Located in Wyoming, Grand Teton National Park is Yellowstone’s slightly lesser-known neighbor. Lesser-known doesn’t mean less to do, though. Though Yellowstone has recently experienced partial closures and entry restrictions from flooding, with the reopening of both loops of the park occurring on July 2nd, Grand Teton has remained fully open. This is a great time to head south and see what Grand Teton has to offer! Here are 6 great things to do in this national park.
1. View Wildlife
Grand Teton National Park is home to a wide variety of wildlife. You can look forward to seeing bison, deer, and likely even bears. The best times for spotting wildlife is generally at dawn or dusk, and some popular spots include Schwabacher’s Landing. When viewing wildlife, make sure to follow safety guidelines. Stay 25 yards away from any herbivores, such as bison and moose, and 100 yards away from predators such as bears.
Binoculars, as well as a zoom lens, are great ways to see animals “up close” without risking yours or their safety. If you don’t have a good camera of your own, but you still want to get some amazing shots, the nearby town of Jackson offers several remedies, including guided wildlife photography tours and cameras you can rent for the duration of your visit. Finally, because Grand Teton is in Grizzly country, buying or renting bear spray as well as staying in a group is highly recommended for hiking in the area.
2. Enjoy The Water
Another great thing to do in Grand Teton is enjoying the gorgeous waterfronts! The park offers spots with options for practically every activity. Consider a float trip down the Snake River. Groups such as Snake River Angler offer guided trips in the area. Meanwhile, while Colter Bay’s marina is closed this year due to dropping water levels, the bay is still open for swimming and can add a refreshing twist to your experience in the park.
3. Spend The Night
One of the best ways to see all that Grand Teton National Park has to offer is to spend the night in the area. While you can drive through the park in one day, doing so will mean missing much of the hiking, wildlife, and scenic views that make it so amazing. Luckily, when it comes to overnight stays, you have plenty of options! If you’re looking to enjoy plenty of amenities, consider looking into lodging at one of the park’s hotels, or staying in the nearby town of Jackson. While staying in Jackson will mean you have to drive about twenty minutes to get to the park, it’s a great option for those looking to have plenty of city comforts – Starbucks, grocery stores, cell reception – during their stay. Both of these options can be a bit pricier, though.
If you’re looking for a more budget-friendly stay, consider camping in or nearby the park. Several in-park campgrounds accept reservations. Meanwhile, Bridger-Teton National Forest, located just outside of the park, offers dispersed free camping (including car camping). With the exception of the last option (as dispersed camping will be first come first serve by its nature), planning ahead as soon as possible is the best way to ensure you’re able to secure the lodging you want.
4. Go Hiking
One of the best activities to do in Grand Teton is going for a hike! The park offers hikes for all skill levels, ranging from short day hikes to longer, overnight backpacking options. If you’re looking for a pretty beginner-friendly hike, check out Hidden Falls for a 1.2-mile hike and a boat ride. For a more advanced option, Phelps Lake Trail is 7 miles long and offers stunning views of the surrounding landscape.
5. Explore The Nearby Area
Grand Teton National Park itself is absolutely gorgeous, but the surrounding area isn’t without its draws either. As mentioned before, the nearby town of Jackson Hole offers lodging and groceries. It also offers a variety of restaurants, shops, and things to do such as (coaster). If you have some extra time, Dubois, Wyoming is a small town about an hour away that’s maintained its old west feel into the modern era.
Bridger-Teton National Forest, directly outside the park, also offers several hiking options, as well as Togwotee Pass, a popular snowmobiling destination for those looking into a winter stay. Finally, Yellowstone National Park is located on the other side of the park. While Yellowstone was experiencing closures due to unprecedented flooding, the southern loop of the park reopened on June 22nd and the northern loop, with limited services, reopened on July 2nd.
6. Enjoy The Scenery
One of the most spectacular things about Grand Teton National Park is the scenery. The Teton Range towers over the park, offering gorgeous views and breathtaking sunsets. Lakes such as Jenny Lake dot the landscape with sparkling waters, and the Snake River winds through the park. Spending some time simply taking in the expanse of nature you’re surrounded by can be a great (and peaceful) way to spend a day.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com