Grand Teton National Park Travel Information & Travel Guide

Grand Teton National Park Travel Information & Travel Guide
Grand Teton National Park in northwestern Wyoming preserves a portion of the youngest, and easily one of the most scenic, ranges of the Rocky Mountains: the Tetons---those magnificent, jagged fangs rising sheer from the Snake River Valley. What follows is a basic overview of visitor activities in the 310,000-acre park, connected to Yellowstone National Park in the north by the 23,700-acre John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway.

Visitor Info

Stop by any of the visitor information centers in Grand Teton to check conditions, pick up permits, and ask about anything from wildlife viewing to rafting. There are six major outposts in the park: Jenny Lake Ranger Station, Colter Bay Visitor Center & Indian Arts Museum, Flagg Ranch Information Station, Jenny Lake Visitor Center, Craig Thomas Discovery & Visitor Center, and Laurance S. Rockefeller Center. Craig Thomas near Moose Junction is open year-round; the others are generally open from late spring to early fall. These stations feature a variety of resources, from American Indian exhibits (Colter Bay) to bookstores to mountain-climbing displays (Craig Thomas).

Campgrounds

Stay overnight at one of Grand Teton's six developed campgrounds: Colter Bay, Flagg Ranch, Gros Ventre, Jenny Lake, Lizard Creek and Signal Mountain. The campgrounds are open seasonally (most from May to September) and range from the very popular Jenny Lake Campground to the less-visited and rarely-full Lizard Creek Campground, on the northern shores of Jackson Lake. Colter Bay and Flagg Ranch can accommodate full hook-up RVs.

Backpacking

Immerse yourself in the wilder heart of the Tetons on backcountry hikes and camping trips. There is much rough and lonesome country cast about the alpine flanks and the glacier-scoured canyons. Backpackers require a free backcountry permit, available at Colter Bay, Craig Thomas and Jenny Lake. Competition for permits in the summer can be high, and peak-season reservations for one-third of the backcountry camping zone are accepted from January 1 to May 15 (successfully placing a reservation incurs a $25 processing fee); check out nps.gov/grte/planyourvisit/bcres.htm. Backpackers spending the night below 10,000 feet must carry a bear-proof storage canister, either one issued free by the park or an Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee-approved model (see Additional Resources).

Mountaineering

The Teton Range---and especially the cluster of high peaks called the Cathedral Group---are world-famous climbing destinations. Mountaineers who are bivouacking overnight need a permit, available at the Jenny Lake Ranger Station; day climbers do not. Jenny Lake is the main clearinghouse for mountaineering information; the Park Service also maintains a blog especially for climbing in the Tetons at tetonclimbing.blogspot.com.

Boating

With the proper permit, boaters can explore the beautiful Teton-area lakes---like Jenny and Jackson---and the Snake River, which meanders along its floodplain below the high peaks. Certain types of crafts are prohibited on some or all of the park's waterways; check at a visitor center or at nps.gov/grte/planyourvisit/boat.htm for more information.

Seasonality

Most visitors to Grand Teton come in the summertime, but the park shines the rest of the year, as well. Winters in Jackson Hole are often severe, and conditions can deteriorate rapidly; stop in at the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center, open year-round, to check accessibility. Highways 89/191 and 26/287 are plowed during the winter, linking Flagg Ranch to Jackson. Snowshoers and cross-country skiers can traverse 15 miles of the Teton Park Road, the majority of which is closed to motorized travel in the winter, from the Taggart Lake parking area north to Signal Mountain.

Nearby Attractions

Heading north or south from Grand Teton brings you into more spectacular wild country. The John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway leads from the park northward through stunning scenery to the south entrance of Yellowstone National Park. Drive south on Highway 89/191 to the National Elk Refuge, which attracts enormous herds of wintering Rocky Mountain elk (and American bison).

Article Written By Ethan Schowalter-Hay

Ethan Schowalter-Hay is a writer and naturalist living in Oregon. He has written for the "Observer," the Bureau of Land Management and various online publishers. He holds a Bachelor of Science in wildlife ecology and a graduate certificate in geographic information systems from the University of Wisconsin.

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