One Day in Grand Teton National Park Itinerary

Dirt Road with Grand Teton Mountains in distance

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There’s nothing like clean mountain air and the crystal water of mountain lakes. And that’s exactly what you’ll get in Grand Teton, Wyoming, which quickly jumped to the top of my favorite National Parks list during our visit. So if you’re planning a trip, here’s how you can spend one day in Grand Teton National Park.

Grand Teton is the 8th most visited National Park in the United States. And since it’s right next door to Yellowstone, lots of people (including us) combine a visit to Grand Teton with Yellowstone. And while I liked Yellowstone, I LOVED Grand Teton.

So here’s how you can spend a day there.

One Day in Grand Teton National Park

Morning in Grand Teton

Definitely plan to get up and get out the door early to make the most of your day. Grand Teton shines at all times of day (especially when the sun is out!), but you’ll be able to beat some of the crowds if you start out early.

Mormon Row Historic District

Wooden Barn with Grand Teton Mountain Range behind it
T.A. Moulton Barn in Mormon Row

Make your first stop the Mormon Row Historic District. This is a super popular spot in the morning, especially with photographers, because it is just so dang gorgeous. But if you don’t want to fight with photographers for parking space, just plan to get there a bit after sunrise.

We visited after the sunrise photographers had left, but a little before the morning crowds of regular tourists stopped in, and the timing worked out perfectly.

Mormon Row is on Antelope Flats Road, and it’s a historic district where Mormon homesteaders formed a settlement in the late 1800s.

It was a hard life though, and eventually they moved on to other areas. But many of their houses and barns are still standing.

The most popular barn to see is Moulton Barn because it sits so beautifully in front of the Grand Teton mountains. But you can also find the Moulton Homestead, the Chambers Barn, and other buildings. And there is currently an initiative underway to preserve these buildings further and provide better access for visitors while maintaining their historic authenticity.

Schwabacher Landing

Narrow river with snowcapped mountains in the distance and the tops of the mountains reflecting on water
View at Schwabacher Landing

After leaving Mormon Row, keep driving up US-191/WU-89N for about 3 miles. Then turn on Schwabacher Landing Road, a dirt road that will take you to Schwabacher Landing.

Honestly, this is my favorite place in all of Grand Teton National Park. It’s tucked down by the river and doesn’t feel quite as busy as some of the places we’ll get to later in the day. It feels so peaceful, has incredible views, and has a nice easy hike (that’s really more of a stroll) along the Snake River to see the views.

Spend some time here just soaking it in, and be sure to look for animals along the river too! We saw a muskrat swimming back and forth across the river collecting materials for his home.

Snake River Overlook

Keep driving along US-191 for about 7 miles and you’ll get to the Snake River Overlook.

This is just another quick spot where you can stop for beautiful pictures of the river and mountains. There’s a nice paved path you can walk where you can see views of the winding river.

It’s a quick roadside stop and won’t take much of your time.

Oxbow Bend

Wider river with snowcapped mountains in distance; road with cars on right side of picture (busy road)
View at Oxbow Bend

Before lunch, make one last stop for amazing views. Oxbow Bend is a place where you can pull off and park and view yet another stunning mountain + river view, and it’s about 12 miles north of the Snake River Overlook.

I’ll be honest though, this one isn’t my favorite. While there are some small paths where you can walk down to the river, because this stop is right next to a busy road, it doesn’t feel as peaceful. Plus, I honestly think the views at Schwabacher Landing are even better.

So while this is a super easy stop that’s worth making if you’re driving by, you also don’t need to feel any guilt if you want to skip it.

Midday in Grand Teton National Park

By now you’ve seen some of the best views in Grand Teton, so for the afternoon we’re going to grab some lunch and then focus on some hiking.

Lunch at Jackson Lake Lodge

Tall floor to ceiling window with view of snowcapped Grand Teton mountains
View from Jackson Lake Lodge Windows

From Oxbow Bend, drive up to Jackson Lake Lodge to enjoy lunch.

There are three restaurants you can choose from here: The Mural Room, Blue Heron Lounge, and Pioneer Grill.

The Mural Room is the most famous spot to eat, and I highly recommend it! Not only do you eat with just incredible mountain views, but the food is great. Generally for lunch you won’t need a reservation (we walked right in for an early lunch during a busy summer season). But you want to eat dinner here instead, I do recommend making a reservation.

Blue Heron Lounge is an upscale bar and lounge that still has those incredible views. You can choose to eat inside or outside, and they have a smaller menu focused on bar snacks and sandwiches.

Pioneer Grill is a casual dining spot with a 1950s theme. They serve classic American-fare and also offer huckleberry milkshakes (a local specialty!).

You can also spend some time at Jackson Lake Lodge just enjoying the views, sitting in the lobby, and doing some souvenir shopping. They have some great shops here selling everything from t-shirts to high-end home decor.

And don’t miss the model of the Teton Mountain Range that’s near the shops! I loved looking at this to get a better understanding of the different mountains we were looking at in real life.

Hiking at Leigh Lake or String Lake

Blue water of string lake, with pine trees and mountains on the other side
String Lake

Leigh Lake and String Lake are two beautiful blue lakes that sit right next to each other and are nestled up against the mountains. Besides Schwabacher Landing, this may be my favorite spot, because it is just so quintessentially Grand Teton.

There are several hiking trails around these lakes, and they are all pretty easy. So you can make a hike around the lakes as long or as short as you like. We just did a short hike along String Lake until we felt like turning around and heading back, but you can also do a longer hike all the way up along Leigh Lake.

Water sports are also popular at these lakes. You’ll likely see people kayaking or using stand-up paddleboards if you visit in the summer. Just know that if you want to bring your own equipment to use on the water, it does have to undergo an Aquatic Invasive Species inspection.

To access these lakes, you can park at either the Leigh Lake Trailhead or the String Lake Trailhead (they are very close to each other.)

Late Afternoon and Evening in Grand Teton

For the rest of the afternoon, head to Jenny Lake. This is by far one of the most popular areas of Grand Teton National Park, so you’ll probably find some crowds you didn’t see earlier in the day. But I promise this place is worth it!

Jenny Lake Visitors Center

Start out by visiting the Jenny Lake Visitors Center. Here you’ll find the Visitor Center (or course) with more information about Jenny Lake, plus a store with snacks and souvenirs.

Also be sure to use the restroom here! Next you’re going to be heading across the lake where they aren’t any bathrooms.

Boat Shuttle Across Jenny Lake

From the Visitor Center, head down to the Jenny Lake Trail where you’ll find the Jenny Lake Boat Shuttle on the water. This will take you to the other side of the lake for some of the best (and most popular) hiking trails in the park.

Plus, it’s just a great way to see the views! And it’s fun, especially if you’re traveling with kiddos.

Note that you do have to buy a ticket for the shuttle. A round trip ticket for adults is $20, while it’s $10 for kids.

Before you leave, be sure to note that time that they last boat is departing (they will also probably tell you several times). You will need to be back at the boat dock on the other side of the river in time to catch a shuttle unless you want to hike all the way back around the lake (about 2 miles).

Also, note that during high season (summer) there will likely be lines at both boat docks. When we were coming back from the other side of the lake, we had to wait in line for about 40 minutes before we boarded a boat. (We actually raced half the group who decided to hike around the lake, and we arrived back only a few minutes before they did.)

Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point

Large waterfall flanked by pine trees
Hidden Falls

Hiking to Inspiration Point is one of the most popular things to do in Grand Teton, so here’s what you need to know.

When you get off the boat dock, there will be directions pointing your toward Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point. Follow these signs for about 1/2 mile, when you’ll get to the turn off to Hidden Falls.

Definitely don’t skip Hidden Fall! It’s just a short path to the base of the falls, and it’s truly incredible! The falls are so loud and it’s just so beautiful. I could have stood here and soaked in the rushing water for a long time, but we had to keep hiking (especially if we were going to make it back to the boat dock in time!).

From there, backtrack just a bit to get back on the main trail to Inspiration Point. From there, it’s about another 1/2 mile to the tops, and much of this will be climbing. It’s not technically difficult, but it is a largely uphill walk.

Here’s what I’ll tell you though: There is a landing before you get to Inspiration Point that you can stop at for much the same view, just lower down. While the rest of my family did the full Inspiration Point hike, I stopped at this lower landing. Our trip to Yellowstone was just about 4 months after I had ACL surgery, and my leg was feeling tired. I felt like I still fully got the effect of the view and enjoyed this lower stopping point immensely.

Then be sure to head back down to the boat dock in time for the last water taxi if you don’t want to hike all the way around the lake!

View of Jenny Lake from above
Lower View Similar to Inspiration Point

More Things To Do in Grand Teton National Park

If you have more than one day in Grand Teton National Park, here are some more hikes and activities you can do!

Cascade Canyon Trail (with Hidden Falls)

Cascade Canyon Trail is a backcountry hiking trail in Grand Teton that so many people love!

You’ll access it the same way you get to Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point via the Jenny Lake ferry. From There, it’s a 9.1 mile out-and-back trail that’s moderate in difficulty. You’ll hike up to Inspiration Point, and then continue one to climb up through Cascade Canyon. It’s incredibly beautiful, and while I haven’t done this hike yet, lots of people say its the most rewarding one in the park.

Colter Bay Village

Colter Bay Village is one of the areas of Grand Teton that offers lodging, with a campground, RV park, and cabins.

But there’s lots more to do here too! There are hikes around Colter Bay, a Visitor Center, and it’s one of the best places to rent a boat to explore Jackson Lake.

Signal Mountain

Signal Mountain is another popular area in Grand Teton, and it’s where you’ll find Signal Mountain Lodge and Campground and a marina where you can rent boats.

Signal Mountain Road is the activity you won’t want to miss here! It’s a 5 mile road that winds up Signal Mountain for some incredible views of the surrounding mountains at several stops. And at the top you’ll find Jackson Point Overlook.

Taggart Lake and Bradley Lake

Taggart Lake is a beautiful lake in Grand Teton with a 3.8 mile loop trail. The loop doesn’t take you all the way around the lake though, and instead to the edge of the lake and then back.

So, if you want to spend more time hiking along the lake though, I would recommend doing a combination of the Taggart Lake Loop to the Valley Trail to the Bradley Lake Trail.

Laurence S. Rockefeller Preserve

The Rockefeller family was an important part of preserving the land that became Grand Teton National Park, and Laurence S. Rockefeller is one of the members that donated his land to become a nature preserve.

You can visit this area and enjoy the beauty and visit the visitor center there that has all kinds of interesting information and exhibits about the park. Then get outside and enjoy some of the hiking nearby.

Phelps Lake

Phelps Lake is yet another amazing Grand Teton lake and it’s located in the Laurence S. Rockefeller Preserve. This trail can be a little more challenging, with some elevation changes. But it’s not overly difficult. It’s a 3.7 mile out-and-back trail.

Be sure to check for road updates too. While this area had been on our list, we weren’t able to visit because of ongoing construction on Moose-Wilson Road.

Jackson Hole

Outside of Grand Teton National Park, you can enjoy some time in Jackson Hole! Jackson is the nearby town, where you’ll find shopping and dining. You can also venture to Teton Village (a popular ski resort) where you can take a gondola up to the top of Rendezvous Mountain.

View of downtown Jackson from a roof with old buildings, horse drawn carriage, and antler arches on the square
Downtown Jackson, Wyoming

How to Get to Grand Teton National Park

If you’re flying, the best way to get to Grand Teton National Park is by flying into the Jackson Airport. This is a small and easy airport, and the views you get flying in of the mountains are incredible! And the airport itself is actually INSIDE the National Park, so it’s a super convenient location.

If you’re driving, here are some distances to give you an idea of how long it might take you to get to Grand Teton:

  • West Thumb, Yellowstone to Moran Entrance, Grand Teton: 48.4 miles (about 1 hour 20 minutes)
  • Idaho Falls, Idaho to Moose Entrance, Grand Teton: 102 miles (about 2 hours 30 minutes)
  • Salt Lake City, Utah to Moose Entrance, Grand Teton: 291 miles (about 5 hours)
  • Denver, Colorado to Moose Entrance, Grand Teton: 503 miles (about 8 hours)

Where to Stay Near Grand Teton National Park

There are 7 lodges you can stay at inside Grand Teton National Park:

  • Jackson Lake Lodge
  • Jenny Lake Lodge
  • Colter Bay Cabins
  • Headwaters Lodge and Cabins at Flagg Ranch
  • Signal Mountain Lodge
  • Triangle X Ranch (a dude ranch)
  • Grand Teton Climbers’ Ranch (VERY rustic, meant for climbers)

There are also 7 campgrounds:

  • Colter Bay Campground
  • Colter Bay RV Park
  • Gros Ventre Campground
  • Jenny Lake Campground
  • Signal Mountain Campground
  • Lizard Creek Campground
  • Headwaters Campground

But staying outside of Grand Teton (which is what we did!) is also so easy! Jackson is such a short drive to the National Park, and there are so many VRBO options in Jackson as well as Jackson hotels.

Grand Teton National Park Tips

Here are some important tips when traveling to Grand Teton!

  • Carry bear spray. Grand Teton is bear country, so you’ll want to make sure you have bear spray with you on your hikes. You can rent canisters of bear spray at the Jackson airport and return then unused at the end of your trip. Also, make sure you keep it in an outside pocket of your backpack so it’s easily accessible in an emergency!
  • Give wildlife space. Remember to stay at least 100 yards away from all bears and wolves, and 25 yards away from all other animals.
  • Visit early! Parking can get tricky during peak months, so plan to get up early to enjoy some sites without the crowds.
  • Check for road closures. Depending on the time of year you visit, roads may be closed for snow. So check for road closures and what’s open before you leave.
  • Pack for a variety of weather and dress is layers. Weather can change drastically in Grand Teton. And temperature can changed depending on your elevation. So be prepared with rain gear, and dress in layers for a variety of temperatures.
  • Leave no trace. Remember the principles of leave no trace. Be respectful of where you are, pack out your trash, and don’t take anything with you.

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