Grand Teton National Park, located a couple hours drive south of Yellowstone in northwestern Wyoming, features stunning mountain scenery and a diverse array of wildlife. Rising more than 7,000 feet above the valley of Jackson Hole, the Teton Range dominates the park's skyline.
Environmentalist philosopher John Muir could have been describing this wondrous place over a century ago when he wrote, “Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity; and that mountain parks and reservations are useful not only as fountains of timber and irrigating rivers, but as fountains of life.”
To paraphrase Muir, a visit to Grand Teton National Park is not so much about “fountains of life” as it is about “mountains of life.” What a visitor notices, first and foremost, are the iconic snowcapped peaks, which form the quintessential mountain range in North America. The diversity offered in this magnificent valley, with its abundance of wildlife and wildflowers, puts Grand Teton in a class of its own. So, what are the best places to see?
Snake River Overlook1 of 8
Take in sweeping views of Jackson Hole Valley and the always-scenic Snake River as it winds its way through the park. This overlook also offers a view of Jackson Hole's most unusual feature: namely, the valley floor's slight westward tilt. The slope is so gentle that it's difficult to observe by looking at the valley floor to the west. But the tilt is evident by looking west and noting that only the tops of tall pine trees are visible on the western edge of the valley. This is due to earthquake movements and accumulation of sloping gravel and sediment deposits left by streams that once flowed from glaciers.
Jenny Lake2 of 8
This pristine lake was carved out by glaciers nearly 12,000 years ago and has been beckoning adventurers, photographers and tourists ever since. Hop in a kayak or book a boat tour to skim the lake's placid waters and take in the views. Or you can opt to stretch your legs and take the seven-mile Jenny Lake Trail, which loops around the lake and provides unparalleled views and great photo opportunities.
Moose-Wilson Road Scenic Drive3 of 8
This narrow road, with its winding bends, offers great wildlife viewing opportunities. Black bear, elk, mule deer and moose are known to frequent the area. Knowing the habitats and habits of wildlife can greatly increase your viewing opportunities, so don't be afraid to ask the park r rangers the best time to travel this road.
Jackson Lake Dam4 of 8
A log-crib dam was first built between 1905 and 1907, raising Jackson Lake 22 feet above its natural level before the early dam failed in 1910. A concrete dam was built in stages between 1911 and 1916, raising the maximum lake level another 17 feet, to 30 feet above the lake's natural elevation. Surrounded by majestic pines against a backdrop of the Teton Range, Jackson Lake Dam combines a manmade innovation with the wonders of nature to form a most unusual landscape.
T.A. Moulton Barn5 of 8
You may have seen a photo of it—the weathered wood, grassy valley and blue sky against the mountains in the background make it the ultimate photo opportunity. Many have seen it and snapped its picture, but few know the history behind it. It's located at the western end of the Grand Teton's very own ghost town. If you're a photographer, then set your alarm and capture the breathtaking sunrise as it comes up over this iconic image.
Oxbow Bend6 of 8
Park along the roadside and stroll the bank of the Snake River to find the perfect photo opp where you'll find a myriad of wildflowers during the summer months. As you gain elevation, take in the scenery that unfolds before you and enjoy all that the Grand Tetons have to offer.
Hit the Trails7 of 8
Beyond the roads and viewpoints on your park map are miles of trails waiting to be explored. Hike to any one of the park's stunning glacial lakes for a refreshing swim or an inspiring view and enjoy the mountains of life.