Explore the Natural Beauty of Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

Nestled in the wild heart of Wyoming, Grand Teton National Park stands as a testament to the untamed beauty of nature. Its rugged mountain ranges, verdant meadows, and captivating hiking trails beckon adventurers from far and wide. In this article, we'll uncover the gems that make Grand Teton the understated star among America's national parks.

The Grand Teton mountains rise majestically, their jagged pinnacles reaching for the heavens. Below, canyons plunge toward emerald-green lakes bordered by vibrant wildflowers, fragrant sagebrush meadows, and thick forests.


Grand Teton National Park offers a plethora of invigorating activities. Hike through mountain passes, paraglide from rocky peaks, and kayak on pristine lakes. Moreover, it's one of the prime locations in the United States for wildlife enthusiasts. Bears and moose roam more densely here than in the neighboring Yellowstone National Park, while bison, elk, and pronghorn deer graze freely on open plains.

For those who relish sublime scenery and a laid-back Western vibe, Grand Teton National Park is a top pick. Plan to spend at least two to three days exploring the area, and if you're an avid hiker or wildlife enthusiast, you could easily extend your stay.

Read on to discover the best things to do in Grand Teton National Park, along with essential information to help you plan your visit.

  1. Viewpoints

Begin your Grand Teton adventure by embarking on a 42-mile loop journey between Moose and Willow Flats. This route, which combines HWY 89 and the Teton Park Road, guides you to the park's finest viewpoints.


Some of our favorites, marked on the map at the top of this guide, include:

Willow Flats: A vast grazing area affording the best view of the Grand Teton mountains. Keep an eye out for elk and moose, especially at dawn, and savor the golden hues of fall.

Oxbow Bend: This sweeping bend along the Snake River provides splendid reflections of Mount Moran. On crisp mornings, lingering mist adds a touch of magic. Watch for river otters, bald eagles, and ospreys.

Signal Mountain Summit: Take a brief detour from the 42-mile loop to reach the summit of Signal Mountain. A short 200-meter walk to a viewpoint rewards you with a direct view of the Grand Teton mountains and the national park.

Mountain View Turnout: This lookout exudes a wild, rugged ambiance, with the Grand Teton peaks at their sharpest. The flats below teem with sagebrush, creating a striking contrast.

Snake River Overlook: Made famous by photographer Ansel Adams, this viewpoint frames a picturesque scene where the Snake River meanders through sagebrush flats against the backdrop of the Grand Tetons. Note that some trees may partially obscure the view today.

Schwabacher Landing: Another brief detour off the 42-mile loop, this viewpoint brings you right next to the river as it winds through woods and willow. On calm days, the mountains reflect beautifully in the water.

  1. Jenny Lake Scenic Drive

Embark on the Jenny Lake Scenic Drive, hugging the eastern edge of Jenny Lake. Revel in scenic vistas across the water to the towering mountains. Be sure not to miss the Jenny Lake Overlook, offering an effortless yet scenic view. Nearby, the Jenny Lake Lodge provides a taste of luxury amid this idyllic setting, with natural wood cabins.

The scenic drive covers a mere 3 miles and runs one way, from north to south. Expansive cycle lanes make it perfect for exploring the area by bike.

  1. Boat Trip on Jenny Lake

One of the park's most popular activities is taking to the waters of Jenny Lake. The Jenny Lake Visitors Center offers tours and equipment rentals for your aquatic adventure. Here are some options:

Scenic Cruise: Enjoy two or three scenic cruises on Jenny Lake each day from mid-May to late September. Reservations are advisable, with prices at $30 for adults and $25 for children.

Canoe & Kayaks: Rent canoes (up to 3 adults or 2 adults and 2 children) or kayaks (up to 2 people) from the dock, which is also the departure point for the scenic cruise. Rentals are available from mid-June to mid-September at $25 per hour or $100 for the day, on a first-come, first-served basis.

  1. Hidden Falls & Inspiration Point Hike

Combine a boat trip on Jenny Lake with a brisk hike to Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point:

Starting Point: Kick off your adventure at the Jenny Lake Visitors Center. Take the shuttle boat across Jenny Lake to the West Shore Boat Dock, nestled at the base of Cascade Canyon.

The Hike: The hiking trail from the dock winds gently back and forth across Cascade Creek as it gradually ascends to Hidden Falls, a small cascade ensconced in the woods. The path steepens and traverses a rocky ledge to reach Inspiration Point, offering expansive views across the lake.

Duration: The hike spans 1 mile each way and typically takes about 1 hour and 30 minutes to complete. The steady ascent might require some effort, but it's an excellent way to immerse yourself in the mountains.



  1. Moose Ponds

Moose Ponds consist of two small, charming lakes tucked into a dell south of Jenny Lake. These picturesque ponds are a prime location for moose sightings. During our visit, we observed a bull and three cows leisurely wading in the ponds and strolling through the reeds.

The trail leading to the ponds is as beautiful as the destination, adorned with wildflowers and aspen trees clinging to the edge of Jenny Lake.

Hike Details: From the Jenny Lake Visitors Center, the hike to Moose Ponds covers 1 mile each way and involves minimal elevation gain. Allocate approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes for the entire round trip, or include it in your return journey from Inspiration Point, as mentioned earlier.



  1. String Lake

Among the myriad lakes beneath the grandeur of the Grand Tetons, String Lake holds a special place in our hearts. Often tranquil and still, it shimmers with a translucent green hue as the mighty Teton peaks loom above.

After a day of exploration in the national park, winding down at String Lake ranks among the best activities in the Grand Tetons. Find a peaceful stretch of beach, take a refreshing swim in the slightly chilly waters, and relish a picnic beneath the shade of trees.

String Lake lies adjacent to both the Leigh Lake Trailhead car park and the String Lake Trailhead car park. Bear in mind that bears frequent the area, so be vigilant and follow all posted rules, particularly regarding food storage.



  1. Blue Heron Lounge

Conclude your day at the Blue Heron Lounge, a hidden gem nestled within the elegant, old-school Jackson Lake Lodge. This chic bar boasts enormous windows offering breathtaking vistas of the mountains. Whether you opt for indoor or outdoor seating or perch yourself at the circular bar, you're in for a treat.

Cocktails at the Blue Heron Lounge are crafted to perfection, and they offer an array of superb local craft ales that are well worth sampling. As the sun gracefully descends behind the Tetons, painting the skies with burnt orange hues, this lounge provides the ideal vantage point to savor the moment.

  1. Drive Moose-Wilson Road

Grand Teton National Park is renowned as one of the best places in the United States to spot bears. Encountering bears while hiking in the mountains can be a nerve-wracking experience. However, observing them safely from the comfort of your vehicle is undeniably thrilling.

One of the prime spots for bear sightings is along Moose-Wilson Road. This road connects the town of Moose with Teton Village, traversing through forests and marshlands that serve as the habitat for a diverse array of wildlife. Moose are frequently seen foraging among the willows, and you might also encounter beavers, herons, and cranes.

Great Detours off Moose-Wilson Road:

Consider taking a couple of enticing detours:

Snake River Overlook: Pull over at the turnout near the northern end of the road and gaze over the Snake River, keeping a keen eye out for moose.

Death Canyon Trailhead: A rugged, rocky track leads to the Death Canyon Trailhead car park. From there, a 1-mile trail leads to the picturesque Phelps Lake Overlook, taking approximately 30 minutes each way. The drive is usually manageable with a 2WD vehicle, but the final 500 meters might be best traversed on foot.

Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve: Situated at the end of Moose-Wilson Road (as detailed in the next section).



  1. Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve

In 1927, John D. Rockefeller made a significant land purchase, acquiring much of the land surrounding Jackson Hole. He generously donated the majority of this land to Grand Teton National Park, expanding its boundaries. However, he retained 3,100 acres as a family retreat and guest ranch.

Over time, more land was donated to the National Park, with the stipulation that the preserve remains accessible for visitors to experience the region. The Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve Center, a striking modern structure set amid a sagebrush meadow, is a testament to this commitment.

Inside the center, you'll find captivating visual and sound displays showcasing the local wildlife, along with a well-curated library stocked with an exceptional selection of nature books.

Hikes from the Rockefeller Preserve:

The preserve features a network of trails leading to picturesque destinations such as Phelps Lake (1.5 miles each way, totaling approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes). From Phelps Lake, additional trails branch out in various directions, encircling the lake or ascending to Granite Canyon, Open Canyon, or Death Canyon.



  1. Jackson Hole Aerial Tram

For an awe-inspiring perspective of the Grand Tetons, hop aboard the Jackson Hole Aerial Tram departing from Teton Village. In just 12 minutes, the tram glides skyward, ascending 4,139 feet to a 360-degree viewing platform that affords breathtaking panoramas of the Tetons, Jackson Hole, and the surrounding mountain ranges.

Once at the summit, a network of hiking trails crisscrosses the mountains, catering to a range of skill levels:

Top of the World: An easy half-mile round trip.

Rock Springs Loop: A more challenging 3.5-mile hike.

Cirque Trail: Traverses the summit of Rendezvous Mountain.

For an exhilarating descent, consider paragliding over Jackson Hole, offering unparalleled views of the Snake River and Grand Teton National Park.

  1. Spot Bison & Elk on the Plains

While moose and bears often remain concealed within the forested terrain, bison, elk, and pronghorn deer frequently graze on the grassy plains that line the park's roads. Several spots enhance your chances of encountering these magnificent creatures.

Elk Ranch Turnout: Ideal for elk and bison sightings.

Meadows: The meadows flanking the road from Jackson Dam South to Moose offer excellent opportunities to spot bison and pronghorn deer.

Blacktail Ponds and Antelope Flats: Located on the opposite side of the road, this area is a popular haunt for elk and bison, particularly during the cooler parts of the day.


  1. Mormon Row Historic District

In the 1890s, Mormon settlers arrived in the area, establishing 27 homesteads in a gentle sloping cove nestled between Blacktail Butte and the Gros Ventre Mountains. Today, only six of these homesteads remain, collectively forming the Mormon Row Historic District, also known as Antelope Flats Road.

Two particularly picturesque and historically significant barns dot this landscape. The Moulton Barns, a construction spanning 30 years, have become an iconic symbol of the Teton Range. The Chambers Homestead, harnessing windmill-generated electricity in 1946, is another noteworthy structure.

These aging wooden edifices, framed by a backdrop of towering mountains and surrounded by roaming bison, offer an ideal setting for photography enthusiasts.


Grand Teton National Park is a treasure trove of natural wonders, offering a diverse array of activities to explore its majestic landscapes, observe wildlife, and immerse yourself in its tranquil beauty. Whether you're a seasoned adventurer or a nature enthusiast, these 12 great things to do in Grand Teton National Park will create lasting memories of this remarkable wilderness.

Please note that Grand Teton National Park is a protected natural area, and visitors are encouraged to follow all park regulations to ensure the preservation of its pristine environment. Enjoy your visit to this awe-inspiring destination!

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