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What to Do When Visiting Grand Teton National Park

What to Do When Visiting Grand Teton National Park

The beauty and splendor of Grand Teton National Park create jaw-dropping views as soon as you enter the park. The mountains thrust up to the sky with tall, jagged peaks seemingly out of nowhere, and the lakes run right up to the base of the mountains without any foothills to speak of. 

Let’s learn how to make the most of your Grand Teton National Park visit!

Grand Teton National Park & Jackson Hole, Wyoming | MOTM Vlog #59

Where is Grand Teton National Park?

Grand Teton National Park is located in the northwest corner of Wyoming, just 10 miles south of Yellowstone National Park. It covers about 310,000 acres (~484 sq. miles).

Together with surrounding National Forests and Yellowstone to the north, it is a part of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE) that protects 22 million acres of mid-latitude temperate ecosystems – one of the world’s largest.

grand teton national park sign

You may think that for being right next to each other, Yellowstone and Grand Teton would be similar. But as you pass from one park to the other, there is a noticeable change!

The uniqueness of the Grand Tetons comes from how young and steep they are. This steepness is caused by a break in the earth’s crust called a fault that runs through the Jackson Hole Valley.

rv with grand teton mountain range in background

Tremendous forces are still acting upon the range today and it continues to be a geological wonder. Glaciers also left their mark on the range and left behind depressions and moraines that turned into the Teton’s many mountain lakes.  

Things to Do in Grand Teton National Park

Grand Teton National Park offers world-renowned recreational opportunities within its borders. These are some of the best things to do while visiting.

Explore Taggart Lake

Looking for an easy, family-friendly hike? Or a breath-taking view for sunset? We recommend the short 3-mile roundtrip hike to Taggart Lake. Just because it was an easy hike did not mean you won’t be greatly rewarded!

taggart lake

Hike Around Jenny Lake

Jenny Lake is one of the most famous lakes in the park. Formed by glaciers pushing rock debris down Cascade Canyon some 12,000 years ago, it allows motorboats and has many hiking trails around it.

We hiked around Jenny Lake and up into Cascade Canyon, one of the most popular scenic areas of the park.

jenny lake

Explore Cascade Canyon

We hiked up into Cascade Canyon and were treated to amazing views on both sides as we trekked along Cascade Creek. We saw a mother moose and her baby grazing the brush along the creek.

Many mountain waterfalls poured down the slopes from the melting glaciers above.

cascade canyon hiking

Swim in Phelps Lake

A fellow camper tipped us off to our next Grand Teton National park hiking adventure. Phelps Lake is at the base of the entrance to Death Canyon (inviting sounding, isn’t it?). 

phelps lake

Phelps Lake is known for having Jumping Rock that sits on the northern side. It is called “Jumping Rock” for the reason that it serves as a natural diving board.

It is a 25–30 foot drop into the lake, but the water is plenty deep for those brave enough to jump in. Be warned: the water is cold, even in August! Tom joined the dozens of others that braved the jump.

jumping rock on phelps lake

Photograph the Snake River

The famous photographer Ansel Adams loved photographing the Grand Tetons over the Snake River, and it’s easy to see why. The majestic peaks tower over the glinting river winding through Jackson Hole valley.

Professional and amateur photographers alike flock to the park to capture its charisma and majesty. So don’t forget your camera on your visit to Grand Teton National Park!

snake river with grand tetons

Be Prepared for Your Teton Adventure

The Grand Tetons are at higher elevation than most are used to and is home to many species of wildlife. Come prepared for recreating in this beautiful yet rugged landscape with these ten tips:

Top 10 Tips for Visiting Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks in the Summer

#1. Be Prepared for Bears

You are almost guaranteed to come across a Brown or Black bear in the park. Their numbers are up to over 1000 and they are very active in the summer. Encounters are frequently not dangerous but be prepared by carrying bear spray, which you can order here.

Making noise may also scare the bears off before you even see them. Also, use Bear Resistant Containers for food.

#2. Check for Wildfires

Wildfires are very common in this area in the summer. While we were there we had a few days where smoke choked the valleys. Know where they are by checking the alerts tab on the websites or checking Inciweb for details on fires in the entire region.

#3. Drink LOTS of water

Grand Teton National Park is at high elevations above 6,000 feet with many hikes above 10,000 feet. At these elevations and in the dry conditions found in the parks in summer, your body loses water over twice as fast as at sea level. Pack plenty of water and keep hydrated!

moose standing in water

#4. Avoid the crowds by visiting early in the morning or late in the evening

We went exploring around 6:00 each morning and after 6:00 in the evening. In the mornings the park will start to fill by 9:00 and be busy untill 6:00 in the evening.

#5 Consider Camping Outside the Parks

While visiting we stayed in national forest campgrounds on the outskirts of the parks. Not only are the campgrounds crazy busy in the parks they are quite expensive for not having any hookups at most of them. Use the https://www.recreation.gov/ website to find campgrounds.

#6. Be Respectful of Wildlife

Visiting the park you will get up close and personal with lots of big animals. Don’t get too close or you will get hurt. Also do not feed the animals.

We saw people feeding foxes and squirrels. Doing this gets animals too reliant on humans or makes them dangerous. Help spread the message with these cool stickers.

#7. Be Wary of Other Drivers in the Park

We have never had so many close calls with vehicular accidents as our time in the park. There are so many distractions and so many people, many with RV’s and large vehicles. This is a recipe for disaster so driver defensively, and watch out for other drivers. Drive safely and don’t cause an accident.

#8. Stop at the Visitors’ Centers

They are incredibly helpful and will help you have the best experience possible. Utilize their service when you get to the park!

#9. Leave Your Dogs at Home

Your dogs are not allowed on any trails or any undeveloped place in the park. Your dog smells like a wolf to many creatures and their scent can screw up natural patterns.

Many large animals are also more likely to attack you with a dog. We saw too many people disobeying these rules. Don’t be that person. You could also face hefty fines.

#10. Be Safe, and Don’t Push Your Luck

Think things through and don’t go beyond your means. We saw many people doing dangerous things or clearly unprepared. Be smart and stay safe with proper hiking gear and emergency first aid.


Read More About the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem:

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Carol Martz

Sunday 30th of May 2021

Heading there in a few days. Hope I can find that boon docking spot!

Rob - Parkcation

Wednesday 30th of January 2019

It turns out we were there only two months before you! We didn't have enough time (or the weather) to do the hikes, but your pictures just brought back a lot of happy memories of those three days! Thanks for sharing your trip.

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