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One Day in Grand Teton: How to see the Parks Major Highlights
Grand Teton is one of the most underrated National Park in the US and a must on any American Road Trip. It is home to astonishing backdrops, scenic lakes and world-class hiking trails. The park is also one of the best places to visit for those looking to catch a glimpse of the captivating wildlife. Yet, even with all these wonderful features the Teton’s still remains under the radar compared to its famous neighbour, Yellowstone National Park. If you happen to be in Wyoming, I recommend spending at least One Day in Grand Teton National Park. I promise it is a must on anyone’s US Bucket List.
Before we dive into our Grand Teton One Day Itinerary, let’s first discuss a few points you need to know before your visit.
Do I Need to Rent a Car to Visit Grand Teton?
While renting a car is not essential in order to explore the Beauty of the National Park. I’d definitely advise doing so when possible. Those who have access to their own vehicle will have a lot more time to explore on their own accord. And I promise you will want to stop A LOT when driving through the Tetons. Expedia offers competitive car rentals that are located in Jackson Hole Airport (the nearest airport to the Tetons).
Are there any organised tours around Grand Teton?
If you don’t want to drive, don’t worry, you can still experience the beauty of Grand Teton National Park. There are plenty of organised day tours that sort out your transport on your behalf.
Just be careful as not all tours include the entrance fee into the park. For example, this tour picks you up from your accommodation in either Jackson Hole or the Teton Village. However, the ticket price does not include admission.
This full-day tour, however, picks you up from the same locations, includes admission into the park, many beautiful stopping points and a boat ride across Jenny Lake. In my opinion, this particular tour is much better value for money.
You can also take part in a Wildlife Spotting Tour. Again, this tour does not include admission, however, the main focus is on wildlife. Which I must admit would be a pretty cool experience to have an expert bring you around the park.
How do I get to Grand Teton?
There are two main ways to reach the National Park, by car or plane.
Many decide to combine both Grand Teton and Yellowstone into one road trip. If you plan to do the same then you will enter the park via the Moran Entrance. On the other end of the park lies the Moose entrance.
There are 3 airports in and around Grand Teton.
The closest airport is Jackson Hole, which is quite literally located in the Teton Range. Flights into Jackson can be a little bit on the pricy side, however, in my opinion, it ways out of the other options which are long driving routes.
The nearest Airports next to Jackson is Salt Lake City which is a 5-hour drive and Denver which is an 8-hour drive away. Don’t forget to check out Skyscanner for competitive flights.
Is it free to enter Grand Teton National Park?
Unfortunely, entrance into the National Park is not free. In fact, it ranges depending on your vehicle type and the purpose of your visit. Below is a sample of the most popular entries.
No entrance fee is charged for the John D. Rockefeller Memorial Parkway.
Grand Teton Private Vehicle Fee: $35.00
Grand Teton Motorcycle Fee: $30.00
Grand Teton Hiker/Biker Fee: $20.00
These fees allow you to stay for a total of 7 days.
Where is best to stay when visiting Grand Teton?
There are two towns near in and around the National Park, the Teton Village and Jackson Hole. I personally stayed in Jackson Hole and loved it. It’s a lovely spot to walk around, admire the surrounding mountain views and go for a few drinks on the town at night. Below are some places to stay in Jackson.
Budget-Friendly Option: Jackson Hole KOA Campsite (Where I stayed)
Mid Range Option: 49’er Inn & Suites
High-End Option: Snow King Resort
Luxury Option: SpringHill Suites
What to Pack for a Trip to Grand Teton?
I visited Grand Teton while on my coast to coast Road Trip across the US. If you too are planning a road trip, I’d advise checking out my packing list for an in-depth guide on what to bring. I have highlighted below the essentials for one day in Grand Teton.
- Waterproof Jacket
- Hiking Boots (<- my favourite brand)
- A Day Bag (<- Also my favourite)
- A torch/Headlight (for hiking)
- Travel First Aid Kit
- Water Bottle (The Tap Water is Drinkable)
- Camera (Essential)
- Bear Spray
- Insect Repellant
One Day in Grand Teton: Must See Attractions
Ok, so now that we have covered all you need to know before spending 1 Day in Grand Teton it is time to move on with the itinerary. This guide is following a route starting from Yellowstone National Park (The Moran Entrance). If you are entering Grand Teton via Jackson Hole (The Moose Entrance), I’d advise doing this Grand Teton 1 Day Itinerary in reverse. If you are coming from Jackson Hole Airport you may need to move some stops around to best suit your needs and accommodation for the night.
It is important to note, that this is a summer itinerary as the Teton Park Road closes from November to May due to heavy snowfall and icey conditions.
Stop 1: Jackson Lake Overlook, The Teton Sign & The Moran Gate
As you leave Yellowstone behind and begin to approach Grand Teton National Park, you will drive past a beautiful viewpoint known as Jackson Lake Lookout.
I recommend taking a moment to enjoy the stunning view as this is the first time you will see the Tetons rugged landscape.
Once you have finished admiring the view, drive a few more minutes down the road until you reach the iconic Grand Teton Sign.
A picture with the sign is almost essential. After all, it’s another National Park ticked off the bucket list.
The Moran Gate is located just a short drive from the sign. It’s important to note that there may be a wait in the summer months. It will cost you $35 per vehicle, which will allow you to stay up to 7 days in the National Park.
Stop 2: Colter Bay Village
The first official stop on our Grand Teton Itinerary is the captivating Colter Bay.
When I first visited back in 2018, this was the moment I fell in love with the Tetons. I stood in awe as the majestic mountain range reflected upon Jackson Lake.
There is a trailhead located at Colter Bay known as Hermitage Point Trail. It’s a 15.4-kilometre long loop and takes on average 3/4 hours to complete. If you would like to take part in this loop check out All Trails for more detail.
Once you have finished taking in the scenic lakeside scenery. I’d advise popping into the Visitor Centre for a browse. If you are in need of any snacks or a beverage here is a good place to buy them. There are also toilet facilities onsite.
Stop 3: Teton Park Road
Once you have finished admiring the beauty of Colter Bay. It is time to drive towards Teton Park Road.
Most of our Grand Teton in One Day Itinerary has us driving along Park Road. However, I wanted to put it down as an official stop as there are many viewpoints along the way worth noting, such as Potholes Turnout and Mount Moran Turnout.
The scenic road also makes for a great photo opp. Of course, always take precautions when taking a photo like the one seen to the left. Watch out for oncoming traffic before stepping out onto the road. I was there rather early in the morning and was lucky to avoid peak hours.
Stop 4: String Lake
Continue driving along Park Road until you see signs pointing toward String Lake. Parking is Free onsite, and there is plenty of spaces available.
* Tip: Get there early, this walk is quite popular, the busy period can be avoided by arriving as early as possible. You never know, you may even be treated with an epic reflection*
Activity 1: Hike String Lake Trailhead
Once you get out of the car it is time to start the first activity of the day. An adventurous hike around the beautiful String Lake.
The String Lake Trailhead begins at the lakes picnic area, it then continues through the raw forestry and eventually opens out to a panoramic viewpoint.
The walk is 4.4 miles in total and takes about 1 hour and a half to complete depending on your fitness level. The hike falls into the category of easy to moderate. You can find out more information on the difficulty of the hike from the All Trails App.
The trail is a popular place for wildlife sightings such as bears and moose.
It is surrounded by astonishing evergreens tree’s, snow-capped mountains and pristine waters.
About 1.4 miles into the hike, as you cross over the bridge, there is an option to divert towards the East shoreline of Leigh Lake. If you wish to stay on the String Lake Trailhead I’d advise giving this option a miss and continuing along the looped trail.
From that point the trail begins to gear upwards, you can no longer see the lake as the hill continues for about one mile. When the trail opens back up again, walkers are presented with a birdseye view. Which is truly breathtaking. As you near closer to the lake, the trail began to turn downhill at a rapid pace. Towards the end of the string lake loop, there is an outstanding view of Mount Moran peaking over the Trailhead.
The best part about this hike is the tranquillity. It is nice to take a moment to appreciate all the beauty Grand Teton has to offer.
Activity 2: Lunch and a swim in String Lake
The trailhead ends back where it starts, at the picnic area.
This is the perfect opportunity to stop for a scenic bite to eat. I’d advise bringing a packed lunch for the day.
Take some time here, to enjoy the surrounding mountain views and the glassy lake surface.
String Lake is said to be one of the best swimming spots in all of the Grand Tetons.
So, for those of you planning a trip, It may be a good idea to bring along some swimwear.
Just a little prior warning, the water is FREEZING. Even in the summer months.
Stop 2: Jenny Lake
Following a refreshing dip in String Lake, it’s time to hop back in the car and drive to the next stop of the day, Jenny Lake. The drive between stops is incredibly scenic, so, expect to stop once or twice. In fact, there are two driving routes, you can either make your way back to the Tetons Park Road or Drive along Jenny Lake Road.
Jenny Lake Option 1: Hike Jenny Lake Trail Head
The next activity on our Grand Teton One Day Itinerary is a hike around Jenny Lake.
The Trailhead starts at the main parking lot, however, this does get rather busy. If you don’t want the hassle of finding a spot to park I have an alternative solution.
It is a 3-mile walk from String Lake to Jenny Lake, which can be seen on the official String Lake Trailhead Map. That way you don’t have the hassle of moving your car.
The Jenny Lake Trailhead is a 7.7-mile hike and can take anywhere from 2/4 hours to complete depending on what route you take. You can find details on the hike through the All Trails Website.
Below, I will walk you through the route I took. Which took a little over two hours to complete.
The trails ascent begins at the Jenny Lake Visitor Centre, where you have the opportunity to admire the views of the lake from ground level. The walk then continues towards the first point of interest which is the Hidden Falls.
This part of the trail is rather uphill and can be strenuous in places, I recommend bringing a good pair of hiking books along with you (these are my favourites).
Hidden Falls & Inspiration Point
The Falls are located off to the left of the trail. In fact, they live up to their name, tucked away neatly into the side of the Mountain. You can hear them before you see them. It’s a beautiful spot to take a moment to watch the water flow into the beautiful river below.
Once you have taken in the beauty of the Hidden Falls it is time to walk back towards the main trailhead.
Continue on up to the mountain. While this climb is not as steep as the initial ascent, it is far more narrow and has a rather uneven surface. I’d advise taking some caution as you walk along the edge.
At this point, the view starts to open up to a Panoramic view of Jenny Lake. It is a truly remarkable sight.
A little further on is the next major viewpoint known as Inspiration Point. This is the perfect place to take a rest upon the rocks and reflect on the beauty of the Tetons. From Inspiration point, you will see Jenny Lake and the surrounding mountains.
The way back down
The trailhead continues on in a loop from Inspiration Point, however, I decided to retrace my steps as I was getting hungry. It took about 40 minutes to reach the starting point.
The visitor centre sells ice cream and ice pops which are the perfect rewards for a day full of hiking.
The Jenny Lake Trailhead was my favourite hike in Grand Teton National Park.
The views from the trail are breathtaking and wildlife spotting opportunities are endless.
We even saw a Moose hiding in the tree’s just a little past the initial viewpoint. Those guys are MUCH larger than I thought.
Option 2: Jenny Lake Shuttle Boat
For those of you not wanting to do any more major hiking, there is an option to take the shuttle boat across Jenny Lake.
From the docking station, you can opt into hiking towards the Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point. This method takes about an hour off the hike.
Information on the Jenny Lake Shuttle Boat:
- A one-way journey costs $9 and a return journey cost $15 dollars and runs frequently throughout the day.
- The boat operates from mid-May till late September.
- The boat transports passengers from the east to the west of the lake.
Stop 3: Continue Along Park Road
As you leave Jenny Lake behind, it is time to continue on down the scenic Teton Park Road.
Again, there are plenty of beautiful stop-offs along the way including, the Teton Glacier Turnout, Taggart Lake Trailhead and the Chapel of the Transfiguration.
After making a few stops you will reach the Grand Teton National Park Sign on the Moose entrance/exit of the park. In my opinion, the area surrounding this sign is more picturesque than the Moran Entrance. I’d advise jumping out of the car to catch a snap with it.
Before, continuing on towards the town of Jackson Hole for the night.
Stop 4: Jackson Hole
After the adventurous day hiking the Tetons, head back to your accommodation for the night.
I’d advise booking a hotel in the Jackson Hole area. There is so much to do in the evening time in the beautiful little town.
In the summer months, there is a cowboy shootout show every night that starts at 6.00 pm. I honestly didn’t know what to expect with this show but I have to say it was brilliant. I laughed the whole way through.
Finish the night off with some food and drinks on the town. I recommend visiting the million-dollar cowboy bar, it is a lot of fun!
Tips before visiting Grand Teton National Park
Weather: Grand Teton’s temperatures can be a little unpredictable. I’d advise packing layers and taking them off as the day goes on. I started the day off in a pair of jog pants and three sweaters and finished the day in a pair of shorts and a tank top.
Bear Spray: I’d advise bringing bear spray. Grand Teton is a part of bear country and it is a good idea to always be prepared. Be Bear Aware!
Bug Spray: If you are like me and are absolutely adored by mosquitos. I advised packing some well-needed bug spray to avoid an itchy situation.
Food Storage: Due to the high level of bears in the area. Hikers and campers are required to store food in provided food storage units.
Sun Protection: I’d advise bringing sun protection as some of the trails are quite open, exposing hikers to regular sunlight.
Don’t forget your camera: The Tetons are too beautiful to forget to bring a camera. Who doesn’t want to capture all these unforgettable experiences?
Things to do Near Grand Teton National Park
If you are visiting Grand Teton I’d highly recommend extending your trip by adding at least 2 days in Yellowstone. Both parks are located just a short distance from each other and it would be a shame to miss out on their beauty when in the area.
You could also spend an extra day in Jackson and go rafting down Snake River. This is a wonderful experience for those Adrenaline Junkies out there!
No matter what you decide to do, I know you will have a fantastic time <3 Thank you for taking the time to read my Grand Teton One Day Itinerary! Hope you have a wonderful trip and if you have any questions be sure to leave a comment down below.
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