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grand teton national park travel guide

North Grand Teton Travel Guide

When summer arrives at Grand Teton National Park, every business offering touristic services opens their doors and thousands of travelers planning their trip to Yellowstone set aside a few days to see these enormous mountain peaks. Some hiking trails open as early as May when there’s still snow on the trails. The snow melts off by June.

I’d only ever seen a typical American lake in the movies so, on this trip to Grand Teton National Park, I finally had the chance to experience it for myself. Going during the summer was ideal because, though Jackson Lake was pretty chilly, the surrounding landscape was incredible.
 
 

GRAND TETON IN PHOTOS


 

BEFORE YOU GO:

Here are a few recommendations to make the most of your trip to Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone:

  • Download Maps.me which will enable you to navigate offline and mark locations you would like to visit.
  • Choose an entrance as your base: If you’re going to combine this trip with a visit to Yellowstone, I recommend you stay at the north entrance of Grand Teton National Park and stay at Colter Bay Village.
  • Reserve your flights, car, rv, airbnb, hotel, camping spots, tours and meals with a lot of anticipation if you’re planning to travel in the summer.
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    WHEN TO GO TO GRAND TETON NATIONAL PARK

    Summer: June to August (high season). Although there will be a lot of people and you’ll definitely have to make your reservations in advance, you’ll likely enjoy Grand Teton National Park more during the summer. Even camping in the summer feels chilly so I can only imagine how it feels during the winter!
     

    WHAT TO DO IN SUMMER:

  • Hikes
  • Wildlife sightings
  • Beach activities
  • Boat rides
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    EXPLORING GRAND TETON

    Before beginning your tour of the park, you should stop by the nearest visitor’s center for more information on what to do, where to go etc. In my case, the nearest center was at Colter Bay. The park rangers are experts on the park and can recommend which hikes to go on depending on your preferences and physical condition.

    In the summer, the sun sets really late and you’ll have more daylight to explore the park. You’re most likely to find short 1-hr hikes or else long 6-hr hikes. Compared to Yellowstone, the landscapes you’ll encounter on the hikes are significantly more impressive, although one could argue that they’re just different. In any case, make sure to explore Grand Teton National Park by going on some hikes, you won’t regret it.
     

  • Jackson Lake Beach
  • How could you not enjoy the lake that is fed by run off from the Grand Teton glaciers? Sunbathing on a beach while admiring the mountains nearby is something you should do at least once in your life. Since I’m originally from the Ecuadorian coast, the temperature of the water here was way too cold for my taste, but I got used to it after a few attempts. The beach is a great spot for picnics, though it’s covered with round stones so I recommend taking sneakers or sandals.
     

  • Oxbow Curve
  • This is the best spot along the highway to get a shot of the Grand Tetons. The light is good throughout the day but you’ll often see many cars and people with their cameras, so if you can get there at dawn or dusk, that’s ideal.
     

  • Taggart trail
  • This is a trail that goes between 2 glacier lakes with a perfect view of the Grand Teton. It’s easy to hike and you can bathe in the lake. The hike takes about 3 hours and the trail is looped so you end up where you started. Unfortunately I couldn’t go on this hike because of a knee injury so my wife went ahead and did it while I went to visit Lakeshore Colter Bay. According to my wife, this hike is well worth your time!
     

  • Lakeshore Trail Colter Bay
  • This is a short 1.5-hr hike that’s very easy and provides beautiful views of various mountains, including the Grand Teton.

    Stop by a visitor’s center for additional information before going on the hike. Bear sightings are common and on the dates we were visiting, we were told that a bear was in the area foraging but did not seem aggressive.

    This trail is actually close to a lot of things, but when you’re on it, it feels like you’re alone in a forest. iT’s a well made trail, perfect if you want to enjoy the peace and silence of the forest. That said, if there might be a bear around, make enough noise to keep it at a safe distance (bears don’t like noise).

    I did this hike alone, despite knee pain that developed while doing the Jenny Lake trail. Standing along Jackson Lake and contemplating the surrounding mountains will definitely take your breath away.
     
     

    Check out this interactive map of Lakeshore Trail Colter Bay


     

  • Jenny Lake Trail
  • This is a looped hike that takes about 4 hours. You might be able to observe animals resting within Lake Jenny Canyon. This hike is highly recommended by park rangers because there’s a high chance of seeing birds and other wildlife in their natural habitat.

    The trail takes you along the western side of Lake Jenny and while you hike along the trail, you’ll see people bathing in the waterfalls and dams. You’ll also notice little rodents, like chipmunks, waiting for people to drop some of their food. Try not to leave any food around! From the summit, you’ll get an impressive view of the lake and then you’ll start entering a canyon that takes you to Grand Teton.
     
     

    Check out this interactive map of Jenny Lake Trail

     

    WHAT TO PACK FOR YOUR TRIP TO THE GRAND TETON

    During the summer, many visitors will travel through Yellowstone National Park as well as Grand Teton National Park.

    If you’d like to make the most of your experience at Grand Teton and Yellowstone, you should pack certain items to fully enjoy the ecosystem, plants and animals found in the parks.

     
     

    OPTIMIZE YOUR TIME AND MONEY

    If you’re thinking of visiting Grand Teton National Park, you’ll likely also visit Yellowstone National Park. I recommend you start with Grand Teton National Park and then continue through to Yellowstone. In Grand Teton National Park, I recommend you stay in the northern area at Colter Bay Village. There are cabins, camping, you’ll have access to your own grill and save money by cooking your meals.
     
     

    BE A RESPONSIBLE TOURIST

  • Don’t litter in lakes, on trails or other touristic sites.
  • Don’t collect plants, sand, insects, stones or any other specimen.
  • Maintain a distance of at least 90 meters from the animals.
  • Keep your food in a safe place, such as your car.
  • Eat local and hire a local, community guide, if possible.
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    TRAVEL SAFE THROUGH THE UNITED STATES

    • After experiencing a global pandemia due to COVID-19 we realized that an entire trip can change in just a matter of days and, when faced with an emergency away from home, our clients (travelers to the Galapagos) should have access to travelers’ assistance that actually helps and works in a time of crisis. From now on, we strongly suggest you purchase good health and travel insurance.

     

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    szijthoff

    szijthoff

    Sandra is a Dutch/Peruvian communications specialist, ceramist and guitar builder based in Ecuador. When she's not helping you find availability on a Galapagos tour, she organizes Ecuador ayahuasca ceremonies through Alma Healing Center.

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