Grand Teton, a towering monolith in the Teton Range of Wyoming, is an iconic peak known for its striking beauty and challenging mountaineering opportunities. As the tallest mountain in the Teton Range, it lures climbers and outdoor enthusiasts with its rugged terrain, breathtaking vistas, and a unique blend of natural splendor and adventure.
American Grand Teton National Park is located in northeastern Wyoming. It covers 310,000 acres (1,300 km2) and contains the key peaks of the 40-mile (64 km) Teton Range and much of Jackson Hole’s northern parts. Grand Teton National Park lies 10 miles (16 km) south of Yellowstone National Park via the National Park Service-managed John D. Rockefeller Jr. Memorial Parkway. These three protected regions form the almost 18-million-acre (73,000-square-kilometer) Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, one of the world’s biggest intact mid-latitude temperate ecosystems, with bordering national forests.
Nomadic hunter-gatherer Paleo-Indians began moving into the Grand Teton region during warmer months to find food and supplies at least 11,000 years ago. The first explorers met eastern Shoshone in the early 19th century. Fur trading enterprises competed for beaver pelts in the area between 1810 and 1840. After Yellowstone’s discovery, U.S. government excursions to the region began in the mid-19th century, and the first white residents arrived in Jackson Hole in the 1880s.
Grand Teton National Park was established in 1929 to safeguard the Teton Range’s key peaks after late-19th-century efforts. The valley of Jackson Hole was privately owned until the 1930s when environmentalists led by John D. Rockefeller Jr. began buying land for the national park. In 1943, much of Jackson Hole was declared a national monument despite public sentiment and numerous Congressional attempts to reverse the protections. After the monument was disbanded in 1950, most of the area became Grand Teton National Park.
Teton National Park is named after the range’s largest mountain, Grand Teton.
- Elevation: Grand Teton stands proudly at 13,770 feet (4,197 meters) above sea level, making it the highest peak in the Teton Range and one of the most sought-after summits in the United States.
- Location: This majestic mountain is situated within Grand Teton National Park in northwestern Wyoming, where it dominates the skyline and is a centerpiece of the Teton Range, part of the Rocky Mountains.
Activities and Attractions:
- Mountaineering: Grand Teton is celebrated for its challenging climbing routes, attracting mountaineers and alpinists from all over the world. The most popular route is the Owen-Spalding Route, which provides a mix of rock and snow climbing, as well as breathtaking exposure.
- Scenic Beauty: Beyond its mountaineering opportunities, Grand Teton boasts unparalleled scenic beauty. The dramatic peaks of the Teton Range, pristine glacial lakes, and verdant alpine meadows create an awe-inspiring landscape that captivates hikers, photographers, and nature lovers.
- Hiking: For those not attempting the summit, the national park offers numerous hiking trails that cater to all skill levels. A hike to Taggart Lake or Jenny Lake, for instance, reveals stunning views of Grand Teton’s reflection on the lakes’ surfaces.
- Wildlife Viewing: Grand Teton National Park is renowned for its rich wildlife. Moose, elk, bison, grizzly bears, and various bird species can be observed within the park’s boundaries. It’s a paradise for wildlife enthusiasts and photographers.
- Camping: The park provides an array of campgrounds where visitors can immerse themselves in the natural beauty of the region. Camping in Grand Teton National Park offers the chance to be surrounded by the breathtaking Teton Range.
How to Get There:
- Access to Grand Teton and Grand Teton National Park is usually achieved via the town of Jackson, Wyoming. From there, visitors can travel north to reach the park’s entrance and explore its wonders.
The Teton Range, which is the youngest mountain range in the Rocky Mountains, started to build between 6 and 9 million years ago. It is a generally north-south running active fault-block mountain front that is 40 miles (64 km) long by 7 to 9 miles (11 to 14 km) broad. It rises from the bottom of Jackson Hole without any foothills. The range leans westward, rising sharply over the easterly Jackson Hole Valley and more gradually into the westward Teton Valley. The Teton Fault saw a sequence of earthquakes that gradually moved the eastern and western sides of the fault higher and downhill, respectively, by an average of one foot (30 cm) per 300–400 years.
In the last two million years, the line has moved around a lot.The fault has been through up to 7.5-magnitude earthquakes since it formed, but it has been pretty quiet historically, with only a few 5.0-magnitude or larger earthquakes known to have happened since 1850.
The Teton Range and Jackson Hole were formed by fault blocks.
The Grand Teton is 13,775 feet (4,199 m) high, and nine other peaks are over 12,000 feet (3,700 m) high. The Cathedral Group is made up of eight of these peaks between Avalanche and Cascade Canyons. Mount Moran, which stands 12,605 feet (3,842 m) tall and rises 5,728 feet (1,746 m) above Jackson Lake, is the tallest hill north of Cascade Canyon.In the end, the range ends north of Mount Moran and joins the high Yellowstone Plateau. South of the Cathedral Group in the middle, the Teton Range stops near Teton Pass and merges with the Snake River Range.
Since there are no roads through the range except for Teton Pass, which is south of the park, the west-to-east curving valleys make it easier to get to the heart of the range on foot. The valleys were formed by glaciers and many streams. They are at their lowest point at Jackson Hole, which is on the eastern edge of the range. The glaciers cut more than a dozen U-shaped valleys across the range as they moved from higher to lower elevations.To the south, Cascade Canyon is surrounded by Mount Owen and Teewinot Mountain. To the north, it is surrounded by Symmetry Spire, and it is right next to Jenny Lake. Six canyons cut through the Teton Range from north to south. They are Webb, Moran, Paintbrush, Cascade, Death, and Granite.
Teton Range and Grand Teton National Park
Grand Teton is an emblem of the natural splendor and adventure that awaits in the Teton Range and Grand Teton National Park. Whether you’re a mountaineer aiming for the summit or a nature enthusiast seeking stunning landscapes and wildlife encounters, this Wyoming gem offers a remarkable experience. With its iconic presence on the horizon and its role as the tallest mountain in the Teton Range, Grand Teton stands as a symbol of the untamed beauty and grandeur that draws people to the American West.
How to visit Grand Teton National Park
Grand Teton National Park’s glacier-carved mountains rise above Jackson Hole valley, creating one of the nation’s most famous panoramas. Over 13,000 feet climb in miles in the Tetons. Vasu Sojitra, a professional athlete and disability access advocate who made the first impaired Grand Teton ascent on crutches in 2014, says witnessing that humbles you.
Fur trappers named these spectacular mountains Pilot Knobs 200 years ago because they could be seen from far away. Teewinot—“many pinnacles” in Shoshone—is one of the Tetons’ highest peaks and references the region’s historic heritage. The 1800s homesteading heritage in Jackson, nearby, makes the valley known as “The Last of the Old West.” Visitors may see why the park is a symbol of the American West from its lush plains, towering crags, and lemon-yellow balsamroot blossoms.
Adventurers climb ancient climbing routes, hike into wildflower-strewn basins, and ski down challenging backcountry slopes in winter in the park. But the park is also great for bicycling, photography, and canoeing, situated against the Snake River, lakes, and streams, and Grand Teton range.
Despite being smaller than Yellowstone National Park, Grand Teton provides stunning mountain views and fauna. Steven Shelesky, an outdoor photographer and Jackson resident, says elk, moose, pronghorn, and bison are often seen when traveling through the park.
These planning suggestions can maximize your next national park visit.
Find the greatest park views
Shelesky feels early morning park sunrises are worth it. “The entire Teton range is east facing, which makes for an amazing spectacle,” he explains. Schwabacher Landing, 350 yards from the parking area, offers stunning Snake River beaver pond views. “You can see beautiful Grand Teton reflections on the water’s surface,” adds Shelesky.
Shelesky also suggests the nearby Snake River Overlook. The 1942 Ansel Adams shot shows the river framed by the Tetons. Highway 191/89 has the Snake River Overlook pullout sign.
Take beautiful trip shots with these crucial strategies.
Best hikes in the park
From the Taggart Lake Trailhead on Teton Park Road, a short stroll leads to a beautiful lakeside picnic site with the Tetons reflecting in the water. The three-mile round-trip route passes bridges and winds through a forest of quaking aspen trees, whose leaves shudder at the least breeze yet rises little over 300 feet. The 5.6-mile Taggart Lake-Bradley Lake Loop is worth the extra steps for a more moderate trek. Both paths are popular winter snowshoeing routes.
For a more difficult hike, follow the roaring Cascade Creek up the Forks of Cascade Canyon trail to Inspiration Point and Hidden Falls. The 9.8-mile out-and-back route can be made more difficult by hiking 14.1 miles to Lake Solitude during the day or overnight (permits necessary). To skip four miles of hiking, get a Jenny Lake Shuttle Service round-trip ticket.
Find the greatest park drives
A 42-mile circle on Teton Park Road and Highway 191/89/26 leads to various park pullouts and observation points. Signal Hill Mountain Summit Road climbs over 1,000 feet to two viewpoints of the Jackson Hole valley. The five-mile small road closes in winter.
Best wildlife viewing places
Mt. Moran and Jackson Lake are full in animals in Grand Teton National Park. Timbered Island’s spiky sagebrush south of Jenny Lake Visitor Center holds elk and pronghorn. Buffalo and moose wander at Oxbow Bend on the Snake River, as bald eagles and osprey fly overhead.
Hike up the glacially formed Cascade Canyon route to spot yellow-bellied marmots and hear pikas, a tiny lagomorph related to rabbits and hares, chirping. They may harvest wildflowers and grass to store in hay heaps for winter snowstorms.
Grand Teton National Park animals
Wildlife safety: Wildlife is a park highlight. Follow the rule mandating visitors to keep 100 yards from bears and wolves and 25 yards from bison, moose, and pronghorn for their and your protection.
Since 2000, animal collisions in Grand Teton have tripled, making speed restrictions crucial. The park advises special vigilance in the fall, when animals migrate, and at dawn, dusk, and night, when the speed restriction is 45 mph.
Starting early in Grand Teton is advised. Iverson studies Brewer’s sparrows, a little songbird with a peculiar cry that lives in sagebrush. “Early in the morning is when birds and other wildlife are going to be more active,” she adds. Many early field expeditions yielded elk, moose, and pronghorn, the second-fastest land mammal in the world.
In an area where the Berry Fire burnt 150-year-old trees, researchers count lodgepole pine seedlings.
Ski mountaineers atop Grand Teton National Park’s Mount Owen.
Winter lights Jackson Lake like a black-and-white snapshot. Ranger-led activities, animal viewing, and canoeing are popular at the lake. These coastlines house Signal Mountain Lodge.
She loved canoeing one of the several lakes, adds Iverson. Then “you get this whole expansive view of everything around you,” she explains. Signal Mountain Marina, Colter Bay Marina, and others rent canoes and kayaks. Morning paddling is advised before afternoon breezes.
Famous events and excursions
The steep Tetons attract mountaineers like Irene Ortenburger and Yvon Chouinard. First-timers may not be able to climb the park’s high-altitude paths due to their steep slope and height.
The Teton Crest Trail, which follows the range’s spine through wildflower-filled peaks from Teton Pass to String Lake, is popular with experienced backpackers. Backpackers spend three to five days to finish the 40-mile path. Use Recreation.gov to get a permit six months in advance.
Ambitious hikers and mountaineers may take a multiday wilderness journey to climb the 13,775-foot Grand Teton. Exum and Jackson Hole Mountain Guides conduct summer hikes and winter ski mountaineering tours.
Need room to roam? Consider a “pack trip.”
Best family activities
The park offers free interpretive programs at Jackson Lake Lodge, Colter Bay Village, and Headwaters Lodge and Cabins from mid-June to September. Naturalist activities at Jackson Lake Lodge highlight birds of prey, mountain lions, and grizzlies. Summer ranger-led walks, animal viewing, and campfire lectures are held everyday at park visitors centers. View the event calendar for updates.
Solitude Float Trips and National Park Float Trips provide gorgeous Snake River rafting experiences for families. Deadmans Bar is the starting point for rafts that take two to three hours to sail 10 miles to Moose Landing via a calm river. Visitors learn about the park’s history and see white pelicans, beavers, and bison from knowledgeable guides. Fall is especially beautiful as rafts pass quaking aspen trees with golden leaves and majestic Colorado blue spruce.
Grand Teton National Park lodging
Eight campsites and seven lodges are in the park. The Signal Mountain Lodge on Jackson Lake is expensive, while the American Alpine Club Grand Teton Climbers’ Ranch has rustic community cottages popular with climbers and other outdoor enthusiasts. The NPS website has many alternatives.
Campers may select from over 1,000 sites costing $10 to $100 per night. Reserve six months in advance on Recreation.gov. Colter Bay Tent Village contains 66 canvas-roofed “tent cabins” with wood walls. Bunk beds, covered porches, and wood-burning stoves are in the modest cabins. All park lodges, cottages, and campsites close in winter.
Jackson, a vibrant town, has several alternatives beyond the park. Jackson, 13 miles from the park’s Moose entrance, features restaurants, historic motels, and live music venues.
Jackson Hole Mountain resort’s base at Teton Village has lodging. Skiers may basecamp in the picturesque location just under two miles from the park’s southern Granite Canyon gate.
Another thing to know
The park is in northwest Wyoming near eastern Idaho and has three entrances: Granite Canyon, Moose, and Moran Junction. Most people combine Grand Teton with a multiday Yellowstone excursion via the John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway.
Grand Teton is particularly popular in July and August. May, September, and October are cooler and less crowded. Although many utilities and roads are closed in winter, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and snowmobiling are fantastic ways to explore.
Cycling, inline skating, and other recreationists can use parts of Teton Park Road before automobiles are allowed in May, making spring a great time to come. Check the park’s warnings and current conditions page for road closures before your journey.
Plan ahead: Rocky Mountain weather varies frequently, especially in summer. Always bring additional clothing and a rain jacket for outdoor adventures. Start early to get below the treeline by midday and escape strong afternoon thunderstorms in the high country.
Bear safety: Grand Teton National Park has black and grizzlies. Hikers should carry EPA-approved bear spray, according to the National Park Service.
Can pets enter Grand Teton National Park?
Grand Teton National Park allows pets, however they must be leashed for their and wildlife’s protection. Owners must clean up and properly dispose of their garbage. Trails, amenities, beaches, watercraft (excluding Jackson Lake), and the backcountry are pet-free. Here are the entire rules, including service animal concerns.
Vasu Sojitra, a disability access advocate, notes there are few wheelchair and medical aid routes, although some tourist centers, campgrounds, and hotels are. One of the region’s most accessible sites is the North Pathway, a 20-mile paved path from Jackson, Wyoming, to Jenny Lake Park. “It is a really great way to experience and make a bigger day of visiting the park,” he explains.
Visit the organization Teton adapted’s website for information on adapted paddling, skiing, climbing, and other park and off-park activities. The park’s website includes programs and accommodation and visitor center information.