Visitors head to Grand Teton National Park for scenic mountain views of the Teton Range and to explore the picturesque lakes. Though not quite as popular as the nearby Yellowstone, this park still draws millions of visitors each year.
There are many things to see and do at this national park. Grand Teton is an especially popular place for boating.
Activities like sailing and water skiing are permitted on Jackson Lake, while other park areas cater to human-powered crafts, like kayaks and canoes. Hiking, biking, and fishing are the other mainstays of this park, so there is something for everyone here.
Whether you are planning on stopping by on your way to Yellowstone or spending your whole vacation at Grand Teton, you’ll be glad you added this spot to your itinerary.
You’ll have to consider all options for the best time to visit Grand Teton National Park. There is no wrong time to come to this park, but these tips will help you choose the right time.
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Why You Should Visit Grand Teton National Park
This Wyoming national park is home to some of the world’s oldest rocks, three billion years old, to be exact. Despite the rock’s age, the Teton Range contains some of the newest mountains in North America.
These rocks are uplifted by the Teton Fault, which is still active, making this a great park to learn about geology and natural history. Other features that draw visitors to Grand Teton National Park include glaciers, lakes, and rivers.
There are many different areas of this park to explore. Scenic driving is available. Just watch out for wildlife along the way.
Some people come to this park specifically to see animals at this park. In addition to moose, deer, elk, and bison, Grand Teton is also home to bears. Black bears and grizzly bears inhabit regions of the park.
Plan your trip to this park to learn more about this exciting area of the United States or just to enjoy the sights. There are plenty of reasons to stay at Grand Teton National Park!
Overall Best Time to Visit Grand Teton National Park
For most people, the best time to visit Grant Teton National is in the summer. Since many mountainous roads travel to and through the park, expect closures at other times of the year when snow or high rainfall is expected.
A Grand Teton vacation in the summer opens up the possibilities to see and do various things in the park. If you want to enjoy the water at this park, visiting during warmer weather is the best bet.
There are many areas here open to swimming and boating. Several concessionaires offer boat rentals within the park during the summer months. Park congestion is something to consider before planning a summer excursion to Grand Teton.
Many parking areas fill up quickly during peak periods. If you choose to visit the national park during this time, try to arrive at the park as early as possible to secure your spot.
Despite the traffic, summer is still the overall best time to come to Grand Teton National Park. More animals are active during this time, and more areas are open and providing services. However, visiting this park during other seasons also has benefits.
Cheapest Time to Visit Grand Teton National Park
Those looking for the cheapest time to visit Grand Teton should consider a trip in the spring or fall, avoiding major holidays.
The park and surrounding areas are not just summer hotspots. In the winter, hundreds come to the area for winter sports like skiing. Unlike many other parks, you should not expect lower prices in the winter here.
Spring will probably be your best chance for the cheapest vacation, but make sure not to head out too early. Many roads remain closed during the early spring because of weather conditions like heavy snow.
Even once the snow is gone, park visitors still contend with lots of rain during the spring season. Many opt not to visit during this wet time, which means lower rates for those who do.
Head to Grand Tetons in April or May for better weather and the best chance at low rates. These months are also some of the best for wildlife viewing. Not only do some of the park’s resident animals emerge from hibernation during this time, but it is also the best time for birding.
Grand Teton National Park contains nine different habitat varieties home to hundreds of species of birds. Hiking will be somewhat limited in early spring, and some trails may still contain snow until May.
If you want to get the most out of the trails at this park, consider a trip a bit later in the year. In June, rates will increase, but so will the chances of warmer weather.
Least Busy Time to Visit Grand Teton National Park
The least busy time to visit Grand Teton National Park is generally late fall and early winter. This time of the year is right after the summer crowds have gone and before most skiers arrive. Rates usually decline around this time too.
Fall is a great time to explore the park with relatively warm days and chilly nights. The changing colors of the leaves create brilliantly colored displays throughout the park.
Late September and early October are the best time for fall leaf viewing in Grand Teton National Park.
For many animals in the park, fall is breeding season. It’s wise to give animals lots of space during this time as they will be aggressive.
Animals like elk and moose compete for dominance in fall, and if you’re lucky, you might catch sight of one of these sparring matches. Visitors arriving closer to winter should expect freezing temperatures and dress accordingly with lots of layers to stay warm.
Once the rain turns to snow here, you may need a four-wheel drive to get around. Heavy snow in this area usually begins in November, continuing through April.
Worst Time to Visit Grand Teton National Park
Winter, especially early winter, is the worst time to visit Grand Teton National Park. Early winter brings all the challenges of winter driving without the added perk of suitable conditions for activities like skiing.
Winter in Wyoming means an influx of tourism to mountainous areas for winter sports. Expect services in and around the park to increase in price.
Guests can try cross-country skiing and snowshoeing inside Grand Teton. Certain parts of the park are open to snowmobilers as well. Because of the harsh winter conditions, animals experience stress during this time.
Certain parts of the park close during the cold months to protect endangered animals in the park for their safety. Don’t expect to see a lot of wildlife at this time in the park, but you could get lucky.
While most bears hibernate through the winter, this is not the case for all these animals. You still might be able to spot a bear in winter or the evidence of them.
Some bears start hibernation late or may skip it altogether, depending on how much food is available. Still, for the best chance at seeing bears, consider mid-spring to see them at their most active.
Things to Consider
In addition to other steps to ensure the safety of your party, if you travel to Grand Teton National Park, you should be familiar with wildlife safety.
As a general rule, giving animals lots of space is an effective way to avoid unwanted animal encounters. However, this national park is home to many bears, and the safest way to be prepared is to be informed.
Traveling Safely Through Bear Country
Consider these tips for traveling safely while sharing space with bears in Grand Teton National Park. These things are essential to know whether you’re planning a week-long camping trip or day hiking through the park.
Don’t Surprise the Bears
They can become dangerous when caught off guard. Make noise to alert animals to your presence. Don’t rely on bear bells, as yelling and clapping is a better way to scare a bear off.
Avoid Hiking During Peak Bear Hours
Bears are most active in the early morning, late afternoon, and after dark.
Travel in Groups
Hike in groups larger than three whenever possible. Children should be closely monitored as well.
Don’t Feed the Bears
Even if a bear approaches your campground, try to clean up all food you may have and take it with you. Bears consuming human food makes them more aggressive towards people, which may create a need for the animal to be put down.
Store Food and Other Items in Lockers
Secure all food, trash, and toiletries from where you’ll be sleeping. Bears are attracted to strong smells, so anything pungent should be stored for your safety.
Report Bear Sightings and Bad Behavior
Other guests in the park could affect your safety. Report any bad behavior that could draw in bears and any bear sightings to a park ranger.
What To Do if You Encounter a Bear
Bear encounters are possible even if you follow proper protocol and safety measures. Consider these things if you make contact with a bear in this park.
- Do not run or climb trees. They are faster runners and climbers than humans. Making sudden movements may trigger them. Stand your ground even if they charge.
- Don’t make eye contact. Bears can interpret this as aggressive.
- Back away slowly from non-aggressive bears. This helps establish that you’re not a threat.
- Use bear spray only at an aggressive bear. Bear spray doesn’t work as a repellent. It should only be used when a bear shows exceptionally aggressive behavior.
- Play dead. Lay flat on the ground on your stomach, covering your neck with your hands, and do not move until the bear has left.
Bears in the Park
While bears can be dangerous and specific considerations should be made when moving through their habitat, they are also incredible creatures to witness in the wild from a distance. Grand Teton has two species of these animals: the black bear and the grizzly bear.
Telling these two types of bears apart is more challenging than their names imply. Both species have coats of fur ranging from dark to light in color. Consider these features when trying to tell which bear is which.
Grizzly bears are generally larger than black bears, though this depends on the age and sex of the animal. These bears have a distinctive shoulder hump as well as a sloped profile. Grizzlies have rounded ears and long front claws.
Black bears have a straight profile with ears that are long and pointed. Their claws are much smaller and curved, making these bears more adept at climbing than grizzlies.
Frequently Asked Questions
These are the answers to some of your most frequently asked questions about Grand Teton National Park.
How much time should I spend in Grand Teton National Park?
There are many hiking trails and different regions to explore in Grand Teton National Park. You could easily spend four to five days enjoying the landscape here. Most people only spend one to two days at the park, generally on their way to Yellowstone. These short visits still give you enough time to see the best highlights of Grand Teton.
Is Grand Teton better than Yellowstone?
This depends on your taste in what makes one park better than the other. Grand Teton is the smaller of the two parks, so it’s easier to explore more of it. Yellowstone is great, too, but its vast size means more time spent driving from feature to feature instead of out in nature.
How long does it take to drive through Grand Teton Park?
Driving through the park takes around two hours at Grand Teton. There are four scenic drives to take in the park to extend your drive.
How far apart are Yellowstone and Grand Teton?
The north edge of Grand Teton National Park is less than seven miles from Yellowstone’s south entrance. The area between the two parks is John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway.
What time does Grand Teton open?
Grand Teton National Park is open 24 hours a day at all times of the year. While the park may be available to receive visitors, remember that some services are closed in winter, and some roads may also be inaccessible.
So, What’s the Best Time to Visit Grand Teton National Park?
While the best overall time to visit Grand Teton National Park is the summer, each season here brings new opportunities for enjoyment.
Summer is the most versatile, with access to all areas of the park and warm enough weather to spend time on the lakes and rivers of the park. Fall provides unique wildlife viewing and fewer crowds.
Winter sports are also popular in this national park, and in spring, people flock here for sights of rare birds. The best time to visit this park is whenever works best for you.
There are amazing things to do and see here during each season. With enough planning, no matter when you come, you are sure to have a great time at Grand Teton National Park.