A short drive from its northernly neighbor, its landscape and size are very different. Right away, you can see the majestic Tetons and it is present throughout the whole park. The much smaller area makes it easier to navigate by car and allows you to see the park without spending days driving around.
I really would spend a whole week in this park to be able to hike to different lakes and take the Tetons in from different perspectives: 3 days just weren’t enough. We managed to hike a couple of short trails, but Grand Teton has a lot more to offer.
Where to stay and eat
There are several campgrounds and lodges in Grand Teton National Park. Two of the campgrounds can be reserved online and offer full hookups. Just like Yellowstone, Grand Teton has great infrastructure inside the park- restaurants, gas stations, grocery stores, laundry, etc…
We stayed at the Colter Bay Campground without hookups, in a no-generator zone. It was quiet, relaxing and close to the lake. We were able to get a spot without prior reservation during Labor Day week. Full hookups lots were all taken and if you require it, make reservations online a few months in advance.
There are four campgrounds in Grand Teton National Park with two offering online reservations. Camping and RV lots are also available at Headwaters Lodge at Flagg Ranch, which is technically outside of the National Park, but in between Yellowstone and Grand Teton.
Jackson Hole makes a great gateway to the park and offers a variety of accommodations from 5-star hotels to Airbnb. And since Grand Teton National Park is much smaller than Yellowstone, you are able to stay in Jackson and drive into the park for sightseeing.
All the lodges offer restaurants, but our favorite was Signal Mountain for its beautiful views of the lake.
What to do in Grand Teton
If hiking and wildlife watching are not enough for you, there are many activities available for visitors in Grand Teton National Park. The Grand Teton Lodge Company offers rafting, bus tours, horseback rides, fishing trips, lake cruises and boat rentals. Grand Teton also has an impressive bike trail from end to end that is protected from road traffic. And of course, there are free ranger led programs available and posted in the visitor centers and campgrounds.
3-day Itinerary for Grand Teton National Park
We camped in Colter Bay Campground and it was one of the best decisions we’ve made. Our site was a short walk to the Jackson Lake and we were able to take advantage of that by relaxing by the water and taking the short loop hike around the visitor center a couple times. Go early in the morning and it is so peaceful!
Jenny Lake Boat Ride and Inspiration Point Hike
Jenny Lake is the gateway to some great trails and Hidden Falls is one of the most popular trails for hikers. You can hike around the lake to it or take the boat ferry to the other side ($15 per person roundtrip). The trail around the lake can be 2.5 miles or 4.5 miles long (one-way) depending on which side you take. I would recommend taking the boat both ways or taking the boat in and hiking back out, since the shuttle boat stops operating at 4pm.
We took the boat in and out. This option was great for us since we have a toddler and he loved being on the boat. In total, we did 3 short hikes in the same area, but would only recommend 2: Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point which was only opened partially during our trip. The third one, Cascade Canyon was difficult, with high elevation and slope and the scenery was nothing special. We only did 1 mile in and came back.
I consider this place to be the most beautiful place in Grand Teton. Not only it is naturally spectacular, it’s where we found a moose during our trip. After 2 days of driving around and asking every stranger we could find if they had seen a moose, this was where we hit jackpot! And what a beautiful animal it was!
Stop at various lookouts
My favorite area was just at the Jackson Lake Junction. For some reason, the Tetons just looked amazing to me here. But you can see the Grand Tetons from basically anywhere in the park.
Stop at Signal Mountain lodge for nachos and beer
Of all the lodges available at Grand Teton, I really loved Signal Mountain’s restaurants and bars. We stopped in for a snack and drink and were amazed with the views of the lake from the back deck. The nachos were only half portion and yet, the 3 adults in our party couldn’t finish it. They also serve good breakfasts and the prices are super affordable, which was a surprise since it’s inside a National Park.
Sunrise at T.A. Moulton Barn
This iconic barn is one of the most photographed places around. If you like photography, you need to get up early and get a sunrise picture of this place. Be prepared to find a group of photographers there for the same reason year-round. Just make sure to dress warmly, bring a tripod and a hot beverage to wait for the sunrise.
Sunset at Oxbow Bend
One of the places to see wildlife at the park, rangers often lead lectures here close to dusk. We were here for sunset and although we didn’t see moose, some people spotted a bear. It was very far away, so if you would like to see wildlife in Grand Teton, bring binoculars.
This is just some of the beauty that you can expect to find in Grand Teton National Park. Although we didn’t see as much wildlife as we did in Yellowstone, it was amazing to see the Tetons from every direction and to not have to deal with as many visitors. Grand Teton has definitely carved a place in my heart and has become one of my favorite national parks. We will go back to explore it more for sure.
To shop my Hiking Essentials click on images below:
Have you been to Grand Teton National Park? What is your favorite part?
*Affiliate links are present in this post. For a more detailed disclaimer, read this.