Grand Teton National Park offers hikes, scenic lake cruises, boating, fishing, climbing, bike riding, camping, a full range of dining and lodging, and easy access to Yellowstone.
With so much to choose from, where do you start? Right here. Use one of these recommended itineraries to plan your perfect Grand Teton National Park vacation. Whether you only have a day, a weekend or a week to spare, you can collect memories to last a lifetime.
If you only have one day, we can help you make the most of it. Here’s a way to sample the best this national park has to offer.
Scenic Drive: As you enter the park from the south, take a scenic drive along Teton Park Road, which follows the base of the Teton Range between Moose and Jackson Lake Junction. Along the way, you can detour along Jenny Lake Road, tracing the eastern shore of Jenny Lake. This route turns west to put you closer to the mountains before it winds back and rejoins Teton Park Road. Turnouts along both roads allow you to pause, take photographs, and savor the views. (Entering Grand Teton National Park from the north? Follow the same route in reverse, or circle back along US Hwy 26/89/191). Note: Portions of the park roads close in winter.
Morning hike: For an even closer look at the beauty of the Teton Range, stop at South Jenny Lake and lace up your boots for a morning hike along the southern edge of the lake (toward Cascade Canyon and Hidden Falls). From the other side of the lake, it’s a short climb to Hidden Falls, one of the park’s greatest treasures. This hike is approximately 2.5 miles one-way and relatively gentle. But if you’d rather rest your legs, you can ride a shuttle boat across the lake. Another popular option is hiking along the Taggart Lake Trail, a 4-mile loop with heart-stopping views, located south of Jenny Lake. Rangers often lead hikes along this trail, and visitors report seeing moose, elk and deer.
Lunch: Now that you’ve worked up an appetite, make your way to Jackson Lake Lodge for a hearty lunch. Enjoy a bowl of elk chili in the Mural Room, a buffalo burger and milkshake at the Pioneer Grill, or tapas and cocktails at Blue Heron. Each restaurant offers kid-friendly and vegetarian options as well.
Afternoon activities: After lunch, continue north to Colter Bay Village, a hub for adventure on and off the water. Here, you can rent a kayak by the hour and explore at your own pace. Or, sign up for a scenic lake cruise. Scenic lake cruises take you on a journey across Jackson Lake, immersing you in the scenery that makes the Teton Range so famous. Your guide will share local history and folklore, point out the various peaks and meadows, and teach you about the local wildlife. Some cruises also include a hearty cowboy meal, with locally sourced ingredients.
If you’d rather stay on land, you may explore some of the trails that leave from Colter Bay Village, check out the Visitor Center, shop for souvenirs, or listen to an educational talk given by rangers at various times at the amphitheater.
Lodging: At the end of a long, adventurous day, you deserve some pampering. Check into the award-winning Jenny Lake Lodge for the night. Jenny Lake Lodge is the only AAA four-diamond property in the park, offering elegant comfort and fine dining (a five course dinner is included with your stay). It’s the perfect place to cap off your park visit. Guests at Jenny Lake Lodge also benefit from free bike rentals (as available) and horseback riding.
Here for the weekend or a mid-week escape? Split your time between Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone for the ultimate vacation. There are plenty of free activities and a few worthwhile splurges that will help you sample all the highlights.
Day 1: For a true Old West experience, tour Grand Teton National Park on horseback. Jackson Lake Lodge and Colter Bay Village offer short and long rides, depending on your preference. For example, the Jackson Lake Lodge Standard Ride is a two-hour ride that heads north, crosses the willows and sagebrush meadows, and then climbs to the high ground east of Christian Pond. From there, you’ll reach Emma Matilda Lake, one of the most peaceful places in the park with wide views of the Teton Range. On the return trip, you’ll pass the Oxbow Bend Overlook, which is ideal for photography.
After the ride, you can head back to Jackson Lake Lodge to relax and play by the outdoor pool. Hungry? The full-service outdoor Pool BBQ serves up authentic brisket, ribs, hamburgers and veggie burgers.
At sunset, drive about two miles south on the Parkway to the Oxbow Bend Turnout, one of the most stunning vistas in the park, with the Teton Range perfectly reflected in the Snake River.
After that, head back north to The Headwaters Lodge & Cabins at Flagg Ranch. Enjoy a hearty dinner at Sheffields Restaurant & Bar and unwind in your comfortable cabin or campsite.
Day 2: Spend today getting closer to nature with a guided fishing trip, self-guided kayak trip, or wild and scenic rafting trip.
Guided fishing trips take place on Jackson Lake, the Snake River, and any number of side streams and creeks that are brimming with trout. Trips include the use of tackle and expert guidance from knowledgeable local anglers. Ask for details at the activity desk.
If you prefer to explore the water at your own pace, inquire about renting a kayak or canoe by the hour and paddling on Jackson Lake. You can order a boxed lunch at Sheffields or grab some food at Colter Bay Village and have a picnic on the water.
Craving a little more adventure? Don’t miss a guided Wild and Scenic Raft Trip down the Snake River! On this trip, experienced guides will take you 10 miles along the Snake River, showing you the best Teton views and secluded hollows where you’re likely to see wildlife such as bald eagles, moose, elk, beavers, deer, and bison. You can make a day of it by signing up for a lunch or dinner river trip. You’ll stop along the river at a private site at Snake River Overlook, where your guides will prepare traditional local fare, like fresh river trout, charbroiled steaks, and hamburgers.
Day 3: With Yellowstone so close, you’ll want to spend a day there, seeing the iconic geysers and wildlife around Yellowstone Lake. As you enter the park from the south, stop by West Thumb and the Grant Village area. West Thumb Geyser Basin is the largest geyser basin on the shores of Yellowstone Lake. The Grant Village Visitor Center tells the geologic history of the area and offers maps for short hikes and wildlife watching. From here, head west to Old Faithful. You can grab a bite to eat at Old Faithful Inn (or get a lunch to-go from the deli) and then head out to see the famous geyser in action (eruption times are posted at the Inn and Visitor Education Center). You also won’t want to miss a series of boardwalks that take you deeper into the thermal zone, which includes other predicted geysers like Castle, Daisy, Riverside and Grand. It also houses Beauty and Chromatic pools. In all, this area is home to the highest concentration of geysers in the world. Be sure to bring your camera!
Lodging: The Headwaters Lodge & Cabins at Flagg Ranch is positioned perfectly between both national parks, making it easy to access all your favorite activities without too much driving. Situated two miles south of the entrance to Yellowstone along the John D. Rockefeller Jr. Memorial Parkway, Headwaters Lodge & Cabins offer campsites and cabins a short walk from the Snake River.
To truly immerse yourself in the beauty of the Teton Range and Yellowstone, carve out five days (or more!). You’ll have time to visit all the best sights, sample a wide menu of activities, relax and enjoy not just the scenery, but the culture that makes this part of the country so unique and memorable. Here’s an example of how you could make the most of your vacation:
Day 1: Your first day, get acquainted with the peaks, meadows and glacial lakes that make up Grand Teton National Park through a scenic drive. Starting from Jackson Lake Lodge, this 43-mile loop tours it all with plenty of opportunities to stop, stretch your legs and get a closer look. From John D. Rockefeller Jr. Parkway, turn south on Teton Park Road and follow the road along Jackson Lake about five miles. Turn left (east) on Signal Mountain Road and follow it up to Signal Mountain, where you’ll find panoramic views of the entire valley. Head back to Teton Park Road and continue south to Jenny Lake. At South Jenny Lake, you can take a scenic boat ride across the lake, or set off on a day hike to Hidden Falls or Inspiration Point. From Jenny Lake, continue south to Moose, the southernmost outpost within the national park. Moose offers a visitor center complete with regional exhibits and bookstore. Leaving Moose, turn left (north) on US Hwy 26/89/191, which crosses the scenic flats above the Snake River. Make a stop at the Glacier View Turnout and the Snake River Overlook, which offer priceless views. Continue on to Moran Junction, and turn left for the final stretch back to Jackson Lake Junction.
Day 2: In summer, the roads throughout the national park can get crowded. So why not explore on two wheels instead? A unique, multi-use pathway opened to the public in 2009, extending from the town of Jackson, north to Moose Junction and along Teton Park Road to the South Jenny Lake area. It’s perfect for biking and lets you view some of the best spots in the park at your own pace.
The section of multi-use pathway that extends through Grand Teton National Park opens seasonally after snow has melted and park maintenance workers have swept it. Another section follows the National Elk Refuge from Jackson to Gros Ventre Junction; it is closed from November 1 to April 30 due to elk migration. The Teton County website offersmaps of the system. Ask at the activity desk about bike rentals in the park, or visit one of the outfitters in Jackson.
Many visitors enjoy packing a picnic lunch (or ordering a to-go lunch from one of the lodge restaurants), biking a short distance to a scenic spot and having a picnic before biking back. If you have young children or don’t enjoy biking, park shuttles can take you where you want to go. Ask about transportation options at the front desk.
Day 3: Yellowstone is within easy reach by car, so plan to spend a day touring some of the famous highlights there. Start the day early with a hearty breakfast at the lodge and then head up via John D. Rockefeller Jr. Parkway. After entering the park from through the south entrance, make a stop at West Thumb and the Grant Village area. West Thumb Geyser Basin is the largest geyser basin on the shores of Yellowstone Lake. The Grant Village Visitor Center tells the geologic history of the area and offers maps for short hikes and wildlife watching. From here, continue west to Old Faithful, where there’s a visitor center, restaurant, and informational exhibits. Schedules are posted for when the geyser erupts. While you’re in the area, you can hike the series of boardwalks that take you deeper into the thermal zone. You’ll see other predicted geysers like Castle, Daisy, Riverside and Grand, plus Beauty and Chromatic pools. In all, this area is home to the highest concentration of geysers in the world. Be sure to bring your camera!
If there’s time, continue further north, deeper into the park to Mammoth Hot Springs. These terraced springs are constantly changing shape and color as the water carries dissolved calcium and bicarbonate and deposits it along the terraces. Minerva terrace is particularly colorful with deposits of blue-green algae and orange/red cyanobacteria that collect in the pools.
Have dinner in Yellowstone or make the drive back to Jackson Lake Lodge and one of its three restaurants.
Day 4: Today, spend the day exploring Jackson Hole, the long valley that includes Jackson, the area’s biggest town. Walk under the giant archway of elk antlers to the center of town. Grab coffee and a pastry at The Bunnery or Cowboy Coffee Company. Throughout town, you can browse local shops that sell western wear, art and photography, souvenirs, or outdoor equipment for hiking, biking, fishing, and more.
For a change in perspective, ride the Aerial Tram 4,139 vertical feet from the base of Teton Village to the top of Rendezvous Mountain. The 15-minute ride is thrilling, but not as much as the 360-degree views at the top, which encompass Grand Teton National Park, Snake River Valley, and the town below. Grab a bite to eat at Corbet’s Cabin on the summit, or ride the tram back down to town where you’ll find a variety of restaurants.
If you have time on your way back to the park, stop by the National Museum of Wildlife Art (www.wildlifeart.org), which overlooks the 25,000-acre National Elk Refuge just north of town. Besides the views of the refuge, the museum houses fine art, an impressive library, kid-friendly exhibits, a café, and rotating exhibitions you won’t want to miss. Guided tours of the Elk Refuge are also an option. Ask about availability.
Day 5: On your last day, carve out some time to relax. If you enjoy golf, book a tee time at Jackson Hole Golf and Tennis Club. The 18-hole course, designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr., is considered Wyoming’s best golfing. The mountain views offer the perfect backdrop for a day on the links. The Club is open to the public and is located just outside the park on the way to Jackson Hole.
After that, treat your body to some pampering at one of the area’s luxurious spas. A local favorite is Solitude Spa, located in Teton Village in Jackson. Inspired by the high alpine lakes in Grand Teton National Park, Solitude spa offers private treatment rooms, a couples' suite, plus a 24-person rooftop hot tub with panoramic mountain views.
Or, if you’d like to relax closer to nature, drive south of Jackson to Granite Hot Springs, a natural thermal spring tucked away in the shadow of the Gros Ventre Mountains surrounded by serene forest and jagged cliffs.
Lodging: To make this week as comfortable and easy as possible, check into Jackson Lake Lodge, the perfect base camp, conveniently situated to access all your activities. This eco-friendly property offers amazing views, starting in the lobby with its 60-foot panoramic windows that frame the Teton Range and Jackson Lake. The lodge offers 385 rooms, from comfortable suites in the main lodge to the cottage rooms that surround. It’s the best choice for families, couples, or groups visiting the area. Amenities include fine dining, recreation, meeting space, retail shops, a swimming pool, playground, and more.