You really can’t go wrong when it comes to exploring America’s beautiful national parks, but Grand Teton National Park is one of the best the country has to offer. Whether you’re looking for beautiful views, want to experience historical locations, or simply need a little peace and quiet, Grand Teton National Park is 310,000 acres of natural fun.
If you’re planning a trip to the area, here are 15 things you don’t want to miss while visiting the park.
15. Take a Guided Horseback Tour
Guided horseback tours in Grand Teton National Park provide a unique and immersive way to experience the park’s stunning landscapes. Companies such as Jackson Lake Lodge, Teton Horseback Adventures, and Dry Ridge Outfitters offer various tour options, including one-hour, two-hour, and half-day rides, catering to both beginners and experienced riders. These rides take you through trails winding below the magnificent Teton mountains, offering breathtaking views and opportunities to spot local wildlife.
Some stables are notably located at Jackson Lake Junction, Coulter Bay Village, and Flagg Ranch within the park. In addition, some tours also include a naturalist guide, providing insightful information about the park’s geology and ecology during the ride. Prices for these tours generally range from $65 for a one-hour ride to $95 for a two-hour ride.
14. Raft Down the Snake River
Rafting on the Snake River in Grand Teton National Park is a highly sought-after activity, offering both scenic and adrenaline-filled experiences. Guided raft trips are popular, and there are options available for those who want a relaxing trip as well as those who are looking for some whitewater adventures.
Companies such as Jackson Hole Whitewater and Solitude Float Trips offer various packages, perfect for families, friends, and groups. These trips often include equipment, safety instruction, and knowledgeable guides who can enrich the experience with insights about the park’s ecosystem. For those seeking an extended adventure, there are 16-mile combo trips that combine scenic floating and whitewater rafting.
13. Take a Cruise on Jackson Lake
Jackson Lake in Grand Teton National Park offers a variety of cruise opportunities for visitors seeking to explore the stunning natural landscape from a unique perspective. The Grand Teton Lodge Company operates 1½-hour scenic cruises throughout the day from Colter Bay Village Marina, as well as breakfast and lunch cruises. These cruises provide an excellent chance to learn about the park’s history, geology, and wildlife from knowledgeable guides.
For those looking for a more immersive experience, there are full-day tours that include a boat ride. The Jackson Lake Dinner Cruise is another popular option, offering a memorable dining experience on the water. Cruises operate at various times throughout the day, with prices starting from $35 for children and $50 for adults.
12. Grab a Delicious Meal at Jackson Lake Lodge
Jackson Lake Lodge in Grand Teton National Park presents a range of dining options catering to various tastes and budgets. The Mural Room, a fine dining establishment, offers panoramic views of the Teton Range from every table. Here, you can enjoy contemporary American cuisine, including wild game, with main courses typically ranging from $30 to $50.
For a more casual setting, the Pioneer Grill serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner in a classic 1950s-style diner, with prices usually under $15. The Blue Heron Lounge is another option, touted as the best watering hole in the park, where you can get dinner and drinks starting at around $85. Whether you’re after a high-end dining experience or a casual meal, Jackson Lake Lodge has you covered.
11. Do Some Lake or Fly Fishing
Grand Teton National Park offers a multitude of fishing opportunities, renowned worldwide for its excellent trout fishing. Both lake and fly fishing are popular activities, with the Snake River and Jackson Lake being prime locations. Guided fishing services are also available, offering lake and fly fishing experiences from Colter Bay Village Marina or the Snake River, with prices ranging from $175 to $750.
Additionally, late summer fishing at Blacktail Ponds, Schwalbacher’s Landing, and Cottonwood Creek are ideal spots for using nymphs and dry flies. Grand Fishing Adventures even provides exclusive access to the spring creeks on Snake River Ranch, some of the best fly fishing in the area.
The park operates under Wyoming fishing regulations, making it essential for visitors to familiarize themselves with these rules before embarking on a fishing expedition.
10. Hike the Swan Lake Loop Trail
The Swan Lake Loop hiking trail in Grand Teton National Park is a popular and scenic route that offers a beautiful opportunity for outdoor enthusiasts. The trail, which is also known as the Heron Pond-Swan Lake Loop, is approximately 3.1 miles long.
Generally considered an easy hike, it takes an average of 1 hour to complete. The hike begins at the south end of the Colter Bay Visitor Center parking area, leading to two beautiful ponds – Swan Lake and Heron Pond. Along the trail, hikers can enjoy stunning views of the Teton Range and explore meadows and lush forests. Overall, the Swan Lake Loop is a family-friendly hike that provides a charming encounter with nature’s beauty framed by the majestic Tetons.
9. Play a Round at the Jackson Hole Golf & Tennis Club
(image via Instagram)
The Jackson Hole Golf & Tennis Club offers a wealth of activities set against the breathtaking backdrop of Teton County. The club features an award-winning golf course designed by Robert Trent Jones, Jr., where golfers can play 18 holes while enjoying spectacular views of the Grand Teton Mountains.
Apart from golf, the club also caters to tennis enthusiasts, with extensive facilities for guests to enjoy. Dining is another highlight at the club, with the North Grille offering daily lunch, Après Golf, and dinner options. Additionally, visitors can explore the full-service pro shop and take part in Après Golf activities.
8. Rent a Cabin at Colter Bay Village
Colter Bay Village, located in the heart of Grand Teton National Park, offers a variety of cabin rental opportunities for visitors. The village boasts around 200 unique cabins, accommodating between 2 and 10 people, with varying floor plans. Single-room cabins are perfect for couples or solo travelers, providing a cozy space with comfortable beds, a private bathroom, and heating.
For families or larger groups, two-room cabins are available, offering more space and additional beds. Many of these cabins are original structures that belonged to some of the earliest settlers in the area.
The cabins are available for rent seasonally, from late May to late September, and reservations can be made online or by phone.
7. Take a Narrated Bus Tour
(image via ImageInnovation/iStock/Getty Images)
Grand Teton National Park offers a variety of narrated bus tour opportunities that provide an immersive experience of its stunning landscapes. These tours provide an excellent introduction to the park’s geology and diverse wildlife. For instance, the Grand Teton National Park Narrated Bus Tour is a 4-hour journey that allows guests to sit back, relax, and take in the breathtaking views. For those with more time, there are also full-day tours available, allowing visitors to delve deeper into the park’s attractions.
Tour operators such as American West Tours cover not only Grand Teton but also nearby areas, including Yellowstone National Park and Jackson Hole. For visitors who prefer a self-guided experience, audio tour guides and apps are available, offering stories, tips, and directions based on your location.
6. Make Your Way to the Top of Signal Mountain
(image via Ronnie Wiggin/Moment/Getty Images)
Signal Mountain in Grand Teton National Park offers a unique opportunity for visitors who prefer a scenic drive over a strenuous hike. The Signal Mountain Summit Road is a narrow, winding, 5-mile paved road that takes visitors from the base to the summit. The drive is typically open from mid-May through mid-October, depending on weather conditions.
Along the way, there are several pullouts where drivers can stop and enjoy the breathtaking views of Jackson Hole, the Teton Range, and the Snake River Valley. Once at the top, visitors will find a parking area and short trails leading to two different viewpoints, each offering panoramic vistas. However, it’s important to note that RVs and trailers are prohibited due to the road’s narrowness and sharp turns.
5. Drive the Iconic 42-Mile Loop
The famous 42-mile loop drive in Grand Teton National Park offers visitors an unforgettable journey through the entire park. It is a perfect way to get acquainted with the area, allowing you to choose the sights and activities that most appeal to you.
The drive, depending on how many points of interest you choose to explore, can take anywhere between one to two hours without stops. Highlights of the drive include stunning views of the Teton Range and the chance to spot wildlife like moose, elk, and bears. For a more immersive experience, plan a whole day for this drive, allowing time for stops at the many turnouts and points of interest.
4. Visit the Historic Mormon Row
Mormon Row is a historically significant site in Grand Teton National Park, offering visitors a chance to step back in time and learn about the region’s homesteading history. Located in Antelope Flats, this collection of preserved homesteads was settled by Mormon pioneers in the late 19th century. Today, it serves as a testament to the hard work and determination of these early settlers.
The area’s most iconic structures are the John Moulton Barn and the T.A. Moulton Barn, which have become famous photographic subjects due to their rustic charm set against the stunning backdrop of the Teton Range. Visiting Mormon Row gives you the opportunity to explore these historic buildings, take photographs, and gain a deeper understanding of the area’s rich past.
3. Discover the Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve and Visitor Center
Nestled within the park’s 3100 acres, the Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve and Visitor Center is well known for its ambiance and breathtaking landscapes.
The Visitor Center features exhibits that highlight the history, geology, and ecology of the area, providing an educational backdrop to your visit. Outdoor enthusiasts can explore the Preserve’s scenic trails, such as the lesser-traveled Aspen Ridge Trail. The area is also filled with wildlife, offering ample opportunities for animal spotting. The Preserve is accessible by car from May 1st, and ranger-led programs are available for those who want a guided experience.
2. Rent a Boat, Kayak, or Canoe at Colter Bay
Colter Bay in Grand Teton National Park offers a range of boat, kayak, and canoe rentals for visitors looking to explore the park’s waterways. Whether you’re interested in a peaceful paddle or a more adventurous motorboat ride, Colter Bay has options to suit every preference. Single kayaks can be rented for $35-45 per hour, and canoe rentals are also available at a rate of $30 per hour, accommodating up to three guests. The Colter Bay Village Marina is also fully equipped with a boat launch, store, fuel, and boat rentals.
Experienced visitors suggest getting to the Bay early, as rentals tend to sell out quickly on most days.
1. Ride the Gondolas at Teton Village
Riding the gondolas at Teton Village is a must-do activity for visitors seeking stunning panoramic views of the Grand Teton National Park and Jackson Hole Valley. The Bridger Gondola, which operates both in summer and winter, ascends over 2,700 vertical feet to the top of Rendezvous Mountain. During the 12-minute ride, passengers are treated to breathtaking vistas of the Teton Range and surrounding landscapes.
Once at the summit, visitors can explore hiking trails, dine at the Couloir Restaurant, or simply take in the awe-inspiring views. In the winter, the gondola provides access to world-class skiing and snowboarding terrain.