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Top Things To Do In Grand Teton National Park

Top Things To Do In Grand Teton National Park - Top 10 Things To Do In Grand Teton National Park
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Top Things To Do In
Grand Teton National Park

Our choices for the Top Things To Do In Grand Teton National Park are based on years of experience exploring and enjoying Grand Teton National Park. Even though Grand Teton National Park is a relatively small park when comparing it to other parks in the area such as Yellowstone Park and Glacier Park, Grand Teton National Park "packs a big punch" with its seemingly countless things to do.

The audience that we chose for making this list of Top Things To Do In Grand Teton National Park is the typical national park vacationer who likes to do a little hiking as well as sightseeing from a car or walking to an overlook. The order of our Top Things To Do In Grand Teton National Park is based on location and not necessarily our most favorite to least favorite. This list begins at the north end of Grand Teton National Park and ends at the southernmost end of the park... So here it is... Our Top Things To Do In Grand Teton National Park:

Colter Bay

Colter Bay is one of Top Things To Do In Grand Teton National Park.

Colter Bay is the first of our Top Things To Do In Grand Teton National Park. Located just several miles south of the northern-most border of Grand Teton National Park along U.S. Highway 89, Colter Bay is one of the most scenic bays found anywhere in the Rocky Mountains, with the towering Teton Range looming above it to the west. Colter Bay is part of the massive Jackson Lake, and is a safe harbor for boats. In fact, you'll be shocked at some of the big beauties you'll see docked at Colter Bay for the summer. But for Grand Teton National Park vacationers, Colter Bay is a center for some fantastic activities such as hiking, canoeing, boating, kayaking or camping. There are boat, canoe and kayak rentals available at the Colter Bay Marina, as well as fishing guide services. In addition, there are some great hikes around the area, namely Hermitage Point Trail that begins right next to the boat launch. The NPS also provides a fun boat tour on Jackson Lake which is always a hit with visitors.


The Colter Bay Campground and Cabins is located just next to the bay, and is one of the most popular campgrounds in Grand Teton National Park. The Colter Bay Campground is very wooded and wonderful, and the Colter Bay Cabins are charming. And if you want to rough it a little more, canvas walled cabins (a cross between a cabin and a wall tent) are provided for visitors in the Colter Bay Area which are quite popular as well.

Also found at the Colter Bay Area are laundry facilities, showers, general store, visitor center, backcountry ranger station, gift store, cafeteria and restaurant . Collectively known as "Colter Bay Village", Colter Bay is the first stop along our list of Top Things To Do In Grand Teton National Park.



Jackson Lake Lodge

View of Willow Flats from Jackson Lake Lodge, one of the Top Things To Do In Grand Teton National Park.

The next stop along our Top Things To Do In Grand Teton National Park is Jackson Lake Lodge. Located along U.S. Highway 89, the Jackson Lake Lodge overlooks the famous expanse of land known as "Willow Flats", where visitors can look down upon amazing wildlife such as elk, moose, grizzly bears and wolves "doing their thing" in the vast landscape of willows and grass. In the distance stands the magnificent Teton Range, with Jackson Lake nested below it. This amazing overlook to Willow Flats is located at the back of Jackson Lake Lodge, and is an extremely popular place to hang out in the morning and evening.


The lobby of Jackson Lake Lodge is a spacious grand room with massive windows facing Willow Flats and the Teton Mountain Range. This lobby is a wonderful place to enjoy a cup of coffee and enjoy the remarkable view.... This space is very well done and is extremely inviting. Also within the Jackson Lake Lodge (besides hotel rooms) are two restaurants (one inexpensive, the other not so much), a lounge, as well as two gift shops that are fun to browse through. On the grounds are also cabins/motel rooms to rent. But getting back to our list of Top Things To Do in Grand Teton National Park, the main attraction at Jackson Lake Lodge is the overlook to Willow Flats and the hotel lobby Grand Room. Every visitor to Grand Teton National Park really should spend some time discovering this special place.




Oxbow Bend Turnout

Oxbow Bend Turnout is one of the Top Things To Do In Grand Teton National Park.

Only about a mile east of Jackson Lake Junction is the Oxbow Bend Turnout. Oxbow Bend is not only on our list of Top Things To Do In Grand Teton National Park, but is one of the most photographed spots in North America. No matter what time of year, the scenery from the Oxbow Bend Turnout is world-class, and we guarantee you that you’ll burn through several memory cards as you fire away with your camera.


The Oxbow Bend Turnout rests along a stretch of the Snake River where it meanders very slowly, creating at times a perfectly smooth glass surface. This smooth glass creates a spectacular mirror image of Mount Moran. The best time to photo this area is early morning because the sun really lights up the mountains, and the air is often times still. Because of this, you will probably not be alone at Oxbow Bend in Grand Teton National Park. In fact, during certain times of the year... especially during mid to late September when the aspens are in peak autumn color... there will be throngs of photographers lined up snapping away at this remarkable landscape.

The bonus at Oxbow Bend in Grand Teton National Park is the wildlife. Moose love this calm section of the Snake River, as well as geese, trumpeter swans and ducks. Elk, black bear, wolves and grizzly bears also frequent Oxbow Bend. And a special treat is always the comical river otters that call this section of the Snake River home.

And just west of Oxbow Bend in Grand Teton National Park is a gravel road that takes you to Cattlemen’s Bridge. This one mile gravel road is a great place to see wildlife. The road ends at the shore of the Snake River, where a bridge once stood that was used to move cattle from one side of the river to the other. Even if there is no wildlife along the road during your drive, it’s still a terrific place to enjoy... as the Snake River flows gracefully by you. Oxbow Bend in Grand Teton National Park is a very special place, and is definitely among our favorite Top Things To Do In Grand Teton National Park.




Signal Mountain Area

Jackson Point Overlook on Signal Mountain is one of the Top Things To Do In Grand Teton National Park.

Next on our list of Top Things To Do In Grand Teton National Park is the Signal Mountain Area. Located about 3 miles south of Jackson Lake Junction along the Teton Park Road, the Signal Mountain Area includes the Signal Mountain Marina, Signal Mountain Campground, Signal Mountain Lodge and the road to the top of Signal Mountain.


Signal Mountain Lodge includes a restaurant, cabins, gift shop, gas station and convenience store. There are stairs next to the restaurant that take you down to the Signal Mountain Marina, where seasonal boats...including charming sailboats, are found docked on buoys on the water. Within the bounds of the campground is a fantastic picnic area near the shore of Jackson Lake with great views. There are firepits at each of these picnic spots which are fun to use as the sun sets behind the Teton Range to the west. The campground itself is awesome... and is one of our favorite campgrounds to stay at in Grand Teton National Park.

The Signal Mountain Road takes you up to the top of Signal Mountain, where you will enjoy a remarkable view of Grand Teton National Park in all directions. Just before the the summit you will encounter a stunning overlook that gives you an incredible view of the eastern prairie. Once on top, the Jackson Point Overlook gives visitors a unique view of Jackson Lake and the Teton Range beyond it. The road is nicely paved the entire way up the mountain, making it an enjoyable short drive to some amazing views.

The Signal Mountain Area in Grand Teton National Park is without question one of our Top Things To Do In Grand Teton National Park, and is definitely worth your time to explore.



String Lake Area

String Lake is one of the Top Things To Do In Grand Teton National Park.

Next on our list of Top Things To Do In Grand Teton National Park is the String Lake Area. The String Lake Junction.... called the “North Jenny Lake Junction” along the Teton Park Road, takes you to not only String Lake and it’s wonderful picnic area, but on the way you’ll enjoy the Cathedral Group Pullout where you can enjoy a world-class view of Grand Teton Peak, Teewinot Mountain and Mount Owen. This angle truly reminds everyone who sees it of a massive cathedral that appears to be touching the sky.


The drive between the Cathedral Group Turnout and the String Lake Junction is a great place to view elk... especially in the early morning and late evening during the elk mating season (known as the rut) during the month of September. You’ll likely hear elk bugling throughout the area, which is always a special treat.

Along the shore of String Lake are fantastic picnic spots with fire rings. This is a great place to enjoy a lunch or dinner, all the while taking in the beauty of the Teton Range that looms directly above you across the lake. And one of the most popular activities at String Lake in Grand Teton National Park besides picnicking is the watersports... namely inner tubing, canoeing and kayaking. And because the water in String Lake is quite shallow, the water temperature is fairly warm and even becomes a great place to swim during the warm summer months. There is a nice beach to lay on and take in the warmth of the sun, and nothing feels better than drying off in the sun during a warm summer day.

The String Lake Area in Grand Teton National Park also includes trailheads that take you the world famous Paintbrush Canyon and Paintbrush Divide. For those of you wishing to overnight packpack. This is part of the Paintbrush Canyon-Cascade Canyon Loop Trail, where hikers begin at String Lake, hike up Paintbrush Canyon past Holly Lake, then up and over Paintbrush Divide, then down to Lake Solitude, then down into Cascade Canyon where the hike ends at Jenny Lake. There is then a trail that conveniently takes you back to your car parked at String Lake.



Jenny Lake Area

Jenny Lake is one of the Top Things To Do In Grand Teton National Park.

Jenny Lake and the surrounding area in our opinion is the “Heart of Grand Teton National Park”, and is next on our list of Top Things To Do In Grand Teton National Park. The turn off to the main Jenny Lake Area is along the Teton Park Road at South Jenny Lake Junction. Located along the about three miles south of the North Jenny Lake Junction (String Lake), Jenny Lake is home to not only a wonderful gift store, ranger station and backcountry ranger station for hikers and climbers, but it is also the trailhead to Cascade Canyon, which is among the most popular hikes in Grand Teton National Park. More specifically, this popular trail takes hikers around the south west shore of Jenny Lake, and just beyond the north west boat dock brings them to the base of Hidden Falls. Hidden Falls in Grand Teton National Park are remarkable any time of the summer season, but are most impressive early on during the snow melt off of late June and early July. The hike from the south boat dock near the Visitor Center is 2.5 miles and is quite gradual and pleasant. Hikers can then keep hiking another half mile up a steeper grade to enjoy Inspiration Point, which overlooks Jenny Lake and is a wonderful place to enjoy a snack while taking in the stunning scenery. Then beyond Inspiration Point, the trail takes hikers into Cascade Canyon and beyond.


The Jenny Lake Boat Tour takes visitors across Jenny Lake, all the while providing interesting information about Jenny Lake and the surrounding area. The boat dock is located just beyond the Jenny Lake Visitor Center, where the boat will across directly through the center of the lake to the far boat dock located on the northwest shore of Jenny Lake. Visitors then have the choice to either stay on the boat and return to the South Jenny Lake boat dock, or they can take a short hike to Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point. They can then either hike back or take a later boat. In addition to the Jenny Lake Boat Tour, visitors can rent small boats, kayaks and canoes to enjoy Jenny Lake as well.

And just down the road from the South Jenny Lake Junction along the Teton Park Road, you’ll find the Lupine Meadows Junction. This junction takes visitors to the Lupine Meadows Trailhead at the end of the mile long gravel road, which is a major trailhead for not only hikers, but to mountain climbers of Grand Teton Peak surrounding mountains including Middle Teton Peak and South Teton Peak, and well as Nez Perce, Cloud Veile and many more. To be specific, the Lupine Meadows Trailhead takes hikers and climb up to Garnet Canyon, which at the head of it is known as “The Meadows” which is a popular basecamp for Grand Teton Range climbers. Above “The Meadows is known as “Upper Meadows”, which is also a popular basecamp for climbers. And just above the Upper Meadows” is known as the “Lower Saddle”, which at 11,000 feet above sea level, is essentially the beginning of many of the climbing routes to Grand Teton Peak, including the famous Owen-Spalding Route.

About 3 miles into the hike towards Garnet Canyon is the Amphitheater Lake Trail Junction. The remaining 2 mile hike to Amphitheater Lake steepens even more, but is well worth the effort as this stunning high mountain lake rests in a natural amphitheater, surrounded by Disappointment Peak, Mount Owen and Teewinot Mountain. Grand Teton Peak is also looming to the west, above it all. When it’s all said and done, the hike to Amphitheater Lake is 5 miles from the Lupine Meadows Trailhead, and climbs over 3,000 vertical feet in less than 4 miles.

Without question, the Jenny Lake Area is the most popular destination in Grand Teton National Park, and certainly is among our Top Things To Do In Grand Teton National Park. Once you visit this remarkable area, you’ll understand why we call it the “Heart of Grand Teton National Park.”




Taggart Lake Trail

Taggart Lake Trail is one of the Top Things To Do In Grand Teton National Park.

The Taggart Lake Trail in Grand Teton is located about 3 miles north of the South Entrance to Grand Teton National Park along the Teton Park Road. This short but scenic 1.6 mile (one way) hike to Taggart Lake is very unique as this is one of only a few trails that take you into the low lying foothills just outside the towering Teton Range. This provides hikers with extraordinary views of the massive Central Teton Range, including Grand Teton Peak from a slight distance, allowing for them to really see the huge expanse these mountains make into the sky above. Most other trails take hikers directly into these mountains or just underneath them, which because of the angle, their immense vertical rise appears to be much less.


Along the Taggart Lake Trail, you will hike through gorgeous aspen groves which are most stunning during the fall of the year when the aspen leaves are bright yellow and gold. However, the Taggart Lake Trail is stunning no matter what time of year, so you can’t go wrong.

Once you get to the shore of Taggart Lake, you’ll be treated to a wonderful view of the Teton Range directly above the lake, and if you’re lucky you’ll get a mirror reflection of the mountains on the surface of the water. Most hikers find a nice spot to take in the view and have a snack.

Now if you have the time and feel ambitious, you can keep hiking along the trail less than an additional mile, up to Bradley Lake, which is only about 120 vertical feet above Taggart Lake. The view of the mountains from Bradley Lake is actually quite a bit different than Taggart Lake, but is equally as remarkable.

The Taggart Lake Trail and additional hike to Bradley Lake is a wonderfully refreshing hike that allows visitors to really get a grasp as to just how tall the Teton Range actually is... and because of this, you’ll definitely take plenty of photos along the way. Therefore, there is no wonder why the Taggart Lake Trail is among our Top Things To Do In Grand Teton National Park.




Moose Junction Area


The Moose Junction Area is another destination on our Top Things To Do In Grand Teton National Park, and includes the scenic Moose-Wilson Road, Craig Thomas Visitor Center and Dornan’s Chuckwagon. Located near the South Entrance to Grand Teton National Park at Moose Junction off U.S. Highway 89, the Moose Junction Area also marks the beginning of the Teton Park Road. And “Moose” Junction is an appropriate name for this area as moose absolutely love to hang out here... whether it be along the Snake River near Dornan’s Historic Chuckwagon, or near the beaver ponds along the Moose Wilson Road.


The Moose-Wilson Road is found just before you enter the South Entrance to Grand Teton National Park, and is a great place to view wildlife such as moose, elk, black bears, deer and grizzly bears. This narrow paved road takes you by large beaver ponds where moose love to eat in, and during the berry season you’ll likely see black bear and the occasional grizzly bear all along the road.

About 3 miles into the Moose-Wilson Road you’ll encounter the Death Canyon Trailhead Junction, which is a rather bumpy gravel road that ends at the Death Canyon Trailhead. The Death Canyon Trail takes hikers and climbers into the magnificent Death Canyon Area, which includes a spur trail to Static Peak Divide and Static Peak, which is one of the only peaks that is a walk-up in the entire Grand Teton National Park. Along the way, you’ll get a great overlook view of Phelps Lake before entering Death Canyon.

If you continue driving along the Moose-Wilson Road, in another 2 miles you’ll enter the Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve, which is also another good spot to enjoy viewing wildlife if your timing is right. And if you keep going on the Moose-Wilson Road in Grand Teton National Park you will eventually reach Teton Village, which is the major ski resort in the Jackson Hole Area. The best time to drive this scenic and wildlife abundant road is the early morning or late evening, as that is when wildlife is most likely to be running around doing their thing.

Another highlight in the Moose Junction Area of Grand Teton National Park is the Craig Thomas Visitor Center. Located just before you reach the South Entrance to Grand Teton National Park, the Craig Thomas Visitor Center is quite remarkable. In fact, it feels like you’re entering a high end museum or art gallery. There is really no other visitor center that we know of like it... it’s really worth your time to explore it and enjoy it... they’ve done a great job capturing the “feel” of Grand Teton National Park.

Still another attraction in the Moose Junction Area that we recommend that you check out is the historic Dornan’s Chuckwagon. Since 1948, Dornan’s Chuckwagon has been feeding visitors with some of the best chuckwagon food we’ve ever had... including beef ribs and all the fixings. All cooked over a fire in large iron pots, this wonderful meal is set outside in one of the most perfect settings you could imagine... with the towering Teton Range as the backdrop. So if you want to try an authentic, delicious cowboy chuckwagon meal, make sure you visit Dornan’s Chuckwagon in the evening... and oh by the way... they also serve an all you can eat pancake breakfast as well! (And no, we do not get a commission from Dornan family.... but we should (hahaha)!




U.S. Highway 89 Overlooks and Turnouts

Snake River Overlook along U.S. Highway 89 is one of the Top Things To Do In Grand Teton National Park.

Along U.S. Highway 89 in Grand Teton National Park, between Moran Junction and Moose Junction, there are several incredible U.S. Highway 89 Overlooks and Turnouts that provide visitors with outstanding views of the Teton Mountain Range. These vistas truly show just how massive the Teton Range really is because you are at the perfect distance and angle to see the 6,000 vertical feet rise between the prairie floor and the summits. In fact, the views of these famous mountains from U.S. Highway 89 in Grand Teton National Park are so astounding, they’re worth taking a drive along this scenic road... and therefore qualify to be one of our Top Things To Do In Grand Teton National Park.


There are several fantastic overlooks and turnouts, such as the Blacktail Pond Overlook, Teton Glacier Overlook, Teton Point Overlook and so on... but the most famous one of them all is the Snake River Overlook. This amazing overlook was made internationally renowned by the famous photographer Ansel Adams when he took a stunning black and white photo from this spot. Once you stop and take in the view, you’ll see exactly why Ansel Adams was inspired to take one of his most well-known photographs. Grand Teton Peak and the surrounding summits seem to climb straight up into the sky... practically touching the Heavens.

Another extremely popular turnout along U.S. Highway 89 in Grand Teton National Park is Schwabacher Landing. This short but steep gravel road takes you down to a beaverpond that beautifully reflects the Teton Range when the air is still. Photographers love this spot, and you will too.

The best time to enjoy the U.S. Highway 89 Overlooks and Turnouts in Grand Teton National Park is in the morning, when the morning sun from the east is lighting up the mountains to the west. Between dawn and 10:30 am is typically the best time to take this drive if you’re interested in taking photos. After that it’s still stunningly beautiful, but the light gets a bit harsh for quality photos. During the evening, you might luck out and capture a breathtaking sunset as well. We can assure you that you’ll be glad you took the time to drive between Moran Junction and Moose Junction along U.S. Highway 89. It’s a remarkably scenic drive and one of our favorite Top Things To Do In Grand Teton National Park.




Jackson Wyoming (Jackson Hole Wyoming)

Jackson Wyoming (Jackson Hole Wyoming) is one of the Top Things To Do In Grand Teton National Park.

Even though the town of Jackson Wyoming (Jackson Hole Wyoming) is not technically inside the border of Grand Teton National Park, but is about 3 miles to the south, this charming tourist cowboy town is still a “must see and explore” during your Grand Teton National Park vacation, and firmly lands on our Top Things To Do In Grand Teton National Park.


Of all the wonderful tourist towns in the West, Jackson Wyoming (Jackson Hole Wyoming) is our favorite of them all. We love everything about Jackson Wyoming... the look, the feel, the everything. As you walk the boardwalks, you’ll discover fantastic gift shops, clothing shops, art galleries, museums, fine restaurants, lodging... it’s got it all. We can almost assure you that you will fall in love with this fantastic western town. Jackson Wyoming rests in what is known as Jackson Hole... which geologically is a valley with a “dead end”. People often refer to Jackson Wyoming as “Jackson Hole”, and it’s OK to call it that. Everyone knows what you are referring to.

One of the most iconic attractions in Jackson Wyoming (Jackson Hole Wyoming) is Jackson Square, where there are 4 huge arches on each corner of the square that are made of elk antler sheds picked up by the Boy Scouts at the National Elk Refuge that is just north of Jackson Wyoming. There is also a horse drawn stage coach that parks at Jackson Square and takes visitors around the town for a brief tour. There’s even a live cowboy shootout every evening!

Once you step foot in Jackson Wyoming (Jackson Hole Wyoming), you’ll know exactly why it’s such a big part of the Grand Teton National Park experience. Jackson Wyoming is without question on our list of Top Things To Do In Grand Teton National Park, even though it’s not officially within the park boundary.



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