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Spotlight on Grand Teton National Park

Grand Teton National Park begs the question, "Ain’t life Grand?" Go beyond the view with our crib sheet to all the can't-miss highlights in Grand Teton National Park.
Fall in Jackson Hole

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 93-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.

Quick Facts

  • Established: February 29, 1929
  • Size: 485-square miles
  • Height of Grand Teton: 13,700 feet; 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 $70.
  • Further reading: A Place Called Jackson Hole, The Creation of Grand Teton National Park, Campfire Tales of Jackson Hole, Peaks, Politics & Passion
  • SPECIAL NOTE FOR SUMMER 2022! A portion of Moose-Wilson Road, inside Grand Teton National Park, will be closed during the 2022 summer season for paving operations. The road will be closed from the south entrance of GTNP to the Laurence S. Rockefeller Preserve on weekdays from Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day weekend. The road will be open to traffic, including bicycles, on weekends from 7 p.m. Friday to 7 a.m. Monday, and on federal holidays throughout the season. Cyclists are not permitted to use the road when it is closed to vehicles. Hiking trails originating from the Granite Canyon Trailhead, including Granite Canyon, Marion Lake, and the Teton Crest Trail, will be accessible from Teton Village and Jackson Hole Mountain Resort.

Things to Do in Grand Teton National Park

Jackson Hole Hiking

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 articles: 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 articles: Jackson Hole Biking and Pathways

Get on the Water

Jenny Lake Scenic Cruise

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 article: A Day at Jenny Lake, Get on the Water in Grand Teton National Park

Paddleboarding String Lake - 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.

Related article: Get on the Water in Grand Teton National Park

Grand Teton Lodge Company Jackson Lake Boat Cruise

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.  

Related article: Get on the Water in Grand Teton National Park

Snake River Float Trip - Grand Teton

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: 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.

Menor's Ferry Historic District

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: Grand Teton Fly Fishing, Fly Fishing in Jackson Hole and Grand Teton National Park

Grand Teton Summit

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 - Grand Teton National Park

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.

Checking out the Topographic Map at the Laurance Rockefeller Preserve

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: 5 Reasons to Visit the Laurance Rockefeller Preserve

Menor's Ferry - Grand Teton National Park

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

Signal Mountain Lodge - Grand Teton National Park

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.

Jenny Lake Lodge

For a more formal dining experience try Jackson Lake Lodge’s Mural Room, Jenny Lake Lodge and Peaks Restaurant at Signal Mountain.