Day Trip to Grand Teton National Park

Our resident photographer, James "Newt" Perdue offers some places to visit in the Grand Teton Nat'l Park. It is a 2.5 hour beautiful drive from our park and can be visited in one fairly long day. Although you could go through Yellowstone Park to get there, a better way (and shorter) is to drive through the beautiful farm lands in Idaho. Stop in Jackson, WY on your way home for a nice dinner.

Scroll through the page to see the various places and overlooks that you can visit to enjoy a short day trip to the Tetons or click on a place name in the list below:

West Side of Tetons, Chapel and Tetons, Teton Ranches, Jenny Lake, String Lake, Jackson Lake, Oxbow Bend, Elk Ranch Flats turnoff, Snake River Overlook

All photos are copyrighted by James "Newt" Perdue.

Grand Teton Mountains from the west and Idaho farmlands

Leaving our RV Park, you head southeast through the broad farmlands of eastern Idaho with the Teton Mountain Range as a backdrop. Depending on the time of year, you'll see fields of wheat, soybeans, corn, oats and more. It is about a 2.5 hour drive to the Grand Teton Park entrance from our RV Park.

The Tetons are one of the youngest mountain ranges in North America. They have been uplifting for less than 10 million years, making them "adolescent" mountains, as compared to the "middle-aged" Rockies (50-80 million years old) or the "elderly" Appalachians (more than 300 million years old). Erosion has had much less time to work in the Tetons, comparatively, so their jagged peaks remain standing high.

Nevertheless, the Teton Range contains some of the oldest rocks in North America, similar to those exposed in other major mountain ranges of the western U.S., including the Bighorns, the Gros Ventre and Wind River ranges. A 2.7 billion-year old metamorphic rock called gneiss makes up much of the Teton Range. These rocks were formed when sea floor sediments and volcanic debris were buried up to 18 miles deep as two tectonic plates collided – similar to the collision of India and Asia today forming the Himalayas.

These magnificent jagged peaks are visible from the west until you cross them at the Teton Pass. Of course, you'll see even more breathtaking views as you descend into Grand Teton National Park.

Church with Tetons

Once you enter the National Park gate (you'll need a pass), turn right on Menor's Ferry Rd to the parking lot. There is the Chapel of the Transfiguration, a small picturesque log chapel in the community of Moose. The chapel was specifically built to frame the peaks of the Tetons through the large window behind the alter in 1925. It is often used as a place for weddings.

From here go back to the Teton Park Rd and turn right. There are two major roads to view the mountains. The Teton Park Rd takes you past the lakes where you can get out and hike a bit. Further north, you can exit onto highway 191 and drive back south stopping at various scenic turnouts on the way back home through Jackson, WY.

Teton Ranches

Driving along Teton Park Rd there are many scenic turnouts like this one. Old ranches still have horses they tend. The highest peak here is Grand Teton at 13,770 ft. Directly to the left is Middle Teton at 12,804 and then South Teton at 12,514.

Jenny Lake

Jenny Lake is considered to be a major scenic attraction in Grand Teton National Park, with many hiking trails, scenic boat rides, and quick access to the major climbing routes onto the tallest peaks of the Teton Range. Jenny Lake was formed about 12,000 years ago by glaciers pushing rock debris which carved Cascade Canyon during the last glacial maximum, forming a terminal moraine which now dams the lake. The lake is estimated to be 256 feet (78 m) deep and encompasses 1,191 acres.

There is a relatively small parking area so you might have to circle a few times to find a spot to park.

Jenny Lake Boating runs a shuttle service across the lake to connect with trailheads at Cascade Canyon. There is no reservation required as the boats run every 15 minutes.

Jenny and Jackson Lakes are the only lakes in Grand Teton National Park where motorboats are permitted; both lakes have scenic tours available.

String Lake at Jenny Lake Lodge

String lake is at the northern end of Lake Jenny. It is a small lake and very popular due to its warmer water and beaches. Swimming in String Lake is a great way to end a day hike. It is shallow and warm enough that this is the perfect family spot for anyone visiting Grand Teton Natl Park. The lake area can be pretty busy with hikers, swimmers and families stopping for a picnic from noon on so parking becomes a little busy. Best time to visit is from mid June to early September while the water is warm.

Kayaking around String Lake and Leigh Lake is very popular here. You can rent kayaks at several places in the area.

Trails to Leigh Lake start here as well as hikes around String Lake.

Oxbow Bend Snake River

After crossing the Jackson Lake Dam, you'll reach the intersection of Teton Park Rd and highway 191. Turn right and you'll follow the Snake River a bit and reach a turnout which is Oxbow Bend. This is an extremely scenic almost 180 degree turn of the Snake River in a delightful bend. Fall is best to view this because of all of the surrounding golden aspens, but anytime of the year is great. Climbing the hill above the parking lot (no trail) affords the best views.

Elk Ranch Flats Turnout

Continuing south on highway 191 from Oxbow Bend, look for the sign for the Elk Ranch Flats turnoff. Expansive views of the Tetons and often horses in the ranch pasture make for a nice picture.

Snake River Overlook

Continue south on Highway 191 and be sure to look for the "Snake River Overlook" pull-out. This is a famous view of the river and the Tetons. Ansel Adams made this famous in his iconic image from the same location. If we could turn the clock back to 1942, we could see the bend of the Snake River as Ansel Adams found it, Unfortunately, trees have since grown tall enough to obscure much of the river. Nevertheless, it is still a great view of the 3 Teton peaks.

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