I remember getting a chance to see Grand Teton National Park as a teenager traveling with my parents and brother. We had stayed in Yellowstone National Park for a few days before continuing our road trip loop through Montana and Wyoming. I thought to myself that these mountains really do rise majestically from the valley floor, with no foothills like most of the other Rocky Mountains. We were driving South on the John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway (US-191) and the scenery is breathtaking as you come upon these mountains. There are many other US mountains that are taller, more extensive and equally rugged, but in my opinion there aren’t any that can match the Teton Range in northwest Wyoming for the steepness with which the east face rises above the flatlands of the Snake River Valley, gaining over 5,000 feet in a horizontal distance of just a few miles. Several dozen glaciers around these summits keep the mountains partly snow covered even in late summer, and for much of the year, the peaks are buried beneath an unbroken expanse of ice. The mountains stretch for a relatively short distance, rising up near the small town of Jackson and extending northwards for 30 miles, until the land slopes down to the edge of the Pitchstone Plateau in Yellowstone National Park.
Native American hunting parties from the northern Rocky Mountains camped along the shore of Jackson Lake around 10,000 years ago while following game. John Colter, a member of the Lewis and Clark Expedition is the first white American known to have visited the area now known as Jackson Hole as early as 1805-1806. Although there were many who favored adding the Teton land to Yellowstone when it was created in the late 1800’s, the opposition of some local residents prevented the establishment of the area as a national park for some time. Due in no small part to the acquisition of lands for the creation of a park by John D. Rockefeller Jr., the park was created on February 26, 1929, although the park at that time consisted of only the mountains themselves. In 1942, Rockefeller advised U. S. Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes that he was unwilling to hold the land much longer. Since there appeared little possibility of getting a bill through Congress, in 1943, President Franklin Roosevelt issued an executive order, which created Jackson Hole National Monument and contained the Rockefeller lands. This was, perhaps, the single most controversial action in the history of the park. In 1950—31 years after the first attempt to establish a national park—Congress passed and on Sept. 14 President Harry Truman signed a law adding Jackson Hole National Monument to Grand Teton National Park, completing the park as it stands today.
The name of the mountains was based on the French word for breasts, referring to the shape of the peaks. Established as a National Park on February 26, 1929, the park covers 484 square miles of land and water. The Park is composed of a series of peaks and landforms, separated by valleys, the Tetons provide an abundance of scenic views at its many backcountry lakes, forested elevations, and jagged mountain tops. There are more than 100 alpine lakes in the park, the largest of which is Jackson Lake with more than 25,000 acres. This National Park is approximately 310,000 acres in size. The highest and most spectacular section of the Tetons is towards the south end, where several of the highest peaks (the Cathedral Group) are clustered together, centered on 13,770 foot Grand Teton. Twelve summits exceed 12,000 feet.
—- Location —-
Grand Teton National Park is located in northwestern Wyoming; north of the town of Jackson, Wyoming, and south of Yellowstone National Park. From Salt Lake City, Utah follow I-15 to Idaho Falls. Then take US 26 to Swan Valley. Next, follow ID 31 over Pine Creek Pass to Victor. Follow ID 33 to WY 22 over Teton Pass, through Wilson to Jackson (there is a small commercial airport here). From Denver, Colorado take I-25N to Cheyenne. Then follow I-80W through Laramie to Rock Springs. Next, take US 191 North through Pinedale, and lastly, take US 191 to Hoback Junction. Get on US 189/191 to Jackson.
—- Park Camping —-
Grand Teton National Park has 5 campgrounds inside it with 895 campsites. 47 of these sites are for tents only but the rest permit trailers and RV’s and all these sites have flush toilets available. The lower the campsite elevation the longer (in the year) the campsite is open. The shortest time (6-9/9-4) is at the Lizard Creek Campground which is located just under 7000 feet in elevation. The rest of the campgrounds open in May and close in October. It can snow anytime between October and May in the Teton Mountains. There are 16 areas open for backcountry camping (permit required). Like Yellowstone, Grand Teton National Park has lodges and cabins available to stay in… There are also motels, hotels, guest ranches, vacation home rentals, bed & breakfast inns, and a couple of ranches and spas that are open all year for those of you that may like wintertime activities, or don’t have an RV or a tent (you could always rent your equipment too!).
—- Free Camping —-
Based on https://freecampsites.net/#!Jackson Hole, Wyoming there are 12 free campsites with 25 miles of Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
—- Area Camping —-
—- Hiking & Biking & Horseback Riding —-
There are steep mountainsides, Jackson Lake and the marshy Snake River Valley that provide obstructions that restrict hiking in Grand Teton National Park, so there are fewer trails that might be expected for an area this size. In particular, most of the northern half of the Teton Range, the section west of the lake, is inaccessible to all except determined cross-country hikers. Most of the day hikes are to smaller lakes, either close to park roads at the edge of the Snake River valley, or along the steep-sided canyons that cut into the mountains. Mountain biking & Horseback riding are popular activities in the Park. The pathway currently extends from the town of Jackson, north to Antelope Flats Road. At Moose Junction, the pathway follows the Teton Park Road to the South Jenny Lake area. There is an extensive pathway system through the town of Jackson extending into Teton County.
—- Things to do —-
There are a great many things to do in this area! You could easily spend several days going on scenic float trips, a Jackson Lake cruise or fly fishing. You can also get on a guided tour where you can view the wildlife up close (picture a mountain safari). Go on an excursion across Jenny Lake with a guide or climb to one of the summits by climbing up the rocks (with a guide if you like). There are also many things to do in Jackson, Wyoming which is only 4 miles South of the National Park.
—- References —-