Last Updated on August 14, 2022
Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming is home to one of the most beautiful mountain ranges in the US. There is so much to do there but this Grand Teton 2 Day Itinerary will help you narrow down the best hikes and activities to make the most of your time in the park while enjoying every minute of it.
This 2 Day Grand Teton Itinerary is perfect for enjoying the highlights of the park without being too rushed. You will get to see famous sights, hike some beautiful trails, look for wildlife, and enjoy the town of Jackson nearby.
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Is Grand Teton Worth Visiting?
Absolutely! It is home to an incredible mountain range that is a photographer’s paradise. It is also great for avid hikers, those that love the outdoors, and anyone wanting to see wildlife. Whether you hike or not, Grand Teton National Park is definitely worth visiting.
How Many Days Should You Spend in Grand Teton National Park?
At least two days, but plan for more if you want to do longer hikes. With two days you can see the highlights of the park and still get to do some hiking on shorter trails. Many of the more famous hikes are longer and would require staying 3 days or more in order to still see the other highlights of the park.
Is Yellowstone or Grand Teton Better?
Both parks are very unique and have amazing scenery, so it is hard to choose one over the other. Yellowstone is wide-open and has many unique geothermal features. Grand Teton is all about the incredible mountain ranges, beautiful lakes and rivers, and the small town of Jackson. Thankfully they are very close together so you can easily see both national parks in one wonderful trip.
Directions to Grand Teton National Park
Grand Teton National Park is just outside of Jackson, Wyoming, which does have an airport, but it is small. Flying into Salt Lake City, Utah or Bozeman, Montana are great alternatives with bigger airports, which means more flight and rental car choices.
Salt Lake City to Grand Teton National Park
No matter which route you take from Salt Lake City International Airport to Grand Teton National Park, it will be extremely beautiful. There are three main ways to get there that are all just over five hours, covering about 302 miles (486 km.) Taking the route through Idaho Falls and Victor will allow you to see the Tetons from the back side, which is amazing, but the drive in through Alpine and Jackson is just as impressive in its own way. You cannot go wrong with any of them.
Bozeman to Grand Teton National Park
From the Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport to Grand Teton National Park, it is a 4.5 hour drive, about 196 miles (325 km), so it is a bit shorter than flying in from Salt Lake City. If you fly into Bozeman, you can drive through Yellowstone to get to Jackson and Grand Teton National Park. If you plan to visit both parks, this would probably be your best bet and it will be just as beautiful as the drive from Salt Lake. You cannot drive through Yellowstone National Park in the winter as the some of the park roads will close.
Ultimate Grand Teton 2 Day Itinerary
Having two whole days in Grand Teton National Park is perfect because you will be able to see and do a lot without having to rush through everything. You will be able to take your time and enjoy everything.
Day 1 of 2 Days in Grand Teton National Park Itinerary
Grand Teton can be very popular for visitors in the summer, but we’ve designed the itinerary to minimize crowds for the most enjoyment possible during your 2 days in Grand Teton National Park.
Sunrise at Oxbow Bend
Oxbow Bend is one of the most stunning views in the whole park and one of the best places to enjoy sunrise. From this overlook, you will get to enjoy a beautiful view of Mt. Moran and the mountain reflection in the Snake River below. No matter the time of year you visit, this is a must-see on any Grand Teton National Park itinerary.
The draw here is not so much watching the sunrise above the horizon, but instead watching the first rays of light hit the mountain tops in the distance. The winding Snake River in the foreground just adds to the beauty of this amazing viewpoint.
Location on Google Maps: Oxbow Bend
What to Bring: A sweater or jacket because mornings can be chilly and patience as you jockey for position amongst the other photographers. If you want to fit in with all of the other photographers, a tripod is a must to get that perfectly sharp photo.
Helpful Tips: This is an extremely popular spot with photographers and you should arrive at least 20 minutes before sunrise if you want a good viewpoint, and even earlier if you plan to set up a tripod and claim ‘your spot.’
Take in the Stunning Jackson Lake
Jackson Lake is the biggest lake in Grand Teton National Park so you have to at least stop by to see it sometime during your Grand Teton 2 Day Itinerary. There is quite a bit in this area as far as facilities go and there are amazing views of the Teton Range across the lake. The Lakeshore Trail is an easy 2.2 mi (3.5 km) hike right along the shores of Jackson Lake. Alternatively, for a more difficult hike, there is the 9.5 mi (15.3 km) Hermitage Point Trail that runs through forests, meadows, and wetlands with views of Jackson Lake and the Tetons throughout the hike.
Recently, Jackson Lake has had a much lower water level than previous years. Hopefully it refills to its former glory very soon!
Location on Google Maps: Colter Bay Village
Facilities: Picnic area, store, food, camping, gas, boating, horseback riding is available at multiple points around Jackson Lake.
What to Bring: Nothing particular unless you plan to hike, kayak, or go horseback riding.
Helpful Tips: If you want to kayak or paddle board, Jackson Lake is great for that. They can be rented in Colter Bay Village. There is also a lot of hiking here if you want to hit the trails on your first day in Grand Teton.
Stop by the Jackson Lake Dam
Jackson Lake is actually a natural lake with a depth of 400 feet (121 m) with a dam built on top. The Jackson Lake Dam was first built as a log crib dam in 1906, but it soon failed in 1910. In 1916, it was replaced with an earthen dam which raised the lake level 39 feet (11 m) when the channel was dredged further downstream. In the 1980s, the dam was reinforced to withstand a Magnitude 7.5 earthquake. This is an interesting stop with a short informative trail.
Location on Google Maps: Jackson Lake Dam
Facilities: Picnic area
Teton Park Road Viewpoint
The Mount Moran turnout is a stop right along the Teton Park Road with an incredible view of Mount Moran directly across from you. This is a nice quick stop with a beautiful view of one of the famous Mount Moran, named after the landscape painter Thomas Moran.
Location on Google Maps: Mount Moran Turnout
What to Bring: Nothing particular
Helpful Tips: This is a great place to get an iconic shot straight down the road with the mountains in the background. The Teton Park Road can get quite busy, especially during high season and weekends, so be patient to get your shot.
Visit Jenny Lake
Jenny Lake is one of the famous lakes in the park and cannot be missed on any Grand Teton National itinerary. The main visitor center is near the lake and the campground here is one of the most sought after. On the opposite side, there is the Jenny Lake Lodge and between them is a shuttle boat to take you across the lake.
If you want to do more than enjoy the views of the lake and have time, consider hiking some or all of the Jenny Lake Loop Trail, a moderate 7.9 mile (12.7 km) that loops around the entire lake. You will get to enjoy views of the sprawling Jenny Lake as well as the magnificent Teton Range.
Location on Google Maps: Jenny Lake Visitor Center
Facilities: Visitor center, campground
What to Bring: Nothing particular here unless you are hiking, then bear spray, water, and snacks
Helpful Tips: Jenny Lake can be accessed both from the Jenny Lake Visitor Center and the Jenny Lake Lodge/String Lake area. You can also hike between both. This would be a great area to enjoy the sunset.
Kick Back in Jackson
Finish day one of your Grand Teton 2 Day Itinerary by enjoying a hearty burger at Liberty Burger or a fresh made pizza at Hand Fire Pizza in downtown Jackson. If you are in town early enough, take a walk around to see the shops and art galleries. It is a great downtown that is very walkable, especially if you are staying in a hotel right near town. After dinner, saddle up at the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar for a drink or two.
Location on Google Maps: Jackson
Hours: Liberty Burger – 11:30 AM to 10:00 PM, Hand Fire Pizza – 11:30 AM to 9:00 PM
Day 2 of 2 Days in Grand Teton National Park Itinerary
On the second day of your 2 Day Grand Teton National Park Itinerary you’ll be hitting the trails, enjoying the history of the park, and looking for wildlife at the National Elk Refuge. Watching a magical sunrise over the Tetons is optional, but highly recommended. It’s also a great way to avoid some crowds you may find later in the day on the trails.
Get Up Early and Hike
There are many great hikes to choose from depending on your ability or desire to hike a long distance, but we recommend the Cascade Canyon Trail, Taggart Lake Loop, or to combine the Taggart Lake and Bradley Lake trails. You will want to start your hikes early to avoid the crowds later in the day and possible afternoon storms which could be dangerous with lightning and rain make hiking much more uncomfortable.
Cascade Canyon Trail
The Cascade Canyon Trail is one of the most popular hiking areas in the park and is quite long, but there are a few different ways to experience it. Hidden Falls, a 100 foot (30 m) waterfall, is one of the main destinations on this trail so we will start with that.
There are three starting options to hike to Hidden Falls and the rest of Cascade Canyon: The Jenny Lake Trailhead near the visitor center, the shuttle boat, and the Jenny Lake Lodge at the String Lake Trailhead. From Jenny Lake it is 4.9 miles (7.8 km), from the shuttle boat drop off it is 1.1 miles (1.7 km), and from String Lake it is 4.6 miles (7.4 km) but all are easy to follow trails with minimal difficulty. If you hike either of the longer trails, you will get to enjoy stunning views across Jenny Lake as you hike.
The full Cascade Canyon Trail is much longer but just as beautiful and beyond Hidden Falls it will likely be much less busy the further you hike. Distances may vary slightly but the following are very close. From Jenny Lake to the end of Cascade Canyon it is about 13.5 miles (21.7 km), from the shuttle boat it is about 9.4 miles (15.1 km), and from String Lake is about 12.5 miles (20.1 km).
All of these routes are moderately difficult. Along the trail you follow Cascade Creek, get views of the towering peaks around you, and may even see some moose or bears. This is a long trail but you can turn around at any point making it as long as you would like.
Location on Google Maps: Cascade Canyon Trailhead (via the shuttle boat), String Lake Trailhead, Jenny Lake Trailhead
Facilities: None via shuttle boat, Jenny Lake Lodge and Food via String Lake Trailhead, Jenny Lake Visitor Center via Jenny Lake Trailhead
What to Bring: Bear spray, snacks, water
Helpful Tips: There are a lot of options for hiking this area and some of them are very long, but taking the shuttle boat across Jenny Lake can help cut down on hiking time allowing you to hike further into Cascade Canyon. The walk around Jenny Lake, from either side, is beautiful though so no matter which route you take, you cannot go wrong. The shuttle boat is first-come, first-served and tickets are bought at the boat dock for $20 USD roundtrip or $12 USD one way for adults. Children and senior discounts are available.
Taggart Lake Loop (and combination with Bradley Lake)
There are two options for hiking here, the 3.8 mile (6.1 km) Taggart Lake Loop and the 5.6 mile (9 km) Taggart Lake/Bradley Lake Loop. Just hiking the Taggart Lake Loop is easy, but adding on Bradley Lake makes it more moderate. Both alpine lakes are beautiful and offer views of the lakes with the Teton Range behind them. You cannot go wrong with either and if you are feeling very determined, the trail continues past Bradley Lake but it does get much more strenuous.
Location on Google Maps: Taggart Lake Trailhead
What to Bring: Bear spray
Helpful Tips: If you do not mind the slightly longer hike and effort, seeing Bradley Lake is definitely worth it for its beauty and the tranquility of the area.
Mormon Row Historic District
After your morning hiking, head out to Mormon Row Historic District. This is one of the most famous views in the park where the Tetons provide a stunning backdrop for the historic barns and homesteads. This is a must-see stop on your 2 Day Grand Teton National Park itinerary, especially if you are a photographer or history buff.
Mormon homesteaders were sent out from Salt Lake City to establish new communities and settled in the Gros Ventre area where they built 27 homesteads. Despite the harsh conditions of the area, the settlers grew crops with irrigation, dug ditches by hand and horse, and built levees and dikes to funnel water to their fields.
There are two barns left, but the John Moulton Barn is the most famous of the two. It took over 30 years to build this barn and is still standing to this day. The Chambers Homestead is the most extensive complex left on Mormon Row and the windmill they used to power their home in 1946 is still there as well. This location is fantastic to learn about the earlier homesteaders to the region.
Location on Google Maps: Mormon Row
What to Bring: Nothing particular
Helpful Tips: This area can get very busy on weekends so be patient and respectful of others trying to photograph the area as well.
Visit the National Elk Refuge
Between Jackson and Grand Teton National Park is the National Elk Refuge, a great place to do some wildlife watching. From early fall to late spring, elk can be seen in the refuge, but the rest of the year they live up in the surrounding mountains. In the summer, pronghorn (an antelope-like animal) and badgers are often seen along the refuge road.
There is a 5.9 mile (9.4 km) hiking trail that is open but that is the only one. In the fall and winter months, bald eagles, big horn sheep, and coyotes can also be seen here quite often. From mid-December to early-April, sleigh rides are offered through the refuge allowing you to get pretty close to the elk.
Location on Google Maps: National Elk Refuge
Cost: Free to enter, $30 USD for a winter sleigh ride.
What to Bring: Binoculars are a great item to bring to aid in spotting and studying wildlife here.
Best Time to Visit Grand Teton National Park
Grand Teton National Park is beautiful year-round but some times of year are better for certain activities, even in nearby Jackson. No matter when you go, it will be fun but this will help you know what to expect. Opening and closing dates vary quite a bit around the park but you can find all of those dates on the park website.
Winter in Grand Teton National Park
Winter in Grand Teton National Park is very beautiful and there are far less crowds than the summer, but access to the park is very limited and no services in the park are available. The area gets a lot of snow and the main scenic road through the park is closed, but Highway 191, the main highway connecting Yellowstone and Jackson, is open. Roads in and out of Jackson can (and do) close occasionally in the winter after a bad snowstorm. There is no hiking in the winter but you can snowshoe and cross-country ski in some areas.
If you want to ski or snowboard, the whole valley of Jackson Hole is one of the best places to do that, too. You can still see plenty of wildlife in the winter, but you will not see any bears. If you do not like the cold or snow, avoid visiting Grand Teton National Park in the winter!
Spring in Grand Teton National Park
As the park starts to thaw and the bears start to come out, the weather will warm up but it can be a little all over the place. A late spring snow isn’t entirely uncommon and nights can still be quite chilly. Depending on how early you visit, you still may not be able to access a lot of the park from the winter closures.
Things start to open back up in mid-April but a lot opens in mid- to late-May, some things not even until June. It will still be very pretty, but the trees may still be bare and it could be pretty muddy. It is not a bad time to visit but if you want to visit in the shoulder season, fall would be the better option.
Summer in Grand Teton National Park
Summer is the most popular, and busiest time to visit Grand Teton National Park. All services are available in the summer. If you want to hike, this is the best time of year for that. Temperatures are usually in the 70s F (21 C) but can reach the 80s F (27 C) but it can still get cool at night, down to around 40 F (5 C), and it may rain occasionally. There is a reason this is the most popular time to visit the park.
Fall in Grand Teton National Park
Fall is definitely the next best time to visit the park because the weather will be nice and cool, though it can get to or below freezing at night, and you will be able to see the park with the leaves changing color, which is always beautiful. There is a small chance for some snow but weather is generally quite nice. It will not be as busy as summer but you can still enjoy plenty of hiking. Closing dates vary by area of the park but things generally close in mid-September, some at the end of October. It is best to check for the specific places you would like to go.
Best Place to Stay Near Grand Teton National Park
Grand Teton National Park is easily accessible from Jackson, Wyoming making it the perfect place to base yourself for your Grand Teton 2 Day Itinerary. It is a charming little town, but is not budget friendly in the summer. In the winter it is much more affordable. Wherever you end up staying, camping or in a hotel, it will be best to book in advance, especially if you are on more of a budget.
Hotels in Jackson Hole near Grand Teton National Park
Jackson Hole in the summer is not a budget friendly destination so you will want to save up for this or camp instead. A winter visit does not allow for hiking, but is much more affordable. The Antler Inn is a no-frills option with a log cabin feel and a close proximity to downtown so it is easy to walk around. The Rustic Inn Creekside is a higher-end log cabin option on the other side of town with both hotel rooms and cabins and a spa onsite.
If you do not mind staying outside of Jackson, Togwotee Mountain Lodge is a great choice (it is pronounced like TOE-gah-tee). It is technically in Moran but is up the mountain along Togwotee Pass. They have cabins and regular rooms, a restaurant, a bar, and even offer horseback riding in the summer as well as snowmobiles and dog sledding in the winter.
Grand Teton National Park Camping
There are six campgrounds in Grand Teton National Park with a total of 972 sites spilt between tent, RV, camper cabin, and tent cabin. They all must be reserved online up to six months in advance. Since it is a popular park, they will fill up fast. You will want to be online and ready as soon as they become available. They are all closed in the winter.
The Gros Ventre, Jenny Lake, and Colter Bay campgrounds are the biggest and most popular campgrounds but all six have varying opening and closing dates. Gros Ventre opens the earliest, at the end of April, the rest are mid-May to mid-June. Signal Mountain Campground closes last, in mid-October, while the others close from late-September to early-October. Full opening and closing dates of all campgrounds and other park service can be found here.
The Next Trip Top 5 Tips for a 2 Days in Grand Teton National Park Itinerary
These tips are sure to make your trip to Grand Teton National Park perfect. Tip number one is the most important, particularly for your own safety while hiking, but the rest will make your trip much more enjoyable.
This is Bear Country
Be prepared for hiking in bear country with a bear bell, bear spray, and common sense. Do not approach bears (or any other wildlife), especially if it is a sow (mom) with cubs. Be bear aware, especially if you are camping and keep all food in bear boxes at the campsite, bear canisters, or bear bags. Keep the bear spray where you can reach it if you are hiking and do not spray it indoors. It is more like pepper spray than bug spray so do not spray it on yourself like you would bug spray.
Jackson is a great resort town with a lively restaurant and bar scene. It’s worth spending one night enjoying the town. If you like art, head back to town a little early and walk around visiting the numerous galleries and shops downtown. It is a great, walkable town with tons of delicious dining choices.
The best part of Grand Teton is getting out into nature on a hike and you will want to make sure you have comfortable shoes for that. If you need ankle support or will be doing long and difficult hikes, wear good hiking boots. If you are just doing short, casual hikes, Chacos or Tevas should be fine, but make sure you like hiking in them before you get to the park.
Don’t forget that the intensity of the sun increases with elevation so be sure to bring sunscreen and to use it. A bad sunburn is not only bad for you but it can definitely make your vacation a lot less enjoyable.
Plan to Watch at Least 1 Sunrise
Catch the sun hitting the top of the Tetons first thing in the morning. Doing this at least once is a must, especially at the Oxbow Bend Overlook. If you want to watch it both days, Cunningham Cabin, the Snake River Overlook, or Mormon Row are three other great places to choose from.
Grand Teton National Park 2 Day Itinerary Summary
Did we miss any of your favorite spots in Grand Teton National Park? We hope this Grand Teton 2 Day Itinerary has you ready to hit the road running!
Be sure to pin this post to your US National Park Pinterest board so that you have the itinerary at hand when you are planning your trip.
The name of the town is Jackson, NOT Jackson Hole!
Thank you for clarifying!