Grand Teton National Park is absolutely stunning. Of all the National Parks I have been to, this one has the most wow factor. It is simply the most dramatic mountain range I’ve ever witnessed. Let’s set you up for a memorable day of fun in the Grand Tetons!
Can You Spend One Day in the Grand Tetons?
Although I would suggest a longer stay, you can see a a whole lot of beauty in one day in the Grand Tetons. If you’re willing to create a one day plan and stick to it, you will have an amazing experience in Grand Teton National Park no matter how long you have to spend there.
How Do I Spend One Day in the Grand Tetons?
You can spend one day in the Grand Tetons taking in mountain views, swimming in alpine lakes, and observing wildlife in their natural habitat if you know how to plan it right! I’m going to help you plan your most memorable trip yet with these optional activities. You can even piece multiple suggestions together for an action packed day!
Take A Scenic Drive
Take a Grand Teton Driving Tour. The 42 mile scenic drive loop through Grand Teton National Park provides visitors with intimate views of the Tetons and the chance to spot wildlife in the surrounding wilderness.
Some people choose to pay a guide to drive them through the loop, while others take on the driving and guiding themselves. The park consists of two main roads, the inner road and the outer road. The inner road is within the park’s boundaries and requires park admission ($35 for the week). It brings you up close and personal with the Grand Tetons and provides access to many trailheads, lakes, and photo hot spots!
Both the inner and outer road have amazing pull offs and viewpoints. An early morning drive will provide you with the best lighting and the best opportunity to see wildlife as well!
Have a Lazy Lake Day
Are you looking for a laid back day on the lake with amazing views? Hang out on the rocky shores of Jackson lake for an amazing summer chill day. Bring a camp chair and a picnic lunch to the swimming beach at Colter Bay to cool off on a sunny day. I suggest bringing footwear you can get wet as the beach consists of large rocks.
String Lake is another popular swimming location in the Grand Tetons. It is shallow and sandy, making it a great place for families to picnic. Many guests bring paddle boards and kayaks to String Lake as well.
Take a Hike: A Short One
The Taggart Lake hike is perfect for all skill levels. At around 3.5 miles for the loop and only a couple hundred feet of elevation gain, this is an easy way to escape the crowds. Enjoy views of the Teton Range from a beautiful alpine lake. If the lake seems crowded, head up the trail towards Bradley Lake for 3-5 minutes to find a quiet and calm shoreline.
Take a Hike: A Longer, Flatter One
The Hermitage Point Trail is a 10 mile out and back with beautiful views of The Teton Range and Jackson Lake. The trail traverses through forests, meadows, and wetlands. It doesn’t have any significant elevation gain, however, I would consider it rolling terrain. Try to hike in a party of 3 or more, carry bear spray, and stay alert; this if prime wildlife habitat and you are likely to see some beautiful animals if you’re exploring at the right time of day.
Take a Hike: A Long One with Elevation Gain
Cascade Canyon to Lake Solitude is a very long day hike with a huge payoff. At 20 miles round trip, I only suggest this hike to well-prepared hikers who are confident they can hike 20 miles in a day. If you take the ferry across Jenny Lake, this hike drops down to about a 14 mile hike round trip.
This beauty will take you around Jenny Lake and then up to hidden falls and inspiration point before leading you through Cascade Canyon. The Canyon is absolutely stunning and provides phenomenal, up-close views of Grand Teton. The canyon hike itself is fairly flat until you reach the North Fork; from this trail junction on to Lake Solitude is a steady climb. This hike is difficult and time consuming, however, it boasts some of the best views in the park..
Take A Boat Ride
The Jenny Lake shuttle service will bring you back and forth across the lake. Head to the east boat dock at Jenny Lake, purchase the fare, and board the boat to cross the lake. From there you can take a quick hike up to hidden falls and inspiration point for some beautiful views.
Boat, Paddle, or Raft
There is a lot of water in Grand Teton National Park. Spending on day in the Grand Tetons might look like a boat ride, canoe or kayak trip, or even a white water rafting adventure. Within the park you can rent boats, kayaks, canoes, and paddle boards at Colter Bay on Jackson Lake. At Jenny Lake you can rent non-motorized canoes and kayaks to explore the water.
Many visitors bring their own water crafts to the Grand Tetons. One Day in the Grand Tetons might look like a canoe trip down the Snake River. All boats entering Grand Teton National Park Waters require an AIS inspection. Once your watercraft passes inspection, the opportunities from fun are endless!
Booking a whitewater rafting tour on the Snake River is a popular option for many visitors. If this interests you, be sure to do your research and choose a company you’re excited to raft with!
The wildlife in Grand Teton National Park is diverse and abundant. Because it is one of the largest intact temperate ecosystems in the world, many moose, beavers, bears, sandhill cranes, bison, wolves, and elk call the park home.
The top three locations to see wildlife in the Grand Tetons are Schwabachers Landing, Oxbow Bend, and on Moose Wilson Road. You’re more likely to spot wildlife at sunrise and sunset which makes wildlife observation the perfect add-on to your one day in the Grand Tetons activity.
This one is a bit of a double dipper if you go at dawn or dusk as well! You’ll be able to witness a stunning sunrise or sunset while animal watching.
Book a guided fishing adventure or plan your own. Wyoming state laws regulate the fishing that can be done inside the park and you will need a license. Luckily, you can purchase a license inside the park at Flagg Ranch, Colter Bay Marina, Signal Mountain Lodge, or online. The best front country fishing spots include the Snake River, Jenny Lake, and the Gros Ventre River. If you’re willing to work for it and take a hike into the backcountry, Cascade Creek and Phelps Lake.
If you’re looking for details on specific spots to fish, bait to use, or gear to bring along I can direct you to this wonderful article: 7 Best Places to Fly Fish in Grand Teton National Park
There is a wonderful trail system at Teton Pass. Teton Pass is a high mountain pass just West of Jackson heading towards Idaho. We rode the Black Canyon Trail and absolutely loved the downhill portion! Unfortunately, we were uneducated and missed the memo about shuttling your bike. When we were done with our great downhill ride, we finished off the morning with a 4 mile trail that gained 2,000 feet of elevation in order to return to the car – yikes! Let’s just say, I did a lot of pushing my bike. The Black Canyon trail was absolutely stunning and well maintained. We rode through an innumerable amount of butterflies and had beautiful views throughout the ride.
If the downhill bike park is more your style, Jackson Hole Mountain Resort in Teton Village is for you! Ride 1,276 feet up to the trails on the Sweetwater Gondola. There are trails for everyone to enjoy; novice trails for those new to the sport and advanced, eye-opening trails and jump tracks for the seasoned veterans await. Lift tickets and bike rentals are available through early September before they start gearing up for the winter season!
Drive Up A Mountain
Signal Mountain offers a variety of services to visitors, such as dining, lodging, and a marina. It’s also home to a very scenic drive; this 5 mile road takes about 20 minutes to drive and is so worth the short detour. The viewing point on the summit of Signal Mountain provides breathtaking views of the Tetons’ towering peaks, the valley below, and Jackson Lake. It’s important to note that trailers and RVs are prohibited from this narrow road. Additionally, this road is closed during winter.
Spend A Day/Night on the Town
Jackson Hole is a 50 mile long valley and is home to the town of Jackson. Jackson is a great town to hangout in with its many shops, restaurants, and bars. It’s important to note that Jackson is an expensive town, however, it is the closest town to Grand Teton National Park. It’s clean, beautiful, and offers a number of great activities. Between the Elf Refuge, Wildlife Art Museum, and multiple Ski resorts, you’re bound to find something fun!
Mix and Match One Day in the Grand Tetons
Start your day early, at sunrise, to watch first light on the Tetons. If you spend sunrise at Schwabacher’s Landing or Oxbow Bend, you’re likely to experience a few animal sightings as well. We were able to watch a Moose and her calf graze on the marshy banks of Schwabacher’s Landing.
At this point, you’ll be ahead of the crowds and can head off to whatever kind of daytime activity you’d like! I’d suggest some type of hike to help you get up close and personal with the mountains during your one day in the Tetons. Bring a pole along if you’re hiking to a body of water and do some light fishing when you arrive at your destination.
After your hike, cool down and clean off with a dip in Jackson or String Lake before heading into town for dinner. If you finish dinner with time, post up at one of the many pull-outs along the scenic park road to watch the sun disappear over the Teton Range.
This would be one jam-packed day in the Grand Tetons, however, it would give you such a great taste of this beautiful park!
Are the Grand Tetons Worth Visiting if I Only Have One Day?
Absolutely. This mountain range will take your breath away at every angle. It’s definitely in my top 3 favorite National Parks and I’m confident it’s going to stay there.
If you’re looking for more great ways to spend your days in our National Parks, I’ve shared countless itineraries and tips on the blog!