Top 10 Things to do in Grand Teton National Park

As towering as the Grand Tetons are, the National Park is sometimes overshadowed by its larger neighbor to the north, Yellowstone. In fact, there is so much to do in Yellowstone that sometimes people don’t even make it down to Grand Teton National Park — but that is a mistake. We were also guilty of not allotting enough time to this gorgeous park, but I knew even before we went that it was somewhere that I’d want to return to. So even if you have limited time and wondering what to do in Grand Tetons, don’t miss these top Grand Teton attractions.

Before I share our favorite Grand Teton things to do, let me give a few tips.

  • Be sure to get an early start as you will be most likely to sight some wildlife and get a spot in the parking lots by popular hiking trails
  • In high season, expect the parking lot at Jenny Lake to be full by 10 am (we got there just before 10am and got one of the last spots available)
  • Pick up some bear spray if you are headed out on any of the quieter trails — better safe than sorry
  • Be sure to stop at the Visitor Center to get your National Parks Passport stamped
  • Bring along a refillable water bottle. The park service is kind enough to offer cold water coolers at the beginning of popular trails like Inspiration Point to refill your bottle and encourage you to stay hydrated
  • If you are looking for a less crowded route to Jackson Lake or north to Yellowstone, head up Highway 191 to the entrance at Moran Junction

What to do in Grand Tetons National Park

  1. Jenny Lake — Jenny Lake is one of the most popular attractions in Grand Teton National Park, as evidenced by the crowds. But it is still absolutely worth a long visit. Just put it first on your list so you can get a parking spot in the lot at the Visitor Center. You have a couple of options for enjoying this area. You can hike the six-mile circle around the lake, or take the ferry across the lake to save time and energy (you can always hike the 2.5 miles back.) Reservations aren’t required for the ferry, but you may need to line up and wait your turn as they run every 10-15 minutes throughout the day. If you are going to take the ferry both ways, it makes sense to decide in advance and purchase the cheaper round trip ticket. Even if you are itching to hike, I’d recommend taking the ferry at least one direction because the views from the water are spectacular.
  2. Inspiration Point — From the boat dock, a trail will lead you up an elevation of 450 feet with a 2.2 mile round trip to Inspiration Point. The trail crosses Cascade Canyon Creek, but the way is clearly marked to continue upwards to Inspiration Point. Along the way, you will pass a short side trail that leads to Hidden Falls. Some of these were closed on our visit so we couldn’t get the full view of the falls. You will also pass a couple of great look out points, some with some very aggressive ground squirrels. But keep going if you want to reach Inspiration Point. The last section is loose rock with a fairly steep ledge so it is not for the faint of heart — or for small children unless they are in a carrier or held closely by hand. Push on if you can because the views are worth it.Inspiration Point Grand Tetons National Park things to do
  3. Signal Mountain Overlook — Before you reach Signal Mountain Lodge, take a right onto a five-mile, winding road up Signal Mountain for dramatic panoramic views across the Valley floor. You can imagine the valley full of wildlife and we couldn’t stop ourselves from peering into the distance with our binoculars looking for anything moving. Three-quarters of the way up to the top, also stop at the Jackson Point Overlook for beautiful views of the mountains. Just watch out for motion sickness on the way up and down!
  4. Jackson Lake Dam — Just before you get to Jackson Lake Junction you will pass over the Jackson Lake Dam. Stop on the south side for pictures because there isn’t a good place to pull off once you go over the dam. I didn’t think it would be anything special but after driving by, we wished we had stopped.
  5. Jackson Lake — If I was to stay in the park, I would want to stay at the Jackson Lake Lodge. The floor to ceiling windows in the lodge offer amazing views of the lake and mountains. They also say you can see moose, bear and other wildlife just outside. You can go boating on Jackson Lake, but from Signal Mountain Lodge (where we ate lunch), you can also rent paddleboards and kayaks.
  6. Oxbow Bend — Oxbow Bend, on the connector between Jackson Lake Junction and Moran Junction, is a scenic river bend where you can find moose, elk, eagles, herons and more (including mosquitoes.) Traveling from west to east, you may not think it is worth stopping unless you are there at dawn or dusk for wildlife viewing. However, when you approach from the east, you can see why you should make the stop just for the photo opportunity.What to do in Grand Teton Oxbow Bend
  7. Elk Ranch Flats — When you travel along Highway 191, you will see fenced ranch land. Around the area by Elk Ranch Flats Turnout, just north of Triangle X Ranch, don’t be surprised to see a herd of bison. If you haven’t been to Yellowstone yet and this is your first view, it is sure to be a crowd pleaser. Just be careful. The fence didn’t look electrified and it would be pretty easy for those bison to bust right on through if they desired. As you are driving through these fields, also keep your eyes peeled for pronghorn lying among the grasses.Elk Flats Grand Teton National Park
  8. Snake River Overlook — Snake River Overlook can be a quick stop, but a worthwhile one to see how the Snake River cuts through the earth and gains its apt name.Snake river overlook grand tetons national park
  9. Schwabacher Landing — One of the most famous views of the Grand Tetons is from Schwabacher Landing. Even if you don’t get there for dawn or dusk when you are likely to find some moose, the reflection of the mountains in the water is breathtaking and absolutely postcard (or holiday card) worthy. Take some time to enjoy the scenery, but bring along the bug spray (and the bear spray too — it can be nice and quiet down there.)Things to do in Grand Tetons National Park Schwabacher Landing
  10. Glacier View Turnout — If you get really lucky, you may stop at the Glacier View Turnout just as the moon makes an appearance between the peaks. If not, you will at least get a gorgeous view of the Tetons and the glacier.Glacier View overlook Grand Teton National Park attractions

We were sad we didn’t have a chance to stop and see the old buildings along Mormon Row that you so often see photographed, but I know there is still much more to do in Grand Tetons and I can’t wait to return sometime.

What other Grand Teton attractions would you suggest?

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Grand Teton National Park | Grand Tetons attractions | What to do in Grand Tetons | US National Parks

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1 Comment on “Top 10 Things to do in Grand Teton National Park

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  1. You do not have to buy combo tickets to GTNP and YNP….Entrance fees to one gives you access to the other sister park.

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