In a park as popular as Grand Teton, you have a seemingly endless array of activities to choose from during your visit.
To help you narrow down your options and better plan your trip to the region, here are some of the best things you can do in Grand Teton National Park.
Things to do in summer
There’s no better way to experience the remote, rugged terrain of Grand Teton National Park than to go backpacking. The park is home to hundreds of miles of backpacking trails and hundreds of tent sites, all of which make for an excellent adventure in the mountains.
Summer is a nice time to head into the backcountry if you’re looking for warm temperatures and great weather conditions. Although snow is likely in the highest elevations and afternoon thunderstorms are common, a good rain jacket and pair of quality rain pants go a long way toward staying warm and dry.
Rent kayaks at the Colter Bay Marina
Colter Bay Marina on the east shore of Jackson Lake is an excellent place to get out and enjoy a day on the water. From the marina, you can rent kayaks – or even a stand-up paddleboard – and head out for an afternoon paddle.
Keep in mind that the water can be a bit chilly, so be sure to have a towel and plenty of spare hiking clothes in your car for when you finish paddling. Also, you’ll need to get a boat permit before launching your kayak, which you can get from the nearby Colter Bay Visitor Center.
Climb the Grand Teton
Towering over the low-lying plains of Jackson Hole below, the Grand Teton is the tallest peak in the Teton Range. Summer is the prime climbing season on the peak, so if you’re interested in a true adventure on this storied mountain, consider adding a climb of the Grand Teton to your trip itinerary.
Unless you’re already an accomplished mountaineer, however, you’ll likely want to hire a guide service to show you the ropes. There are a number of different guide services that are authorized to bring clients onto the peak, such as Exum Mountain Guides and Jackson Hole Mountain Guides.
The summer climbing season is very busy, so be sure to book your guided climb well in advance.
Things to do in fall
Try horseback riding
Horseback riding is a time-honored pastime in and around Grand Teton National Park, so it’s a nice way to spend your time if you’re looking to see the area from a new perspective. In fact, fall is a particularly great season to try horseback riding because of the nice weather and fewer mosquitoes provide a more comfortable riding experience.
Anyone that has their own horses or other pack stock can head into the pack’s backcountry for an overnight adventure. Many of the park’s camping zones, including Death Canyon Shelf, have dedicated horse camps for people camping with pack animals.
Alternatively, if you’re interested in trying horseback riding, horse packing, or if you just want to spend a day trail riding, there are 3 authorized horseback ride concessioners within the park.
These include Triangle X Ranch, the Grand Teton Lodge Company, and Headwaters Lodge at Flagg Ranch.
Watch the annual elk rut
Perhaps one of the most magical wildlife displays in Grand Teton National Park, the annual elk rut is a beautiful natural event that occurs every fall. During the rut, bull elk will bugle to attract mates. Often, 2 bull elk will fight over their harems, leading to an exciting show of the power of these majestic animals.
Grand Teton is one of the best places in the country (in addition to Yellowstone and Rocky Mountain National Parks) to see these animals in action. To see the elk rut, get up well before dawn and hike into a meadow near the base of the mountains where the elk like to congregate.
Taggart Lake is a particularly nice spot to check out if you’re looking to catch sight of the elk rut as you can often hear the elk bugling from the parking lot.
Admire the views from Antelope Flats Road
For one of the best views in Grand Teton National Park, take a scenic drive down Antelope Flats road to the Moulton Barn. This famous barn provides an excellent foreground for the stunning Teton Range that rises up behind it.
Plus, in the fall, the colorful foliage and a light dusting of snow in the mountains provides a lot of depth and beauty to this iconic landmark. Be sure to bring your hiking camera straps and your hiking camera backpack so that you have the gear you need to snap that perfect shot.
Go fly fishing on the Snake River
Fly fishing is an incredibly popular activity in Wyoming, and Grand Teton National Park is home to some of the best fishing opportunities in the region. Fall is a great time to try your hand at fly fishing because the seasonal snowmelt usually subsides by this time, providing clearer waters and more reasonable flow rates for casting lines.
Keep in mind that fishing in the park is regulated by Wyoming Game and Fish. Anyone that wants to fish in the park needs a license, which you can get at Colter Bay Marina, Dornans Fly Shop, or Signal Mountain Lodge within the park.
You can fly fish year-round on the Snake River, which is one of the premier fishing destinations in the park. If you’re looking for a fly fishing guide for your trip, check out the park’s fly fishing information page, which also offers information on seasonal closures and restrictions in Grand Teton.
Things to do in winter
Go cross country skiing on Teton Park Road
Grand Teton National Park is a winter sports lover’s paradise. Plus, when Teton Park Road is covered with snow from November 1 to April 30, it becomes an excellent place to go cross country skiing.
In fact, a 14-mile section of the road between Signal Mountain Lodge and the Taggart Lake Trailhead is generally groomed 3 times a week for both classic skiing and skate skiing.
If you don’t have your own skis, there are plenty of outfitters in nearby Jackson that are happy to rent you a pair for the day.
Snowshoe with a ranger
If you want to learn more about winter in Grand Teton National Park, going on a guided snowshoe hike with a park ranger is a solid choice.
Multiple times each week, the park offers free guided snowshoe trips to Taggart Lake that last about 2 hours. You’ll be given a pair of historic wooden snowshoes, some of which are surplus from the US Army’s 10th Mountain Division during World War II.
Throughout the walk, you’ll learn more about the park’s winter ecosystems, its historic connection to the 10th Mountain Division, and even hear a little bit about snow science, which is integral to forecasting avalanches within the Teton Range and beyond.
Just don’t forget to wear your winter boots and a warm pair of hiking socks to keep you comfortable during the trip!
Things to do in spring
Take a scenic drive
Although some of the highest elevation sections of Grand Teton National Park will be covered in snow until early summer, by late April and early May, most of the park’s scenic drives are open and ready for business.
Since spring often brings muddy trail conditions, a scenic drive through the park allows you to see the scenery without going knee-deep in mud. Teton Park Road, Jenny Lake Scenic Drive, and Moose-Wilson Road are all great options, as is Signal Mountain Summit Road when it’s clear of snow.
Visit the town of Moose
The small town of Moose (population 180) is actually located within the park boundaries, which makes it a unique place to spend a spring afternoon. Moose is home to a post office, visitor’s center, restaurant, and a handful of shops, for you to check out.
The town is also a great place to start a rafting trip down the Snake River, particularly during the high water that comes with the spring snow melt. Alternatively, you could try a guided fly fishing trip near Moose if you’re interested in perfecting your casting technique.
Things to do with kids
Go on a boat ride
When most people think of Grand Teton National Park, they think of mountains and snow. But, the park is also home to some spectacular boating opportunities, particularly on Jackson and Jenny Lakes.
There are a number of fun boat ride options in the park, which are great for kids and adults, alike. Some outfitters, like the Grand Teton Lodge Company, offer scenic cruises on Jackson Lake where you can take in the sights and enjoy a picnic breakfast, lunch, or dinner on nearby Elk Island.
Become a junior ranger
Grand Teton National Park has an excellent junior ranger program that’s specifically designed for budding naturalists who want to learn more about the world around them. To help your child become a junior ranger, you’ll want to stop by any of the park visitor’s centers to pick up their copy of the Grand Adventure activity booklet.
Once your child completes the booklet’s activities and takes some time to explore the park, you can head back to any visitor’s center for an official pinning ceremony, where your child will receive their junior ranger badge.
Gaby is a professional mountain guide with a master’s degree in outdoor education. She works primarily in the polar regions as an expedition guide, though she can be found hiking, climbing, skiing, sailing, or paddling in some of the world’s most amazing places when not at work.