3 Days at Grand Teton National Park
After finishing our van conversion this summer, our goal was to book it out of the Texas heat and find some cooler weather and mountain views. We set our sights on Wyoming and made the 1,377 mile drive to Jackson and Grand Teton National Park. We called Grand Teton and Jackson our “home” for about a week, boondocking in the forest with the best views, heading into town for Wifi and food, and going for hikes in the park. It was the perfect place to spend our first real week on the road and we’re so excited to share this 3 day Grand Teton itinerary with you, filled with info about the park, where to stay, what to do, where to eat, and more!
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About Grand Teton National Park
Grand Teton National Park was first established in 1929, but in 1943, combined with the Jackson Hole National Monument to create the 310,000 acres that the park is today. While Grand Teton National Park is slightly less visited compared to its neighbor to the north, Yellowstone, it’s still the 8th most visited National Park, with 3,491,151 visitors in 2018.
The park headquarters is just 13.2 miles from the cute Western town of Jackson, Wyoming, and the proximity to restaurants, coffee shops, and stores makes Grand Teton even more appealing in our eyes. We loved that we could grab an excellent latte and meal before going on a hike, or a delicious dinner after a day of adventuring, which isn’t always the case with National Parks. In this guide we will share spots from both Grand Teton National Park and Jackson because in our opinion they go together like chips and queso. 🙂
Looking for more Wyoming adventures? Combine this guide with our Yellowstone National Park guide (coming soon!) for the ultimate trip!
How to get there
There are a handful of ways to get to Grand Teton National Park, but with the park being a bit far from any major city, it’s definitely not the easiest park to get to. The closest option is the Jackson Hole Airport, which American Airlines, Delta, United, and SkyWest fly in and out of. However, it is a smaller airport with limited flights and could be pricey. But if convenience is worth the extra cost, this airport is just minutes from the park and also the town of Jackson.
The next closest airport is in Idaho Falls, Idaho (104 miles), but this is a regional airport and may be trickier to fly into. As for larger airports, the two best options are Salt Lake City, which is a little under 300 miles away, and Denver, which is 505 miles away. So if you’re down for a road trip, these two airports are a good option!
Where to stay
If you want to be close to restaurants and shops, we highly recommend staying in Jackson! There are tons of places to stay in this area, from hotels to Airbnbs, and we’re sharing some of our top picks below!
Going with a big group? This 4 bedroom house looks amazing!
PS: If it is your first time staying at an Airbnb, click this link to get $40 off your first stay!
- Rustic Inn Creekside
- Wyoming Inn of Jackson Hole
- The Lexington
- Inn on the Creek
- Mountain Modern Motel
- Anvil Hotel
There are a handful of lodges in the Grand Teton National Park if you want to be close to the action, but still have a bit of comfort.
- Jenny Lake Lodge: The Jenny Lake lodge not only has a prime location, but is also a AAA 4-Diamond resort! The rooms are cabins with their own bathrooms and you definitely wouldn’t feel like you’re roughing it. This would be our top pick due to its proximity to many hikes on this guide, as well as the town of Jackson!
- Triangle X: If you want the unique experience of staying at a Dude Ranch–this place is a must! Enjoy your own private cabin (with a private bathroom), horseback riding, cookouts, and more!
- Jackson Lake Lodge: Looking for more of a hotel experience? Jackson Lake Lodge has hotel-like rooms to enjoy. But don’t be expecting a TV in your room–the lodge would prefer you spend your time outdoors (pretty cool!). They also have cottages available on the property.
- Signal Mountain Lodge: With cabins, bungalows, and lakefront retreats, there are lots of accommodation options to choose from at this lodge located on Jackson Lake!
- Colter Bay Cabins: if you want to feel like you’re camping, but with an actual bed and some amenities, this spot may be great for you!
- Headwaters Lodge at Flagg Ranch: this spot is between both Grand Teton and Yellowstone, making it a good option if you plan to visit both! However, it may be a bit far from some activities in Jackson that are on this guide.
There are a total of 6 campgrounds at Grand Teton National Park. However, 5 of them are first come first serve and do not accept reservations. According to the NPS, “reservations are accepted for group camping, the Colter Bay RV Park, and the Headwaters Campground & RV Sites at Flagg Ranch.”
There are also backcountry camping areas, which require advance planning to get permits. Permits go live on Monday, February 11 at 8 am MST and advance permits close on May 15. You can get a permit outside of the advance permit window, but it may be more difficult. All backcountry campers must carry a bear canister, but don’t worry if you do not own one, they do provide these for you!
If you’re in a van like us, an RV, or don’t need any amenities while camping, boondocking (dry camping and free!) may be a good option for you! We loved how many options there were to boondock around Grand Teton. And the best part? Almost every spot has great views! Here are the areas we stayed at, as well as some we didn’t try, but hear amazing things about!
- Lower Teton View–we stayed here two nights. We arrived both times in the dark and didn’t really spend much time here, but we did have cell phone service with AT&T!
- Upper Teton View–we wanted to check out this spot, but got nervous about driving the van up the road. We hear it’s beautiful though!
- Antelope Flats–we LOVED this spot! There are multiple areas with designated sites to park and the view of the Tetons from our van windows was incredible! The sites are kind of close together, so don’t expect much privacy. We did have AT&T service here too, but ended up working in town. (The photo under “where to stay” is from this spot!)
- Shadow Mountain–we met multiple people throughout the week who were staying here, both with trailers. We were going to make the drive up, but liked our spot at Antelope Flats a lot and didn’t want to leave.
- Spread Creek Road–while not as scenic as the others, we tried this spot our last night to be a bit closer to Yellowstone and parked in the first site. While it was right on the road, we didn’t have anyone else parked by us which we liked!
If you want to fully enjoy the park, you will need to rent a car. While there are some tours that can take you to specific areas near the park, there are no inter park shuttles like some other National Parks have. Having a car will allow you to see all of the sights and enjoy them at your own pace!
When to visit
This Grand Teton itinerary is geared towards the summer months, but winter is also a popular time to visit! We visited over Labor Day weekend, which was not our first choice because of the crowds, but it ended up not being that bad! We tried to get an early start, which helped a ton, and mentally prepared ourselves for the amount of people we may see.
The busiest months are mid-May to late September, as that’s when the park becomes accessible after winter. Since Grand Teton does often have some closures from October to early May due to snow, your best bet is to come in this timeframe if you want to hike. We’d suggest going in before Memorial Day or after Labor Day to try to avoid the summer break crowds. We noticed a big decline in crowds the Thursday after Labor Day compared to the days leading up to Labor Day.
Tips for the park
- Start early! The Tetons are the most beautiful at sunrise since the sun rises in front of them and you get a beautiful alpenglow. Sunrise is definitely popular in specific areas for that reason, but you’ll still get to enjoy a bit more solitude than mid day all around the park.
- Buy or rent bear spray! The Tetons are home to both black and grizzly bears. While we didn’t see a bear (we’re both happy and sad about that!), we made sure we always had bear spray on us and learned what to do if you see a bear. If you’re road tripping or visit bear country often, you can buy bear spray in advance. But if you’re flying, we recommend either buying the spray there or renting it.
- Wear sunscreen and drink lots of water! While the temperature isn’t brutal in the summer, we got very hot hiking some of the trails and since we were at a higher elevation than normal, sunscreen and water were a must!
Here’s a 3 day Grand Teton itinerary filled with the best hikes, views, restaurants, and things to do! While we were unable to visit all of these spots during our time in the Tetons, based on our research and our own experience at the park, all of these suggestions would make for one epic trip!
- Get your first glimpse of the Tetons with sunrise at Schwabacher Landing. Be prepared to have your breath taken away!
- If you need breakfast or coffee after, head to Moose Trading Post. While we can’t guarantee it’ll be the best breakfast or coffee you’ve ever had, options are limited inside the park. This would also be a great spot to grab a picnic lunch for later! Note: They open at 8 AM.
- Spend the rest of your morning and early afternoon exploring the Jenny Lake area of the park! This is probably the most popular area due to the water activities and hikes located here. We highly recommend doing the Hidden Falls, Inspiration Point, and Cascade Canyon hike.
- If you do all three, the total mileage is 15 miles. However, you can take the Jenny Lake shuttle boat across the lake to cut off 4 miles, making the total hike 11 miles.
- The cost for the boat ride is: $18/adult roundtrip, $10/adult one way, $15/senior roundtrip (no one way option), $10/child roundtrop, or $8/child one way.
- If you’re looking for a shorter hike, we suggest just doing Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point, which would be about 2-6 miles depending on if you take the boat or not. It’s still full of beautiful views!
- If you still have energy after your hiking, check out either Taggart Lake (4.1 miles) or String Lake (3.7 miles). These would be great spots to relax at for the rest of the day. If it’s warm enough out, bring a floaty to go float on the lake!
- Finish your day with dinner in Jackson! A few good options to check out: Hand Fire Pizza (in an old movie theater and so cool!), Snake River Brewing, Liberty Burger, or FIGS.
- Sleep in a tiny bit and grab breakfast and coffee at Picnic or Persephone Bakery! These two spots have the same owner and both have super cute interiors, delicious and healthy food, amazing coffee, and some incredible looking pastries! We went to Picnic during our trip, which was away from the main part of town and full of locals. We loved it so much! Persephone Bakery is located in the main town square area and is definitely a popular spot with both locals and tourists!
- Make the 45 minute drive to Oxbow Bend, which is a popular photo spot overlooking the Snake River and Mount Moran.
- From there, head to the Jackson Lake Overlook to soak up the views of this large and beautiful lake.
- After seeing the lake from the overlook, go spend some time on the water! Whether kayaking or actual boating is your thing, Signal Mountain Lodge rents a variety of options to get on the water! You can also just lay out on the beach (warning, it’s a bit rocky) near Colter Bay!
- Spend the rest of your day wandering around Jackson. There are lots of shops to check out–we loved MADE and Mountain Dandy!
- Enjoy dinner in Jackson! A few good options to check out: Hand Fire Pizza (in an old movie theater and so cool!), Snake River Brewing, Liberty Burger, or FIGS. If you want a drink after dinner, check out the famous Million Dollar Cowboy Bar!
- Wake up early for sunrise at Mormon Row. This former Mormon settlement is now an iconic photo spot. There are two famous barns that people line up to photograph in the morning as the sun rises and hits the Tetons. It is absolutely magical!
- Spend the rest of the day going on a beautiful lake hike! Here are a couple good options:
- Delta Lake (9 miles, 2,329 ft elevation gain): This blue lake is gorgeous! The hike starts out on the maintained Amphitheater lake trail, but then turns off onto an unmaintained trail that is full of boulders and steep dirt sections. It’s not easy and definitely not for a beginner hiker, but 100% worth it! Watch our vlog about this hike to determine if you’re up for the challenge!
- Surprise and Amphitheater Lakes (8.9 miles, 2,942 ft elevation gain): While this hike is arguably harder elevation gain-wise than Delta Lake, it is a fully maintained trail, so you will not need to climb over boulders. The lake at the end looks beautiful!
- If you’re looking for something a bit easier, check out either Taggart Lake (4.1 miles) or String Lake (3.7 miles).
- Head into Jackson for ice cream–you’ve earned it! We loved the huckleberry ice cream from Moo’s Gourmet Ice Cream!
- End your time in the Tetons with dinner in Jackson! A few good options to check out: Hand Fire Pizza (in an old movie theater and so cool!), Snake River Brewing, Liberty Burger, or FIGS.
If you have extra time…
- Cultivate Cafe
- The Virginian Restaurant for breakfast
- Hatch Taqueria & Tequilas
- Bubba’s Bar-B-Que
- Fiesta Mexican Restaurant–a good hole in the wall spot!
- Pearl St. Market
- Enjoy the alpine slide, coaster, and other activities at Snow King Mountain
- Hike to Lake Solitude, which is 16 miles and 2,637 ft elevation gain
- On Wednesdays and Saturdays from Memorial Day to Labor Day, check out the Jackson Hole Rodeo!
- Go on a helicopter or plane ride to view the Tetons from above!
- Take a horse ride!
- Drive up Signal Mountain Summit road!
Ready to explore Grand Teton National Park?
Pin this Grand Teton itinerary to plan your trip!