Grand Teton National Park timberlinetrails.net
Grand Teton National Park - in Wyoming, is one of the most beautiful parks in all of North America. With activities such
as kayaking, fly-fishing, horseback riding, rafting, scenic hiking, and challenging climbing on sound rock, there is something for
everyone. Whereas most other ranges are obscured by foothills, the Tetons rise abruptly as much as 7,000 feet from the flat
plains of Jackson Hole and culminate in the 13,770 foot summit of Grand Teton. The "Grand" is the highest peak in the park,
and the second highest in the U.S. State of Wyoming. People come from all over the world to climb in the Tetons, and with the
multitudes of routes available, it is hard to imagine any climber coming away disappointed.
If you like river rafting, kayaking, canoing, or any of the other various water activities, the Snake River offers plenty of
opportunities, and the stunning views that you will be treated to are nearly unrivaled anywhere else on the continent. And last
but not least, you have the wildlife. Grand Teton is home for bald eagles, bison, antelope, elk, moose, and many other types of
wildlife, making the park a dream place for naturalists and wildlife photographers alike.
So come along and explore the endless possibilities of an adventure in Grand Teton National Park. It will be an experience you
will never forget!
GENERAL PARK INFORMATION
Grand Teton National Park operates all year round. But most facilities only
offer services from May through October. Entrance fees cost $20.00 for a seven day
stay. The park pass is also good for Yellowstone National Park. A twelve month pass
runs $65.00. This purchases a Golden Eagle Passport that is good at all National Parks
and National Recreation areas. My wife and I always go this route. We usually visit
several National Parks during the year so it is well worth it. If you plan to stay for
more than 7 days you can purchase a $40.00 pass that is good for a full year in the
park, but for an additional $25.00 you can get the Golden Eagle Passport. If you plan
on visiting other Parks in the U.S. you would probably be better off with the Golden
Eagle Passport. If you are age 62 or older then you can get a Golden Age Passport
for only $10.00. What a deal! This is only available if you are a U.S. citizen or
If you are planning your trip off season or if you are in any doubt about road
conditions (or require any other general information), you can call Moose Visitor Center
WEATHER - From mid June through August daytime temperatures average between 72 - 85
degrees F. But night time temperatures can still be quite cool even during the summer months. They
range from 35-45 degrees F. Days are usually sunny but afternoon thunderstorms can be quite
common. Every time I have visited the Grand Teton, I have experienced a thunderstorm or two during
our 7 day stays. While climbing the Grand and Middle Teton my son and I experienced a couple of
pretty violent thunderstorms. They rarely last long (fortunately) and they can add to the experience of
visiting the National Park.
Fall in the Tetons is short lived. However, it certainly one of the most beautiful seasons in the Grand
Teton. The season usually lasts from mid September through October. By November winter begins to
set in. Winter is the longest season by far. It lasts from November through April, and during these
months, snow blankets the park and daytime temperatures rarely get out of the twenties. Lows can go
well below zero (about -15 degrees F).
The diversity of wildlife in the Grand Teton National Park (and surrounding area) is
absolutely incredible. During my stays at the park I have run into black bears,
grizzlies (and their cubs), bison, chipmunks, and endless other varieties of critters.
Animals have the right-of-way everywhere in the park, including roads, trails, and
parking lots. All wildlife can be dangerous and you should view it from a distance.
If you should stumble upon a bear or other potentially dangerous animal, never run.
This is most peoples reaction, but it is the worst thing you can do. Most large
predatory animals are triggered to attack by the fright-flight reaction. Also,
never take chances by approaching animals such as bison, bears, or other large
animals for that so called perfect photo. Getting too close may just may get you gored by a seemingly docile bison.
Wet meadows, willow flats, and other wetlands (including the western waterways) contain over 90 percent of the entire
region's biological diversity. Moose, river otters, and a whole host of other wildlife congregate in these areas. Ground squirrels,
footed dear mice and badgers usually hang around the sagebrush flats. Sagebrush
colors most of the valley floor and makes up the most visible plant community.
Pronghorns live in this type of environment along with badgers, coyotes, wolves,
and other critters. There are over 20 different grasses that make up the sagebrush
terrain, and elk herds feed on the grasses in spring, summer, and fall.
In the alpine zone, animals such as tiny pikas and yellow bellied marmots are
plentiful. These animals are very skilled at getting food and if you leave your food
unattended they will surely take advantage of it. I remember a time while climbing
in the Tetons where I hung my food out of reach high up with a nylon cord.
A marmot climbed up and slid down the cord. He hung off the bottom of my stuff
sack and chewed a hoe through it and ate the food right out of the bottom of the stuff sack. A bear proof canister is the best
way to keep your food away from clever animals in the wild.
Never feed any animal. When animals (especially bears and other large predatory animals) get accustomed to eating human
food and garbage they can become aggressive, and much more dangerous to visitors in the park. Make sure you do your part by
keeping all your food safely stored away. If camping make sure to prepare your food at least 100 yards from your tent site and
never store any food in your tent or sleeping bag. If car camping make sure to remove all food and odorous items from your
vehicle. Bears have a very keen sense of smell and have no problem breaking into your vehicle to get an easy meal.
SIGHTSEEING IN THE GRAND TETON
To see Grand Teton National Park in all its glory try an get an early start. Early starts have many advantages. First, you take
advantage of the magical lighting at sunrise. This is best for viewing the grandeur of the parks majestic mountains. Second, you
will have the best chance of seeing a much wider variety of wildlife. Animals are far more likely to be out in the open during the
cool of the early morning hours. I have seen bears, elk, bison, moose, and many other exciting types of wildlife early in the
morning. As the day wears on most of these animals take cover to avoid the heat of the day, and are therefore out of view.
One of the most beautiful locations to visit is Oxbow Bend. This special
point has fantastic views of Mt Moran. In the early morning hours
the Snake River (as viewed in the photo to the right) is usually calm and
it offers a mirror like surface that reflects the beauty of the mountains in
the background. If this is not enough, Oxbow Bend also is a great place
to view wildlife. Exotic birds, moose, bear, and many other forms of
wildlife often visit this section of the Snake River and provide
the visitor (and photographer) with a multitude of opportunities to see
some of Grand Tetons most exciting scenery and wildlife. During the
fall season the aspen trees (that grow along the bend in the river) provide
a spectacular background for both amateur and professional
Do not forget the more common sites. Buck and rail fences make for
interesting scenes along roadways and farms. The aboveground
supports were the settler's innovative solution to avoid digging post
holes in the hard and rocky soil.
Located one mile north from the turnoff to Moose,
Antelope Flats Road heads east along Ditch Creek
bringing one to historic Mormon Row and the vintage
establishments of early pioneers. The open fields,
which are home to herds of grazing bison in the
summer, provide incredible vistas of the Teton Range
and an exciting side trip off the beaten path. The
Moulton Ranch, still has an acre which is privately
owned. The other buildings were allowed to decay
buildings were allowed to decay until the 1990s. The Park Service then realized the significance of these buildings and took
measures to preserve them. Bison and arrowleaf balsam root make up this sagebrush type of landscape in summer, and a trip to
Mormon Row is a must-do. As mentioned above, these grasslands also sport small groups of pronghorn antelope.
Schwabacher Landing is another fantastic place to visit
in the park. The photo to the left shows some of the
beauty of this area. It is a short hike from a lower parking
lot just off the main road. Wildlife such as beaver,
moose, birds, and much more can be seen in this section.
As mentioned above, it is best to be at the landing near
dawn for best viewing.
The Snake River Overlook as seen to the right is also one of several
famous turnouts that you will not want to miss. I consider this point
to be about the best spot to see the panorama of the Tetons.
Colter bay to the left is another great place to
visit. At the bay you can fish, rent a boat, or
spend time relaxing while viewing the
incredible back side of Mt Moran and its
The Chapel of the Transfiguration is also a must see
while visiting the park. It is owned and maintained by St.
John's Episcopal Church of Jackson, Wyoming. The
chapel is one of the most visited religious structures in
America and has been seen and admired by thousands of
tourists from all over the world who have visited the
Tetons each summer since the chapel was built in 1925.
The chapel was purposely built in the center of the dude
ranch country. It was erected through private
as a venture of faith, and is an example of how the early
settlers in the valley met their needs by sharing resources.
The land was donated by Maud Noble, money was
donated by the dude ranches, and labor was donated by those the chapel would serve. Most people photograph and view the
church from the exterior, but the interior is also beautiful. The chapel is certainly worth visiting, and is a great place to slow
down and reflect on the more important things in life.
Menor's Ferry is another great attraction located within
the Grand Tetons borders. Turn off the Teton Park
Road 0.5-mile north of Moose. The Menor's Ferry
Trail, (less than 0.5-mile long), affords a look at
homesteading and pioneer life in Jackson Hole. You can
visit Bill Menor's cabin and country store. I always like
visiting this section of the park. It has a lot of antique
furniture and turn of the century artifacts that are
very interesting to look at. As far as the ferry, Menor
charged 50c for a wagon and team and 25c for a rider
and horse. Pedestrians rode free if a wagon was
crossing. When the water was too low for the ferry,
Menor suspended a platform from the cable
and three to four passengers could ride a primitive
cable car across the river. In later years, Menor and his
neighbors built a bridge for winter use and dismantled it
each spring. Menor sold out to Maude Noble in 1918.
She doubled the fares, hoping to earn a living from the growing number of tourists in the valley. Noble charged $1 for
automobiles with local license plates, or $2 for out-of-state plates. In 1927, a steel truss bridge was built just south of the ferry,
making it obsolete. Maude Noble sold the property to the Snake River Land Company in 1929. Bill Menor and his neighbors
homesteaded there thinking of the local natural resources as commodities for survival. But many of them grew to treasure the
beauty and uniqueness of Jackson Hole. In 35 short years, from Bill Menor’s arrival until the establishment of the original park in
1929, this land passed from homestead to national treasure. (Above Info on Menor's Ferry from Official Grand Teton Site)
Below are a couple of photos of the interior of Bill Menor's cabin.
Well, that's just a few samples of things to see and key points to visit in the Grand Teton. Make sure while you are in the park
to pick up brochures, maps, and sightseeing guides so that you will be able to get the most out of your visit. There is so much to
do, and so much to see, the you will not want to miss a thing if time permits.
The Snake River along with beautiful lakes, streams, marshes, and other waterways, provide the enthusiast with plenty of
opportunities for top notch recreation and fun. Mad River (800-458-7238) along with other concessions offer superb float trips,
white water rafting excitement, and other river adventures on the Snake River. Take advantage of all they have to offer.
It is also easy to plan your own water activities such as kayaking and canoing.
Local rental companies in the area will rent you both motorized and non-
motorized water craft that you can operate on your own. To the right you
see park visitors canoing on String Lake. This particular lake is shallow, calm,
and fairly warm during summer months. It is the perfect lake for this type
of activity. The surrounding beauty is simply breathtaking. It is a
wonderful way to relax and enjoy Grand Teton at it's best.
Leigh Lake is
another great Teton
Lake for self
propelled water craft. To take advantage of water fun on Leigh Lake
you need to make a short portage between String Lake / Leigh Lake.
The park service provides clear markings and a well maintained path
for you to carry your canoe or kayak on. Our page on Mt Moran
describes this portage and provides additional photos if you are
interested in boating on Leigh Lake. Leigh is a much larger lake than
String Lake, but still offers beautiful views and other fun activities
for you to enjoy.
Jackson Lake shown in the image to the right is the largest body of
water in the park. It lies at an elevation of 6,772 Ft, and in some
reaches a depth of 400 Ft. It is surrounded by some of the greatest
beauty that you can imagine. Jackson Lake, located in the northern
half of the park, features Colter Bay, Jackson Lake Lodge, and Signal
Mountain. The setting as mentioned above, offers spectacular views of
Mt. Moran and the Cathedral Group. Activities in and around the lake
include camping, canoing, boating, fishing, hiking, sailing, water
skiing, swimming and wind surfing. The lakes above do not allow
motorized boats, so Jackson is the best lake for these types of water
craft. We usually opt for a motor boat over a canoe or other form of self propelled vessel when boating on Jackson Lake. This
is because of the tremendous size of the lake. Too much work to paddle around this lake!
Water Safety: As you can imagine, boating and rafting are popular in the Grand Teton. But there are no lifeguards at the
parks lakes. No inner tubing is allowed on the Snake River due to its hazardous currents. If you are backpacking or camping in
the park and want to make use of the water in the lakes and streams for drinking and/or cooking, be sure to treat it first.
Harmful microorganisms such a as Giardia lamblia can be present. So make sure to filter, boil, or chemically treat the water.
HIKING and BACKPACKING
Foot travel in the park is varied and exciting. Grand Teton National Park has over 220 miles of well maintained trails that range
from easy meandering pathways to trails up rigorous canyons and high mountain passes.
You will find many books and maps in the parks general stores and
markets that will describe the parks many pathways and trails. They
will also give great suggestions on the best places to take a hike or
backpack. Also do not forget to take advantage of the advice from
the Park Rangers. They have much experience in the back country.
We found the Taggart/Bradley lake hike to be a great beginners path
that traverses beautiful meadows, lakes, and wild flowers in season.
The Garmet Canyon Trail leads to the upper meadows and gives access
for climbs up the Grand, Middle, and South Teton. This trail is more
strenuous but is well worth the effort if you have the energy. The views
Grand Teton and Middle Teton along the way are truly spectacular.
Overnight says in the wilderness require a back country permit. They
are issued free of charge, and you can pick them up at any of the
parks ranger stations.
Climbing in the Grand Teton is world famous. The peaks in the park
rise abruptly, and culminate with fantastic spires, pinnacles, and sharp
summits. The rock is generally sound and offers the climber excellent
opportunities for fine mountaineering experiences. There are climbs
that are appropriate for novices, as well as extremely difficult mixed
alpine climbs that provide a testing ground for climbers aspiring to
advance to even greater climbs throughout the world. The fact that the
Tetons rise over 7,000 ft above the flat plains of Jackson Hole make
them an incredibly exciting place for climbers of all abilities.
Another advantage of climbing in the Tetons, is their great accessibility.
Peaks are only a short distance from main highways. The summit of
Grand is only three horizontal miles from the nearest approach road.
The Tetons have been more intensively climbed than any other range
of equal size on the entire continent. The Grand Teton shown in the
upper right hand image has no less than 38 established routes, and tops
out at 13,770 ft. making it the second highest peak in Wyoming.
Mt Moran shown to the right also has many fine routes. The CMC
route is one of the most famous routes on the peak. Mt Moran is
best approached by using one of its surrounding lakes. Climbers simply
paddle into position and avoid the nasty brush along the lake banks.
As mentioned above, back country permits are required for all
stays in the park, and this goes for climbers too. This is about the only
red tape involved. Most climbers pick up these permits at the Jenny