hiking grand teton national park
Grand Teton quickly became one of my favorite national parks and we were only there for ONE day! This gem of a park is often overshadowed by its bigger sister Yellowstone, which is just a short 1-2 hour drive north depending on your location in the park. Honestly, I loved Yellowstone but I loved Grand Teton so much and actually prefer it (shh, don't tell!) The gorgeous mountain range will literally take your breath away the first time you see it.
You'll find plenty to do here from hiking at all levels to tons of wildlife viewing to keep you busy for a couple of days, but you can see + do plenty in just one if that's all your time permits for. This park is definitely less crowded than Yellowstone, which we loved, and gave us plenty of time to hit all the spots we were interested in.
A couple of quick tips:
The most popular time to go is May through September. Spring in the Tetons looks STUNNING, but we were able to go the first week of October in the fall and absolutely loved it. Like any park, if you plan to go during the popular time of year, be prepared for some crowds and try to start your day early to maximize your time.
There are also some road closures from November to April. Make sure you stay up to date on any road or park closures via their official website.
Moose, els, and bears, oh my! Like Yellowstone, this is bear country. That means being extra aware when exploring and educating yourself about bear encounters. We touched a little bit on safety in our Yellowstone blog post.
Our One-Day Itinerary
Hike Cascade Canyon
Explore Jenny Lake
Walk Mormon Row
Explore Schwabacher Landing
Lookout at Snake River Overlook
Check out Oxbow Bend
We headed back to our Yosemite campground for the night bit we suggest staying a night in Jackson if you can! Our Jackson recs are at the bottom of the post.
hiking cascade canyon
Our big hike of the trip! There are so many epic hikes in the Grand Tetons (a list of more down below) and we wanted to do ALL OF THEM, but also didn't want to kill ourselves while hiking at a higher elevation. After a ton of research, we landed on Cascade Canyon because of the scenery and how much you can see - you end up hiking around Jenny Lake, Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point. We couldn't pass it up!
The entire hike up Cascade Canyon is 9.7 miles in out & back with the ferry, but the great thing about this trail is you can go in as far as you want to and there's something to see around every corner. There are also two ways you can hike this: by taking the boat shuttle across the lake to save you two miles OR by hiking around Jenny Lake, which is what we did. Funny thing was, we were planning to take the ferry that morning, but it was closed. Even better? I'm actually glad it was closed because the hike around the like was absolutely stunning with all of the fall leaves turning to gold and red hues. If you don't mind hiking a little more, I recommend hiking the extra two miles in and then taking the ferry back to give yourself a post-hike treat.
The most strenuous part of this trail is the first two miles - you'll head up into the canyon past Hidden Falls and get up to Inspiration Point, then it levels out. Inspiration point offers insane views of Jenny Lake and the park that are well worth it if you only have time for a shorter hike. From there, you'll hike into a clearing that gives you a spectacular view of the canyon & landscape that will continue to morph as you go in even deeper. Seriously one of my favorite hikes ever!
OTHER GREAT HIKES
If you don't want to trek that far or are even looking for something with more of a destination, here are a few more hikes to explore:
Delta Lake (9 miles) - Up for hiking to a remote glacier lake? This is your hike. We were originally going to do this trail, but ended up going for something that seemed a little less strenuous.
Taggart Lake Loop (4.1 miles) - This one is easy peasy since there's no elevation gain and shows off the Tetons from every angle.
Phelps Lake Trail (7 miles) - Another gorgeous lake! This is a moderate trail with a small elevation gain of 725 ft at the beginning of the hike. We read that the scenery is super lovely and this is another top hike!
IF YOU DON'T WANT TO HIKE
We don't blame you. There are definitely days where hiking seems like "meh" and we just want to sightsee and eat some yummy food. Right? If that's more your speed, I'm dropping the top three things to do in Grand Teton National Park below:
Explore Mormon Row - Mormon Mow received its name from a Mormon homestead from the 1890s. It's one of the park's most famous spots and is actually a bigger area than we thought! You'll often see photos of one of the most photographed barns in the world – T.A Moulton Barn. We actually didn't walk over to see it, I liked this barn instead ;) You'll definitely want to whip out your good camera for this spot and we've heard sunset here is amazing.
Schwabacher Landing - The day we visited this, it was pretty smokey due to wildfires from the West so we didn't get to see the iconic mountains but did love the landing itself. The sign for this guy is small and can be easy to miss, so make sure you have your eyes peeled. You can also take a stroll around the landing that is about 1.8 miles long for some lovely scenic views and to snap photos of the Tetons from a few fun angles. If you have a fishing rod, this is also a great spot to cast a quick line!
Jenny Lake Scenic Drive + Lodge - We absolutely fell in love with Jenny Lake! The morning we drove down we managed to take the scenic drive next to the lake and catch glimpses of dawn in the reflection. It was so quiet and peaceful! It's a stunning place to walk around and photograph the reflection of the Tetons in the water. The visitor center here is also a fun one to stop by.
We were lucky enough to spend a morning exploring Jackson Hole and AH, definitely wish we could have spent so much more time here or at least stayed the night. I'm popping a couple of things we loved and would have loved to do below:
Farmer's Market - We caught their last farmer's market of the season and bought some bread, tamales, veggies, and even meat. It was SO magical and we've found that markets are the best way to support and immerse yourself into a town
Cowboy Coffee - You must stop here. MUST. From the branding to the coffee itself, everything is so goooood. I got the Mexican Mocha and it was delicious.
Eat at Persephone's Bakery - We didn't eat here because it was a Saturday and the line was out the door, but wish we had the time to! I've heard amazing things about their food here and the line totally validated that.
Horseback Riding - We didn't have time but wish we could have rode horses here! There are so many nearby ranches that offer horseback riding through the gorgeous area.
There was SO much we did but I know we all can only handle reading some much in a blog post - ha! If you have any questions at all about what to do when you head to Grand Teton or Jackson, shoot us a DM on Insta!