorms. Though popular lakes Jenny and Jackson get all the attention, plan to visit one of the smaller ones, too (Taggert, Bradley, String or Leigh).
Grand Teton National Park Camper Beware
This is bear country. Follow food storage regulations and wildlife precautions.
Some campgrounds fill up fast, especially Jenny Lake, and have rules on how to claim a site (getting a slip from the ranger and posting it).