Travel

Grand Teton National Park Vacation Travel Guide

Sep 21, 2022

Just a 20-minute drive from Jackson Hole is Grand Teton National Park, 310 000 acres of Wyoming wilderness that rises to some of the grandest peaks in the USA. Smaller and more serene than neighboring Yellowstone, Grand Teton’s winding rivers, mirror-like lakes and jagged granite peaks have long been a magnet for painters and photographers, and it’s easy to see why. With a stark absence of foothills, the contrast between the flat, verdant valley floor and the snow-capped Teton Range makes for one of the most dramatic, and memorable geological statements in the Rockies. The park was first established in 1929, when forward-thinking local ranchers and businesspeople united to protect this national treasure from rapidly expanding development and commercial exploitation. Today, the best way to enjoy Grand Teton, is to buckle up and hit the 42-mile scenic loop, which takes visitors on a grand tour through the park’s most awe-inspiring gifts.

 

From the southern entrance, start your adventure on Highway 191 and work your way north, where the Teton Range rises like a chain of towering granite cathedrals. After turning off into Antelope Flats, stretch your legs at the historic district of Mormon Row. Visit John Moulton Barn and T.A. Moulton Barn, two of the last rustic remnants of 27 homesteads built by breakaway Mormon settlers in the late 1800s. Long before European settlers unhitched their wagons here, this bountiful region was the homeland of multiple Native American tribes. The Shoshone people were some of the most frequent visitors, dwelling here in warmer months to gather food and spiritual sustenance in this place they call, “Many Pinnacles." As you follow the main scenic drive north, you’ll come across many overlooks and turnouts where you’ll experience moments of such beauty, they’ll stay with you for the rest of your days. Join shutterbugs from all over the world at Schwabacher’s Landing and prepare to have your breath completely taken away. Once it’s returned, whisper a lil’ thanks to those tireless beavers who created these ponds which reflect the Tetons in all their glory. A little further on, at the Snake River Overlook, get a bird’s eye view of the waters that began as three small streams in nearby Yellowstone National Park. Then, continue north to Oxbow Bend, and get a closer view of this liquid canvas as it slips towards the Columbia River, and the wide blue Pacific beyond.

 

Just up the road, pull into Colter Bay, perched on the stunning shores of the park’s big blue heart, Jackson Lake. This 15-mile glacial lake stretches along the base of the northern Teton range, and is one of the highest altitude lakes in the US. Spend a day cruising the calm water and visiting its islands… while from its banks, fish for trout or explore miles upon miles of trails. From the lake, take the short drive up Signal Mountain. After a 15-minute climb through stands of conifers, emerge at the lookout, where stretched out below you, the park’s streams, meadows and saw-toothed spires come together in a sublime visual symphony. After taking in the views from Signal Mountain, head south to the Jenny Lake Road scenic drive, which offers overlooks to even more eye-popping vistas. If you’re looking for the perfect place to kick back for a few days, Jenny Lake offers plenty of camping and lodging options, as well as every lakeside activity imaginable. Learn about the lake’s geological and natural history at the Jenny Lake Visitor Centre.

 

Then lace up your hiking boots and spend a day on the Jenny Lake trail, which circles Grand Teton’s deepest lake. If you’re short on time, climb aboard the ferry, which crosses to the western shore every 15 minutes to two of the trail’s highlights. Follow the sound of cascading water ever-upward to Hidden Falls. Then a half-mile on, stretch out on the sun-warmed granite and take in the sweeping views from Inspiration Point. After soaking up the sights of Jenny Lake, continue south along the inner park loop to the Teton Glacier Turnout, and get uninterrupted views of the park’s largest glacier. Then, for a final stop on your Grand Teton road trip, take the easy one-and-a-half-mile hike to Taggart Lake. Along the way, say farewell to those ever-present towering peaks which by now have become as familiar as old friends. Most great journeys eventually come to an end, but this is not one of those journeys. Once you’ve left this wild corner of Wyoming, the grandeur of these meadows, lakes, rivers and peaks will revisit you when and where you least expect it. For once you’ve gazed into the mirrors of Grand Teton National Park, her reflections will gently ripple through your memory, for a lifetime.

Related Posts