Grand Teton National Park is 484-square miles rich in extraordinary wildlife, pristine lakes, hiking trails, a multi-use pathway system, the Snake River, and, oh yes, serenity. And did we mention the majestic, awe-inspiring Teton Range that runs the length of the 94-year-old park? Getting close to those mountains alone is worth the price of admission.
The world-famous Tetons are “what mountains are supposed to look like,” Theodore Roosevelt once remarked of the spectacular range. And it's actually a young mountain range—a spry 10 million years old. It was formed when multiple earthquakes along the Teton fault line pushed the peaks upward, in what is known as a “fault block.” Huge glaciers then sculpted the range into the jaw-dropping, rugged rock spines you see today.
In addition to the iconic mountains, the park is dotted with the historic dwellings of the valley’s earliest homesteaders. It is still inhabited today by many of the West's iconic wildlife—elk, bear, bison, moose and bald eagles— among others.
Grand Teton is equal parts “see” and “do;” maybe even more “do!” Truly a hiker’s park, it is more accessible for recreational activities than perhaps any other national park. In addition to hikers, it also attracts world-class climbers and extreme skiers.
- Established: February 29, 1929
- Size: 485-square miles
- Height of Grand Teton: 13,700 feet; the second highest peak in Wyoming
- 242 miles of hiking trails
- Depth of Jackson Lake: 438 feet
- First ski descent of the Grand Teton: 1971 by Jacksonite Bill Briggs
- 900+ species of flowering plants
- Entrance fees: A 7-day pass is $35 for private, non-commercial vehicles/$30 per motorcycle/$20 those on foot or bicycle (age 16 and older). Annual pass is $80.
- Further reading: A Place Called Jackson Hole, The Creation of Grand Teton National Park, Campfire Tales of Jackson Hole, Peaks, Politics & Passion
- Traveler Tip: Download a curated audio tour app of the park from GaperGuide.com. The app will tell you everything you need to know about the park in real time as you drive
*IMPORTANT NOTE FOR SUMMER 2023: The Moose-Wilson Road between the Teton Village area and Moose will be open to weekend traffic only at 7 p.m. on May 26th through June 30th. After that, the road will open to through traffic, seven days a week, beginning at 7 p.m. on June 30th, with possible 20-minute delays. During construction, the public will still be able to access the Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve, a popular trailhead for Phelps Lake and the surrounding area, from the north via Moose.
The Granite Canyon trailhead and parking lot, however, will be closed throughout summer construction and will open to winter recreation in December. Access to the Granite Canyon trail system, including the Valley Trail, will be available from Jackson Hole Mountain Resort.
Things to Do in Grand Teton National Park
Hike Grand Teton National Park
There are 242 miles of hiking trails in Grand Teton National Park, ranging from easy strolls to more strenuous treks at steeper ascents. All have water features such as cascading streams to both valley and high alpine lakes. Wildlife is generally viewable, whether it is moose, deer, black bear, and smaller mammals, as well as eagles and hawks.
RELATED STORIES: Short Grand Teton National Park Hikes, The Ultimate Guide To Hiking in Jackson Hole, Top 12 Grand Teton Hiking Trails and What To Pack For a Hike in the Tetons.
Bike the Park
There are 16 miles of paved, multi-use pathways available for biking throughout Grand Teton National Park—the most paved trails of any national park! Rent a bike and experience its grandeur on two wheels.
RELATED STORY: Jackson Hole Biking and Pathways
Get on the Water
Jenny Lake: Jenny Lake Boating runs small, passenger shuttles (for a fee) from the South Jenny Lake boat dock to the Hidden Falls/Inspiration Point dock approximately every 15 minutes during the summer. The one-hour scenic and interpretive tour gets you up close to the mountains.
RELATED STORIES: A Day at Jenny Lake, Get on the Water in Grand Teton National Park
String and Leigh Lakes: Paddleboarders, canoers and kayakers will find both String and Leigh lakes a breeze for leisurely paddling. Rent a boat or SUP from Snow King Mountain Sports, Rendezvous River Sports or Adventure Sports to enjoy it. These are the best spots for beginners and children to enjoy water sports in Grand Teton.
Jackson Lake: A favorite recreation site for Jackson Hole locals, Jackson Lake is the biggest lake in the park and welcomes all kinds of watercraft. Rent a kayak, canoe or runabout at Signal Mountain or Colter Bay. Take a lake cruise and enjoy a meal at Elk Island with Grand Teton Lodge Co.
Snake River: The Snake winds an ever-changing route through the valley. Take a guided scenic float down the river to soak in the spectacular and varied scenery of the park. Your guide will also provide information on the flora and fauna that are found in and along the river.
RELATED STORIES: Grand Teton Scenic Float Trips: The Essentials, A Scenic Float Trip in Grand Teton National Park, Take a Scenic Float Trip in Jackson Hole through Grand Teton National Park.
See Homesteader History
Visit the 1890s barns and ranch structures of Mormon Row, the Murie Center in Moose and Menor’s Ferry Historic District, which includes the Chapel of the Transfiguration. All are intriguing historic sites.
Catch a Native Cutthroat Trout
Grand Teton National Park is a world-renowned fly fishing destination, especially for anglers hoping to land a Snake River fine-spotted cutthroat trout. Try a guided fishing trip down the Snake River or on Jackson Lake along Signal Mountain’s shores.
RELATED STORIES: Grand Teton Fly Fishing, Fly Fishing in Jackson Hole and Grand Teton National Park
Climb the Grand Teton
While climbing the Grand Teton can be both a bucket list item and an ambitious undertaking—“easily” experienced with EXUM or Jackson Hole Mountain Guides—you may want to opt for a family mountaineering adventure with EXUM's daylong intro to family climbing programs.
Cultural History and Visitor Centers
Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center: Begin your trip into the park with a stop here at the Moose entrance. From interpretive exhibits on local flora and fauna to a helpful team of park rangers and one of the most complete bookstores of any national park in the nation, this is the place to pick up a guidebook and learn about park activities.
Laurance Rockfeller Preserve and Visitor Center: This eco-conscious 1,106-acre preserve includes 8 miles of trails. The interpretive visitor center features unique sensory exhibits and various ranger-led hikes and programs.
RELATED STORY: 5 Reasons to Visit the Laurance Rockefeller Preserve
Menors Ferry Historic District: Take a self-guided or ranger-led tour of an area affords a look at homesteading and pioneer life in Jackson Hole. Check out an early 1920s-era cabin, a general store, the Chapel of the Transfiguration and a replica of a ferry that shuttled people across the Snake River to Moose (and Dornan’s). Enjoy a ride on the ferry during the late summer months. Take a self-guided or ranger-led tour of the district.
Where to Fuel Up
After a day’s adventure have a drink and a nibble on the decks at Dornan’s, Signal Mountain Lodge or Jackson Lake Lodge and talk about where you’ve been.
Causal dining exists at Leek’s Marina Pizzeria, Colter Bay, Jackson Lake Lodge and Signal Mountain.
RELATED STORIES: Local's Favorite Places to Eat in Grand Teton, 3 Meals with Crusing, Floating or Riding in Grand Teton National Park
For a more formal dining experience try Jackson Lake Lodge’s Mural Room, Jenny Lake Lodge and Peaks Restaurant at Signal Mountain.