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If You Have Only 1 Day

Unlike Yellowstone, Grand Teton is small enough to make touring it in a single day reasonable. You’ll be able to hit most of its main attractions, and a loop road means you won’t have to retrace all your steps. This itinerary assumes you’ll be coming in from Yellowstone to the north, but you can just as easily follow it starting in Jackson.

From Yellowstone’s south entrance, take U.S. 26/89/191 south 8 miles through the John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway, passing Flagg Ranch’s information center and lodging/dining. Once inside Grand Teton National Park, the road quickly sticks to Jackson Lake’s eastern shore, giving you windshield-wide views of Mount Moran and the Cathedral Group. Skip Leeks Marina and continue south.

First stop: Colter Bay Village. Take a spin around the visitor center here and check out the Indian Arts Gallery inside. This is also a great spot for a quick swim or paddling trip; you can launch your own boat or rent a kayak or canoe from Colter Bay Village Marina. If you’d rather go hiking, keep driving south for the park’s best quick-fix trails.

Continue about 5 miles down to the road to Jackson Lake Lodge and hop out to see the commanding peak view from the hotel’s impressive lobby. A stone’s throw farther, Willow Flats Overlook is also worth a stop for its vantage point on the Teton Range (and to look for moose). At Jackson Lake Junction, turn right to follow Teton Park Road, the park’s inner route that keeps the peaks front and center in your view. 

Turn left to follow Signal Mountain Road to its 7,727-foot summit. From here, you’ll get a spin-around view of the Cathedral Group, Mount Moran, Jackson Lake, and Jackson Hole. Come back down and press on to North Jenny Lake Junction, then turn right to drive the one-way loop to Jenny Lake’s northern end. Must-stop pullout: Cathedral Group Turnout. You can also access a couple of short day hikes here, like the 3.7-mile loop around String Lake or the lakeshore Jenny Lake Trail. Exploring the north end of Jenny Lake also means you’ll avoid some of the hordes that congregate at the south end. 

Rejoin Teton Park Road and continue south (you’ll pass one more excellent hike, the 3.9-mile Taggart Lake Loop). Take a break at Menors Ferry Historic District and peek into a preserved late-1800s homestead, smokehouse, icehouse, and general store, then visit perhaps the most scenically blessed church in the country, Chapel of the Transfiguration. Get back in the car for the short jaunt over to Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center to learn more about the geology and ecology behind the sights you’ve been seeing.

From Moose Junction, take the park’s outer road, U.S. 26/89/191, north. You’ll be treated to constant wide-angle views of the Teton peaks with several strategically placed pullouts. Turn left at Moran Junction and swing over to Oxbow Bend for the chance to see waterfowl or moose. Then either head back up to Yellowstone, grab a Grand Teton campsite (if this is your plan, reserve a site as early in the day as possible), or head south to the lights of Jackson.

 

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.