When you think of the most popular National Parks, often you hear Yellowstone, Yosemite and Zion but you don’t often hear of the Grand Tetons. We had originally planned on breezing through the Tetons on our way to Yellowstone but when we arrived to this park, we quickly fell in love and ended up staying a week. That being said, if you only have one day to see the park, here’s a guide for how to make the most of your time!
7am (Or Earlier!) – Mormon Row
One of the most iconic photos of the Grand Tetons is the barn in front of the mountains on Mormon Row. I guarantee you will not have this place to yourself especially if you aim for the beautiful golden hour of the morning as the sun rises and hits the mountains. Despite it’s popularity, it is worth venturing to. I recommend starting your day out with stop if you can wake up early enough.
8am – Enter the Park
Depending on where you are staying or coming from, you’ll have to venture out of the park a bit to circle back and hit the entrance sign of the park located on Highway 287. If you’re like me and love to take photos with every National Park sign, then this one feels a little out of the way but worth circling back to.
There are two entrances into the park and one main road that ones from one side to the other. Enter from the Moran entrance bright and early to try to beat the crowds. It costs $35 a vehicle or you can purchase an annual America the Beautiful pass for$80 to get yourself in to all the National Parks for a whole year.
8:30am – Photos Ops and Visitor’s Centers
It may seem tempting to stop at the first few photo ops but I promise they get better the farther you go in. If you’re going to stop at one, I recommend joining the crowds at Oxbow Bend. Depending on the time of day you may get to see moose or elk here, but the mountains over the river are what make the shot iconic.
From there, I recommend cruising over to the Colter Bay visitor’s center. This is the smaller one so you’ll have less crowds in order to get your passport stamps or purchases. Here you’ll also be able to speak to a ranger and get the maps and advice you’ll need to plan out your time!
ProTip: Keep an eye out as you’re driving to and from this Visitor’s Center because we got to see a rare black wolf in this area!
10am – Signal Mountain Lodge and Campground
A lot of people stopped at Jackson Lake Dam for photos ops but the lake is so dried up that you can probably skip it. The next stop you’ll want to make is Signal Mountain Lodge and Campground. This area has a cute little store you can walk around and pick up any grocery items you may need. Then park and walk down to the waterfront for a couple cool photos of the dock area and the mountains in the background.
11am – Signal Mountain Summit
For a fun detour, take a left off of Teton Park rd and climb the winding road up to the top of Signal Mountain. It can be narrow at times so pull in your mirrors if you can but the view at the top is worth it. Unlike many of the other view points in the park, this one looks out East, away from the Tetons. We were camped that direction so we had a fun time trying to look for our camper!
Noon – Lunch with a View
As you continue down the road through the park, there are ample pull offs with unreal views of the mountains. This section of the park will make you say wow over and over again as you wind closer to the mountains. We picked a parking lot to pull over in and make some lunch on the tailgate. Many other people were doing the same thing because what better way to enjoy lunch than with a view of the Grand Tetons!
1pm – Jenny Lake
This stop may be a bit hit or miss considering it’s by far the most popular area in the park. We lucked out and got a spot up near the front as someone else was pulling out but you may have to park and walk a bit. The Jenny Lake area has a couple stores, a visitor’s center, a boat launch and one of the prettiest lakes you’ll ever lay your eyes upon! Make sure you spend ample time exploring the shore because the views of the mountain close up are unreal.
If you have time for a hike, you can hike clockwise around Jenny Lake and then take the ferry back across the lake rather than circling the entire lake. We saved this hike for another day but if you only have one day, I’d recommend trying to squeeze this one in!
3pm – Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center
Once you leave Jenny Lake, make sure to keep an eye out for one of my favorite photo ops along the road. I sadly can’t remember the name of the turn-out but the wooden fence on the side of the road makes for some great photos in front of the Grand Tetons.
From there, I recommend stopping at the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center! Even though you hit the visitor’s center on the other side of the park, this one offers up some great exhibits of the animals you make see around the park. The store was a bit picked over but the information you’ll learn there is well worth the stop.
4pm – Jackson Hole, Wyoming
You have successful explore the Grand Teton National Park in one day and deserve a beer. Make the drive out to Jackson Hole and head to Snake River Brewing Company for a flight and some lawn games. This place was packed even in September when we went so try to beat the dinner rush if you can! A couple beers will hold you over while you decide where to go for dinner.
Jackson Hole has ample options for dinner, but prepare to pay a bit more than usual. We treated ourselves to some BBQ at Bubba’s BBQ which hit the spot while staying within our budget. If you’re looking for something a bit more higher end, you can enjoy some comfort food at Cafe Genevieve or Thai food and beer at Thai Me Up! Lastly, Snake River Grille is available if you’re REALLY going for gold with your dining options after exploring the Grand Tetons!
By now, if you’re not ready to call it a night, Jackson has plenty of nightlife options. Grab a wine at Bin22 or join the tourists at and pull up a saddle barstool at the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar. These are only a couple of the many options to keep yourself busy in Jackson Hole!
Grand Teton National Park deserves weeks of time to explore but if you only have 24 hours, you can still see the park and explore the surrounding town as well. The best views are stunning right from the comfort of your car so you won’t miss a beat!
Have you experienced Grand Teton National Park? Want to plan a trip of your own in the future, check out InMotion Adventures to see what I can do for you! Until next time…