Scenic Driving Through Grand Teton National Park

Grand Teton National Park in western Wyoming is full of amazing mountain scenery, good hiking, and beautiful lakes. You can see a lot of what this park has to offer along the Grand Teton National Park Loop and other park roadways. Here’s everything you need to know about driving through Grand Teton National Park.

Grand Teton is one of the most beautiful national parks in the United States. You’ll find it just a few miles north of Jackson, Wyoming, and directly south of Yellowstone National Park.

mountain range reflected in still river lined with grass and trees
When driving through Grand Teton National Park, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to stop at beautiful places like Schwabacher Landing. Photo: Plan, Ready, Go.

The two parks are separated only by the John D. Rockefeller Jr. Memorial Parkway. A trip to Grand Teton is often paired with a visit to Yellowstone since they are so close.

In this article, I will cover the epic Grand Teton National Park Loop as well as the shorter drives in the park.

  • Moose-Wilson Road
  • The one-way Jenny Lake Loop
  • Signal Mountain Summit Road

In addition, you’ll find important information here about the best stops on the Grand Teton National Park Loop, how long you should plan your scenic drive to take, what you should have with you in your car, where to stay, and more.

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How to get to the scenic loop drive

There are three main junctions on the Grand Teton National Park Loop, and the loop is made up of two main roads. The “inner road” is Teton Park Road and runs closest to the base of the Teton Range. This road is closed from fall through well into the spring, and it’s the main road through the heart of the park.

The “outer road” is U.S. Highway 26/89/191. This is also the main highway you would take to drive from Jackson to the park.

If you are coming to Grand Teton from Yellowstone National Park, you’ll join the loop at its north end after driving down John D. Rockefeller Memorial Parkway, passing by Colter Bay Village and Jackson Lake Lodge.

snow-capped mountains beyond plains of sagebrush
Photo: Plan, Ready, Go.

The scenic loop is pretty easy to do, especially if you pick up a map at a Visitor Center or purchase a self-driving Grand Teton audio tour from GuideAlong.

Honestly, I like to do both. A physical map helps keep me oriented to where we are and what we have coming up. With GuideAlong, it’s like having an expert tour guide right in our car with us, helping us make our turns, telling us interesting stories along the way, and providing great information.

And with GuideAlong, you can still go at your own pace or even break up the loop drive over a couple of days if you want. The tour is triggered by your geographic location and only runs while you’re driving.

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Which direction should you take the Grand Teton National Park Loop?

This is a matter of opinion.

IF you are an avid photographer looking to get the best shots, I’d recommend you start as early in the morning as you can and take the loop in a counterclockwise direction starting from Jackson.

This way you will get to Mormon Row first, then do Schwabacher Landing shortly after that, followed by Snake River, Elk Ranch Flats then Oxbow Bend, and so on. These are some of the best views in the park.

The morning sun shines on the front of the barns at Mormon Row, giving you the best chance to get beautiful photos of the barns with the rising sun illuminating them and the Tetons behind.

IF you are more interested in taking in the views for yourself or want to get started on a hike early in the day, take the loop in the clockwise direction, entering the park at Moose and following the inner road (Teton Park Road). We chose to do the loop clockwise, stopping first at the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center when it opened and ending our day at Mormon Row before heading back to Jackson for dinner.

TIP: Keep track of all the amazing sites you’re seeing in the park with this printable Grand Teton National Park bucket list.

On a quest to visit all 63 U.S. National Parks? Grab your own copy of the printable national parks tracker to check off your progress as you visit each park.

How long does it take to drive the Grand Teton National Park Loop?

The 42-mile Grand Teton National Park Loop is about a 1 to 2-hour drive without stops or with just minimal stops.

If you want to do what we did, which is get out at all of the stops and do a little exploring at the Visitor Center, Jenny Lake, enjoy a leisurely picnic lunch, etc. plan on this drive taking you all day. Planning for 8 hours would be safe. And this would be 8 hours without any other lengthier activities such as Snake River float, taking the boat on Jenny Lake, or doing any hiking.

You could also break up the drive across two days, doing the Teton Park Road one day of your Grand Teton itinerary and the “outer” road the next.

Stops on the 42-mile Scenic Loop Drive in Grand Teton National Park

These stops are listed in the order you will encounter them if you drive to the park from the direction of Jackson and do the loop in a clockwise direction.

Park Entrance Turnout

Get your own version of the classic National Park sign photo with the beautiful Teton Range in the background.

wood sign for Grand Teton National Park with the Teton Range in the background
Photo: Plan, Ready, Go.

Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center

This is the “main” park visitor center.

We’re big advocates of National Park Visitor Centers, and I always recommend talking to a park ranger especially if you’re planning to do any hiking. Ask about trail conditions so you’re not taken by surprise and you’ll have time to make other plans. National Park Service ranger staff can also advise of any park roads that are closed that you might not already be aware of.

large wood visitor center with wood pillars and mountains in the distance
Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center, Grand Teton National Park. Photo: Plan, Ready, Go.

Chapel of the Transfiguration

Chapel of the Transfiguration is a log Episcopal chapel that was built in 1925 so that those who lived in the area wouldn’t have to go all the way into Jackson for church services.

Just turn right on Menors Ferry Road off Teton Park Road. The small church still holds services during the summer months. All are welcome to worship there.

small log chapel with a wooden walkway up to the front door and the Teton Range in the background
Photo: Plan, Ready, Go.

Teton Glacier Turnout

This turnout gives visitors to the Park a great view of Teton Glacier, which is the largest glacier in the Teton Range. Less than a dozen glaciers remain in the Teton Range today.

Jenny Lake

You. Have. To. Stop. At. Jenny. Lake. It is absolutely one of the most stunningly beautiful places I have ever seen in my entire life.

You’ll have a little bit of a walk from the parking (which is ample) to the lake itself. We took the time to stop in at the Jenny Lake Visitor Center to speak with a park ranger about the boat operations and then visited the small (but excellent) store.

We spent a little time marveling at how beautiful the lake is and then decided to return the next day to get out on the lake and walk a little bit of the Jenny Lake Trail.

clear blue glacier lake in front of mountains with snow on them
Jenny Lake is one of my favorite stops on the 42-mile scenic loop in Grand Teton National Park. Photo: Plan, Ready, Go.

Cascade Canyon Turnout

Enjoy a view of Cascade Canyon, which separates the Cathedral Group from the rest of the Teton Range. The Cathedral Group is the group of the three tallest peaks in the Teton Range: Grand Teton, Teewinot, and Mount Owen.

There is a Cathedral Group Turnout on the Jenny Lake Scenic Loop Drive that branches off from Teton Park Road. See below for more information about that drive.

view of a deep canyon in the Teton Range
Cascade Canyon Turnout, Grand Teton National Park. Photo: Plan, Ready, Go.

Mountain View Turnout

More beautiful mountain views beyond the flat sagebrush-covered ground.

Mount Moran Turnout

One of the best views of Mount Moran in the park. Moran is the dominant peak of the northern Teton Range. Moran is easy to spot because of its flat-ish top.

flat-topped mountain dominating north end of the Teton Range beyond sagebrush plains
You get a real feel for how large the Tetons are at turnouts like Mount Moran. Photo: Plan, Ready, Go.

Chapel of the Sacred Heart

One of the hidden gems at this stop is the picnic area with a lovely view of Jackson Lake.

Jackson Lake Dam

This is a great place to get a broad view of the north end of the Teton Range and Jackson Lake. This is also a popular Snake River access point.

snow-capped mountains beyond a turquoise lake
View of Jackson Lake from Jackson Lake Dam. Photo: Plan, Ready, Go.

Oxbow Bend

This spot on the Snake River is popular with wildlife like moose, river otters, pelicans, and trumpeter swans. On a calm morning you might be able to get a photo with Mount Moran’s reflection mirrored in the Snake River.

Mount Moran in the distance beyond a bend in the Snake River
Photo: Plan, Ready, Go.

Elk Ranch Flats Turnout

The Elk Ranch Flats Turnout is absolutely one of my favorite spots in all of Grand Teton National Park. You get a great, expansive view of the range from here. Just soak it all in.

view of the Teton Range across a long expanse of flat land
Elk Ranch Flats Turnout. Photo: Plan, Ready, Go.

Cunningham Cabin Historic Site

While not talked about nearly as much as other stops on this drive, I personally think the Cunningham Cabin is a great stop on this route.

This historic homestead, built in 1890, is just a short drive off the main loop and it’s interesting to see. But it’s BEHIND the cabin that I really liked and thought made a wonderful photo spot.

woman in hiking gear standing in front of a split rail fence with Mount Moran in the background
Photo: David Vierow

Snake River Overlook

This is one of the most iconic scenic views at Grand Teton National Park and one of the best Grand Teton photography spots. It’s an absolute “must stop” in my book, made famous by photographer Ansel Adams.

view of the Snake River beyond fir trees and snowy mountains in the distance
I’m no Ansel Adams, but I enjoyed taking this shot at Snake River Overlook. Photo: Plan, Ready, Go.

Teton Point Turnout

Beautiful view nearly straight into Grand Teton, the highest peak in the Teton Range.

Schwabacher Landing

Schwabacher Landing is another fabled photo spot in Grand Teton National Park. It’s also a good place to try your luck with wildlife viewing.

You’ll find this area down a short road off 26/89/191 (the outer loop road) and it’s well worth the stop. And don’t limit your exploration to the area closest to the parking area. Wander a bit to find the best photo spots.

snow-capped mountains reflected in partly still river water
We spent a lot of time on our Grand Teton scenic loop drive looking for beautiful shots at Schwabacher Landing. Photo: Plan, Ready, Go.

Glacier View Turnout

Great view of the middle range of the Tetons, including the largest peaks.

Black Tail Ponds

Black Tail Ponds is another stop on the 42-mile scenic loop drive that’s not as well known, but I really enjoyed it. It’s a great spot to see beaver dams and the lovely surrounding trees and vegetation that make up the wetlands on the Snake River.

mountains and evergreen trees beyond a river wetlands area
Black Tail Ponds is a less popular, but beautiful, stop on the Grand Teton scenic loop. Photo: Plan, Ready, Go.

Mormon Row

You’ll find the Mormon Row Historic District down Antelope Flats Road off the outer Grand Teton Loop road. This is the location of the two famous Moulton barns. Each of the Moulton barns is a popular photo spot.

rustic barn with the Teton Range in the background
Photo: Plan, Ready, Go.

To get the best light on the barns and the Teton Range behind, plan to be at Mormon Row for sunrise. 

Best stops on the Grand Teton National Park Loop

If you don’t have a full day to do all of the stops on the Grand Teton Loop, here are the few that I think are the absolute “must-do” sites in Grand Teton National Park.

  • Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center
  • Chapel of the Transfiguration
  • Jenny Lake
  • Elk Ranch Flats
  • Snake River Overlook
  • Schwabacher Landing
  • Mormon Row

Honorable mentions would go to Jackson Lake, Black Tail Ponds, and Oxbow Bend.

Other drives in Grand Teton National Park

Moose-Wilson Road

This stretch of road at the southern end of Grand Teton National Park connects the towns of Wilson and Moose. You’ll wind through forested and swampy areas. Moose-Wilson Road provides access to the Laurence S. Rockefeller Preserve as well as the trailheads for Death Canyon and Granite Canyon.

Jenny Lake Scenic Drive

image of a snow-capped mountain behind a glacier lake and all framed by pine trees
Jenny Lake Overlook is a highlight of the Jenny Lake Road Drive. Photo: Plan, Ready, Go.

The 4-mile Jenny Lake Road makes a nice detour off of the Teton Park Road portion of the main Grand Teton Park Loop.

Please note that part of this road is one-way only (from north to south). This means that if you are driving the Grand Teton loop drive clockwise (like we did), you will retrace your path a bit.

If you are doing the Grand Teton Loop drive in a counterclockwise direction, you could do a little awkward backtracking. Or just opt to skip the Cascade Canyon Turnout, which is on Teton Park Road between the entrance and exit of Jenny Lake Road.

Plan on this drive taking you between 20 – 30 minutes unless you want to spend more time at Jenny Lake just soaking up the beautiful view. Scenic stops on the Jenny Lake Scenic Drive are:

  • Jenny Lake Overlook: This view of Jenny Lake alone is worth the short detour off of Teton Park Road.
  • String Lake: The String Lake Trail is a popular hike.
  • Cathedral Group Turnout
snow-capped mountains and evergreen trees beyond a clear glacier lake
Don’t miss String Lake on the Jenny Lake Road scenic drive. Photo: Plan, Ready, Go.

Signal Mountain Summit Road

Closed in winter and into spring, the Signal Mountain Road makes an excellent extension to your scenic drive around Grand Teton National Park, especially if the weather is clear.

This windy road is about 5 miles long and takes you up 800 feet to the summit of Signal Mountain. RVs and trailers are not allowed. Enjoy panoramic views of the Teton Range, Jackson Lake, and Jackson Hole from the Jackson Point Overlook and the East View Lookout. Plan on this side trip taking you 30 minutes to an hour.

What you should bring with you on your scenic Grand Teton National Park drive

GuideAlong: Seriously. If you don’t use this audio tour app in Grand Teton National Park, you will miss so much. We named the narrator Phil, and he was our constant companion in the park.

Park map: Pick up a free copy at a Visitor Center (Colter Bay, Jenny Lake, or Craig Thomas) or when you pass through an entrance station. A paper map will help visually orient you to your location relative to the entire park.

Layers: At high elevations, weather can be quite a lot cooler and less predictable than you’re used to. There can also be large temperature fluctuations from morning to afternoon and then after sundown.

Water: At high elevations, it’s important to stay hydrated. And of course, if you’re planning to do any hiking, make sure you have at least 1 liter per 2 hours of moderate hiking.

Picnic lunch: My recommendation is that you plan to pack in a lunch for this drive. This way you can eat whenever you’re ready and not have to worry about going off track or all the way back to Jackson looking for food.

view of Jackson Lake with the Teton Range beyond, framed by evergreen trees
Enjoy a picnic lunch with a view of Jackson Lake when you’re ready to take a break from your Grand Teton scenic drive. Photo: Plan, Ready, Go.

Snacks: Cuz you just never know when the munchies are going to strike!

Camera: You will have soooooo many opportunities on this scenic drive to take beautiful photos. Don’t forget to bring your camera or at least have your phone ready so you can capture every beautiful moment.

Best time to visit Grand Teton National Park

The best time of year to visit Grand Teton National Park is between June and late September. In early June, services will be open, but the crowds are not yet too much to deal with. The weather can still be unpredictable though, so be prepared for anything.

Check with park ranger staff on trail conditions before starting hikes in the late spring (including into June) and follow posted signs for closures due to bear activity.

The peak summer season in Grand Teton National Park is July and August. Expect good weather, but also big crowds.

In September, most schools are back in session (meaning, fewer crowds) but the colder weather with the potential for snow hasn’t fully arrived yet. It’s important to remember that Grand Teton National Park may be at a much higher elevation than what you’re used to, so seasonal weather patterns can be surprising.

rustic barn with peaked roof surrounded by grass with mountains in the background
Photo: Plan, Ready, Go.

Where to stay at Grand Teton National Park

Visitors to Grand Teton have many options for where to stay, the most popular being staying inside the park itself or in nearby Jackson, Wyoming.

Staying in Grand Teton National Park

If you wish to stay within Grand Teton there are a number of options including

Staying in Jackson, Wyoming

There are many hotels to choose from in Jackson.

  • The Lexington at Jackson Hole is conveniently located just blocks from the famous Jackson town square with the elk antler arches. It’s less than 5 miles from the Grand Teton National Park entrance and offers suites with kitchens or fireplaces.
  • Cowboy Village Resort is a popular option for families traveling with children. They offer western-themed cabins with kitchenettes on the edge of the heart of Jackson.
  • Wyoming Inn of Jackson Hole is located a little outside of the center of Jackson, but it is closer to the Albertson’s, Target, and Whole Foods stores, which are great places to pick up road trip and picnic supplies. Guests love the spacious rooms and comfortable beds.

Motels between Jackson and Grand Teton National Park

roadside motel sign that says Flat Creek Inn, lodging, gas/diesel, mini-mart
Photo: Plan, Ready, Go.

We stayed at the Flat Creek Inn between Jackson and the Park, directly across from the National Elk Refuge.

The Flat Creek Inn offers a variety of room configurations. We chose a king with a full kitchen so we could eat a full breakfast in our room, easily keep supplies for picnic lunches (in the full-size refrigerator with freezer) and even make an easy dinner for ourselves after the long full day doing the park loop drive. They also have a gas station and convenience store with free coffee for guests.

It’s also next door to the Elk Refuge Inn, which gets good reviews from guests.

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