When to Go
Any time of year is a joy in the Tetons. Most people visit during July and August, when it's sunny and warm, after the snow has melted in the high country. In September and October, the days are pleasant, nights are brisk, the park is less crowded, and the animals are still active. You have a better chance of seeing elk than in summer.
Winter, although spectacular, can be very demanding; snowshoeing, skate-skiing, walking, and cross-country skiing are popular. The main park road, US 26/89/191, remains open all year, but snow closes Teton Park Road (the "inner road") north of Cottonwood Creek from November through April. The Moose-Wilson Road is also closed. At Teton Village, just south of the park, you'll find excellent downhill skiing.
How to Get There
From Jackson, take US 26/89/191 north past the National Elk Refuge; the entrance station and Moose Visitor Center are at Moose. From Dubois, follow US 26/287 to Moran Junction and turn north to the Moran Entrance Station. From Yellowstone NP's South Entrance, the John D. Rockefeller, Jr., Memorial Parkway leads directly into the park. Airport: The Jackson Hole Airport is inside the park.
How to Visit
On a one-day visit in the summer take the Teton Park Road from Moose Junction to Jenny Lake for excellent views of the Tetons and short walks or longer hikes. On the second day, go farther north to Signal Mountain and Jackson Lake. For a longer stay, consider floating the Snake River, hiking, canoeing, climbing, or attending a ranger-guided activity.
Where to Stay
Campgrounds: There are six campgrounds in the park. Full hook-ups and shower and laundry services are available on the Colter Bay and Flagg Ranch grounds, which provide nearly 300 hundred trailer and tent sites. Colter Bay and Gros Ventre can accommodate groups from ten to a hundred campers. For more information and individual rates, check www.nps.gov/grte/planyourvisit/campgrounds.htm.
Lodging: Located on ten acres in the south end of Grand Teton National Park, small, family-owned Dornan's Spur Ranch features cabins with eight one-bedroom and four two-bedroom duplexes. The cabins have a cozy ambience, furnished with handcrafted lodgepole furniture. Each cabin includes a spacious living area with sofas, a dining table, and a kitchen equipped with appliances and cook- and dining-ware. Covered porches and nearby grills complete the outdoor living experience. The resort also has a grocery store, deli, two restaurants, and a bar. Open year-round.
Although only open mid-May to early October, Jackson Lake Lodge brings you right into the heart of Grand Teton National Park. Soak in the panoramic views of Jackson Lake, the park's vast rolling hills, and the formidable Teton peaks through the lodge's 60-foot-wide lobby windows. Guest rooms and single-story cottages clustered outside the main building offer a variety of facilities, including queen- and king-size beds, kitchenettes, jetted tubs, and patios and balconies.
The only lakefront lodging in the park, Signal Mountain Lodge offers a range of options: log cabins with twin and double beds; country rooms with fireplaces and small appliances; bungalows with kitchenettes; lakefront retreats with balconies or porches; and a three-room cabin complete with a living room, kitchen, and laundry area. This lodge is Green Seal Certified and has implemented extensive recycling and energy efficiency programs.
Flagg Ranch offers the best of both worlds at its location between Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks. Rooms are basic and include patios with rocking chairs. The lodge headquarters also features a restaurant, grocery store, and gas service.
No matter what time of the year it is, careful driving on park roads where wildlife roam is a must. Moose frequently use roads as travel corridors, and elk, bison, and mule tend to wander at night. Driving slowly and only during the day can help avoid accidents that result from hitting animals.
For most seasons, rain gear is recommended because of unpredictable storms. Though the summer months of July and August usually promise warm days and cool nights, thundershowers are common in the afternoon. It's still relatively sunny from September to November, but rain and snow storms can occur in the park during these months.
The winters are long and cold, so winter visits require warm layers with the additional protection of hats, gloves, and boots. Heavy snows generally fall between November and March, but at high elevations snow and frost are possible anytime of the year. Through mid-April, roads can be closed during blizzards and storms, so be sure to check the park's website before setting out. Four-wheel drives or all-weather tires are also ideal for navigating slippery and snowy roads.
Valley trails can be covered with snow until late May, so prepare accordingly when taking a spring trip. Occasional snow can occur as late as June, so be prepared with layered clothing.