Spending 2 to 3 days in Grand Teton National Park is something to remember. From breathtaking mountain landscapes to a wide variety of wildlife (including moose!), there are countless areas to explore on a Grand Tetion itinerary. Most people visiting Wyoming make sure to visit Yellowstone National Park, but not everyone travels a bit further south into the Teton Range.
Here, we’ve outlined a route that covers a nice blend of highlights and off-the-beaten-path attractions for a smattering of excellent activities. Depending on how you want to spend your time in the Grand Tetons, there are day hikes, camping, wildlife spotting, and more available.
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How Many Days in Grand Teton?
Taking a day trip or two days in Grand Teton National Park simply isn’t enough. You’ll be rushed and overwhelmed to see as much as possible or not experience enough of the park. The sweet spot is three days in the park.
This allows enough time for exploring different areas of the park and doing it at a leisurely pace. After all, the Teton Mountains are not a range you’ll want to pass through quickly.
For overnight accommodations, consider staying at one of the park’s several lodges, in a small town just outside the park, or camping. Keep in mind that campgrounds fill up fast during the summer, so even those that are first come first serve are competitive. Plan your time in the park accordingly.
Getting To & Around Grand Teton National Park
The best way to experience Grand Teton National Park is by car and on your own terms. The park entrance fee of $35 will get your vehicle and all its passengers into the park for seven days. There is no shuttle and exploring by foot isn’t an option unless you’re hitting the trail.
Those traveling from far away might opt to fly into Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Car rentals are available at nearby airports to transport you from the airport to the park.
There is a shuttle, the START Bus, that takes visitors from Jackson Hole into the park, but you’re limited on where you can visit when you experience the park without a car. Depending on the direction you’re coming from when heading toward the park, you’ll either take I-80, I-15, or Highway 89 South through Yellowstone NP.
As a final note before we dive into the Grand Teton National Park itinerary, keep in mind that you are visiting a national park that is home to a wide range of wildlife. This means that a bear could dart out in front of your car or that you might spot a moose while on a backcountry hike.
Viewing wildlife is part of the spectacular experience you’ll have in the Tetons, but you must remember to be respectful. You should keep in mind: take photos, but do so from a distance, never get between a mom and her baby, carry bear spray in certain trails if park rangers recommend it, and know how to respond if/when you encounter a bear.
Dawn and dusk are the best times of day to see wildlife. If you find yourself in the right spot at the right time, you might just experience some of the park’s best fauna.
2 to 3-Day Grand Teton Itinerary
Day 1 – Jenny Lake, Cascade Canyon Trail & Oxbow Bend
We understand that you might be limited by the amount of time you’re able to spend in the Tetons. If you only have one day to dedicate to the park, try to structure your day to visit the sites listed for Day 1 here. It’s a strong combination of mountain views, canyon hikes, and wildlife sighting locations.
Jenny Lake is one of the most popular parts of Grand Teton National Park and it isn’t hard to see why. It’s tucked at the very base of the Tetons and serves as the kick-off point for many favorite hikes. Hikers can visit Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point, or circle the lake.
Lake Solitude, Hurricane Pass, and the Cascade Canyon Trail are longer and more strenuous options, but well worth the effort required. If you aren’t interested in hiking from Jenny Lake, you can also take a boat ride, explore the visitor center, or have a picnic by the lakeshore.
When visiting during the summer, expect the parking lot to fill early. Also not that the scenic Teton Park Road, where one can access the lake, is closed form November-May.
Jenny Lake Lodge and Jenny Lake Campground are two popular accommodations that also are usually booked several months in advance. Even if you aren’t staying in the area, taking an afternoon to relax by the lake or having a lunch picnic is well worth your time.
Cascade Canyon Trail
As we mentioned, Cascade Canyon Trail begins at Jenny Lake and extends deep into Cascade Canyon between Teewinot and Mount St. John. It’s a beautiful way to catch a glimpse of the Grand Teton backcountry without trekking days into the mountains and to get an incredible view of the Teton Range.
The trail follows Cascade Creek and is an out-and-back trail at 14.6 miles roundtrip. However, you can choose to turn back at any point. If you take the Jenny Lake shuttle to the trailhead, you’ll shorten the hike to 8.8 miles roundtrip.
Moose, bears, and pike are all regularly spotted along the trail. Bear in mind that this trail is better for those with moderate levels of physical activity. The trail gains some elevation and visitors are already at a higher altitude being in the mountains.
Make sure to pack a water bottle, water filter, sunscreen, and proper hiking shoes. While the hike might be difficult, the view from the canyon is unbeatable.
Oxbow Bend is where you want to find yourself in the evening of your first day in the Tetons. It’s one of the most famous places to view wildlife, including bears, moose, otters, Great Blue Herons, pelicans, muskrats, and more. Mount Moran can be seen reflecting in the water on clear days, so don’t be surprised if you see a lot of photographers out at dusk.
Keep your animal viewing best practices in mind while visiting Oxbow Bend. If you see a moose or bear, remain far enough away to not alert the animal. When you see a mother and a baby, consider staying even further back than you normally would as a mom is going to be protective of her baby.
All this is to say, as long as you visit Oxbow Bend safely, you’re in for a treat. Clear evenings bring luscious sunset colors and reflections of Mount Moran. It’s the best place in the park to spot wildlife and is usually a favorite if you’re traveling with children.
Day 2 – Iconic Photo Spots
If you’re spending 2 days in Grand Teton National Park, this day takes you to two of the most iconic photography spots in the park. These spectacular views are sought after by all levels of photographers.
Hidden Falls & Inspiration Point
Maybe you’re looking for a hike from Jenny Lake that isn’t as strenuous as Cascade Canyon. If this is the case, the hike to Inspiration Point, passing Hidden Falls, might be a good option.
The route begins at the Cascade Canyon Trailhead and climbs steadily, offering excellent views of Jenny Lake. Along the way, you’ll come across Hidden Falls, a cascading waterfall fed by snowmelt. Continue on until arriving at Inspiration Point.
The entire hike is around 5.8 miles roundtrip but can be shortened to just 2 miles roundtrip by taking the shuttle boat across Jenny Lake. Check in on the shuttle boat’s hours and prices before solidifying your plan.
Sturdy shoes are absolutely necessary as there is 500 feet of elevation gain and the trail is uneven in places.
Snake River Overlook
The Snake River weaves through Grand Teton National Park, so it’s only fitting that you visit the river’s outlook during your time in Grand Teton.
The headwaters live in the Teton Wilderness right outside Yellowstone NP. They flow through Yellowstone, cut across Grand Teton, cross Idaho, and mix with the waters of the Columbia River between Washington and Oregon.
The overlook showcases the curvy nature of the river, winding its way across the landscape until it meets with the Tetons in the background. Consider visiting at sunrise for incredible hues of orange, yellow, and red across the mountains.
However, if an early-morning visit doesn’t work with your schedule, a Snake River Overlook can be enjoyed at any time.
Moulton Barns on Mormon Row
Stop number two on your itinerary of sites to see is the Moulton Barns on Mormon Row. The barns are leftover from Mormon homesteaders who settled and lived in the area beginning in the 1890s.
Today, two barns stand out. Settlers John and Thomas Alma Moulton built the barns side-by-side. The barns are frequently captured with the Tetons in the background. In your research for a visit to the Tetons, you most likely saw a photo of the barns.
Most photographers visit in the early morning to capture the rising sun and morning colors against the barn and mountains. Upon your visit, don’t be shocked to find a line of professional and amateur photographers lined up, hoping to capture the classic image.
Day 3 – Lakes & Overlooks
If you’re lucky enough to have 3 days in Grand Teton, take your third day to rest and recreate with the park’s beautiful scenery, stop by any outlooks you might have missed, or seek out any wildlife you’re still itching to see.
String Lake & Leigh Lake
On your final day in Grand Teton National Park, consider taking some time out of your day for some rest and relaxation at String and Leigh Lakes.
These shallow and clean lakes offer mountain views while providing a safe place to swim. You can bring a picnic, paddleboard, or kayak around the lake. String Lake feeds into Leigh Lake, which is only accessible by boat or foot.
If you want to hike around the area, there are several short and easy hikes available. Walk along the shore of either lake, or turn into Paintbrush Canyon for a more difficult climb. On a clear and sunny day, visitors are treated to warm weather, a refreshing swim, and beautiful scenery of the mountain reflected in the water.
Alternatively, if you’re looking for some other lakes to visit, you can’t go wrong with the gorgeous Phelps Lake and Delta Lake.
Signal Mountain Overlook
While not technically in the park, Signal Mountain Overlook should absolutely be on your list on your final day in the Tetons.
Signal Mountain stands at 7,727 feet and can be accessed by car or foot. The hike is considered moderate to strenuous for a 6.8-mile out-and-back climb. At the top, you’ll earn 360-degree views of Jackson Hole and the Teton Range.
You can also consider Signal Mountain as a place to stay on your way out of the park. Signal Mountain Lodge sits along the shore of Jackson Lake just south of Colter Bay Village and offers a variety of activities for visitors. Visitors can explore Jackson Lake by boat to get views of the Tetons for a more affordable price than staying inside the park.
Where to Stay in Grand Teton National Park
The Alpenhof – Located in Teton Village, this boutique hotel offers a range of rooms suitable for families and couples. It is a great option in all seasons and has ski-in, ski-out access as well as a swimming pool.
Bentwood Inn – If you’re looking for a plush, luxury option during your visit to the national park, then this hotel is a great option. Located in the town of Wilson, this hotel is situated within very easy reach of Grand Teton. They have a range of rooms available, they include breakfast and offer wine and cheese for guests in the evenings.
Inn on the Creek – Located in the town of Jackson, this hotel is situated within a quick drive to the entrance of Grand Teton National Park and is an excellent mid-range option. There are a number of quaint and comfortable rooms on offer, a hot breakfast served that can be enjoyed either in your room or in the dining room and they even put out freshly baked cookies daily!
Private Rental – If you’re after some privacy during your trip to Grand Teton, then a private rental — like this rustic cabin with incredible views — is an excellent choice. There are countless options that can suit all travel styles and budgets.
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When building your Grand Teton trip, make sure to fill it with sites and activities that are going to make it memorable for you. There are so many options that allow you to customize your trip and will surely be a trip you won’t soon forget.
Are you planning to visit Grand Teton National Park? Have any questions? Let us know in the comments!