That first glimpse of the Tetons is etched in my mind. There are mountains, and then there are mountains! The jagged, windswept peak of Grand Teton is unmistakable, the icon of the national park. Grand Teton is often overshadowed by it’s neighboring park, Yellowstone, but that just means fewer crowds and more open spaces! Let us help you plan an unforgettable trip to Grand Teton!
Grand Teton National Park is located in the north western corner of Wyoming, just below Yellowstone National Park. The two parks actually share a border. The closest airport is in Jackson, just a few miles from Grand Teton’s main gate, but flights are limited. The best way to see the park and surrounding area is definitely by car!
Of the four entrances into the park, the Moose Entrance is by far the most popular and is the nearest to Jackson. The Moran Entrance is further north, entering Grand Teton just a few miles south of Yellowstone. The Granite Canyon Entrance is the least busy, coming from Wilson along the Moose-Wilson Road. However, it’s a narrow road, closed to RVs. It’s also closed seasonally and into 2023 for construction. Lastly, the Flagg Ranch entrance comes directly through Yellowston’s south gate.
Three Amazing Hikes
With over 250 miles of trails, there’s something for everyone. Whether you’re hiking a popular trail or backcountry route, be sure to carry bear spray. The park is home to both Black and Grizzly bears, and they’re a pretty common sight. We also wore bear bells, although their effectiveness is debated.
Taggart Lake- Bradley Lake Loop- 5.5 miles roundtrip
Taggart Lake is one of the most popular trails in the park, the trailhead just 2.3 miles from the Moose Entrance. The parking lot often fills up in the summer, but there is ample roadside parking.
At just 3 miles roundtrip, Taggart is an easy hike. It’s mostly flat and offers beautiful views of the Tetons, as you pass through fields of summer wildflowers. We’ve hiked it early afternoon and late evening, and the golden hour near sunet is the perfect time. There’s no one else there, the lake is calm, practically a painting. We had a professional shoot here, more on that later!
Don’t stop at Taggart though! Continue to Bradley Lake for perhaps even more dramatic scenery. It isn’t crowded, and offers plenty of access points to the lake. The water is frigid, but it’s a great cool down after a sweaty summer hike!
Cascade Canyon- 2.2 miles roundtrip to Inspiration Point
Cascade Canyon is 9.4 miles in its entirety, but there are shorter options. Take the Jenny Lake Shuttle to shave off 2.4 miles, and start from the West Dock. It’s just half a mile to Hidden Falls, a truly impressive waterfall. The trail first crosses a small waterfall we thought was Hidden Falls, but it doesn’t hold a candle to the actual waterfall ahead!
Continue past Hidden Falls to Inspiration Point. It’s a short hike, but be prepared for a steep ascent with some sharp dropoffs. The views are worth it! Inspiration Point is also home to some of the friendliest chipmunks I’ve encountered! This area is considered backcountry, so be on the alert for bears, moose and other wildlife. Other than the chipmunks, we just saw a lone fox.
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Phelps Lake- 4.7 miles roundtrip
Phelps Lake can be accessed a few different ways, but start at the Death Canyon Trailhead for dramatic views and direct lake access. From Moose-Wilson Road, turn at the trailhead marker and drive 2 miles down a dirt road. High clearance vehiles are recommended (we did it in our F-150). There is limited parking, but it’s not generally too crowded.
At the 0.9 mile mark, the first view of Phelps Lake appears, far below the trail. A moderately steep swtichback ends on the valley floor, where a flat but rocky trail leads to the lake. A nice sandy beach awaits, perfect for sunbathing and a picnic.
Continuing on the loop around the lake, reach Jumping Rock. At 30 feet high, I’m not sure I would jump from it, but plenty of hikers do. From the beach, you can hear the jumpers yelling and splashing into the icy lake.
More Than Hiking
I could spend all year on Grand Teton’s trails, but there are plenty of other activities to keep you busy!
Jenny Lake Boat Trip
Take either a 1 hour boat tour, or take the short shuttle service from east to west sides of the lake. Either way, don’t miss a chance to get out on Jenny Lake, it’s gorgeous! During the summer, the tour leaves a few times a day, while the shuttle runs every 15 minutes or so. With the shuttle service, book either a roundtrip or one way, hiking back. While it isn’t listed on the website, they gave Bobby a free ticket as a veteran.
The largest of the lakes in Grand Teton, Jackson Lake just seems to keep going. Surrounded by the mountains, it’s a stunning sight. Rent a kayak, canoe, or motorized boat from the Signal Mountain Lodge, relax on the shoreline, go for a swim, or cast a line. It’s popular with fishermen for trout and salmon.
The John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway follows the lake for good distance before reaching Yellowston’s South Entrance.
Lunch with a View at Trappers Grill
After an early morning of long hikes, you earned that meal with a view! Trappers Grill, located in the Signal Mountain Lodge, has stunning views of Jackson Lake with reasonably priced, great food and drinks! Dining options in the park can be somewhat limited, but Trappers serves food all day during summer. It’s a favorite of ours for the view, but also for the relaxed atmosphere. No reservations needed, and muddy hiking boots are just fine! Many people tout Jenny Lake Lodge Dining Room, but lunch ends at 1pm and reservations are required for dinner. If you’re looking for more upscale dining, and planned ahead, don’t get me wrong, it is a lovely experience!
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Mormon Row a.k.a. The T.A. Moulton Barn
During the 1890s, Mormon settlers built several homsteads at the foot of the Tetons. What a view they had! Today, the area is part of the national park, although it’s accessed separately, off Highway 191 to Antelope Flats Road. It’s just a few minutes from Jackson. Mormon Row is made up of several groupings of buildings, but the T.A. Moulton Barn is the most photographed. Coming down Antelope Flats Road from 191, turn right for the Moulton Barn.
Oxbow Bend Overlook
Located on the Snake River, along Highway 89/191, this pulloff is a favorite for sunrise photography and wildlife viewing. Moose, bear, and a variety of birds can often be seen here, but even if you miss them, the view is still great!
Where to Stay
There are four lodges within the park, along with cabins and eight campgrounds, six of which accomodate RVs. The lodges are notorious for filling up as much as a year in advance, but staying in the park has its advantages.
Jackson Lake Lodge
Jackson Lake Lodge is our favorite in the park. It enbodies the image of a great western lodge, offering stunning views of the Tetons. The lodge itself only houses 37 rooms,, with an additional 348 detatched cottages. During summer, there’s an outdoor pool. The lodge also offers various tours and experiences, from Snake River float trips to horseback riding tours.
Can I rave about the dining for a minute? Both the Blue Heron Lounge and The Mural Room have stellar views! The lounge is the spot to soak up the views and enjoy a huckleberry cocktail. For a top notch dining experience, the Mural Room is it. We celebrated an anniversary here with amazing food and excellent service. The moose shaped butter was also a nice touch.
Jackson Hole Hideout Bed & Breakfast
Outisde of the park, we love Jackson Hole Hideout. A B&B in Wilson, a few minutes outside of Jackson, it offers unique rooms, peaceful surroundings and excellent breakfasts. With just six rooms, it’s never crowded, and it’s far enough outside of Jackson to be relaxing. Can I recommend the Cowgirl Room? It captures the western theme perfectly, has an amazing shower and a private deck.
Jackson, Wyoming is in Jackson Hole Valley. It’s the gateway town to Grand Teton, with a thriving tourism industry. Home to art galleries and expensive boutiques, the town still has its fair share of outfitters and adventure agencies. Be prepared to be shell shocked by the prices, remembering it is one of the wealthiest places in America. Hey, at least a photo with the famous antler arches is free! All that aside, it’s still a must visit near Grand Teton.
On our first anniversary, we started a tradition to have professional shots somewhere unique every 5th year. What better setting than Grand Teton? We booked JCM Photography, a husband and wife team, for an evening photoshoot. They are phenomenal! We met them in the park and hiked to Taggart Lake, with photos along the way. I love their teamwork, friendliness and of course, their amazing photography. Whether it’s an engagement shoot, wedding photography, or family Christmas cards, JCM is it!
Snake River Access, Wilson, WY
Book a float trip to experience the Snake River, or just jump in on a hot day! The river has some strong currents, so be careful where you enter. There’s a section in Wilson, a few minutes outside of Jackson, accessible off Highway 22/Teton Pass Highway, that’s nice for a dip. There’s a paved bike path from Jackson that crosses the river right here. It’s on the way to Jackon Hole Hideout B&B, so we stopped to cool off a few times after long hikes. You can see in the photo below how the river has a small arm that diverts from the strong currents, allowing for a calm soaking spot.
Fantastic! Whether you’re in Jackson, or staying in Wilson, Calico is a must try restaurant! Built in 1905 as a church, today their specialties are pasta and pizza. They have a lovely outdoor deck in summer. Reservations are recommended, but seating in the bar is first come, first served, offering the same menu.
A real, legit French bakery just off the town square in Jackson! Peresephone has three locations, but be sure to visit the one on Broadway. Of course the bakery offers a variety of specialty pastries, but the cafe also serves hot breakfasts, salads, and sandwiches.
Looking for more national park inspiration? Read these!
Save It for Later!
WOW, what a stunning park! I had no idea there were so many awesome trails in Grand Teton! Two that would be on the top of my list would be Cascade Canyon (that waterfall is stunning) and Phelps Lake because that view is epic!
You will love it!
Love the photographer rec! I’ll look up JCM Photography when I visit!
Awesome! You’ll love them!
I hiked in the Tetons many years ago so it was wonderful to have a refresher on what there is to do there now. The view of the Grand Teton is stunning, isn’t it?
The best view!
Jackson lake looks like paradise. I can’t wait to go to Tetons.
Hope you get out there soon!
Grand Teton area is such an amazing place. We visited with our girls when they were younger, but I would love to go back and explore more and hike with my husband.
It can make for a perfect, romantic getaway!
Grand Teton looks absolutely stunning! I’ve never been here but would love to explore it one day. Thanks for sharing 🙂
It’s so often overshadowed by other national parks, but it’s stunning.
Grand Teton has been on my bucket list forever. Your delightful post reminds me that I need to visit soon. Happy Anniversary!
Thank you! Start packing! 🙂
Grand Teton National Park is definitely on my list! Your pictures are stunning and makes me want to pack up and go right now.
Thank you! It’s such an amazing place, hope you get out there soon!
Memories from long ago – 1979 on the Jackson Hole Trail Ride – We may not have been riding in the Grand Tetons, but we certainly stopped to admire the view. Unforgettable. Never managed to get back there, unfortunately. Thanks for the reminders.
Definitely time for a return journey! 🙂
Wow! That sure does look unforgettable! Haven’t been since I was a kid!