Grand Teton National Park Travel Guide

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Why Go To Grand Teton National Park

Towering above Jackson Hole Valley with jagged snow-topped peaks, Wyoming's majestic Teton Mountains are in high relief at Grand Teton National Park. From the 13,770-foot Grand Teton to the glittering Jenny and Jackson lakes – which reflect the mountains in their depths – the photo ops are endless. But the park isn't just for mountaineers and photographers. In the peak summer season, the area's trails call to hikers of all abilities and reveal gems like hidden waterfalls and breathtaking views of the Tetons. Meanwhile, the Snake River appeals to kayakers, rafters and those that simply fancy a float, and historic districts like Menors Ferry and Mormon Row attract history buffs interested in the 19th-century past of this piece of Western Frontier. 

The nearly 500-square-mile park also contains a range of wildlife, including black bears, grizzlies, moose, antelope and bison, and for autumn visitors, the park lights up with golden aspens. Plus, travelers that want to tick off another national park on the same vacation can travel the few miles north to Yellowstone, which adjoins Grand Teton (you'll save $10 on combined admission if you choose to visit both parks). 

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Grand Teton National Park Travel Tips

Best Months to Visit

The best time to visit Grand Teton National Park is from mid-May to late September when all the visitor centers, hiking trails and other park activities, including kayaking and fishing, are open and accessible. Beginning in October, winter blows through the park, shutting down most of its facilities and roads. Still, winter is a prime time for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. 

Weather in Grand Teton National Park

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See details for When to Visit Grand Teton National Park

Data sourced from the National Climatic Data Center

What You Need to Know

  • Icy trail conditions Snow can linger until early summer, so it's smart to check with park rangers about trail conditions – and what equipment you might need, from ice picks to traction devices (for your boots).
  • Prepare for packed parking lots In July and August, you'll find that the parking lots at popular trailheads, such as Jenny Lake and String Lake, are filled by midday. Start your hike early to ensure you snag a spot.
  • Be mindful of closures The park is open 365 days a year, but many national park facilities and roads are closed from late fall to spring. But that means snowshoers and cross-country skiers get free rein. For more information on winter activities, check out the National Park Service's website.

How to Save Money in Grand Teton National Park

  • Camp out A campsite will cost you far less than a stay at the park's lodges. Most of the campgrounds are first-come, first-served, except for Colter Bay RV Park and Headwaters Campground. For those, you should book anywhere from six to nine months in advance. 
  • Pack a picnic Hit up a grocery store in Jackson Hole and pack your lunch before you visit the park. You can enjoy it at the scenic Cottonwood Creek and the String Lake picnic areas, which are also fitted with restrooms.
  • Split the fee If you share your ride with friends, you can split the $30 entrance fee, which grants the driver and its passengers admittance to the park for seven days.  

What to Eat

Grand Teton National Park contains more than a dozen restaurants where visitors can fuel up after a long day on the trails or the water. For a fine dining experience, visitors should book a reservation at the Jackson Lake Lodge Mural Room, which offers stellar views and a varied American menu, or the Jenny Lake Lodge Dining Room, which recent diners praised for its menu, views and "exquisite" service. But book your reservation between mid-May (June for Jenny Lake) and early October, since – like most facilities in the rest of the park – these restaurants close for the winter. If you're looking for something more casual, consider the Chuckwagon at Dornans, Leek's Marina and Tapper Grill at Signal Mountain Lodge. 

For a variety of cuisines at a range of prices, visitors might want to drive a few miles south of Grand Teton National Park to Jackson Hole. The burgers at The Bird receive rave reviews, as do the Brussels sprouts and cocktails at Gather. Meanwhile, both the food and the brews at Snake River Brewing earn high marks.

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Safety

A trip to Grand Teton National Park can be a wonderful experience for visitors of all ages, but it's important to take certain safety precautions. For instance, hiking is one of the main activities at the park, but hikers should be sure to always traverse the trails in pairs or groups. Hiking alone is not recommended. As for gear, hikers should come prepared with adequate footwear, drinking water and extra clothing. Ice picks, crampons and traction devices aren't a bad idea either, depending on the conditions of the trails.

This park contains a large population of black bears and grizzly bears, so it's likely that you might encounter a bear or two. During peak season, visitors can enroll in a 30-minute ranger-led bear safety course, which covers topics, such as how to store your food and use bear spray. Rangers ask that visitors report any bear sightings at either a visitor center or ranger station. 

The park's Snake River and Jenny Lake, among other bodies of water, provide ample opportunities for floating, boating, fishing, kayaking and more. But before hitting the water, rangers recommend visitors check posted advisories on the flow rates and caution areas at ranger stations or visitor centers, or by calling the hotline at 1-800-658-5771. They also highly suggest wearing life jackets and bringing along waterproof containers filled with extra clothes and a first-aid kit. For more safety tips, visit the National Park Service's website.

Getting Around Grand Teton National Park

The best way to get around Grand Teton National Park is by car. Not only will you be able to explore the park on your own terms, but your $30 entrance fee will get your vehicle (and all its passengers) admittance to the park for seven days. The park is far too big to explore on foot alone. 

To reach Grand Teton National Park, many visitors fly into Jackson Hole Airport (JAC) since it's less than 5 miles away from the park's Jackson entrance. The Idaho Falls Regional Airport (IDA) is located about 90-some miles to the west, but to find potentially lower rates, some travelers choose to fly into Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC) and rent a car and drive the five hours to the park. Alternatively, you can hire a shuttle service, such as the Jackson Hole Alltrans or the Salt Lake Express, to deliver you from the airport to the national park. 

Photos

Grand Teton National Park1 of 16
Grand Teton National Park2 of 16

In the summertime, the Snake River fills with visitors on float trips or whitewater rafting excursions.

Noppawat Tom Charoensinphon/Getty Images

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