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Grand Teton National Park and Jackson Hole | Roadtrip USA (35)

Grand Teton means big nipples. With this information I would love to start this blog! No, that's not a myth, more about this in the part about the park… Grand Teton National Park and Jackson Hole together are one large protected nature reserve. Jackson Hole is the flat part (the valley) and the Tetons are the towering mountains that suddenly rise out of nowhere.

The fact that there are beautiful lakes and that there is a lot of wildlife to see (including bears!), complete the appeal of this beautiful park. It is therefore a logical stop for us on the way to Yellowstone from Salt Lake City.

In this article I will tell you more about this beautiful region and of course what we did and saw.


Plan your vacation to America here


Our journey through the United States and Canada

This article is part of a major one-year journey that we (Chris and Malou van Wereldreizigers.nl), are currently making by the United States en Canada† We started in New York City and are through Washington DC en Baltimore (where we shipped our RV), first traveled south (Florida) and then made a full round of the country.

Organizing this trip took a lot of time and energy. So we had to US B1/B2 visa of one year and we spent weeks working on it renovating our 4×4 camper† Then we got to work on the RV to America to ship and in hindsight it turned out to be a Dutch vehicle insurance in America to be one of the biggest challenges.

When that was all over, we could finally focus on the anticipation: figuring out and planning all the beautiful places we want to visit. I built the ultimate roadtrip route through America and Canada of roughly 50.000 kilometers in Google maps and we are now making our dream come true! The interactive map can be viewed below.

More blogs from our trip through America and Canada

About Grand Teton National Park

Grand Teton National Park is a national park in the state of Wyoming in the USA, south of Yellowstone. The park is named after the Grand Teton, one of the mountains of the Teton Mountains. The mountain is 4197 meters high and it is also the highest mountain in the park.

The Teton Mountains rise over a landscape rich in extraordinary wildlife and pristine lakes. It stands as a monument to the people who fought to protect it. These are mountains of the imagination. Mountains that led to the creation of Grand Teton National Park.

The name

The Teton Mountains got their name from a French trapper, who called them tétons, French for nipple. The park covers an area of ​​1255 km² and has been a national park since February 26, 1929. There are almost 320 km of hiking trails in the park and the chances of spotting a bear here are high.

The geology

Towering over the Jackson Hole Valley, the Teton Mountains offer dramatic views from both sides. It attracts millions of visitors to the park every year. Over billions of years, natural forces, including tectonic plate shifting, earthquakes, glaciers and erosion, have shaped this beautiful landscape. This this is still going on.

The Tetons contain some of the oldest rocks in North America. These rocks were formed when seafloor and volcanic debris up to 18 miles (29 kilometers) deep were buried when two tectonic plates collided — similar to the collision of India and Asia that form the Himalayas today.

The earthquakes

Today, the plates are pulling apart again. Funnily enough, the Tetons are one of the youngest mountain ranges in North America. They are less than 10 million years old, which is very young on a geological scale.

Image: NPS.gov
Image: NPS.gov

This is because the tectonic plate under Jackson Hole sinks and slides under the Tetons plate, which in turn pushes the Tetons further up (see image). This is sometimes accompanied by violent earthquakes of 7,5 on the Richter scale. With brute force the mountain range suddenly grows a few centimeters again.

Things to Do in Grand Teton National Park

Now that you know how the park came into existence and why it is so special, it is of course time to discover the park for yourself. You can do that in different ways and the most popular (American) way is of course driving around by car or camper.

Info film in the Visitor Center

Something we always do when we have a National Park in America to visit, is to watch the information film. They often have a small cinema near the visitor center where a movie about the park plays every XNUMX minutes or half an hour. These films are sometimes quite dated, but we have also been presented with beautiful HD images. You always have to wait and see what you get.

The films are very informative regardless of age. You will learn a lot about the park, nature and what there is to see and do in a short time. It helps you make choices about what you do or don't want to see and do.

The view from the Theater at the Grand Teton Visitors Center
The view from the Grand Teton Visitors Center

The film ends in a spectacular way in Grand Teton National Park. Suddenly the curtain rises and you look straight at the mighty mountain formation from the hall. They did a great job.

Driving around Teton Park Road

You can drive around the park on Teton Park Road. You will then drive past the well-known sights, including Jenny Lake. It's the easiest way to see a lot in a short time.

Jenny Lake | Grand Teton National Park
Jenny Lake | Grand Teton National Park

Along the way you will come across numerous viewpoints, each even more beautiful than the other. Be aware that the popular spots, including Jenny Lake, can be very busy. We were there several times early in the morning, when we could still park easily. When we came back the whole parking lot was full and the cars were parked far away along the street. So you can avoid this by going early.

The Grand Teton's from a parking lot at one of the many viewpoints
The Grand Teton's from a parking lot at one of the many viewpoints

Early in the morning (before 08:30) you often have the park, the sights and viewpoints all to yourself. In the photo above we are at a viewpoint along the road at 06:30 in the morning, while the rising sun just manages to send a sunbeam between the earth and clouds. A different face.

Snake river

The Snake River meanders through the park. Several viewpoints overlook the river with the imposing mountain ridge in the background.

Snake River | Grand Teton National Park
Snake River | Grand Teton National Park

North and Southward

We drove the first day from South to North and the other day from North to South. This gave a completely different view of the mountains, so if you have the opportunity, do it! Also, because of the clouds and the light, every place is very different and special to see.

De wereldreizigers.nl 4x4 motorhome at Grand Teton
De wereldreizigers.nl 4×4 motorhome at Grand Teton

Kayaking / Canoeing

You can rent a Kayak or Canoe for $25 an hour. Malou and I enjoyed seeing Jenny Lake and the imposing mountains from a different perspective. Pay close attention to the wind, because with a strong headwind, paddling back can be more difficult than you think.

Kayaking / Canoeing in Grand Teton National Park
Kayaking / Canoeing in Grand Teton National Park
Malou is Kayaking / Canoeing in Grand Teton National Park
Malou Canoeing in Grand Teton National Park

Those who go out on the water before 09:00 usually have a mirror-smooth lake with few other people. Experience the peace and nature on the water.

Hiking at Jenny Lake

The most popular spot in the park is, of course, Jenny Lake. You can cross the lake here with a boat (one way = 12 dollars pp) to walk on the other side to the waterfalls. You can then choose to take the boat back (return = 20 dollars pp), but you can also walk back. This walk back takes about one hour.

Malou at Jenny Lake | Grand Teton National Park
Malou at Jenny Lake | Grand Teton National Park

Remark: if you are smart, go for the walk around the lake early in the morning (+- 1 hour) and then go to the waterfalls and the viewpoint. Then you are ahead of the crowd. The boats only start at 08:00.

Lots of flowers while walking around Jenny Lake
Lots of flowers while walking around Jenny Lake

While you make the walk you always get a beautiful view of the lake, the mountain peaks or the many flower fields. Depending on what season you are here of course.

Hidden Falls

Once you have arrived at the 'other side', whether by boat or by foot, you will notice that there are rivers flowing down, which you have to cross every now and then. So you are now close to the waterfalls that flow into rivers, which in turn flow into Jenny Lake.

Hiking at Jenny Lake, often you have to cross rivers via small bridges
Hiking at Jenny Lake, often you have to cross rivers via small bridges

It's only a short walk, about 20 minutes, to Hidden Falls. The falls do indeed seem a bit 'hidden' in principle, but whoever continues to follow the trail will eventually get really close, where you can see the large waterfall very well. Naturally, Malou and I also took a picture together here.

Malou and Chris van Wereldreizigers.nl pictured at Hidden Falls, Jenny Lake | Grand Teton National Park
Malou and Chris van Wereldreizigers.nl pictured at Hidden Falls, Jenny Lake | Grand Teton National Park

Inspiration point (viewpoint)

When you have been to the waterfalls, you can also choose to take the walk up. It's not extreme, you'll be there in about 25 to 30 minutes. It is, however, quite uphill, so if you have difficulty walking it can be quite heavy.

Malou at Inspiration Point viewpoint, looking at Jenny Lake
Malou at Inspiration Point viewpoint, looking at Jenny Lake

Once at the top you have a beautiful view of Jenny Lake and the remarkably flat valley beyond (Jackson Hole). Sit down here, eat a sandwich, drink your bottle of water and be inspired!

Wildlife in Grand Teton National Park

Elk (Wapity)

Other big game that you come across a lot here are Elk (Wapity). It is the largest deer species in the world! The males can weigh as much as 475 kilos and the antlers are much larger and sturdier than other deer species. This large male was undisturbed eating the grass on the verge near one of the campsites.

Each | Grand Teton National Park

bison

On the east side of the park, in the valley, you will encounter many bison. We were there at the end of June, when there were also many small calves to admire. You can stop along the way to enjoy these beautiful animals.

bison | | Grand Teton National Park

They also look better than they actually are. Accidents happen almost weekly here and in Yellowstone with people getting too close for a photo or selfie. They are literally pounded to death or speared by these animals. Especially the males with their horns can be very dangerous.

Mooses (Elk)

Elk can get really gigantic. Their backs can be up to two meters high. You don't see them very often in Grand Teton National Park, but they are definitely there. They can often be found in and around the water in the early hours and just before sunset.

A Moose in the water at Grand Teton National Park
A Moose in the water | Grand Teton National Park

Fun fact: Elk are the only deer species that can eat underwater. Moose can dive 6 meters and hold their breath for a minute to eat aquatic plants. They are truly incredible animals!

chipmunks

I don't know what it is, but I always find these critters so incredibly cute. They actually look a lot like rats and mice, but they look much nicer. Also here in Grand Teton they are not afraid of people. Unfortunately, this is the result of tourists feeding them nuts and other foods.

Chipmunk in Grand Teton National Park
Chipmunk in Grand Teton National Park

The chipmunks often look for a branch or stone from which you can just look them straight in the eye. Hey look at me! Give me food human! That's what I think is going through their little heads. Of course I don't give anything. Wild life, must stay wild. Moreover, it is forbidden to feed the animals, small and large…

Bears and Bear Spray

You are really in Bear Country in Grand Teton National Park. That is, bears live here and are often seen. They live here and you are a guest. Realize that well! Do yourself a favor and read the warnings. Prepare yourself and know what to do if you encounter a bear.

Bear Attack / Bear Spray information at the start of the trail in Grand Teton
Bear Attack / Bear Spray information at the start of the trail in Grand Teton

They sell everywhere here Bear Spray. It's a kind of mega pepper spray that can create a huge cloud of tear gas/pepper spray. You can use these if a bear is stalking or attacking you so you can get yourself to safety. And if you think the chance is pretty slim, think again. Bears are seen here every day. We also saw bears and they just walked on the walking path where many people were!

Black bear (even though he's brown...) walks the hiking trail in Grand Teton
Black bear (even though he's brown…) suddenly walks along the hiking trail in Grand Teton. The children were stiff with fear
When the black bear appeared to walk on, the mobiles appeared
When the black bear appeared to walk on, the mobiles appeared

The family above was really surprised by this crossing bear. I had been watching him for a while, but suddenly he came out of the bushes and crossed over, about 15 meters from the family. It is recommended to keep at least 100 meters away from bears, but that clearly did not work here. I am about 50 meters from the bear with my camera fully zoomed in on the bear.

Black Bear in Grand Teton National Park
Black Bear in Grand Teton National Park

Fortunately, the bear paid no attention to us, the people. He was busy foraging for food, often sniffing violently and digging in the ground. His trajectory was therefore really unpredictable. Sometimes he suddenly turned around and walked in another direction. I understand very well that people are often surprised here on the trails. The bears are really unpredictable.

Black Bear in Grand Teton National Park
Black Bear in Grand Teton National Park

Remark: Never approach a bear. Just stand still and wait for him to disappear back into the woods. Only when he comes your way should you slowly back away. Running away is absolutely not recommended, because bears can experience that as provocative and then want to fight you. So stay calm!

Deer / deer

The 'ordinary' deer can also be seen in abundance here. We saw in the bushes just 5 meters from us this cute mother deer with a very young deer. As soon as Mama moved a few feet, the baby hopped right after it. Very nice to see!

About Jackson Hole

Jackson is a city in the US state of Wyoming and administratively falls under Teton County. The place is almost always called 'Jackson Hole', after the valley and airport of the same name.

Playhouse at Jackson Hole
Playhouse at Jackson Hole

Jackson Hole is the center of all things Grand Teton National Park. There are some large supermarkets here and many hostels, hotels, lodges and campsites. Both in summer and winter it is bustling with tourism. It is therefore a really touristic place with many shops, souvenirs, bars and restaurants.

Central Park

It is a small town with an easy to find park in the middle. It's not a very special park but the entrances are. Do you see the arches at the 4 entrances? They are all made of antlers! A bizarre face.

The Arches at Central Park in Jackson Hole
The Arches at Central Park in Jackson Hole

The 'braiding' of these arches was done manually by a local artist. It appears to be a fragile construction, but it is said to have survived the heaviest storms without any problems.

The Arches at Central Park in Jackson Hole
The Arches at Central Park in Jackson Hole

In the center of the park is a statue with information about the history of the region. There has been much fighting here in the past and the names of the fallen soldiers are engraved on the memorial.

Memorial Jackson Hole
Memorial Jackson Hole

4th of July

We were in Jackson Hole during 4th of July, ie parades and fireworks! We went to town to see a bit of the parade, a celebratory event with many, many American flags. Nicely patriotic!

4th of July at Jackson Hole
4th of July at Jackson Hole

Scouting clubs, families, local politicians, firefighters, classic car enthusiasts, everyone seems to want to join the parade. It was a party with a lot of bells, flags and noise.

4th of July at Jackson Hole
4th of July at Jackson Hole
4th of July at Jackson Hole
4th of July at Jackson Hole

Conclusion

After the hugely famous Grand Canyon, Yosemite, Rocky Mountains and Yellowstone National Parks, Grand Teton is perhaps the most beautiful park to add to that list. The geology here is unreal. We Europeans are familiar with the high mountains in France, Austria and Switzerland, but there is no place on our continent where the plateau is so flat and the mountains suddenly rise so extremely straight above it.

The fact that you can and will spot so many beautiful animals here, including Mooses and bears (there are both Black bears and Grizzly bears here), completes the appeal of the park. Whoever goes to the popular Yellowstone National Park can therefore not skip Grand Teton National Park. The parks are literally next to each other. It is a nice addition to an already fantastic journey through this special country..


Plan your vacation to America here


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Chris

Owner of Wereldreizigers.nl † Discover the world!

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➡️ 2022 - 1 year United States & Canada

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