Located just 10 miles south of Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming is another great national park, Grand Teton National Park. Named after Grand Teton which at 13,775 feet is the tallest peak in the Teton Range of the Rocky Mountains. The Teton Range is the youngest mountain range in the Rockies, forming between 6 and 9 million years ago caused by movement along the Teton fault.
Grand Teton is just one of 84 named mountains in the Teton Range. Many of the other mountains in the range are over 12,000 feet. They are quite the sight to see and so beautiful as they are often snowcapped throughout the year.
After a few busy days in Yellowstone National Park, I decided to just spend one day in Grand Teton National Park as there were some other things I wanted to do outside of the park in the Jackson Hole area. In one day you can definitely see a lot of the highlights of the park. Here is my one day itinerary for Grant Teton National Park.
Jenny Lake: One of the must see spots in Grand Teton National Park is Jenny Lake. I would plan on spending the entire morning in this area of the park. It’s definitely the most popular area of the park, so it’s a good idea to get there as early as possible to be able to get a spot in the parking lot. I would suggest getting there well before 9am, the earlier the better during the busy summer months, as I had to circle the parking lot a couple of times before I got a spot a little after 9:30am, I definitely should have started my day earlier!
At Jenny Lake, there is a visitor’s center as well as a paved .35 mile Discovery Trail down to the lake with signs explaining the history and landscape of the area. Jenny Lake is home to some of the most popular hiking trails in the park. For a solo traveler like me, popular hikes were the way to go as you want to be sharing the trail with others when hiking in bear country.
Two of the more popular hikes in the park are Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point. These are located on the other side of the lake. There are two ways to access these trails. The first is the Jenny Lake Loop Trail that goes around the entire lake. This trail is 7.6 miles roundtrip and has very little elevation gain. Another way is to take the Jenny Lake Shuttle. You could also hike one way and take the shuttle the other way.
I chose to take the shuttle since I love to take any chance I can for a boat ride. Seeing the Tetons from the water was pretty amazing!
The Hidden Falls trail will take you to the only accessible waterfall in Grand Teton National Park. From where the shuttle lets you off, it’s a one mile roundtrip hike with 200 ft of elevation gain to the falls, making it an easy to moderate hike to the 100 ft Hidden Falls.
Hidden Falls are fed by the snowmelt from the Tetons. I visited in late spring, so the water was definitely moving pretty fast from all the spring snowmelt. This video below doesn’t even do it justice as to how much water and how fast it was flowing.
From Hidden Falls, you can then take the one mile roundtrip trail to Inspiration Point. This trail is fairly steep, gaining another 300 feet in elevation.
After gaining these 300 feet in elevation, you will reach Inspiration Point which is at 7,200 feet. The views of Jenny Lake and the Jackson Hole Valley below definitely make the steep hike up worth it. It’s a great place to stop and have a snack while taking in the breathtaking scenery.
If you have more than a day in Grand Teton National Park, check out some of the longer hikes at Jenny Lake. Hike the mostly flat Forks of Cascade Canyon trail or continue on from there on the stenuous Lake Solitude trail where you will gain 2,500 feet in elevation to see this alpine lake.
If you aren’t up for a hike, you can also take a scenic boat ride or rent a canoe or kayak on Jenny Lake. Also make sure to drive the 3 mile long Jenny Lake Scenic Drive and stop to take in the views of the lake along the way.
Signal Mountain: After a morning at Jenny Lake, drive Teton Park Road over to Signal Mountain. The 7,727 foot Signal Mountain offers beautiful panoramic views of the Tetons and Jackson Hole. On a one day trip to the park, the perfect way to reach the summit is to drive the Signal Mountain Summit Road to the top. The road is narrow in spots but is an easy ride. There are pullouts along the way up to stop and take photos. You can really get some beautiful views of Jackson Lake at the stops along the way up. The views at the summit are definitely not to be missed. There were so many wildflowers at the top that just added to the beauty of it all.
If you have more than a day in the park, instead of driving to the summit you could hike the moderate 6.8 mile Signal Mountain Trail to the summit.
After enjoying the views from the summit, head back down Signal Mountain Summit Road to the Signal Mountain Lodge. The lodge sits right on the the shores of Jackson Lake. This is a great place to stop for a lakeside lunch. The lodge offers a few restaurants, at this time, most are take out only, but it’s the perfect place to find a spot to sit by the lake with your takeout lunch. Pro-tip, the quesadillas are huge, they have a full or half portion, I got the half portion and barely finished it (and I have a HUGE appetite, especially after hiking in the morning). In fact the takeout container was really heavy, that’s how big of a portion it was, but it was also one of the best quesadillas I’ve had in a while, highly recommend.
Colter Bay: On the northern end of the Teton Range is Colter Bay on the shores of Jackson Lake. The views of Jackson Lake with the Tetons as a backdrop are absolutely stunning! Take an easy 2 mile hike on the Lakeshore Trail.
If you have the time you can also rent a canoe or kayak to enjoy Jackson Lake.
Tips for Visiting: Whether you are visiting the park for just one day or multiple days, here are some helpful tips to enjoying the park.
- Arrive early – it’s important to get an early start to help beat the crowds and make parking easier. National Parks have been busier than normal the past couple of years as more people are taking road trips and wanting to spend their vacations outside.
- Hike in a group – Grand Teton National Park is in grizzly bear country, so it’s advisable to never hike alone and to try at minimum have at least three people in your hiking group.
- Carry Bear Spray – To go along with hiking in a group, also carry bear spray with you while in the park. Bear spray is something that most people will never have to use, but it’s well worth the $50 price tag to have it with you on the rare chance you need it, it could very well save your life.
- Keep your distance from wildlife – Seeing wildlife is exciting and we all want that great photo, but remember for your safety to keep 100 yards from bears and wolves and 25 yards from all other wildlife.
- Wear sunscreen – Being at a higher elevation, you are closer to the sun, you will burn quicker than normal, so sunscreen is a must!
- Bring plenty of water – At higher altitudes you can also get dehydrated quicker than normal. As with all hikes, it’s important to have plenty of water with you to avoid dehydration.
Although you could spend days exploring Grand Teton National Park, you can still manage to see quite a lot in just one day there. I hope this will help you get the most out of a one day visit!
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If you need help planning your Grand Teton vacation, Beyond the Miles Travel is here to help.