Anywhere with the name “grand” in it should be a dead giveaway that it’s totally amazing – the Tetons are no exception. These mountains rise 7,000 feet above Snake River, flowing along the Jackson Hole valley floor. The steep mountain peaks appear to be so close, making for an intimate connection when viewing them. It’s hard not to be impressed every time they come into view after rounding a bend on the road or trail. The area is also ripe with wildlife. Large animals like bison, moose, bear, and elk are easy to spot even from the road.
Where to Go
Choose from rustic bunk rooms, where guests provide their own bedding (probably not the best family friendly option), to fully equipped log cabins, tent cabins, ranches, and a full-service resort-style hotel. Many of these locations also have campgrounds associated with them.
There are over half a dozen other campgrounds and RV parks as well as backcountry camping options in the park. Just five miles south of the park entrance is the town of Jackson. There is a huge range of lodging options in and around Jackson, including a number of other campgrounds and RV parks. You can find lodging and camping along Highway 26/287 as well as in Dubois, Wyoming, just 50 miles east of the park.
What to Do
Grand Teton National Park is a year-round wonderland. There is a lot to do no matter what season you visit. The area, in and out of the park, is rife with hiking, backpacking, horseback riding, swimming, fishing, boating, scenic drives, mountain biking, road cycling, climbing, wildlife viewing, skiing, sledding, ice climbing, and more.
The park itself offers a number of ranger programs for visitors of all ages to get to know and understand how unique the geology of this valley is. Just south of the park is the National Elk Refuge with wagon or sleigh rides (ground cover dependent) amongst the elk. When the elk aren’t there (summer), migrating birds move in from the south and it becomes an ornithologists’ paradise.
In the fall the leaves start to turn and bring a whole new level of awe to the area. The bright yellow leaves contrast beautifully with the dark blue waters of the lakes and rivers. Once the snow starts falling, hiking might transition to snowshoeing or ski touring, and not as many folks choose to camp out (though many still do). The ski area at Teton Village Jackson Hole Mountain Resort becomes the focus of many visitors. There are also lots of backcountry skiing options in and out of the park. Jackson Hole is also the home of the world renowned Exum Guides who will take visitors of all ages through their Kid’s Camp and Family Climbing programs.
The Jackson Hole Airport is actually in the national park. Many of the lodging options in and out of the park offer shuttle services from the airport so visitors don’t even need to rent a car. There are shuttle services available from Salt Lake City, Pocatello, and Idaho Falls to Jackson to launch an adventure. The park itself does not run a shuttle program, but there are a number of private shuttle options to get from Jackson up into and amongst the popular stops in the park. There are also private car services as well as a public bus option. Cars can be rented at the airport or in Jackson proper. There are some seasonal road and pathway closures, so be sure to check the website.
Adventure Correspondent Cameron L. Martindell is a freelance travel and expedition writer, photographer and filmmaker focused on family and adventure topics. He and his wife Jordan are based in Boulder, Colorado, and are parents to Rosie, 3, and Rey, 3 months. Visit Cameron’s personal travel page, Off Yonder.