Grand Teton National Park

One day in Grand Teton National Park and Jackson (gluten free)

In June, my family rented a house for a week in Big Sky, Montana, as a home base to visit Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks. We spent our first full day exploring Grand Teton and Jackson, Wyoming. It was doable as a day trip, and I think we got a good sense of what the park has to offer. But, if you have more time to spend, there’s lots more to do.

Big Sky is about a four-hour drive from Grand Teton, so we got a very early start to the day. (If you want to spend more time in the park, I’d suggest staying closer.) We drove through Yellowstone National Park, entering the park at West Yellowstone, on our way to Grand Teton. (You can see a map here.) Our first stops were the Jackson Lake Overlook, for our first view of the Teton Range, and the Colter Bay Visitor Center, to talk to the rangers about our hike choices and to use the bathrooms.

Then, we headed straight for our first hike of the day: Jenny Lake to Inspiration Point. The parking lot fills up, so try to arrive early (before 10 a.m.). We took the shuttle boat across the lake. From there, the hike is 2.2 miles round trip. There was construction during our stay, but we were still able to see Hidden Falls on our way to Inspiration Point, which offers panoramic views of the lake. We really enjoyed this hike. (Don’t forget to put on plenty of sunscreen. I got pretty burnt.)

 

Grant Teton National Park

Grand Teton National Park

Next, we headed to the String Lake Picnic Area. We packed our lunch each day — sandwiches, apples, carrots and chips. Make sure to bring plenty of water. Our second hike was the String Lake Trail, at 3.8-mile loop around the lake that offers a range of scenery. We walked counterclockwise. You’ll want bug spray for this one — and bear spray. We didn’t pass many other hikers.

 

Grand Teton National Park

Grand Teton National Park

By the time, we finished, we were beat. We spent the rest of our time in the park pulling into turnouts to enjoy the views. We drove back the direction we came in, and then turned right at Jackson Lake Junction to head toward Moran Junction (map). We loved taking in the different views of the park. After two hikes, we still hadn’t seen many animals — until we drove past a herd of bison near Elk Ranch Flats.

I’d suggest stopping at:

  • Willow Flats Overlook
  • Oxbow Bend Turnout
  • Elk Ranch Flats Turnout
  • Snake River Overlook
  • Schwabacher Landing

Grand Teton National Park

Grand Teton National Park

Grand Teton National Park

Grand Teton National Park

 

We exited the park at Jackson and stopped for dinner at Lotus Organic. A sapphire smoothie (banana, blueberry, dates, cinnamon and flax) hit the spot after being out in the sun all day. We shared the plantain torte (amazing) and chips and guacamole. I had the paleo green bowl. Jackson certainly deserves more time, but we had a long drive back to Big Sky ahead of us. We had one more animal sighting as we were leaving: a moose in a pond.

The itinerary:

Stay:

See:

Eat:

Other options:

For more planning info, I’d recommend checking out Dirt in My Shoes, a blog by a former park ranger.

(Disclaimer: I’m not a dietitian. I’m describing my experiences in hopes of helping with your trip planning, but you’ll need to decide what feels comfortable and safe for you.)