There are so many things to do in Grand Teton National Park, that you won’t get bored here. You can hike through pristine nature, raft along the Snake River, and see one of the largest elk herds in the country. Everyone will enjoy their time in this national park in Wyoming.
Visiting Grand Teton is like stepping back in time to the old American West. The majestic peaks of the Teton Range, the roaming wildlife, the undisturbed natural beauty… it’s a breath of fresh air, literally and figuratively!
The closest airport to this national park is the Jackson Hole Airport. From there, I recommend renting a car, since this is the best way to explore the scenic drives you will find in Grand Teton.
However, if you don’t want to drive, this full-day tour from Jackson is a wonderful alternative.
To help you plan your trip, in this guide I’ll share the 15 best things to do in Grand Teton. I also recommend checking our guide on where to stay in Grand Teton to find the best accommodations within the park.
Besides, at the end of this article, there is a map with all the top-rated attractions in Grand Teton that should come in handy when planning your next adventure there.
1. Visit Jackson Lake, the best thing to do in Grand Teton
Jackson Lake is one of the most popular lakes in Grand Teton National Park. It’s 15 miles long and sits over 6,770 feet above sea level, making it one of the largest high-altitude lakes in the US.
Within the lake, there are over a dozen islands, including Elk Island. From May to September, you can take a breakfast or dinner cruise to the island and get amazing views of Mt. Moran and the natural surroundings. The cruise departs from the Colter Bay Marina, where you’ll find the Lakeshore Trail, a scenic 2-mile loop.
While the lake is a must-see in Grand Teton and open year-round, the water stays below 60°F on average, even in the summer months. Still, it’s one of Grand Teton’s top attractions for windsurfing, sailing, water-skiing, and wakeboarding, and the only lake in the park to allow all those activities.
You can also rent a pontoon boat to explore the nearby islands or set out in your own kayak. In the winter, visitors like to go ice-fishing, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing.
Jackson Lake’s convenient location makes it easy to hop on the John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway near the northern tip. Follow it to Yellowstone National Park, and along the way, you’ll pass several marinas and lodges, including Jackson Lake Lodge, one of the best lodging options in Grand Teton.
2. Oxbow Bend, a beautiful place to visit in Grand Teton National Park
Oxbow Bend is one of the Famous Four attractions in Grand Teton, along with the Snake River Overlook, Moulton Barns on Mormon Row, and Schwabacher Landing.
This iconic spot, which boasts stunning mountain views reflected in the Snake River, is the most photographed place in the entire national park. Over the years, erosion caused the water to create an oxbow, a crescent shape lined with beautiful natural scenery.
Moreover, the wildlife at Oxbow Bend is one of the best things to see in Grand Teton National Park. Here, you can find otters, moose, black bears, and waterfowl like pelicans and great blue herons.
If you visit when the winds are light and the skies are clear, you’ll be able to capture the prized photo of Mt. Moran reflected in the river. Just keep in mind that Oxbow Bend can get crowded, especially around sunrise and sunset, and the parking lot is small.
You can get to this stunning overlook by taking Highway 89/191 and turning off between Jackson Lake Junction and Moran Junction.
3. Snake River Overlook, another lovely place to go to in Grand Teton
One of the most popular points of interest in Grand Teton National Park is the Snake River Overlook. It’s one of the Famous Four sights in the park and has become an iconic image that has graced innumerable postcards.
You’ll probably recognize the view from Ansel Adams’ photographs, which successfully brought more visitors to the national park. The gorgeous view depicts the Teton Range in the distance and the undulating Snake River weaving its way towards the mountains.
That said, Adams took that photo over 70 years ago, so you won’t get the exact same view. The trees have since grown tall enough to obscure parts of the river, but it’s still magnificent, and it’s beautiful any time of year.
Without a doubt, visiting Snake River Overlook is one of the coolest things to do in Grand Teton. It’s well worth a quick stop, just to see the fantastic views and the full perspective of the area. This place is spectacular in the early morning because you can catch the sunrise creeping over the mountain peaks.
4. Visit Schwabacher’s Landing, a great activity in Grand Teton
Just a few miles south of Snake River Overlook, you’ll find Schwabacher’s Landing. This is one of the four access points to the river, so you’ll likely see fishermen, rafters, and canoers there. It’s another iconic sight in Grand Teton National Park and an easy one to get to.
From I-89, you’ll see incredible views of the Teton Range. Drive down the road until you get to the parking lot, and you’ll be just steps away from the Snake River.
As one of the Famous Four, Schwabacher’s Landing is a must-see in Grand Teton. Photographers flock here for the lovely image of the grandiose mountains reflected in the river. The area is particularly stunning in the fall when the foliage takes on golden hues. Visiting in the winter is impossible, as the gravel roads become very dangerous.
A 4-mile hiking trail along the edge of the Snake River winds past a beaver pond and dams. While it’s often too crowded and noisy to spot wildlife, stopping here is a fun thing to do in Grand Teton with kids.
5. Explore Mormon Row, a great thing to do in Grand Teton
Mormon Row is a quick stop but still worth visiting, and it’s a cool thing to do in Grand Teton National Park with kids.
This historic community was built by Mormon settlers in the 1890s. It’s unique in that the families shared the labor and had a communal homestead rather than isolated farms. Here, you can find old drainage systems, barns, fields, and corrals.
Two of the most significant buildings are the John Moulton Barns and the Andy Chambers Homestead. The former includes a pink stucco house and two-story barn, while the latter is a log cabin and stable that got its electricity from a windmill until the 1950s.
Also known as Antelope Flats, Mormon Row is one of the favorite attractions in Grand Teton National Park among photographers. The humble houses juxtaposed with the dramatic panorama of the mountains makes you feel like you’re part of a postcard. Oh, and be sure to keep your eyes open for herds of bison on the horizon!
6. Wildlife viewing, another must-do in Grand Teton National Park
Without a doubt, the top activity to do in Grand Teton National Park is to marvel at the natural wildlife. The park is full of beautiful areas where you can see elk, bison, mule deer, moose, bears, and much more.
One of those places is Antelope Flats, which comprises 640 acres and preserves the migration routes and natural habitats of local species. Drive along the Antelope Flats Road, and you’re sure to see pronghorn, badgers, coyotes, foxes, and nesting grounds for different bird species. You’ll also pass by Mormon Row, Blacktail Butte, and the Gros Ventre Mountains.
I also suggest driving along Moose Wilson Road, which runs through forests and marshes. However, the National Elk Refuge is the best in Grand Teton for wildlife viewing. I will talk about this prime spot for nature lovers and wildlife photographers later in this article.
If you want to hit all the best spots in one day, take this 4-hour wildlife tour. It departs in the morning and evening to increase your chances of spotting local fauna. You’ll hop in a safari vehicle and set out in search of moose, bison, wolves, elk, pronghorn, black bears, eagles, and lots more. Your naturalistic guide will stop at several areas where you can get out and look through high-powered scopes to see roaming animals in the distance.
7. Signal Mountain, another place you can’t miss in Grand Teton
If you’re looking for more activities in Grand Teton, consider Signal Mountain. Located 7,720 feet above sea level, the mountain boasts sweeping panoramas of the Teton Range, the Snake River, and Jackson Hole.
Atop the summit, you can enjoy the views at the East View Overlook and Jackson Point Overlook. Keep your eyes open for black bears and mule deer and scope out Signal Mountain Marina. If you make your way down there, you can rent a kayak or boat and hit the water.
Moreover, the Signal Mountain Trail is a popular hike to do in Grand Teton National Park. It’s a 6.8-mile trail that passes through a forest of twisted pines and connects to the Signal Mountain Lodge, where you can enjoy a meal after your hike. Near the lodge, there is a campground that’s open in the summer and we stayed there during our last trip.
8. Jenny Lake, a spectacular place to visit in Grand Teton
Jenny Lake is one of the top attractions in Grand Teton National Park, with beautiful views, hiking trails, and scenic boat tours. The lake was formed around 12,000 years ago and covers nearly 1,200 acres.
Along with Jackson Lake, it’s the only lake in Grand Teton that permits motorboats. You can also hop on a boat tour of the lake and learn more about its history.
While you’re there, stop in the Jenny Lake Visitor Center. Housed in photographer Harrison Crandall’s old studio, it doubles as an art gallery and museum, displaying photographs of Grand Teton over the years.
From the Jenny Lake Overlook, that is also at the lake’s east shore, you can have wonderful views of Teewinot Mountain, Mount St. John, and Cascade Canyon. Jenny Lake also offers quick access to some of the best climbing routes in the area, to some of the Teton’s tallest peaks.
The Jenny Lake Trail does a 7-mile loop around the lake. It’s among the easiest and most popular hikes in the national park and leads to the longer Cascade Canyon Trail and Inspiration Point, which I’ll talk about in the next section.
For a shorter but just as scenic hike, I recommend going to String Lake by driving the one-way scenic Jenny Lake Road. On a clear day, it’s easy to see the peaks of Mount Moran and the Tetons reflected there. Then, you can hike the trail along the shore or the 5-mile trail that takes you to the gorgeous Leigh Lake.
9. Hike in Cascade Canyon, an awesome thing to do in Grand Teton
Cascade Canyon, formed by glaciers around 15,000 years ago, is among Grand Teton National Park’s top 10 attractions.
The Cascade Canyon Trail has some of the best views in the park and is considered one of the best hikes in Grand Teton National Park. It follows the 5-mile length of the canyon where Cascade Creek runs before flowing into Jenny Lake.
If you hike, make sure to stop at the 100-foot-tall Hidden Falls which is only 0.6 miles from the trailhead. Then, follow the trail markers up to Inspiration Point for stunning views of beautiful Jenny Lake.
For a longer or multi-day backcountry trip, you can head north to the Lake Solitude Trail, which leads to the tallest peaks, including Grand Teton (13,770 ft). You can also go south on the South Fork Cascade Canyon Trail to Hurricane Pass to see the Schoolroom Glacier.
Cascade Canyon is immediately west of Jenny Lake, so to get to the trailhead, which is where the Cascade Canyon Barn from 1935 is, you will have to hike part of the Jenny Lake Trail first or take a shuttle boat that can take you across the lake.
10. Take the 42-mile Scenic Loop Drive
If you don’t have much time to see all the wildlife and natural beauty of the area, taking a ride on the Scenic Loop Drive is one of the best things to do in Grand Teton. The 42-mile loop takes you past snow-covered peaks, rising cliffs, pristine lakes, and wildlife viewing opportunities.
This loop combines the inner road (Teton Park Road) and the outer road (Highway 191) and is only drivable from May to October since Teton Park Road closes during the winter.
The Scenic Loop Drive provides some of the best photo ops in Grand Teton National Park. It takes about 1.5 hours to complete the drive and you will pass through Mormon Row, Schwabacher Landing, Snake River Overlook, Oxbow Bend, Jackson Lake, Signal Mountain and Jenny Lake. Therefore, it’s best to budget extra time to stop and take in the sights.
For the same reason, I recommend driving counterclockwise, so you can take a detour on the one-way Jenny Lake Road and stop at the Cathedral Group Turnout. That said, it’s best to take the drive in the morning since you’ll have a better chance of seeing wildlife, and the mountain views will be much better. Of course, drive carefully and slowly since you’ll likely come across large animals on the road.
11. National Elk Refuge, an amazing place to visit in Grand Teton
The National Elk Refuge is another top attraction in Grand Teton National Park. Established over 100 years ago, this wildlife refuge aims to preserve the natural winter habitat for dozens of animal, fish, and bird species.
The area consists of over 24,000 acres of meadows, marshes, and mountain foothills surrounded by the Teton Range. The views and scenery will make you forget about the daily frustrations of modern life.
What makes this one of the most famous places to visit in Grand Teton is the Jackson Elk Herd, one of the largest in the world. Each winter, about 11,000 elk move through the refuge, many migrating from Yellowstone National Park.
The refuge also has the largest single herd of bison under federal management. Around 1,000 bison roam across the land every season, creating a picturesque scene of the American West. You can also see mule deer, pronghorn, bighorn sheep, magpies, ravens, trumpeter swans, and red-winged blackbirds at the refuge.
Drive along Refuge Road to spot bighorn sheep. If you’re lucky, you might see a coyote, red fox, or wolf, or maybe even a grizzly bear! This place is great for wildlife photography, but it’s also a cool thing to do in Grand Teton National Park with kids. If you don’t want to drive in the winter, this tour with hotel pick-up and drop-off is perfect to spend the day exploring the refuge and learning more about its history and wildlife.
12. Go rafting, something you must do in Grand Teton
Going rafting is one of the top activities in Grand Teton and something the entire family will enjoy. If you’re visiting during the summer months, you can’t pass up an exhilarating adventure along the Snake River.
This whitewater rafting tour takes you along Class 2-3 rapids. It’s an adrenaline-pumping 8-mile stretch, and you’ll get the chance to swim in the river, too. An experienced and knowledgeable instructor leads the tour, and they’ll share historical information about the area.
For something a bit calmer, try this 13-mile scenic rafting tour. You’ll be able to take photos of the canyon scenery and local fauna, like bald eagles, moose, otters, mountain goats, and osprey. Plus, it’s a good experience for beginner rafters and a fun thing to do with kids in Grand Teton National Park.
Whichever tour you choose, a rafting trip is the best way to take in the views of the Tetons while observing the local geology and ecology.
13. Take a Scenic Air Tour, a wonderful thing to do in Grand Teton National Park
There’s no question that a scenic air tour is one of the coolest things to do in Grand Teton. I recommend this tour, which passes over the most iconic landscapes in the park.
You can choose from a 60 or 90-minute flight, and both include expert commentary and incredible bird’s-eye views. You’ll start from Jackson Hole Airport and fly over the Snake River before heading towards Jackson’s ski resorts. Then, you’ll circle back and soar over the Teton Pass and the Idaho border.
Along the way, see the Cathedral Group, the tallest peaks in Grand Teton known for their distinct pyramid shape. The longer flight also goes past the Gros Ventre Range and Sheep Mountain. As you hover above the Jackson Hole valley, you’ll discover why this is the most memorable activity in Grand Teton National Park.
14. Yellowstone National Park, a beautiful place to go near Grand Teton
As the first national park in the US, Yellowstone is the best place to visit near Grand Teton National Park. Just 10 miles north of Grand Teton, Yellowstone National Park is famous for its wildlife and geothermal activity, such as the Old Faithful geyser.
The park is also home to Yellowstone Lake, one of the largest high-elevation lakes in North America, as well as the Yellowstone Caldera, the continent’s largest supervolcano.
It’s also worth seeing the Steamboat Geyser, the world’s tallest currently-active geyser, which erupts 300-400 feet in the air, and the Midway Geyser Basin, where you will find the largest hot spring in the country, the Grand Prismatic Spring.
Yellowstone is also famous for its immense wildlife, which includes hundreds of mammal, fish, and bird species. Keep an eye out for grizzlies, wolves, and free-roaming elk. The park’s bison herd is the oldest and largest in the US, so it’s a can’t-miss.
If you are staying in Jackson and don’t want to drive there, I recommend this full-day tour. However, if you have more time, check out our recommended 25 things to do in Yellowstone. Visiting this area is one of the coolest things to do around Grand Teton National Park.
15. Visit Jackson, an awesome place to go in Grand Teton
If you’re looking for more places to visit in Grand Teton, don’t overlook the town of Jackson. Many overnight visitors to the national park stay in Jackson since it’s less than 15 minutes from the park entrance. Besides, this charming city offers plenty of fun activities.
First, check out Jackson’s quaint town square. Small and charming, it’s full of restaurants, shops, art galleries, and elk antler arches that make for great photo ops. Jackson is also home to the National Museum of Wildlife Art, which has a short sculpture trail behind the museum. You can purchase your tickets in advance here.
Moreover, the town is close to some great ski resorts, like Snow King Mountain or Jackson Hole Mountain, where you’ll find the popular Jackson Hole Aerial Tram. It ascends over 4,100 feet to the summit of Rendezvous Peak (10,450 feet) where you will get panoramic views of the Grand Tetons and Jackson Hole valley.
Now you know the best things to do in Grand Teton National Park. To start planning your adventure, check the following map with all the important attractions in Grand Teton.
I hope you enjoyed reading and you’ll try out some (or all) of these activities in Grand Teton. If you have any questions about the area, feel free to leave a comment, and I’ll be happy to help! Safe travels!