There are so many amazing things to do in Grand Teton National Park. It’s an absolutely beautiful area! Located right next to Yellowstone National Park, most people plan to hit both parks in one trip, but rarely leave enough time to explore Grand Teton National Park to its fullest. Make sure you plan at least 3-4 days in Grand Teton in order to explore all this park has to offer!
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Before I cover the best things to do in Grand Teton National Park, let’s go over some important info:
How to Get to Grand Teton National Park
The closest airport is Jackson Hole (JAC) which is only about 4 miles from Grand Teton National Park. Make sure you rent a car to get around during your stay!
If you are combining your trip with Yellowstone National Park, I recommend renting a car for a one-way drop-off and flying home out of an airport closer to Yellowstone National Park. Learn more in my 3-Day Yellowstone Itinerary post!
Best Time to Visit Grand Teton National Park
The best time to visit Grand Teton National Park is in the summer months when there is no snow on the ground and the park is fully accessible. August and September are probably the best months to visit Grand Teton to get more of a shoulder season with less crowds (and the potential for some fall leaves!)
Where to Stay in Grand Teton National Park
You can either camp or stay at a lodge in Grand Teton National Park, or stay in the nearby town of Jackson.
Lodging in Grand Teton National Park
Colter Bay Village and Jenny Lake Lodge are the two most popular places to stay within Grand Teton National Park. Both are located on stunning lakes with views of the Tetons in the background! Make sure you book your spot early.
Camping at Grand Teton National Park
Most of the campgrounds in Grand Teton National Park are first-come-first-served (besides Colter Bay RV Park and Headwaters RV Park). Jenny Lake Campground is the most popular and normally fills up before 9am, followed by Signal Mountain Campground, which fills up by noon. Make sure you get there early to get a spot!!
If you are not able to get to Jenny Lake or Signal Mountain campground early enough to secure a spot, Gros Ventre is another great campground option in the southern part of Grand Teton that normally has availability. However, the weekend that I visited in July 2020 was abnormally busy, and the campground filled by 10am. We had to spend the night in Jackson and come back to the campground at 7am the next morning to get in line to get a spot for that night (which worked!)
If you aren’t able to get a campsite, download the Dyrt Pro app to find all the free campsite options available in the surrounding area!
Best Place to Stay in Jackson, WY
If you are not able to get lodging in Grand Teton National Park, there are a lot of great options in the town of Jackson, which is super close by. We stayed one night at Antler Inn in town which was perfect! It was affordable and conveniently located right in the middle of town, walking distance to bars and restaurants.
There are plenty of awesome VRBOs/Airbnbs in Jackson, like this beautiful cabin with an epic view of the Tetons.
Best Things to Do in Grand Teton National Park
(in no particular order)
1. Go for a Scenic Drive
You’ll be awestruck as you drive anywhere in this park. Seeing the Teton Mountain Range capped with snow peeking out above the horizon is so picturesque! Make sure to drive along Teton Park Road for some epic views. You can also map out these viewpoints for some of the best spots to take a picture of the landscape:
- Oxbow Bend
- Schwabacher’s Landing
- Snake River Overlook
There are SO many epic hikes in Grand Teton National Park. The scenic alpine mountain landscape make this destination a hiker’s dream come true. I did a lot of research on the best hikes in Grand Teton before my trip. Instead of doing the ever-popular (and crowded) Jenny Lake hike to Inspiration Point/Hidden Falls, I did Phelps Lake and Delta Lake. I highly recommend both of these hikes. They were beautiful and uncrowded – definitely two of the best hikes in Grand Teton!
I’m sure the Jenny Lake hike to Inspiration Point/Hidden Falls is also great, but in my limited time I wanted to escape the crowds. I plan to go back at some point and try hiking that one on a weekday when it’s likely less crowded.
If you want to escape the crowds, opt for these two Grand Teton hikes:
1. Phelps Lake
- Trailhead: Death Canyon
- 4.7 miles rt
- 965 feet elevation gain
Phelps Lake has one of the most epic swimming holes in the Tetons due to the 20-foot-high rock you can jump off into the water! The lake is beautiful and the jump is thrilling – this is definitely one of the best things to do in Grand Teton.
Instead of parking at the Rockefeller Preserve Trailhead and doing the easier flat loop hike around the lake, I recommend starting your hike at Death Canyon Trailhead for a bit more of a challenge (and a less-crowded trail).
The trail will bring you up to the Phelps Lake Overlook first:
From here, you will continue down some switchbacks and keep left until you pop out at a nice little beach at the shore of the lake:
Keep on going another half mile or so from here until you reach the jumping rock. As you get closer, you’ll start to hear people scream as they jump off. The water is cold, but the jump is awesome!
- Lupine Meadows Trailhead
- 9 miles rt
- 2,329 elevation gain
Delta Lake is hands down one of the best hikes in Grand Teton National Park. The hike is beautiful and the lake itself is stunning! It’s one of the closest views to the Tetons that you can get. A lot of the reviews of this hike on Alltrails make it seem super difficult. I found this hike to be just the right amount of challenging without being too strenuous.
One perk of this hike is that there is hardly anyone on the trail. It’s somewhat of a hidden gem of a Grand Teton hike! This is likely because the trail is unmaintained and unmarked. At a certain point during your hike on the Amphitheater Lake Trail, you have to veer off one of the switchbacks to start the unmaintained portion of the trail, which can be easy to miss. Since it’s unmaintained, you will need to climb over fallen trees and traverse across two boulder fields to get to Delta Lake. Follow the cairns to help guide you along the way.
Once you get there – prepare to be amazed! The bright blue color of this glacial lake is breathtaking. Enjoy some lunch with a view, and if you’re brave – jump in the lake! It’s truly the coldest water I’ve ever been in in my life. My body was in shock for a few seconds. But the adrenaline rush is worth it! Jumping in Delta Lake is definitely one of the best things to do in Grand Teton National Park.
Go Fly Fishing
Grand Teton National Park is one of the best places in the US to go fly fishing. Either rent some gear in Jackson, or hire a guide to take you out for a day of fly fishing. If you are renting gear and going on your own, the Gros Ventre river (right near the Gros Vontre campground) is a great spot to spend the day fly fishing. You might even spot wildlife in this area! We saw a moose over there.
4. Check out Mormon Row
There are a few abandoned barns in this area that used to be occupied from Mormon settlers in the 1890’s. This row of barns is now a historic landmark within the park. One of the most iconic photos of Grand Teton National Park is with the famous T.A Moulton Barn in the foreground. Photographers love this spot, especially at sunset.
5. Get Out on the Water
There are a few options to get out on the water while in Grand Teton National Park. You can rent a motor boat at either Jenny Lake Boating, Colter Bay Marina, or Signal Mountain Marina.
Can’t drive a boat? You can also rent kayaks at Colter Bay Marina.
Want something more thrilling? Try rafting on Snake River.
6. Take a Dip in String Lake
Most beautiful alpine lakes require somewhat of a hike to get to, but not this one! String Lake is beautiful and easy to get to. The perfect thing to do after your Grand Teton hikes! Just drive right up to the parking lot and walk around the loop of the lake until you find an empty spot to lay out your towel and relax for the afternoon. If you have a kayak, you can even kayak from String Lake to neighboring Leigh Lake through a narrow little channel, which seems like a lot of fun. String Lake is shallow so it gets warm enough to swim in (although it’s definitely still a bit chilly). Hanging out at String Lake is definitely one of the top things to do in Grand Teton National Park for a relaxing and scenic day.
7. Have a Drink with a View
Head to Dornan’s, located just 20 minutes from String Lake, and enjoy a drink on their fabulous patio. The views of the Teton’s from here are amazing! I can’t vouch for the food here (I saw mixed reviews about it so didn’t order any food) but its definitely a top-notch spot for a beer with a view.
8. Explore Jackson Hole
Ok – so this technically isn’t something to do in Grand Teton National Park, but Jackson Hole is a super cute town nearby that deserves some time spent exploring! Take a stroll through town and window-shop or check out the local bars/restaurants. Or even attend the local rodeo that comes to town on the weekends during summer!
Definitely check out Snake River Brewing. They have a spacious outdoor seating area and a great beer (and food) menu.
Planning to continue your trip up to Yellowstone National Park? Check out my 3-day Yellowstone itinerary to plan your trip.
Things to Know Before You Travel to Grand Teton National Park
- Get Bear Spray!! You definitely need this at all times when hiking or basically outside anywhere, just in case. Bears are prevalent in this area. We even saw a grizzly bear on the way to the trailhead one day. You can rent or buy bear spray from a few local outfitters in town.
- If you want to camp but the campgrounds are full, you can try dispersed camping in the Bridger-Teton National Forest
- Download your maps on the maps.me app before your trip so you can navigate without cell service
Packing List for Grand Teton National Park
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- REI Joule Sleeping Bag (this is the one that I have and I love it)
- Inflatable Sleeping Pad (this is the one that I use)
- Portable Rocking Chair (This thing is AWESOME!)
- REI Flexlite Chair – low profile camping chair that’s a big space-saver
- The COLDEST Water Bottle (seriously – stays colder than Hydroflask or Yeti!)
- Decathlon 2-Second Tent (I love this one – it’s super easy to setup and you can sleep longer because of the blackout material)
- Hiking Boots (These are my favorite!)
- Camping String Lights (these are the ones I have and I love them!)
- Travel Towel
- Patagonia Nano Puff Jacket (I bring this on EVERY camping trip. It packs up small and keeps you warm!)
- Sunski Polarized Glasses
- Camping Cooler
- Portable phone charger
- Cliff Bar Energy Chews (love these things for a boost of energy!)
- Kuhl Softshell Pants – These are my favorite pants to wear hiking or camping when the weather gets chilly!
- Periscoping Roasting Sticks – these come in handy when you want to roast smores or hot dogs over the fire!
- Camping Grill – this is the one I have, and I love it!