Grand Teton One-Day Itinerary: Amazing Things to Do

Grand Teton is one of the most beautiful national parks in the United States. And while it would be great to spend at least a few days here, I know that’s not possible for every trip. With this Grand Teton one-day itinerary, you can see the best the park has in a short amount of time.

In this article, I’ll cover my recommended itinerary for one day in the park PLUS some important tips for visiting Grand Teton, where to stay, some packing recommendations, and more. If you have more time, check out my full Grand Teton National Park itinerary.

Plan the perfect trip to Grand Teton National Park with this free printable travel planner.

image of a snow-capped mountain behind a glacier lake and all framed by pine trees
Make time for Jenny Lake on your Grand Teton one-day itinerary. Photo: Plan, Ready, Go.

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Grand Teton National Park entrance fees

All those who enter Grand Teton National Park are required to pay an entrance fee, but entrance reservations are not required. You can find up-to-date information on entrance passes on the NPS website.

If you have trips planned to at least a few National Park Service sites that charge entrance fees, consider purchasing an America the Beautiful Pass.

The standard America the Beautiful Pass is $80 per year and gives entrance to Federal recreation sites for the passholder and everyone in your car with you or up to three guests when a per-person fee is charged.

You can buy an America the Beautiful Pass ahead of time online through REI or the USGS online store. Another option is to buy it in person. We got ours at the entrance station for Badlands National Park, but not all NPS sites have passes available for purchase. Check online or call ahead to the park to see if they sell passes and have them in stock.

flat-topped mountain dominating north end of the Teton Range beyond sagebrush plains
Visiting Grand Teton in May means more snow on the mountains, but trails may be closed in places. Photo: Plan, Ready, Go.

Recommended itinerary for one day in Grand Teton National Park

Use this itinerary as the basis for planning your perfect day in Grand Teton National Park.

Travelers all have different interests and explore differently. One of the nice things about Grand Teton is that it is fairly compact, so you don’t necessarily need to do extensive planning in the same way you might for a larger park like Yellowstone or one that requires reservations like Glacier. Plan to get an early start and enjoy a wonderful day in Grand Teton National Park. 

Visitor Center

There are three Visitor Centers in Grand Teton National Park.

  • Craig Thomas Discovery & Visitor Center near the Moose Entrance. This is the “main” park visitor center.
  • Jenny Lake Visitor Center
  • Colter Bay Visitor Center

I always recommend that you stop at the Visitor Center when exploring a National Park. You can pick up a paper map, which I always love having on hand. In addition, you can talk with ranger staff about any road closures, trail conditions, special programs, and more.

And of course, what’s a National Park trip without getting a cancellation stamp your parks passport or shopping for souvenirs?

large wood visitor center with wood pillars and mountains in the distance
Take a few minutes out of your Grand Teton day trip to stop in at a Visitor Center. Photo: Plan, Ready, Go.

Chapel of the Transfiguration and Menors Ferry Historic District

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. It’s not far from the Craig Thomas Discovery & Visitor Center. The small church still holds services during the summer months. All are welcome to worship there.

Once you’ve visited the chapel, walk over to Menors Ferry Historic District. There you can visit historic buildings like an old country store and cabins. There’s also a replica of the early 20th-century ferry that used to cross the Snake River there.  

small log chapel with a wooden walkway up to the front door and the Teton Range in the background
Chapel of the Transfiguration is a must-see during your day in Grand Teton. Photo: Plan, Ready, Go.

Jenny Lake

Jenny Lake is one of the most popular spots in Grand Teton. And for good reason. It’s one of the most purely beautiful places in the entire park.

Plan to get there as early in the day as you can. Midday and weekends will be busy…sometimes even outside the peak summer season. At Jenny Lake, there are several things you can do. You can make it just a quick stop and move on to the next beautifully scenic site or you could even spend an entire day here.

  • Stop in at the Visitor Center.
  • Shop at the Jenny Lake Store.
  • Take the short trail to the lake and enjoy beautiful views from the shore.
  • Hike the Jenny Lake Trail.
  • Hike to Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point.
  • Take the shuttle boat across the lake to shorten the hiking distance to Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point.
  • Enjoy a scenic boat ride on the lake.
  • Explore the lake by canoe or kayak (rent a boat or bring your own).
three boats with green canopies and windscreens tied up at a boat dock on a lake
Cruise around Jenny Lake or take a shuttle boat to the west side of the lake. Photo: Plan, Ready, Go.

Picnic lunch

While there are places to eat in the park, I recommend that you plan to bring your lunch (and snacks also, of course). Bringing your lunch will help you save a little money on your trip so that you can travel more later.

Also, if you pack your lunch you can stop to eat as soon as you’re ready. You won’t have to take precious time from your one day in Grand Teton to hunt down a place to eat in the park or drive all the way back to Jackson. And picnicking in Grand Teton means enjoying your meal with a view like this.

view of Jackson Lake with the Teton Range beyond, framed by evergreen trees
Photo: Plan, Ready, Go.

This picnic area with a view of Jackson Lake is near the Chapel of the Sacred Heart off Teton Park Road north of Jenny Lake.

Once you’re done with your picnic meal make sure you dispose of it in the provided trash cans. Take it with you if the trash cans are full or if there are no trash cans where you’re picnicking.

Scenic driving

Okay so really when you think about it, any driving you do in Grand Teton National Park is scenic driving. No matter where you turn, there are beautiful things to see.

One of the best things to do in Grand Teton is the 42-mile scenic loop. You could easily spend a very full day making all the stops on just this drive and not much else like hiking or boating.

But if you’ve been following my itinerary so far, you haven’t yet reached some of the most iconic sites and photography spots in Grand Teton.

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
Oxbow Bend. Photo: Plan, Ready, Go.

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
Snake River Overlook. Photo: Plan, Ready, Go.

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 road of the scenic loop) 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.

mountain range reflected in still river lined with grass and trees
Schwabacher Landing. Photo: Plan, Ready, Go.

Mormon Row Historic District

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.

If you’re staying in Jackson, do these stops in reverse order as early in the day as you can manage if you’re an avid photographer.

For all the details about the loop drive, see my article about scenic driving through Grand Teton National Park.

Dinner in Jackson

At the end of your day in Grand Teton National Park, head into Jackson to explore the town and grab a great dinner.

We loved our dinner at Snake River Brewing. They don’t take reservations, so if you can get there early-ish, go for it. We appreciated the casual atmosphere and that they have good vegetarian and gluten-friendly options.

vertical sign on the side of a grey building. The sign says Brew Pub, Snake River Brewing.
Photo: Plan, Ready, Go.

Alternate one-day Grand Teton itinerary ideas

If you are an avid hiker, consider adjusting your one-day Grand Teton itinerary to make room to do one or more of these great hikes in Grand Teton.

  • Hike the String Lake Loop
  • Hike to Leigh Lake
  • Hike to Taggart Lake
  • Do the Taggart Lake – Bradley Lake Loop

If you are an avid photographer… 

  • Start your day with sunrise at the Mormon Row Historic district then head to
  • Schwabacher Landing
  • Snake River Overlook
  • Oxbow Bend

If you really enjoy scenic drives…

  • Do the short Jenny Lake Road drive
  • Drive up the Signal Mountain Summit Road
  • Drive up into the northern section of the park to enjoy scenic overlooks along Jackson Lake. If you came from Yellowstone to Grand Teton, you’ve already driven this road. 
view of the Teton mountains beyond willow trees and a wet meadow with Jackson Lake visible at the horizon
The Willow Flats Overlook is in the north end of Grand Teton National Park, not on the scenic loop drive. Photo: Plan, Ready, Go.

Getting to Grand Teton National Park

The nearest airport is Jackson Hole Airport (JAC), which is within the boundary of the park. The following airlines all offer year-round flights to JAC: American, Delta, United, and Alaska. JAC is about 9 miles north of the town of Jackson, Wyoming.

The closest larger airports to Grand Teton are Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC) and Denver (DEN) International Airport. SLC is 280 miles from Jackson, Wyoming. DEN is over 500 miles from Jackson, but it is the closest major hub airport to both Grand Teton and Yellowstone.

PRO TIP: If you have flexible travel dates you need to check out Going (formerly Scott’s Cheap Flights). You get amazing flight deals sent straight to your inbox with instructions on how to book directly with the airlines. Check out Going here. Going is my favorite way to find great travel deals. 

There are four road entrances to Grand Teton, but they are not all open all year round. It’s important to check on road status before you set off on your trip.

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 and dress in layers.

I recommend that you ask ranger staff about trail conditions before starting hikes in the late spring (including into June). Trails can definitely be snowy and/or muddy through the end of May. And remember to follow posted signs related to bear activity closures.

July/August is the peak summer season in Grand Teton. You can expect good weather, but this is also when the crowds will be the biggest. And as we talked about above, Grand Teton has been growing in popularity in recent years.

In September, most American schools are back in session (so crowds should be dwindling) but the colder weather hasn’t really arrived yet. The average daily high temperature in September in Jackson Hole is about 70F.

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.

What to pack for a trip to Grand Teton

GuideAlong: With GuideAlong, it’s like having an expert tour guide right in your car with you, helping you make your turns, telling you interesting stories along the way and providing great information about what you’re seeing as you drive through Grand Teton National Park.

Comfortable hiking shoes: I love my Keen Terradora II waterproof hiking shoes. They go with me on every trip and trail. I can’t imagine traveling to a National Park without them. Check them out on Amazon here.

Backpack: I love hiking with my Osprey Daylite Plus. It holds everything you need for a short or day hike and is versatile enough for general travel and comes in some fun colors. There’s a separate internal pocket area that can hold a small laptop or hydration bladder. There are also two external water bottle holder pockets. Check the price on Amazon here.

Waterproof rain shell: Columbia makes a couple of options that I really love for travel.

  • The Columbia Arcadia II jacket is a great lightweight, packable layer to take with you in your backpack or toss in the backseat of your car so you have it on hand. It’s waterproof and breathable. Check out the Arcadia II on Amazon.
  • If you need something warmer, check out the Bugaboo II Fleece Interchange jacket from Columbia. They make both a men’s and women’s version and I love mine so much. Check the Bugaboo II price on Amazon here.
    • The outer layer is waterproof, breathable, and warmer than the Arcadia II. It has a great hood.
    • The inner layer is thermal-reflective fleece.
    • You can wear each layer separately or zip in the fleece layer for a cozy, warm, and waterproof coat.

Hiking pants: You don’t have to buy expensive gear, but I love my Kuhl Freeflex Roll-up pants. They are so so so comfortable to me. I love that they have a regular waste band but also an internal drawstring so you can adjust the fit. They also feature quick-drying, water-resistant, sun-protection fabric. Again, super comfortable.

Water bottle or hydration bladder: Whether driving or hiking, it’s so important to have enough water with you, especially at elevation. Plan to carry at least 1 liter of water per 2 hours of moderate hiking.

Where to stay when visiting Grand Teton National Park

There are a number of options to choose from when visiting Grand Teton National Park. You can certainly stay inside the park. There is also the nearby town of Jackson, Wyoming.

Staying inside Grand Teton National Park

There are some great options inside the park if that’s what you would like to do, including:

Staying in Jackson, Wyoming

Jackson has plenty of hotels and inns to choose from with a wide variety of amenities and fitting a range of travel budgets.

  • The Lexington at Jackson Hole is very close to the heart of town and the famous Jackson town square. Grand Teton is less than five miles away. They offer suites with kitchens or fireplaces.
  • Cowboy Village Resort is a popular option. You can get a western-themed cabin with a kitchenette, and it’s near the center of Jackson.
  • Wyoming Inn of Jackson Hole is located a little outside of the center of Jackson, but still in town. It is closer to the Albertson’s, Target, and Whole Foods stores than some others. Guests love the spacious rooms and comfortable beds.
Large archway made of white elk antlers on a stone base over a wooden walkway at a town square.
Jackson, Wyoming, town square. Photo: Plan, Ready, Go.

Motels between Jackson and Grand Teton National Park

You can get a lot of hotel room for the money staying outside of Jackson in the area between the town and the park entrance.

We chose to stay at Flat Creek Inn. Just across the street is the huge and beautiful National Elk Refuge. 

The Flat Creek Inn has a few different kinds of rooms. We stayed in a king room that had a full kitchen with a small dining area and a living room area.

This allowed us the ability to cook a full breakfast before exploring the park for the day. Plus we had a full-size refrigerator/freezer to keep our picnic supplies for lunches. They also have a gas station and convenience store with free coffee for guests.

Another motel in this area that’s popular with guests is the Elk Refuge Inn.

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