Grand Teton is located just about 20 minutes north of Jackson, Wyoming. It’s easily accessible for that reason and an easy day trip in if you’re visiting Jackson or make it a stop on your trip for a night like we did! It’s also about an hour south of Yellowstone.
The Teton Mountain Range seems to pop out of nowhere, giving the area a stunning landscape and incredible sunsets. If you decide to spend a day here, I highly recommend finding a spot to stay for the evening around Jackson so you can catch the sunset (more on that later!).
When we first started planning our Yellowstone to Glacier National Park road trip, it felt like the easiest thing to cut would be Grand Teton National Park. It was an extra hour south after we were coming from Bozeman and Yellowstone and would mean more driving the next day. But, honestly, after visiting, I’m so glad we didn’t skip it! One day in Grand Teton National Park wasn’t enough, but it was an excellent day spent in one of the prettiest mountain ranges I’ve ever seen.
Note on booking a spot to stay in Jackson: it fills up fast in summer (and winter because of ski season), so book far in advance if you can for a reasonable rate.
Morning – Jenny Lake
We started the day with a stop for some coffee. There’s a charming coffee shop right in downtown Jackson called Cowboy Coffee. We grabbed a quick cup on the way out of town and headed out for our one day in Grand Teton National Park!
One of the significant allures of Grand Teton is the many different lakes found in the area. Some of the lakes you can find in the area are: Jackson Lake, Leigh Lake, Phelps Lake, Bradley Lake… the list goes on! So we knew we had to visit one with our one day and soak up the views and relaxing atmosphere.
Jenny Lake is the best option for a one day trip because it is easily accessible, has a lot of trails, and overall looked like a great view. We were correct. We arrived around 10 am, and parking was already starting to get tricky. I do recommend getting there early as Jenny Lake is a really popular area of Grand Teton. There’s a lot to do there, so it attracts a lot of visitors.
Here are a few ways you can fill your morning:
Kayak and canoe rentals are available from Jenny Lake Boating for either $20 per hour or $80 per day. Rentals are first-come, first-served. Motor boating permits can be acquired at the visitor center, and cost $20 per day or $40 annually.
Part scenic-tour, part water-taxi, take the Jenny Lake shuttle. The ferry departs from South Jenny Lake roughly every 15 minutes and carries you across the water to the Cascade Canyon trailhead. From here, you can check out Hidden Falls, Inspiration Point, or a different section of Jenny’s lakeshore. Round trips on the Jenny Lake shuttle cost $18 for adults, $15 for seniors (age 62 and older), and $10 for children. One-way tickets are $10 for all adults and $8 for children. There is no fee for children age 2 and under or adults over 80.
See the visitors center, shop, and read about the history of Grand Teton National Park
Go for a hike – AllTrails has an excellent list of hikes! Many different trails leave from Jenny Lake, some are very strenuous, others are paved and quite easy.
We chose to hike part of the Jenny Lake Loop trail along the lake. Don’t forget to make frequent stops to take in the view and overall enjoy getting away from the crowds around South Jenny Lake. We also packed our lunch and enjoyed it while on our hike.
In the afternoon, we headed over to Mormon Row Historic District. Mormons from the Salt Lake Region settled in what is now Grand Teton National Park in the late 1890s. Settlers secured 27 homesteads that they built close together to share labor and community. Today, five of the buildings are left.
We loved making a stop at this spot because it gave a picture of what homesteading in Wyoming back in the 1800s would have been like. You cannot enter the buildings, but we found the view incredible. It felt like we were taking a step back in time to when settlers first came to the area.
This area is a popular photo spot, and you’ll definitely be able to get some great shots in the afternoon light! Bring a good camera and some patience.
We went back into Jackson for a quick bite to eat at Sidewinders Tavern. Note that restaurants in Jackson close early and get crowded, so it’s best to plan ahead and go early! Sidewinders was laid back, had a lovely outdoor patio, and a relaxing feel. We really wanted to try Bison while here and got an excellent bison burger!
Head to Snake River for sunset. It’s located along the highway, and when sunset begins to approach, you’ll find cars filling up stopping points all along the river. The sunset is incredible from here and the perfect way to end your one day in Grand Teton National Park. It’s relatively easy to find a spot to park as they are all along the road.
You can also take a scenic float trip on Snake River at sunset! I wish we had done this as it looks like such a fun time. We headed back to our hotel in Jackson to rest up and get ready to spend two days in Glacier National Park.
One day in Grand Teton was so much fun, and this national park had my favorite views of the trip. You won’t be disappointed visiting and taking in the stunning landscape of this national park!