Need help planning your itinerary for Grand Teton National Park? We have you covered!
If you’re planning a road trip to Yellowstone National Park, you’ll definitely want to add Grand Teton National Park to your itinerary as well!
On our last visit to Yellowstone, we spent three days in the park and were able to see all the main attractions. After leaving Yellowstone, we made the short drive south to Grand Teton National Park to spend a couple of days exploring the area.
The Grand Tetons are known for their stunning scenery and wildlife. It’s one of those places that just makes your heart happy!
Camping in the Grand Teton National Park
We were tent camping and opted to stay at the Colter Bay Campground located at Jackson Lake. If you want or need hook-ups for your RV, you can reserve a spot in advance, but since we were tent camping, we opted for the first-come, first-served campground. We arrived around 11:30 in the morning in the middle of July on a Wednesday and were able to secure a spot easily.
The ranger assigned us a campsite in a loop furthest from the water, but it was the quietest campground we’ve ever visited.
Plan for Mosquitos
Just like Yellowstone, the mosquitos in the Grand Tetons can be a bit of a nuisance during the summer months. Unfortunately, my son and I got eaten alive, but the rest of the family faired quite well.
The mosquitos weren’t as noticeable at the water’s edge or while hiking, but they definitely were in full force at the campground. We noticed that while they only seemed to make an appearance at dawn and dusk at Yellowstone, they hung around all day at the Colter Bay campground. I’m not sure if we just got unlucky or if that’s typical.
Bring bug repellent and long sleeves and pants to help deter the pesky little critters!
Amenities at Colter Bay Village
One of the reasons we chose to stay at Colter Bay was the amenities. While we typically enjoy areas that are lower key, we knew we would need to wash clothes and restock our ice chest. Also, showers are always a welcome amenity when you’re tent camping!
We were a week into our road trip when we arrived in the Grand Tetons and needed to do some laundry. Fortunately, the Village at Colter Bay has a decent-sized, coin-operated laundry facility.
Shower facilities at national parks aren’t always the most prestigious, but if you bring your flip-flops and set your expectations low, you’ll be thrilled with the warm water coming out of the showerhead and won’t get too critical of your surroundings. Fortunately, the showers are located right next to the laundromat and the general store, making it easy for the entire family to shower while you wash a load or two of laundry!
Enjoying ice cream at Colter Bay Village at Jackson Lake
Day 1 (half day): Grand Teton National Park Itinerary
The first day of our itinerary for Grand Teton National Park was a good introduction to the park. We arrived at Jackson Lake mid-day, secured our campground, set-up camp, then headed down to the marina area for some lunch and to explore the area.
Food and Ice Cream at Colter Bay Village
First, we grabbed some pizza and salad from the cafeteria near the marina.
Next, we restocked our ice chest with some essentials from the general store. We were excited to get some fresh berries (shipped from fields near our home in California)! After eating dried fruit for a few days, fresh fruit is always a hit. Overall, the prices were better than I expected with a good variety of foods to choose from.
Of course, the highlight of the general store was discovering the ice cream counter at the back of the store. Yes, I still dream about huckleberry ice cream.
Swim in Jackson Lake
After lunch, we went to our campsite, put on our swimsuits, and drove back to the marina. We all got an ice cream cone then headed down to the day-use area to the right of the Visitor Center.
Luckily, we found a spot on the small beach and dipped our toes in the water. It was warmer than we expected, and it didn’t take long before we were all the way in.
The views of the snow-capped mountains are absolutely breathtaking.
After swimming, we went back to the campsite, ate dinner, then moseyed back to the marina to wash laundry and shower.
Swimming in the pristine water of Jackson Lake’s Colter Bay
The Colter Bay Visitor Center sits right at the water’s edge. We chatted with the rangers to find out more about viewing wildlife in the evening.
If you have kids 12 and under, the first day is a great time to pick up their Grand Tetons National Park Junior Ranger Booklet for free from the visitor center. Getting it the first day gives them plenty of time to complete the booklet and earn their Junior Ranger badge before you leave the park.
Wildlife Viewing in Grand Tetons
An hour before dusk, we headed south on Highway 89/191 in search of wildlife.
Willow Flats is located near the Grand Teton Lodge Company. As you would expect, it a large, flat, marshy area. Moose like to graze in this area, but we didn’t see even one. However, we did see some iconic views and take a family photo.
Driving further south towards Jackson, we reached Oxbow Bend. We still didn’t see any moose or bears but we did get to watch birds, river otters, and even a beaver!
After sunset, we called it a day and headed back to the campsite.
Elk grazing at Willow Flats near Jackson Lake, Grand Teton National Park
Day 2 (full day): Grand Teton National Park
Knowing we had a full day, we decided to make it a hiking day. Grand Tetons, like Yellowstone, has its fair share of grizzly bears, so renting a can of bear spray, or bringing your own, is always advised.
I knew from research, that one place we had to have on our itinerary for Grand Teton National Park was a visit to Jenny Lake. We packed a lunch and our backpacks and made the 30-minute drive to one of the prettiest lakes in the United States.
Hike to Hidden Falls
We had planned to hike to Hidden Falls on the other side of the lake, but, unfortunately, there was a rock slide (which occurred a few months later) and the trail closed temporarily. Several of our friends have done this hike and enjoyed it.
If you choose, there is a shuttle boat that travels between the marina and falls. If you’re not up for a hike, the shuttle is a good option. Or, if you only want to hike halfway, you can grab a one-way shuttle ticket.
Tickets cannot be reserved in advance, but can be purchased at the main boat dock (East Dock). The shuttle can drop off hikers at the West Dock near the Cascade Canyon trailhead. From there, is a short ½ mile hike to Hidden Falls. Hiking from the main (East Dock) marina to the falls is 2 ½ miles, one way.
Hike to Moose Pond
Since the trail to Hidden Falls was closed, we opted to hike to Moose Pond on the south side of the lake. We started at East Dock and followed the easy 2.7-mile (out-and-back) trail to Moose Pond.
As our luck would have it, we didn’t see any moose. We hung out for a while and bird-watched admired the amazing scenery and found plenty of moose tracks.
Fish, Swim, or Boat at Jenny Lake
In addition to hiking, guests can rent canoes or kayaks, swim, or fish! The lake has lake trout, cutthroat trout, mountain whitefish, brown trout, and Chinook salmon.
Visitors can swim in designated areas at Jenny Lake, or head back to Colter Bay for an afternoon swim!
Hiking Jenny Lake Trail
Moose-less Moose Pond
Swim in Colter Bay
Our family opted to go back to Colter Bay to swim. Ice cream may have been a contributing factor. Are you noticing a pattern, yet? Ice cream first, followed by a swim. Priorities.
Dinner at Trapper Grill
For dinner, we ate at Trapper Grill. This lovely little spot is located right on the water at the Signal Mountain Lodge. While it wasn’t phenomenal, the food was the best we had while in the Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. The views were gorgeous and guests have the choice between indoor dining and patio dining. Both locations offered excellent views of the Grand Teton mountain range.
Scenic Drive in Search of Wildlife
After dinner, we went in search of wildlife, again. We drove down Teton Park Road. Then, we went back to Oxbow Bend and Willow Flats. Although we took several little dirt roads that had been recommended to us by rangers and staff, unfortunately, we never found any moose nor bears.
We didn’t see nearly as much wildlife in the Grand Teton National Park as much as we did in Yellowstone. I’m not sure we just got unlucky or if we needed to stay a few more days. Regardless, the scenery is jaw-dropping everywhere you go!
The Snake River near Jackson Lake
Day 3 (half day): Grand Teton National Park
After spending our morning packing up camp, we headed back to the Colter Bay Village
Colter Bay Vistor Center & Gift Shop
The last day is when we typically buy our souvenirs. And when I say souvenirs, I mean small mementos. For me, that meant a couple of huckleberry bonbons. Chocolate is my favorite souvenir. Though, is it considered a souvenir if it doesn’t last more than one day? The memory will stick with me for years to come, so I guess that counts!
The last day is also a great time for kids to present their completed Junior Ranger booklets and obtain their free Junior Ranger badge!
Tour the Jackson National Fish Hatchery
After leaving Jackson Lake, we made our way south toward the town of Jackson. Outside the town, we spied a fish hatchery with free tours. We enjoyed learning more about conservation endeavors and the process of raising fish.
Explore the Town of Jackson
Next, we traveled on to the quaint, touristy town of Jackson. We enjoyed eating lunch in a real town for the first time in a week, visiting art galleries, taking a stagecoach ride, and walking around the square.
While we enjoyed the town, we’re definitely not shoppers, and the town itself felt very touristy. It was good for a short visit, but definitely not someplace we would want to stay for more than half a day.
Sculptures in Jackson, Wyoming
Stagecoach ride around Jackson Square
Plan Your Grand Teton Visit
This two-day itinerary for Grand Teton National Park allowed us to see the highlights of the park and the town of Jackson! We loved the natural beauty of the park and hope to visit again someday. But, next time, we plan to stay for a few more days.
Are you planning a trip to Grand Teton National Park? Do you have any questions? I’d love to hear them and help answer them!