20 Best Things to Do in Grand Teton National Park, WY
Grand Teton National Park is in Wyoming’s northwest area and covers more than 310,000 acres along the major peaks of the Teton Range.
The park lies ten miles south of Yellowstone National Park.
Its history ranges 11,000 years when Paleo-Indian nomads known for their hunting and gathering skills began migrating to the region to pick food and supplies.
The first European explorers encountered the Shoshone natives in the early 19th century.
The region attracted many fur trading companies at the height of the beaver pelt trade in the early 1800s, which led to explorations of Yellowstone in the mid-19th century.
Later in the 19th century, preservation of the park began, and the managers named it the Grand Teton National Park in 1929.
It was named after Grand Teton, the tallest of the Teton mountain range, attributed to the les trois tétons or three teats of the 19th-century French trappers, then shortened to Tetons.
Today, Grand Teton National Park hosts numerous scenic lakes and streams, including the 15-mile stretch of Jackson Lake and the main channel of the Snake River.
Almost all of the sites within the park and nearby offer great nature escapes that outdoor travelers can explore.
Discover the best things to do in Grand Teton, WY.
Stay at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort
Enjoy a great stay at the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort located at Teton Village in the same name.
It lies in the Teton Range northwest of Jackson and just south of Grand Teton National Park.
Known as one of the country's first-class ski resorts, it offers a variety of condominium accommodations.
Before the 1960s, the location was called the Crystal Springs Girl Scout Ranch until Paul McCollister purchased the property.
He created the Jackson Hole Ski Corporation together with Alex Morley and Gordon Graham in 1963.
Construction began the following year, and in the winter of 1965, the resort opened Apres Vous with its three double chairlifts.
You can relax at their studio-type or condo units complete with kitchen, living areas, and amenities like cable TV, fireplace, heated pools, and jacuzzi.
The complimentary skiers' shuttle can access shops, restaurants, spa services, and a liquor store.
Hike to the Lake through the Jenny Lake Trail
The Jenny Lake Trail is one of Grand Teton National Park’s most famous and accessible trails.
This 7.1-mile hiking trail starts at the Jenny Lake campground but is also accessible from other routes, providing access to the Cascade Canyon Trail and overlapping the Valley Trail on the west side of Jenny Lake.
Glaciers formed Jenny Lake around 12,000 years ago.
It is estimated to be 256 feet deep and around 1,191 acres wide, making it a focal point in the national park.
Enjoy the outdoors with many hiking trails, take scenic motorboat rides, and have quick access to climbing routes around Grand Teton.
The Lake is often the starting point of the day and overnight hike trips because of its easy altitude gain.
Swim, Canoe, or Paddleboard at String Lake
The natural lake outflow of Leigh Lake, String Lake, is connected to Jenny Lake on the south by a short creek.
A small wetland on the lake’s northwest side serves as the primary habitat area for moose.
String Lake is easy to access and best for swimming because of its shallow waters around its first bend to the north, which goes deeper as you swim further down the southwest.
The lake area also provides many trail areas for hiking, varying from short to long, flat to medium, and going in and out of loop trails at various elevations.
Options for trails in the area include the Leigh Lake Overlook or Portage, the Leigh Lake to Bear Paw Lake, and the String Lake Loop.
The calm and shallow lake water is also great for paddleboarding; it's also less intimidating for first-time paddleboarders.
If you plan to relax with a view, you can find spots on the sandy areas close to the waters or use the picnic tables.
Don’t forget to take pictures of the forest-covered mountains and the beautiful Spring Lake.
Remember that camping overnight is not allowed in this area.
See the Elk Herds at the National Elk Refuge
Located in Jackson Hole, the National Elk Refuge opened in 1912 to protect the elks' natural habitat, serving as a sanctuary for large herds.
The 24,700-acre refuge center is bordered by Jackson town, the Bridger-Teton National Forest, and the Grand Teton National Park.
The landscape comprises a glacial sandbar, rolling hills, and a winding creek, surrounded by the Teton and Gros Venture Mountain Range’s rugged peaks.
The National Elk Refuge is home to about 7,500 elk every winter season.
They migrate further down south to southwestern Wyoming during fall and follow the growing grasses towards the Yellowstone National Park region.
Besides elks, the Refuge also protects animal species like bison, wolves, bald eagles, trumpeter swans, bighorn sheep, and fish like cutthroat trout.
Enjoy other outdoor activities like fishing, canoeing, bird-watching, and hunting.
You can visit the refuge center and view wildlife or catch scheduled events for a minimal fee.
Visit Jackson Lake
Jackson Lake in the Great Teton National Park expanded with the construction of the Jackson Lake Dam in 1911, further expanded in 1916, and rebuilt in the year 1989.
Jackson Lake is also one of the country's largest high-altitude lakes, with an elevation of 6,772 ft above sea level.
It gets water from the Snake River, flowing from the north and emptying at the dam.
It's accessible during summer and winter, unlike other lakes in Grand Teton National Park, and offers various activities like boating, windsurfing, fishing, and swimming.
Likewise, it's the only lake that allows water activities like water skiing, wakeboarding, sailboating, and windsurfing.
You can also rent a pontoon and discover the islands and inlets around the lake.
Catch some cutthroat, trout, salmon, and pike, or try ice fishing in the winter.
You should note that Jackson Lake is closed to fishing during October to protect the fish population.
Available campgrounds are at Signal Mountain, the Lizard Creek, and the Colter Bay.
See Great Art at the National Museum of Wildlife Art
The non-profit National Museum of Wildlife Art sits on a hillside called East Gros Ventre Butte, in the middle of a wildlife area overlooking the National Elk Refuge.
The art museum stands two and a half miles north of Jackson town, featured in its 51,000-square-foot façade adorned with Idaho quartzite.
The Slains Castle ruins in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, inspired the museum's design, complementing the beautiful hillside.
The museum highlights collections that reflect both traditional and modern realism.
You can appreciate the centerpiece works of Carl Rungius and Bob Kuhn, the 14 art galleries, and the sculpture trail display.
Take time to visit the museum shop, children’s discovery gallery, and the library, or have a meal at the restaurant.
View the Historic Homestead of the Mormon Row Historic District
A historic district in Jackson-Moran Road, Teton County, the Mormon Row Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1997.
Mormon settlers from Idaho arrived at the area in 1890 and built a community that they called "Gros Ventre" with 27 homesteads.
They intended to create clustered communities instead of the isolated homesteads typical in Jackson Hole.
The district features a line of rural homestead structures of the Andy Chambers, T.A. Moulton, and John Moulton farms built from 1908 to 1950.
Check out the six-building clusters and a ruin reflecting the Mormon settlement and their way of life, along with barns, fields, corrals, and drainage systems.
The area is known as the Antelope Flats.
It lies between Moose town and Kelly town, a trendy attraction among tourists and photographers capturing the views of bison herds, the buildings, and the Teton Range in the background.
Follow the Paths to Cascade Canyon
The Cascade Canyon is a U-shaped canyon passing between the Teewinot and Mount St. John, providing access to Teton’s backcountry.
Approximately 15,000 years ago, glaciers formed the canyon.
The Cascade Canyon Trail is a famous out-and-back trail for travelers who want to get the most out of the mountains without difficulty from the elevation.
Follow the Cascade Creek trail and catch the spectacular views of the Grand Teton, Mount Owen, and Teewinot peaks.
You can spot different wildlife like bears, moose, and alpine species like pika.
Play Golf at Jackson Hole Golf & Tennis Club
Laurence Rockefeller bought the property in 1967, seeing the Jackson Hole Golf & Tennis Club as its centerpiece.
In 1971, he contracted Robert Trent Jones Jr. to remodel the original plan by Bob Baldock.
The golf and tennis club is a semi-private country club that offers regular tee time.
You can enjoy hours of golf, get professional golf lessons to improve your swing, or visit the golf shop for merchandise and good golf finds.
The tennis courts are also open, though the swimming pool and fitness center are exclusive for club members and guests.
Enjoy a sumptuous meal at the North Grille and pair it with wine selections.
Hike to the Hidden Falls
Located on Cascade Lake in Grand Teton National Park, Hidden Falls drops at approximately 100 feet at the far end of Jenny Lake.
Hidden Falls is one of the most frequently visited nature attractions in Grand Teton National Park.
The easiest way to access the falls is a boat shuttle going south of Jenny Lake, leading to Cascade Canyon’s entrance, and taking a 1.2-mile hike along Cascade Canyon Trail.
You can also opt for a 5.2-mile roundtrip starting from Jenny Lake and taking the Jenny Lake Trail.
Check out the picturesque view of Hidden Falls and capture this natural wonder.
Learn about Parks and Mountains at Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center
The Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center opened in 2007, accommodating visitors from early spring to fall season.
Adjacent to the park headquarters, the visitor center features natural history and mountaineering exhibits and displays several Western artifacts.
You will see the related themes of people, places, and preservation of what made Grand Teton today.
Learn about mountaineering and Native American artifacts presented in the Vernon Collection.
See the relief map that paints a picture of the Grand Teton region’s valleys, canyons, and peaks.
Join ranger-led programs for some great learning activities.
Watch a 24-minute video entitled Grand Teton National Park: Life on the Edge by Discovery Communications, Inc.
Drop by the bookstore and shop operated by the Grand Teton Association.
Take the Hiking Challenge at Paintbrush Canyon
Whether you’re an expert hiker or an adventurous one, the Paintbrush Canyon might be good.
It lies between Rockchuck Peak and Mount Saint John on the south and is bordered by Mount Woodring.
Leigh Lake is on the east, and Holly Lake is in the middle of the canyon range.
The canyon is a popular circuit hike stretching 19.2 miles.
At the Paintbrush Divide, you can view Lake Solitude and Mount Moran on the north and the Grand Teton and Cathedral Group on the south.
Take the Paintbrush Canyon Trail or the Paintbrush Canyon-Cascade Canyon Loop, which you can trek for two or even three days.
Prepare for varying weather conditions, and bring the right gear as weather conditions can quickly shift in Grand Teton National Park.
Discover the Magnificent Delta Lake
Delta Lake lies in Glacier Gulch.
This body of water is unique because of its turquoise water, thanks to the rock flour from Teton Glacier.
The lake was once a hidden gem until many hikers started discovering this wonderful off-the-beaten-path attraction.
The hike is challenging with an 8.1-mile out-and-back trail which is usually accessible between June and October as Jackson often experiences extreme snowfall in the winter.
The hike is quite demanding as the trails are rough and rugged, but it will be just fine if you're fit.
You’ll start at the Lupine Meadows trailhead, pass through uphill trails, encounter steep inclines, and climb a sharp gulch area.
Ski at Corbet's Couloir
You shouldn't miss Corbet's Couloir if you’re in Grand Teton during winter.
It's an expert ski run at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort.
The run gets its name from the ski instructor and ski guide Barry Corbet, who noticed an upturned funnel that seemed suitable for a ski spot.
Lonnie Ball, a local ski patroller, tried it in 1967, and it has since become a favorite spot for ski sports enthusiasts.
Many international ski experts described it as "America's scariest ski slope."
So ski your way down for an enjoyable thrill of snow and slopes.
Enjoy Tasty Snacks at Leeks Pizzeria
Grab some pizza and other delicious snacks at Leeks Pizzeria, located on Highway 89, seven miles north of Jackson Lake Junction.
The pizzeria boasts one of the best pizzas in the valley, perfect for your pizza cravings.
Try their delicious starters like the pesto sticks and Teton garlic bread.
You can also build your pizza, try their specialty pizzas, bite their flavorful sandwiches and calzones, or have the salad.
The pizzeria also has a local microbrew, so you can also grab some beer and seltzers.
The best part is the fantastic relaxing view of Jackson Lake and the Teton Mountain Range and the cool mountain air.
Climb up Grand Teton Mountain
As the highest mountain in Grand Teton National Park, Grand Teton Mountain is a favorite spot for mountaineers and rock climbers.
Assuming that you already have a guide, it will take about 6 to 8 hours to get to the summit, which is around 2 miles of challenging hikes and climbs.
But as soon as you reach the summit, you get to enjoy the fantastic views of the Teton Range, the Teton Valley, and Jackson Hole.
The Grand Teton Mountain climbs about 2,700 feet, which is accessible via two routes: the Pownall- Gilkey Route and the most popular, the Upper Exum Ridge Route.
There's no need to get a permit to climb, but it's recommended to register it at the National Park Service.
Drive the Scenic Park Loop Road
A 42-mile gorgeous stretch with spectacular views of the mountain ranges, the Scenic Park Loop Road makes a driving tour worthwhile.
This takes you to the center of the park; allowing you to take in the natural beauty along the way.
You'll pass by lots of amazing overlooks and forested mountain vistas with an abundance of wildlife.
Many tourists start their drive at Moose, which takes them to many unique attractions, including a church and the Mormon Row.
The Scenic Park Loop Road also gives you an option to several hiking trails around the park, to Jenny Lake Scenic Drive, and more.
Drop by the Historic Chapel of the Transfiguration
Built in 1925, the historic Chapel of the Transfiguration sits on a small site, which gives a great view of the Cathedral Group of mountain peaks in the Teton Range.
It's a small log chapel and is accessible through a boardwalk.
The chapel offers Sunday services to the community and tourists visiting for religious purposes.
It was built in a rustic style or Western Craftsman architecture.
In 1980, the Chapel of the Transfiguration was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Capture the Mountains’ Reflection in the River at Schwabacher Landing
An Instagram-worthy photo is worth miles of the drive to Grand Teton National Park at Schwabacher Landing.
It's located along the east shore of Snake River, which gives a whimsical reflection of the jagged Teton peaks.
The reflections you'll see here are phenomenal; getting you even closer to nature.
Look out for wildlife such as beavers, ducks, birds, and moose, among others.
Schwabacher Landing also offers unbelievable fall colors!
Explore the Inspiration Point
The Inspiration Point is a scenic viewpoint over the gorgeous Jenny Lake and is accessible on the same trail as the Hidden Falls.
It will only take about 1.1 miles to get to the viewpoint, which offers magnificent views of Jenny Lake, Jackson Hole, and the Gros Ventre Range to the east.
Along the way, you'll also see amazing views of the Cathedral Group.
To get to the trailhead, you can either hike or take a boat ride.
The way to the Inspiration Point is a little steeper, which can be challenging for first-timers.
But the views are worth it!
The Grand Teton National Park and region offers magnificent mountains and natural attractions to satisfy any outdoor traveler.
You can make the most of your trip by visiting the canyons, hiking trails, lakes, and preserves.
You can do plenty of trekking, boating, fishing, and water activities like paddleboarding.
Some highlights in Grand Teton are encountering local wildlife and the majestic mountain views.
Put the Grand Teton region on your bucket list for a one-of-a-kind vacation.