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.
Table of contents
The ultimate tour of North America
This article is part of a large one-year tour the United States en Canada in 2022, with a Dutch 4×4 camper that we shipped ourselves… It is a bucket list worthy and a once in a lifetime experience that will never be forgotten.
We wrote almost 100 articles about this ultimate tour. Below is a handy overview in 5 expandable categories.
2. Highlights & Itineraries
3. Cities & places of interest (AZ)
- Tour America | Amelia City
- Tour America | Amelia Island
- Tour America | Annapolis
- Tour America | Ice Lake Trail
- Tour America | Kennedy Space Centre
- Tour America | KeyWest
- Tour America | Miami
- Tour America | New York City
- Tour America | Ouray
- Tour America | Salt Lake City
- Tour America | Savannah
- Tour America | Seattle
- Tour America | Silverton
- Tour America | St Augustine
- Tour America | Washington DC
- Tour America | Wynwood
4. National Parks & Monuments (AZ)
- Tour America | All National Parks (list)
- Tour America | Black Canyon of the Gunnison
- Tour America | Death Valley
- Tour America | Dinosaur
- Tour America | Everglades
- Tour America | Glacier
- Tour America | Grand Teton
- Tour America | Great Sand Dunes
- Tour America | Mesa Verde
- Tour America | Rock Mountain
- Tour America | Yellowstone
- Tour America | Yosemite
5. Plan your vacation to America here
- Itineraries compare | TUI, Americaplus, sawadee en Djoser.
- Motorhome rental companies compare | WorldWideCampers.com
- Fly & drives compare | Americaplus.
- Cruises and city trips compare | Travel deal.
- Flight tickets compare | Skyscanner, TUI, KLM. as KAYAK.
- Rental cars compare | Sunnycars, Alamo en rental cars.
- Tours and Activities compare | GetYourGuide.
- Camping sites reservation| RECREATION.gov
- Hotels & Resorts reservation | Booking.com.
- SIM cards order | USAsim en International sim.
- Parking at airport | Parkos, Central parking of park care.
- travel items (suitcases, world plugs, etc.) | Bol.com.
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 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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
The Snake River meanders through the park. Several viewpoints overlook the river with the imposing mountain ridge in the background.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 '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.
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.
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!
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.
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
- Itineraries : TUI, Americaplus, sawadee en Djoser.
- Motorhome rental companies : WorldWideCampers.com
- Fly & drives : Americaplus en Travelworld.
- Cruises and city trips for America you book with Travel deal.
- Flight tickets for America you book with TUI, KLM, KAYAK en Skyscanner.
- Rental cars : Sunnycars, Alamo en rental cars.
- Tours and Activities in America you book via GetYourGuide.
- Camping sites in National Parks you book on RECREATION.gov
- Hotels & Resorts in America you book with Booking.com.
- SIM cards : USAsim en International sim.
- Parking at the airport you can arrange via Parkos, park care of iParking.
- travel items (suitcases, bags, world plugs, etc. can be ordered at Bol.com.