Grand Teton National Park
aspens and meadow frame Mt. Moran in Grand Teton National Park
   
 


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Grand Teton National Park is one of the most majestic places in the world. The scenery is something you will not forget. First time visitors to Grand Teton National Park often express that the mountains don't even seem real. Towering, snowcapped peaks rise 7,000 feet straight up above the valley floor creating a lingering sense of disbelief. . Sagebrush flats echo with the sounds of elk and bison. Bald and golden eagles soar the deep blues skies while moose ply the park's water vegetation. A large, aqua colored world class trout river flows past soft cottonwoods through the middle of it all. If you are an outdoor person, a visit to Grand Teton National Park should be at the top of your list. And even better, it's only a few miles south of Yellowstone National Park . Any trip to Yellowstone National Park should require a trip to Grand Teton National Park (and vice versa). They complement each other perfectly.

Grand Teton National Park was created in 1929. A section of the valley was created as Jackson Hole National Monument in 1943. By 1950, both units were combined into what is now the present park. Grand Teton National Park is a good sized park, topping out at 310,000 acres.

Once, while camping out in Colter Bay, I heard a young boy tell his dad as they were packing up camp, " Dad, I don't ever want to leave this place".

The kid had the right idea.

 





Park facts:
Total acreage: 310,000
Square Miles: 485
45 air miles north to south
26 air miles east to west
Highest point: 13,770 feet (Grand Teton)
Lowest elevation: 6,350 feet
Jackson Lake: 25,500 acres and 438 feet deep
7 species of conifers
Mammal: 54 species
Birds: 300 species
Grizzly bears: yes
Wolves: yes
Lodges/Hotels: 6
Drive-in campgrounds: 6
Backcountry campgrounds: 287
Marina: 1
Trails: 240 miles
Visitation in 2006: 2,406,000

Contacts:
Grand Teton National Park
P.O. Drawer 170
Moose, WY 83012-0170By Phone
(307) 739-3300Information (TDD)
(307) 739-3400

mom moose sitting down with babby moose sleeping in grass
A baby moose takes a nap next to mom in Grand Teton

Grand Teton FAQ:


Are reservations required to enter Grand Teton? No, but you do need to purchase an entrance pass. Those coming from Yellowstone with a valid 7 day pass do not need to.

Grand Teton is only 300,000 acres, Yellowstone is 2 million. Why go down to Grand Teton? Because Grand Teton offers completely different scenery while still being inside the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. The comparison I use is this: If you want "Sound of Music" type scenery, go to Grand Teton. The alpine environment is something to behold.

When is the best time to visit Grand Teton? Grand Teton is open all year, but I prefer summer and fall. The fall colors can be outstanding in park thanks to the huge patches of aspen. Summer is the most crowded time in the park but also great for wildflowers and tent camping in relative comfort. Spring is good for watching animals but the weather can be wild.

Does Grand Teton allow pets? Yes. Pets are allowed. Pets are not allowed on trails, or farther than six feet from a road. All pets must be on a leash no longer than six feet. Pets are not allowed to run free and disturb wildlife.

What is a good length to stay in Grand Teton? If you can get a week, do it. If you are doing a week long combo Grand Teton/Yellowstone trip(the popular choice), reserve four days for Yellowstone and three for Grand Teton. This is due to the size difference. If you prefer to be in classic alpine mountain scenery on your combo trip, then do four days Teton, three days Yellowstone.

How long does the snow last in the backcountry? All year. The best hiking is late July and August.

What is your favorite part of Grand Teton National Park? That's a tough call. All of it is memorable, but I am partial to the Colter Bay area, the Jenny Lake area and the far northeast corner. It gets even better if you can get up into the Tetons themselves for a good hike. I think anyone will have a great time just driving from Colter Bay to Jenny Lake on the inside Teton road.

What are the campgrounds like and can I make reservations? We have the best Teton camping information on the net. Check the camping link in the menu for individual campgrounds and images. Yes, you can make Grand Teton campground reservations.

How crowded is Grand Teton? It's a notch or two less crowded than Yellowstone. You can most definitely find spots that are largely free of people. Leaving the road and hitting the trail is the easiest way to do that.

I only have one day in Grand Teton, where should I head? Start with a nice walk and a breakfast up at Colter Bay. From there, head south on highway 89 until you get to Jackson Lake Junction. Continue southeast on 89 for about a half mile and you will be at the famous Oxbow Bend portion of the park. This is a good place for photos. When this is done, head down 89 just a bit more and hang a left at the road which is a out a half mile before Moran Junction. This is Pacific Creek road and it will take you through some nice moose/elk habitat and some aspens. After spending a bit of time here, retrace your steps back to Jackson Lake junction. From here, hang left and follow Teton Park Road all the way to North Jenny Lake Junction. Prepare to be absolutely floored by the Grand Tetons on this drive. Hopefully, cloud cover will not obscure your view, but this does happen once in awhile. At North Jenny Lake Junction, take a right on the one way road that takes you to spectacular Jenny Lake. This is awesome country, so get that camera out! Definitely park the car and check out Jenny Lake and the massive Tetons shooting up from the western shore. This is not the sort of thing you see everyday. Also of note is the beautiful Leigh Lake. Both are connected by the String Lake trailhead. This trail system has a route going off up into the Tetons, and a much easier(but no less beautiful) flat hike along the eastern shores of Leigh Lake, String Lake and Jenny Lake. You will want to spend a good deal of time here once you see it. After you get your fill here, it might be sunset. If not, head to South Jenny Lake Junction and enjoy an easy walk over Cottonwood Creek and into some aspens and pine at the base of the Tetons.

If you still have time after all that, continue south on Teton Park Road to Moose Junction. Hang a left on highway 191/89 and take this for several miles to the Snake River Overlook. This is the classic scene you will often see in many a photographer's images.

huge grand tetons rise up over the valley into a cloudy sky
The Grand Tetons rise up over the valley floor.

What are the must see areas of Grand Teton: Jenny Lake, Colter Bay, Leigh Lake, String Lake, Snake River Overlook, Oxbow Bend. All of the park is amazing, but those seem to draw the most ooohs and ahhhhs.

What are the best campgrounds? My personal favorites are Colter Bay campground and Jenny Lake campground.

Is wildlife in Grand Teton dangerous? You bet. The park is home to grizzly bears, black bears, mountain lions and bison. All of these animals can be dangerous to park visitors. Elk can also be dangerous if approached too closely. Since this is grizzly country, one needs to practice good bear etiquette. This means not tossing food into the brush, not leaving food out without being used, not sleeping with food in your tent (or smelling like food when you sleep because you trickled some sardine sauce onto your jacket), not feeding the animals and not approaching them too closely. Bison can and will charge if you irk them enough. So will elk. It is best to treat the animals with a great deal of respect by giving them a wide berth and an escape route or two.

Should I move around in Grand Teton or stay in one place? If you have a week, try two different campgrounds. If you have three days, it's usually best to stay in one location so you can maximize your time. Two campgrounds are OK for four days if you want some variety. Setting up camp and finding another campground can take a half day.

Is Grand Teton OK for kids? Yes. There are a ton of things for them to do, and the jaw dropping scenery will render even the most bored kid interested. Check out some of the short walks available along lakes and creeks. Looking for wildlife is always interesting for kids and Grand Teton has excellent wildlife viewing. You can raft, fish, hike, swim, stargaze, cook smores at the campfire and have a great time. I'm not sure I would take very young children into the backcountry of Grand Teton.

Why all the hype about these mountains? Aren't they like other ones? No. They are very steep with no foothills on the eastern side. They rise some 7,000 feet straight up over the valley floor. Very few mountain ranges in the lower 48 are in the same league as the Grand Tetons. Also, these are a very "sharp" mountain range at the top, whereas many mountains are slightly rounded and worn down. When you are anywhere in the park, you will notice these massive snowy peaks piercing high into the deep blue sky.

Is this a good place for family fishing? Yes. Grand Teton is known for its excellent trout fishing. Your best bet for catching some trout is to fish the Snake River. The easiest access is up near Moran Junction on the west side of the highway. You will see a parking area and boat ramp. Jackson Lake dam also has a fishing access area that is very easy to get to, although it can get sort of crowded there. Jackson Lake and Jenny Lake also hold trout.

How far are is Grand Teton National Park from Yellowstone? Technically, Grand Teton is only six miles south of the southern Yellowstone border. That said, most of the "hot spots" in Yellowstone are well north of the southern boundary and being at West Thumb. So think of it more as a 26 mile drive to get to Grand Teton from West Thumb, and a 54 mile drive from Canyon in Yellowstone.

Getting to Grand Teton National Park? Grand Teton National Park is a long, long way from any major population center. Because of this, travel is usually more expensive and difficult. The biggest airport serving Grand Teton National Park is Jackson Hole Airport which is only a few miles from the park. Round trip ticket prices have declined in recent years, so you might be surprised. Outside of Jackson, you have the choice of flying into Cody, Bozeman, or Salt Lake. Both Cody and Bozeman are around 100 miles from Grand Teton while Salt Lake is near 250 miles from Grand Teton. You also have the option of flying into Billings, Montana and driving over the spectacular Beartooth Pass, down into Yellowstone and then Grand Teton. This would be an incredibly memorable drive for anyone who is interested in jaw dropping, "wow!" type of scenery. This route is about 200 miles long, but takes more time due to the winding nature of the roads. Airfare to Billings is probably the most reasonable of all the airports surrounding Grand Teton.

Those of us who prefer driving to the park have a long ways to go from anywhere in order to get there. From Miami, you are looking at 2,500 miles! Coming from New York, be prepared to be driving 2,166 miles. From Seattle the distance to the park is 876 miles. Despite these long travel times, Grand Teton is most definitely worth it. People often ask me the best way to enter Grand Teton, and I usually tell them "any way you can". All of the entrances to the park are scenic, but I would favor the drive into the park from the town of Jackson, and the drive coming south into the park from Yellowstone. Seeing the Tetons for the first time from the north end of Jackson Lake is a shock. Even more shocking is the drive from Jackson to the park entrance. As you travel the few short miles north to Grand Teton National Park, a big grassy hill blocks your view of the range. This hill slowly recedes to suddenly give you your first view of the spectacular Teton range. It's a jaw dropper.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

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big, windy lake with huge mountains in back