So you’ve got some time to spend in Grand Teton National Park? Congrats, you lucky dog! There’s plenty to do and see in and around the park, so no matter how much time you have, make sure you’re making the most of it. We’ve outlined several ways you can have a fabulous time with trips in Grand Teton National Park. Keep reading to plan your adventure!
One Morning/One Afternoon
If you’re looking for the best views of the Teton Range, you don’t have to necessarily go inside the park. The fantastic and famous view of the Tetons can be admired from US Highway 89, which contains plenty of pullouts and scenic overlooks. You’ll often find photographers with fancy, enormous lenses set up and ready for the sunrise along this highway. If you don’t have much time to spend in the park, we recommend saving this section for sunrise, or second best, sunset, as the sun sets directly behind the three famous Tetons.
Grand Teton National Park is a summer destination for a wide variety of outdoor enthusiasts, so things can get pretty crowded. If you’re not interested in hiking in to your campsite for the evenings, you may have trouble getting a drive-in site during the peak months.
While the lake side views within the park are well worth it, you can get a great campsite with picture perfect views of the Tetons for free.
Along Highway 89 is the Bridger-Teton National Forest, and like all National Forests, camping in designated sites is completely free. Just off Forest Service Road 30290 are a series of campsites that provide amazing views of the Tetons for a great price: $0. This is primitive camping, meaning no water or facilities, so bring in your food and pack out your trash. Other than that, it’s well worth it!
One day in the park is much better than half a day, because it opens up that much more of the park to you. While you can attend one of the ranger-led talks at the Visitor Center, we recommend getting out there and walking through this beautiful place via many of the trails suited for day hiking within the park.
Easy Day Hikes in Grand Teton National Park
Don’t be intimidated by the craggy, touring peaks of the Tetons- the park has plenty of beautiful and rewarding hikes available for the casual hiker. One of the best of these hikes is the walk around String Lake.
Walk Around String Lake
String Lake is a large recreation site that draws hikers, trekkers and kayakers alike. The walk around String Lake is both easy and breathtakingly beautiful. Day hikers can enjoy a stroll around the clear blue waters of the lake surrounded by impressive, forested peaks with plenty of great spots to snap some amazing photos. Bring snacks or a picnic lunch to enjoy at one of the many picnic sites in the area.
If you’re feeling up for it, you can continue up any of the connecting trails to hike higher into Paintbrush Canyon to experience some of the park’s alpine evergreen forest environment.
Harder Day Hikes in Grand Teton National Park
Elevation: 2,300+ feet
This is a fun hike that contains a variety of terrain changes and is customizable. Start at the Death Canyon trailhead (4 wheel drive highly recommended for the last mile leading up to the trailhead), and hike past Phelps Lake. The scenery and terrain changes fairly quickly and you’ll begin a steep climb up to the canyon for the last 2 miles or so. Don’t worry though- the views are well worth it!
You can continue on once you’ve reached the Death Canyon camping zone, though the best views and best part of the hike are well within the first 4 miles.
Elevation: 2,000+ feet
Want to get closer to the three Tetons? Then hiking up Cascade Canyon is the shortest and fastest route- but that’s not to say it’s easy!
Start at Jenny Lake and take the Cascade Canyon Trail. After a few miles you should start to see the famous peaks come into view. Continue your hike up to the North-South Cascade Canyon fork for a great view of the Tetons and descend back down through the canyon or venture further up either fork (we think the North Fork is the most scenic!).
Paintbrush Canyon to Paintbrush Divide
Elevation: 3,100+ feet
This would be our day hiking route of choice if we had one day to spend hiking in the park. Paintbrush Canyon is a strenuous piece of trail but provides the unique and stunning views that outdoor-nerds like ourselves crave.
The trail with a flat walk around the beautiful String Lake, and then begins to ascend through a few miles of dense forest. Once you break the tree line, you’ll start to see what makes this trail so magnificent- a steep, rocky canyon decorated with mountain streams and patches of alpine forest.
The trail ascends to about 10,700 feet at Paintbrush Divide, and is a steep climb towards the end, but well worth it for the rugged, top-of-the-world views. Don’t give up! Keep climbing up to the top of the trail and enjoy a much less difficult walk down.
Be sure to pick up backcountry maps at a Visitor Center within the park before setting out on any of the backcountry trails.
Multiple Days: The Teton Crest Trail
Grand Teton National Park’s backcountry trails have to be experienced to be believed and the Teton Crest Trail is by far the cream of the crop. The famous view of the Tetons from highway US 89, is just one perspective on this impressive mountain range. On our trip to the Tetons in Summer 2015, we backpacked the Teton Crest Trail over the course of three days. Depending on your route and skill level, the Teton Crest Trail can be done in anywhere from 3 to 5 days.
These are just a few options to consider when planning your trip to Grand Teton National Park, though the Teton Crest Trail and the scenic US-89 highway are not to be missed.
Have questions? Want to suggest something about these trips in Grand Teton National Park? Let us know in the comments!