Things to Do at Grand Teton National Park

Things to Do at Grand Teton National Park
Grand Teton National Park is located in northwestern Wyoming. This 309,995-acre park is somewhat outshadowed by nearby Yellowstone, which receives the largest influx of tourists in the area. Visitors to Wyoming should make time for Grand Teton, though, as the park offers historical buildings, a large variety of wildlife (including black bears, mountain lions, wolves and over 300 species of birds) and plenty of outdoor pursuits.

Hiking

Hiking is probably the most popular activity within the park. Not only are most of the hikes quite scenic, but some of the trails are known as the best in the country. Backpacker Magazine, for example, named the Teton Crest Trail the most scenic in the U.S. If the 35-mile-long Teton Crest trail seems a little too much for you, there are other breathtaking trails, including the Cascade Canyon Trail, the Alaska Basin 3-mile-loop and Jenny Lake Trail, which are shorter and more doable. Trails cross glacial lakes, fields of sunflowers and orchids and cascading waterfalls.

August is premier hiking time here, as this is when all flowers are in bloom. There are cabins to rent for the night, but most visitors prefer to take on the Teton Crest Trail and sleep on one of several sites along the way. Reserve a place well in advance (at least six months, although more is recommended). Bear sightings are common, although there is no record of bear attacks in the park. Just be careful and watch your surroundings.

Climbing

Climbers flock to the park for a variety of reasons. At 13,770 feet, the Grand Teton is one of the highest peaks in the Rockies. Climbing up the Grand Teton is usually done with a guide over a period of several days. There are two park-approved climbing schools offering classes during the summer, or you can pay a guide to go with your own private group. Keep in mind that you will be tested for endurance and cardio fitness and if the instructors doesn't believe you're in good shape, they won't take you up the mountain. If you pass, the climb involves preparation at ground level, a night spent on base camp and then a climb to the summit on the morning of the third day.

There are also easier day climbs for those who want something less strenuous and classes will help you accomplish both easy technical climbs and more difficult, vertical rock climbing techniques.

Wildlife Viewing

Wildlife is abundant in Grand Teton and visitors will find surprises at every turn. Stopping by the ranger station at the entrance of the park is a good idea if your main goal is identifying wildlife or bird watching. Maps and booklets, as well as lectures offered here will make the process a lot easier.

Mormom Row is one of the best areas to see antelope, bison and coyotes, which come to the area to graze or hunt (mainly mice and grasshoppers). There are also American kestrels, pronghorn and squirrels living here year round. Another great area for wildlife viewing is Timbered Island, south of Jenny Lake trail, where you can find large groups of elk and antelope. Cascade Canyon attracts yellow-bellied marmots, moose and mule deer, as well as a large population of golden-mantled squirrels and birds. Most of these areas are accessible through hiking trails.

Article Written By Sarah Dray

Sarah Dray has been writing since 1996. She specializes in health, wellness and travel topics and has credits in various publications including "Woman's Day," "Marie Claire," "Adirondack Life" and "Self." She is also a seasoned independent traveler and a certified personal trainer and nutrition consultant. Dray is pursuing a criminal justice degree at Penn Foster College.

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