You’ve probably seen the Teton Mountains before without even realizing it; photos of the iconic range pop up all over the place. The rugged profile of the Grand Teton, Mount Owen, and Teewinot Mountain is unmistakable. I’d recognize them from anywhere.
Grand Teton National Park is located in northwest Wyoming, directly south of Yellowstone National Park. It’s only five hours from my house, so I’m actually a little disappointed in myself for how little time I’ve spent there. I think it tends to get lost in the shadow of Yellowstone.
Due to its proximity to Yellowstone and the fact that they share a main highway, the entrance fee to one park covers entry into the other as well. Soon after entering from the north, we came to Jackson Lake, the largest lake in the park. Lizard Creek campground is located on the northern portion of the lakeshore and many of the sites provide excellent views of the lake (not to mention the towering mountains behind it).
Continuing south, we passed multiple picnic areas on the way to Colter Bay Village and Visitor Center, which has all the standard amenities and another campground. Multiple short hikes also depart from this area. I know I’ve done many of them but I was really young and don’t remember much of anything.
Our drive from Colter Bay to Jackson Lake Lodge passed by a few roadside pullouts, one of which led to the trailheads for Emma Matilda Lake and Two Ocean Lake. It’s a little over 1 mile (1.6 km) to each lake (they’re in opposite directions) or a 13 mile (21 km) loop to hike all the way around both of them. We were short on time and opted instead for Grandview Point, a 0.8 mile (1.3 km) one-way hike to a high point with stunning views of Emma Matilda Lake, Two Ocean Lake, and Jackson Lake, as well as the entire Teton Range.
Just beyond Jackson Lake Lodge, the road splits; the left fork (US highway 191 and 89) follows the Snake River and is also the way to the eastern park entrance while the right (Teton Park Road) stays close to the lake and the majority of the hiking opportunities. We stayed on the right fork and headed next to Signal Mountain Lodge. There is a campground, amenities, and a trail to the top of Signal Mountain. It’s about 7 miles (11 km) round trip and classified as moderate, but even if it were classified as extreme it would be well worth the view from the top!
(to be continued…)
The Important Stuff:
- Getting there: There are many roads into the park; we took US Highway 89/191 south from Yellowstone
- Fees & passes: $30 per car for a 7-day pass; Interagency Annual Pass accepted
- Camping: 6 campgrounds, $22+ per night, reservations accepted at Colter Bay and Headwaters Campgrounds only
- Hiking: 200+ miles of trails
- Other: Grand Teton is prime grizzly and black bear habitat, which means clean camp rules apply. Leaving any food, beverages, food containers, dishes, cooking utensils, toiletries, pet food/dishes, or water unattended at any time is not permitted; items will be confiscated and you will be fined