Known for its winding Snake River, miles of hiking trails, lakes and abundant wildlife, Grand Teton National Park is a perfect travel destination. Grand Teton National Park has something for everyone — like Jenny Lake, the Craig Thomas Discovery & Visitor Center, and historic settlements like Menors Ferry and Mormon Row. If you’re adventurous and enjoy climbing, hiking, wildlife watching and touring, or if you just want to take in some of the most spectacular scenery in the world — this is a perfect place for you.
I’m a photographer and outdoor enthusiast and have been to more than 40 of our amazing national parks — including Grand Teton. I’ve explored many areas of the park — so I’m ready to help! Whether this is your first time to Grand Teton, or if you are returning after many years and would like to be re-introduced to the park — this list of the best things to do is just for you!
Grand Teton’s wildlife viewing regularly ranks among the best in the United States. Bears, bison, elk, pronghorns, eagles, and more are regularly seen in the park. Want to see bears? These places change regularly, so just ask at a visitor center or activity desk once you’re there. The Jackson Lake Lodge Activity Desk tracks the latest wildlife observations. Some of the best places are Willow Flats in front of the Jackson Lake Lodge, at Oxbow Bend or Elk Ranch Flats.
Take a Scenic Drive
There are many places to take in the spectacular and epic views — and you can do it on Grand Teton National Park’s 42 Mile Scenic Loop Drive! If you’re short on time or wanting an easier way to see many of the diverse scenic landscapes of the park, then this might be a great way for you to see the park. The loop consists of Teton Park Road, Jenny Lake Scenic Drive and Route 89. On this route you can visit Jenny Lake, the Craig Thomas Visitor Center in Moose, Schwabacher’s Landing, Snake River Overlook, Cunningham’s Cabin, Oxbow Bend, Signal Mountain Summit Road and more. Get that engine going for the ride of a lifetime!
Grand Teton National Park is world-renowned for it’s amazing fishing. Rivers, lakes and ponds sparkle on the landscape and you can fish for cutthroat trout (named for the red slash under the lower jaw), the Utah chub in warm, shallow, slow-moving water or the mountain whitefish, which prefers cold, deep, fast-moving water. Fishing is a great way to have fun while experiencing the park’s beauty. From Jenny Lake to the Snake River to Jackson Lake there are many opportunities for fishing — and you can choose between a guided fishing trips or solo adventures.
Hike the Grand Teton Trails
With more than 200 miles of trails for hiking, Grand Teton National Park provides the perfect opportunity for those who want to get out and experience the most beautiful lakes, towering peaks, and stunning scenery up close. Rugged landscapes and sudden weather changes sometimes can bring on unexpected challenges, but with them come amazing views! Grand Teton National Park hosts numerous trails for all kinds of hikers — beginners and experts alike. From easy, short hikes like Hidden Falls or Inspiration Point to more challenging ones like Death Canyon and Cascade Canyon — there’s a wide choice, but none will disappoint!
Enjoy Horseback Riding
One of the best alternatives for hiking — and a unique way to soak up those breathtaking views — is to saddle up and spend an amazing morning or afternoon on horseback. Horseback riding is a great way to simply take it slow and let the joy and scenic views fill your soul. Horseback rides starting at Jackson Lake Lodge let you spend a morning or afternnon in the Grand Tetons — and enjoy the same view as the early explorers. The Jackson Lake Lodge offers one-hour and two-hour horseback riding with breathtaking views of the Teton Range, Oxbow Bend, and the Snake River.
Conquer the Mountains with Climbing
The famous Grand Teton mountain range has been luring countless visitors and climbers from all over the world for generations. The park presents opportunities to conquer these magnificent peaks — or just to learn more about the sport of rock climbing. While the experienced climbers are rubbing their hands together for an opportunity to reach the sky by climbing these iconic peaks, other groups like families, kids, and inexperienced climbers shouldn’t shy away from participating. Various guides and experienced climbers are here to offer guided climbs, classes and easy daily climbs!
Engage in Water Activities
With all those enchanting lakes and beautiful rivers flowing through the park, most of these waterways of wilderness are accessible for travelers and visitors. One of the most popular, Jackson Lake, offers a stunning mountain backdrop and an excellent opportunity for those interested in sailing, water skiing, and even windsurfing. With dozens of lakes within the park and rivers like the Snake River, opportunities abound. From kayaking and canoeing, to paddle boarding, drift boats and raft tours, your water adventure awaits.
You can also go on a Jackson Lake Cruise and enjoy delicious breakfast or dinner excursion. The Colter Bay Marina offers breakfast and dinner cruises to Elk Island — a unique and exclusive Grand Teton activity. There is a hot buffet on the island. Breakfast includes trout, pancakes, pastries, potatoes, eggs, fruit, cowboy coffee, yogurt and more. Dinner features steak and trout with a variety of sides. Enjoy your meal with Mount Moran rising over the lake. After your meal, take your time to explore the island and take a short hike.
Cycle The Grand Teton’s Roads
Biking enjoys its fair share of popularity and fame in the park, especially when the multi-use pathway was introduced. For thrill seekers, dirt roads and bike trails such as Two Ocean Lake and Grassy Lake Road will be your escape and create an exciting mountain biking adventure. But road bikers, there’s plenty for you, too! Over 100 miles of paved roads — with an extensive bicycle pathway system — let bike lovers enjoy the views while comfortably riding below the breathtaking Grand Teton Range.
Now, that the best activities have been unveiled, it is safe to say that Grand Teton is simply heaven for outdoor recreation and wildlife discoveries. With its sheer size of more than 300,000 acres, let it become the playground that will give you the memories of a lifetime!
I’ve created two posters for Grand Teton National Park — one that features a view of the famed mountain range from the Snake River Overlook. The other is of Jenny Lake after a fall snowstorm.
Rob Decker is a photographer and graphic artist who had the rare privilege of studying under Ansel Adams in Yosemite National Park when he was just 19 years old. Now, Rob is on a journey to explore and photograph all 61 of America’s National Parks. He’s creating WPA-style posters to help people celebrate their own national park adventures — as well as encourage others to get out and explore!