Grand Teton National Park
Guide

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Introduction

Since it is a mere ten miles from Yellowstone National Park, many people consider Grand Teton National Park to be something of a sideshow. But upon closer inspection, RV visitors realize there is so much more to the truly majestic landscape of Grand Teton National Park. The first thing you'll notice is the jaw-dropping views of the snow-capped Grand Teton Mountains, soaring above at 7,000 feet tall. These peaks are actually the youngest of the Rockys, but their rugged beauty is truly worth the trip all on their own.

Grand Teton National Park offers an abundance of other Kodak moments as RVers soak in a mixture of grassy plains, flowing rivers, and thick forests. Grand Teton is one of the last true wilderness areas in the United States. Today’s ecosystem is almost exactly the same as it was some 11,000 years ago when the mysterious Paleo-Indians used the area as a seasonal hunting ground. The area is home to over 300 kinds of birds and 1,000 plant species. Furthermore, scientists believe some of the rock formations are almost three billion years old.

There are seemingly endless opportunities for RV visitors to become one with the great outdoors in this grandiose natural setting. A great place to start is by taking the Jenny Lake Scenic Drive where you can soak in sweeping mountain views and stop by a glacier lake. If you want to enjoy a leisurely boat ride, you can take a breakfast or dinner cruise on Jackson Lake. Wildlife viewing is a popular activity in this western oasis where you can easily spot roaming bison, moose, elk, and pronghorn. Experienced climbers and mountaineers will get a thrill by taking on the challenge of the Teton Range. Other outdoor adventures at Grand Teton include horseback riding, hiking, fishing, boating, and rafting. Snowshoeing and cross-country skiing are popular in the winter.

Beginning around 1920, environmentalists like John D. Rockefeller fought long and hard to preserve the Grand Tetons for future generations. The moment you pull your motorhome into the park, you’ll see why.

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RV Rentals in Grand Teton National Park

Transportation in Grand Teton National Park

Driving

To reach Grand Teton National Park, many RVers take Interstate 15 north from Salt Lake City. Once you reach Idaho Falls, take U.S. 26 to Swan Valley. State Highway 31 goes to Victor, and S.H. 33 goes to Jackson Hole. Along the way, you’ll pass an exit sign for Jackson Hole. Ignore it and stay on S.H. 33.

This route, which travels on the Teton Pass Highway, requires driving through the mountains where you'll face winding roads and a fairly steep uphill grade. To avoid it, take Interstate 80 north from Salt Lake City to Evanston and enter the park from the other side. This route is a bit more circuitous, so travelers need a really good sense of direction or a really reliable GPS navigation system.

Some people come from Denver. RVers avoid state highways and steep grades with this route. The trip is also a bit longer, so prepare to stay overnight somewhere or drive for a really long time. Take Interstate 25 North to Cheyenne, then Interstate 80 West to Rock Springs. U.S. 191 then takes you pretty much straight to Jackson Hole. Once you arrive, head to the Craig Thomas Visitors’ Center, which is open most of the year.

Use extreme caution when driving in this area in the winter. In fact, you'll want to plan your route ahead of time since many roads close during the snowy season.

Parking

Grand Teton National Park is obviously quite mountainous and rugged, so parking may be limited especially during peak times or if the weather has been bad recently. Stick with the prepared campgrounds as much as possible or ask a ranger for directions to the best parking lots for oversize vehicles or trailers.

Public Transport

Teton County has a very nice bus system which serves Jackson Hole and the surrounding areas. The START Bus Town Shuttle is free of charge. Alltrans also runs a summer shuttle between various points inside the park and downtown Jackson Hole. You can also get shuttle service from Salt Lake City on the Salt Lake Express. Numerous private guided tours are available as well.

Campgrounds and parking in Grand Teton National Park

Campsites in Grand Teton National Park

Reservations camping

Jackson Hole / Snake River KOA

Discover a shady spot for rigs up to 30 feet, laden with aspen, cottonwood, and giant spruce trees. Or, set up a tent-style camp, or cozy up in the confines of a comfortable cabin. The Snake River and Horse Creek flow through the campgrounds and are sure to delight anglers and wildlife lovers. A Wi-Fi hot spot at the front office gives you the ability to stay in touch with the online world. At Jackson Hole/Snake River KOA, you’ll find yourself in close proximity to local attractions like Jackson Hole and Yellowstone National Park, or you can stick close to the KOA and kick back and enjoy sunny days at the on-site Snake River Beach.

Dubois / Wind River KOA

With the Grand Teton and the Yellowstone National Parks just a short drive away, Dubois, WY puts you close to the wilderness, recreational trails and scenic driving tours this side of the Continental Divide. Make Dubois/Wind River KOA your base and choose from the many (some riverfront) full hook-up sites or sites with municipal water, sewer and up to 50-amps of electricity. Rigs 80 feet and smaller are welcome and can easily be accommodated for. Relax by the indoor heated pool, stay in the loop with Wi-Fi and cable TV, go out for some fishing fun, and keep everyone entertained in the game room and on the playground.

Headwaters Campground at Flagg Ranch

Open from May to September, Headwater Campground at Flagg Ranch is a popular campground for RVers since it features 175 sites with full hookups. Restrooms, showers, and laundry facilities are available at this pet-friendly campground. Each site comes with a fire pit and picnic table. Reservations are available for most sites, although some tent-only sites are first-come, first-served. Generators are permitted, except during quiet hours.

Colter Bay RV Park

The best place for RVers to camp during their visit to Grand Teton National Park is the Colter Bay RV Park. Open from May to October, Colter Bay RV Park features 111 sites with full hookups. Amenities include picnic tables, pay showers, and coin-operated laundry facilities. You'll be conveniently located next to restaurants, stores, and a marina at the Colter Bay Village. Another plus of this campground is the spectacular mountain views and easy access to Jackson Lake. This is one of the most popular camping options in the park, so make sure to book your reservations early. Generator use is permitted during certain hours, and pets are allowed to camp with you as well.

First-come first-served

Colter Bay Campground

Located on the banks of Jackson Lake, Colter Bay Campground offers 335 campsites for tents and RVs. While most spots are primitive, 13 ADA-accessible sites have electric hookups. Over twenty restrooms with running water and flush toilets are dotted around the campground. Laundry facilities and showers are located nearby for a fee. Unlike the RV Park, all sites at the Colter Bay Campground are first-come, first-served. Pets are welcome, and generators are permitted except during quiet hours. You'll be close to the Colter Bay Visitors Center and the shops, restaurants, and marina within Colter Village.

Signal Mountain Campground

Open from mid-May to mid-October, Signal Mountain Campground is a first-come, first-served campground adjacent to Jackson Lake. Eighty-one sites are available, including 24 with electric hookups. A dump station, showers, and restrooms are available. Pets are allowed at this campground, and the maximum vehicle length is 30 feet. The Signal Mountain Lodge is next store and offers amenities like a marina, gas, dining options, and a camp store. The views of the mountains across the lake here are truly stunning.

Gros Ventre Campground

One of the best campgrounds at the Grand Teton National Forest is the Gros Ventre Campground. Open from May to September, this sprawling campground has 300 sites, including 10 ADA-accessible sites with electric hookups. There’s also a dump station, potable water, food storage lockers, and picnic tables. Generators are allowed in certain areas of the campground.

Make sure to bring Fido along as this campground is great for dogs. All campsites are first-come, first-served, except for five group sites which accept reservations. The maximum length is 45 feet for RVs and 30 for trailers. Gros Ventre Campground is a great spot for wildlife viewing as its common to see bison, moose, and mule deer roaming nearby.

Lizard Creek Campground

Lizard Creek Campground offers 60 first-come, first-served sites that can fit RVs up to 30 feet in length. While this is a primitive campground with no hookups, you can enjoy easy access to Jackson Lake. Amenities include bear-proof storage lockers and flush toilets. This campground is open from June to August, and pets are welcome. You'll want to arrive early to snag a spot, since most campsites fill up by the afternoon.

Colter Bay Winter Camping

If you need a place to camp in the RV during the off-season, consider winter camping at Colter Bay. From December to mid-April the plowed parking lot next to the Colter Bay Visitor Center serves as a primitive campground. Restrooms are available, but all other services are severely limited during this time of year.

Alternate camping

Jenny Lake Campground

If you want to get out of the RV for a little while and pitch a tent, you can camp at Jenny Lake Campground. Forty-nine sites are available for tent camping only. No RVs, trailers, campers, or generators are allowed here, but pets are welcome. During the summer months, you can get snacks and firewood at the Jenny Lake Store.

Lodges and Cabins

Lodging options abound right inside Grand Teton National Park. For a change of pace, park your RV and settle in at one of nearly a dozen organization or concessioner-run options, from a rustic bunkhouse or cabin to a luxurious cottage or fully-appointed room. For a one-of-a-kind experience, sign up for a river trip or a stay at a dude ranch.

Backcountry Camping

In addition to a host of RV campsites, Grand Teton National Park offers camping alternatives, if you’re looking to get off the beaten path during your visit. A camping permit and bear-proof canisters are required for all backcountry camping. A wealth of information, including a backcountry planning guide, is available from the Rangers and online.

Private Campgrounds

A number of privately-run campgrounds and RV Parks in the area offer all you could ask on an RV trip to Grand Teton. Within 30 miles, you can settle in at a variety of places with pull-through sites and full hookups. Amenities range from an on-site laundromat, grocery store, souvenir shop, and fuel station to dog parks, play areas, Wi-Fi, and local shuttle service. For a more refined experience, you can even find resort parks with options like deep tissue massage and activities that range from fishing and horseback riding to hot air balloon rides.

Seasonal activities in Grand Teton National Park

Spring

Lake Solitude

So named because it’s almost literally surrounded by the Teton Mountains, hikers and backpackers flock to Lake Solitude this time of year. The Cascade Canyon trail runs a little over seven miles and features a 2,000-plus foot uphill grade. So, bring lots of food and water along for the trip. The views of the Cathedral Group, the tallest peaks in the area, are especially good from this spot. The quiet lake is also a great place for a night of camping.

Teewinot Mountain

The sixth-highest peak in the Teton range is known for is jagged summit. “Teewinot” is supposedly the Shoshone word for “many pinnacles.” The peak is also one of the youngest Rocky Mountains, having begun their ascent some nine billion years ago. The climb up the eastern face is quite doable, as glaciers carved out a path over who knows how many years. More experienced climbers may want to try the unmarked Alpine Trail on the other side of the mountain.

Grand Teton

Grand Teton is the highest peak in the park and a mecca for mountaineers. Though a few claim that the 13,775-foot peak is named after the Teton Sioux, most believe that it comes from the French for “big teat.” Altogether, there are some three dozen routes to the top. Getting down is a bit easier. While the five ski routes from the summit all require at least one rappel, the route down from the Grand and Middle Teton is suitable for everyday skiers.

Mount Moran

This broad peak has several large glaciers along with the northern Teton Range, which is a rarity in the Lower 48. Whereas Grand Teton has several established trails to the summit, Mount Moran has almost none and stands apart from the other peaks. So, it’s only for brave and experienced (and perhaps slightly foolhardy) climbers. Many choose to canoe across String and Leigh Lakes much of the way, but even then, it’s still a challenging climb. Mount Moran does provide stunning views and towers almost directly above Jackson Lake. Others travel to Mount Moran for the rock climbing, and there are group tours to the top as well.

Phelps Lake

This 750-acre lake is at the mouth of the oddly-named Death Canyon. The fishing is typically very good, as the trout are usually biting. There are a large number of hiking trails as well. The 1.8-mile round trip trail to and from the Phelps Overlook is the most popular one. While there, be sure and check out Jumping Rock on the lake’s north shore. It’s about a 30-foot drop to the water below, but the water is deep enough for daring high-divers. These indomitable divers might want to wear wetsuits. The water is quite cold all year long, even in summer.

Summer

Leigh Lake

One of the largest lakes in the Grand Teton National Park, there is a pair of islands on its surface. The glassy water and wide-open spaces make for excellent canoeing and kayaking. Travel the easy trail that takes you around the lake for some breathtaking views. A peaceful area to enjoy Mother Nature, you'll want to bring your camera to capture this majestic area. During most of the year, this deep, glacier-filled lake is almost like a mirror. And you can imagine what that must look like. Several relatively short hiking trails lead to the lake, which also has a ranger station.

String Lake

Primarily because of the nearby wetlands, moose are abundant at String Lake. Many people start their lake hiking tours here because String Lake is easily accessible by RV and it is simply breathtaking. This area has one of the Grand Teton National Park’s very few large surface parking areas that allow for your motorhome to park with ease. Fly fishing off one of the bridges is one of the most popular activities. Swimming is a very close second for recreation, followed by an easy walk around the lake. Lots of canoers also come to String Lake.

Mormon Row Historic District

Those on a religious pilgrimage may be somewhat crestfallen, as little remains of the original 19th century Mormon community. However, a number of homesteads dating back to the early 20th century still remain. From looking at them, it’s easy to see why people were attracted to this area. The fertile soil is quite suitable for farming, although the area is a little dry. Plus, there’s something very Old West-ish about a small cluster of homes in the shadow of some of the tallest peaks in North America. In 1997, Mormon Row joined the National Register of Historic Places.

Hidden Falls

If you only have time to hike one trail during your motorhome camping trip, make sure it's to Hidden Falls. The quickest way to the path is by the Jenny Lake boat that shuttles visitors from the lake to the nearby Hidden Falls. A popular shuttle, try to get there early to find a parking spot. There are several hiking trails available as well, including the 5.2-mile (round trip) Jenny Lake Trail. Once they arrive at the Falls, visitors can hear the falls before they see the water rushing down some ten stories of rock. The stream meanders slightly through the rocks and trees, so it is quite a sight.

Jenny Lake

A quite long, but relatively easy hiking trail leads to Jenny Lake. That combination makes it one of the most popular pedestrian trails in Grand Teton National Park. It’s also a good jumping-off point for several other scenic trails, like the Valley Trail and the Cascade Canyon Trail. Like most other lakes, Jenny Lake also has some very nice primitive campsites.

Fall

Taggart Lake

A rewarding place to hike and relax, you'll be glad that Taggart Lake was on your list of places to visit during your next motorhome camping trip. There's a large parking area adjacent to Taggart Lake. It's less than a mile from Bradley Lake, so if you like water, you came to the right place. The lakes in this area are entirely unspoiled, making it a beautiful place to see. The lake area also offers excellent views of the Teton Mountains, which are just to the west.

South Teton

This 12,000-foot peak is noteworthy for its breast-shaped face, and it is the third jewel of the Tetons - Grand, Middle, and South. As the name implies, it's also one of the southernmost and fifth highest peaks in the mountain range. So, when you get to the top, stunning panoramic views await. The Garnet Canyon Trail is a relatively easy path, as far as mountain trails go. More challenging ascents are on the other side of the mountain. Eleanor Davis, the first woman to climb Grand Teton, used South Teton as something of a warm-up climb in 1923.

Snake River Overlook

If you're looking for one of the most photographic spots in the park, head to Snake River Overlook. This viewpoint offers majestic views of the snow-capped Grand Teton and its neighboring peaks with the Snake River winding below. There are a few small trails you can stroll if you want to get different shots. Sunrise and sunset views are particularly magical here.

Signal Mountain

This isolated mountain peak is usually only accessible during the summer and fall. The next-closest peak is some ten miles away, so the top of Signal Mountain offers sweeping views of most of the park. Another unique thing about this mountain is that it’s almost entirely covered with dense forest. Hikers have several favorite trails at Signal Mountain, mostly because they run through a series of shallow ponds. When the road is open, Signal Mountain is also a very RV-friendly destination, as there is usually some parking thereabouts.

Cascade Canyon

It’s easy to see why the Cascade Canyon Trail is one of the most popular ones in the Park. The scenery here is quite incredible, even for Grand Teton National Park. Running water formed the canyons of the Southwest over eons of time. A glacier did the same thing here, as it slid down every so slowly over the rock faces of these mountains. The only thing left of them now are numerous waterfalls, such as the aforementioned Hidden Falls. In addition to the Cascade Canyon Trail, there are numerous other trails available. There’s also a 1930s Civilian Conservation Corps barn, which adds a nice historic touch to Cascade Canyon.

Winter

John Rockefeller Parkway

Without the Rockefeller family’s vision, passion, and generosity, there probably would be no Grand Teton National Park. Or at least, it would be a much smaller version of the one that RVers enjoy today. There might also be no Acadia National Park or Great Smoky Mountains National Park. So, it’s fitting that the John Rockefeller Parkway is one of the most scenic drives in this park.

As they drive, RVers can take in ancient lava flows, stunning rock formations, and, of course, the majestic Snake River. Popular activities along the Parkway include winter snowmobile tours. Incidentally, this Parkway is also the primary connecting route between Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park. As long as weather conditions are favorable, you can take in the wondrous sites of this drive during the winter.

National Museum of Wildlife Art

No RV excursion to Grand Teton would be complete without a stop at the National Museum of Wildlife Art. The facility is made from Idaho quartzite and designed like a Scottish castle, making it look like a natural rock while inside, you'll discover treasures of the world's best wildlife artist. A must-see, there are 5,000 works of arts including watercolors, oil paintings, and sculptures created by over 550 artists.

It overlooks the National Elk Refuge, so the views are quite stunning. Inside, the Museum features 14 galleries with works from the likes of Frederic Remington, Georgia O'Keefe, and Andy Warhol. There's also the regionally-famous Sculpture Trail, which includes some 30 works of outdoor art.

Grand Targhee Resort

The western Tetons average about 500 inches of snow a year. That’s a lot of powder, which is why ski resorts like the Grand Targhee are so popular. Despite the resort’s popularity, personal space is not a problem. Grand Targhee is located in the Caribou-Targhee National Forest and consistently has one of the lowest skier-to-powder ratios in the country. If skiing isn’t your thing, try one of the backcountry snowshoe tours or hitch a ride on a Snowcat. Or, you can come during the summer and check out one of the many music festivals. There is usually at least one per month.

Jackson Hole

Jackson Hole is often considered as one of the coolest towns in the West. With temperatures as low as below 60 degrees, Jackson Hole can get very cold in the winter. Nevertheless, Jackson Hole is also a great place for skiing, dining, and shopping. It’s also home to Wyoming’s largest commercial airport, so it’s a very lively and diverse town.

National Elk Refuge

While visitors can see elk at other times of the year, the roughly 6,000-head herd congregates in this area every winter. That’s one of the largest elk herds in the world. The area is fenced, but that’s for the elk’s protection. The eight-foot-high fence reduces the risk of motor vehicle collisions and so on. Furthermore, there are a number of “elk jumps” where the animals can come and go almost as they please. If you show up for Elk Fest in May, you have the opportunity to buy elk antlers. A few are also available year-round in Jackson Hole. We also recommend the winter sleigh rides. Fortunately, in this neck of the woods, May is practically winter. So, you may be able to hit both. People can go onto the Refuge as long as they stick to the main roads.

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