Established: February 26, 1929
Area: 309,994 acres (130,000 ha)
History of Grand Teton National Park:
Human history of the Grand Teton region dates back at least 11,000 years, when the first nomadic hunter-gatherer Paleo-Indians began migrating into the region during warmer months pursuing food and supplies. In the early 19th century, the first White explorers encountered the eastern Shoshone natives. Between 1810 and 1840, the region attracted fur trading companies that vied for control of the lucrative beaver pelt trade. U.S. Government expeditions to the region commenced in the mid-19th century as an offshoot of exploration in Yellowstone, with the first permanent white settlers in Jackson Hole arriving in the 1880s. Efforts to preserve the region as a national park commenced in the late 19th century, and in 1929 Grand Teton National Park was established, protecting the major peaks of the Teton Range. The valley of Jackson Hole remained in private ownership until the 1930s, when conservationists led by John D. Rockefeller, Jr. began purchasing land in Jackson Hole to be added to the existing national park. Against public opinion and with repeated Congressional efforts to repeal the measures, much of Jackson Hole was set aside for protection as Jackson Hole National Monument in 1943. The monument was abolished in 1950 and most of the monument land was added to Grand Teton National Park.
Grand Teton National Park is named for Grand Teton, the tallest mountain in the Teton Range. The naming of the mountains is attributed to early 19th-century French-speaking trappers—les trois tétons (the three teats) was later anglicized and shortened to Tetons. At 13,775 feet (4,199 m), Grand Teton abruptly rises more than 7,000 feet (2,100 m) above Jackson Hole, almost 850 feet (260 m) higher than Mount Owen, the second-highest summit in the range. The park has numerous lakes, including 15-mile-long (24 km) Jackson Lake as well as streams of varying length and the upper main stem of the Snake River. Though in a state of recession, a dozen small glaciers persist at the higher elevations near the highest peaks in the range. Some of the rocks in the park are the oldest found in any U.S. National Park and have been dated at nearly 2.7 billion years.
How to get to Grand Teton National Park:
From Jackson, take US 26/89/191 north past the National Elk Refuge; the entrance station and Moose Visitor Center are at Moose. From Dubois, follow US 26/287 to Moran Junction and turn north to the Moran Entrance Station. From Yellowstone NP’s South Entrance, the John D. Rockefeller, Jr., Memorial Parkway leads directly in to the park. Airport: The Jackson Hole Airport is inside the park.
When to go to Grand Teton National Park:
Any time of year is a joy in the Tetons. Most people visit during July and August, when it is sunny and warm, after the snow has melted in the high country. In September and October, the days are pleasant, nights are brisk, the park is less crowded, and the animals are still active. You have a better chance of seeing elk in the fall than in summer.
Winter, although spectatular, can be very demanding; snowshoeing, skate-skiing, walking, and cross-country skiing are popular. The main park road, US 26/89/191, remains open all year, but snow closes Teton Park Road (the “inner road”) north of Cottonwood Creek to vehicles from November through April. The Moose-Wilson Road is also closed. At Teton Village, just south of the park, you will find excellent downhill skiing.
Hiking trails in Grand Teton National Park:
Polecat Creek Loop Trail, 2.5 miles RT*
2 hours, 80 ft total climbing**, EASY
West side of loop follows ridge above a marsh that provides habitat for waterfowl and other wildlife.
4.0 miles RT, 3 hours, 150 ft total climbing, EASY
Access from northeast side of Polecat Creek Loop Trail. Out and back north along Snake River with spectacular river views.
2.0 miles RT, 1 hour, 100 ft total climbing, EASY
Level trail follows Colter Bay shoreline; provides views of Jackson Lake and the Teton Range.
Heron Pond & Swan Lake
3.0 miles RT, 2 hours, 200 ft total climbing, EASY
Follow mostly level trail to two ponds that are home to birds and other wildlife.
9.7 miles RT, 5 hours, 700 ft total climbing, EASY-MODERATE
Trail traverses rolling terrain through forests, meadows, ponds and streams providing wildlife habitat.
Jackson Lake Lodge
Lunch Tree Hill
0.5 mile RT, 0.5 hour, 80 ft total climbing, EASY
Short interpretive trail leads to the top of a hill overlooking Willow Flats and the Teton Range.
Christian Pond Loop
3.3 mi. RT, 2 hours, 250 ft total climbing, EASY
Walk through marsh habitat near the pond, then climb a forested ridge for views of the Teton Range.
Two Ocean Lake
Two Ocean Lake
6.4 miles RT, 3 hours, 400 ft total climbing, MODERATE
Circle lake through forests and meadows.
Emma Matilda Lake
10.7 miles RT, 6 hours, 1100 ft total climbing, MODERATE
Circle lake; north trail follows ridge offering views of the Teton Range.
Two Ocean & Emma Matilda Lakes
13.2 miles RT, 7 hours, 1400 ft total climbing, MODERATE-STRENUOUS
Follow north shore Two Ocean Lake and south shore of Emma Matilda Lake, crossing over Grand View Point.
6.8 miles RT loop, 4 hours, 850 ft total climbing, MODERATE
Traverse forests to viewpoint. Park at Signal Mountain Lodge and walk on park road to trail.
1.8 miles RT, 1 hour, 40 ft total climbing, EASY
Hike along the east shore of String Lake, pass the bridge across a stream and climb to Leigh Lake.
8.0 miles RT, 4 hours, 350 ft total climbing, EASY-MODERATE
From String Lake, follow forested shore of Leigh Lake to smaller lakes with views of Mount Moran.
13.0 miles RT, 8 hours, 2600 ft total climbing, STRENUOUS
Follow Paintbrush Canyon trail through forests and wildflowers meadows to an alpine lake.
3.7 miles RT, 2 hours, 325 ft total climbing, EASY
Trail circles the lake through a burned area below Rockchuck Peak and Mount St. John.
19.0 miles RT, 12 hours, 4350 ft total climbing, VERY STRENUOUS
Spectacular hike combines Paintbrush and Cascade Canyons via Paintbrush Divide. An ice axe may be necessary through July.
Jenny Lake/Cascade Canyon
A shuttle boat crosses from south Jenny Lake to the mouth of Cascade Canyon. Purchase
tickets at the South Jenny Lake boat dock. Fee Charged.
Jenny Lake Loop
7.1 miles RT, 4 hours, 450 ft total climbing, EASY
Gently rolling trail skirts lake shore.
5.2 miles RT, 3 hours, 450 ft total climbing. Via shuttle boat: 1.2 mile, 1.5 hours, 180-feet total climbing, MODERATE
Popular trail follows Jenny Lake’s south shore, then climbs to view of 200-foot cascade.
6.0 miles RT, 4 hours, 700 ft total climbing. Via shuttle boat: 2.0 miles RT, 2.5 hours, 420 ft total climbing, MODERATESTRENUOUS
Follow trail to Hidden Falls, then continue climb to Inspiration Point overlooking Jenny Lake.
Forks of Cascade Canyon
13.6 miles RT, 7 hours, 1500 ft total climbing. Via shuttle boat: 9.6 miles RT, 5 hours, 1220 ft total climbing, MODERATE-STRENUOUS
Popular trail leads into Cascade Canyon with views of the Grand Teton, Mt. Owen and Teewinot.
19.0 miles RT, 10 hours, 2700 ft total climbing. Via shuttle boat: 15.0 miles RT, 8 hours, 2420 ft total climbing, STRENUOUS
Follow popular Cascade Canyon. North Fork leads to Lake Solitude; views of the Grand Teton and Mt. Owen.
South Fork of Cascade Canyon
24.8 miles RT, 13 hours, 4200 ft total climbing. Via shuttle boat: 20.8 miles RT, 11 hours, 3920 ft total climbing, STRENUOUS
Follow popular Cascade Canyon trail. South Fork leads to Hurricane Pass and Schoolroom Glacier.
10.1 miles round-trip, 6 hours, 3000 ft total climbing, STRENUOUS
Hike to glacial lakes surrounded by meadows. Disappointment Peak towers above.
8.4 miles round-trip, 5 hours, 2650 ft total climbing, STRENUOUS
Trail climbs into Garnet Canyon offering spectacular views of the Middle Teton.
3.0 miles round-trip, 2 hours, 350 ft total climbing, EASY
Out-and-back trail traverses sagebrush flats and forests to a lake with views of the Grand Teton.
Taggart Lake-Beaver Creek
3.9 miles round-trip, 2hours, 500 ft total climbing, MODERATE
Hike this loop trail to the lake, climb the glacial moraine and return along Beaver Creek.
Taggart Lake-Bradley Lake
5.9 miles round-trip, 3 hours, 800 ft total climbing, MODERATE
Loop hike visits two lakes dammed by glacial moraines.
Menors Ferry Historic District
0.3 mile round-trip, 0.5 hour, EASY
Tour a historic homestead and ferry on the Snake River. Visit the Chapel of the Transfiguration.
Phelps Lake Overlook
2.0 miles round-trip, 2 hours, 430 ft total climbing, MODERATE
Trail climbs moraine to overlook of Phelps Lake.
4.2 miles round-trip, 3 hours, 1050 ft total climbing, STRENUOUS
Trail climbs to overlook, then descends to Phelps Lake. Return involves steep hike back to overlook.
Death Canyon-Static Peak Trail Junction
7.9 miles round-trip, 4 hours, 2100 ft total climbing, STRENUOUS
Trail climbs to overlook, drops toward Phelps Lake, and then climbs into Death Canyon to a patrol cabin.
Static Peak Divide
16.3 miles round-trip, 10 hours, 5100 ft total climbing, VERY STRENUOUS
From patrol cabin climb switchbacks through whitebark pine forest to high ridge. An ice axe may be necessary through July.
Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve
Lake Creek-Woodland Trail Loop
3.1 miles round-trip, 1.5 hours, 300 ft total climbing, EASY
Hike along Lake Creek to the shore of Phelps Lake.
Aspen Ridge-Boulder Ridge Loop
5.8 miles round-trip, 3 hours, 700 ft total climbing, MODERATE
Hike through aspen groves and boulder fields to the shore of Phelps Lake.
Phelps Lake Loop
6.6 miles round-trip, 4 hours, 600 ft total climbing, MODERATE
Hike around Phelps Lake with stunning views of the Teton Range.
18.5 miles round-trip, 12 hours, 3000 ft total climbing, STRENUOUS
Follow Granite Creek to beautiful Marion Lake.
Aerial Tram, Teton Village
Trails are not recommended for hiking until snow has melted, usually by late July. Fee charged.
11.8 miles round-trip, 7 hours, 4000 ft total climbing, STRENUOUS
Hike through alpine and subalpine terrain to Marion Lake and return to the tram.
12.3 miles total, 7 hours, 4200 ft total descent (with 450 ft climbing), MODERATE
Start at the top of the tram, hike into the park, down Granite Canyon and return to Teton Village.
Targhee National Forest/Table Mountain
12.0 miles round-trip, 7 hours, 4100 ft total climbing, STRENUOUS
Steep climb to Table Mountain with incredible views of the Grand Teton with the south fork of Cascade Canyon below.
0.8 mile round-trip, 1 hour, EASY
Tour a historic homestead.
Grand Teton National Park Visitor Guide
Guide to National Parks of the United States