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Wyoming

GRAND TETON

ESTABLISHED 1929


Whether they’re rising regally over an icy blue glacial lake or acting as background to a bright summer meadow teeming with wildflowers and wildlife, the jagged peaks of the Grand Tetons are unforgettable.

The chiseled, silver granite peaks of the 40-mile-long (66-km) Teton Range are some of the most distinctive in the entire Rocky Mountains. Nineteenth-century French fur trappers christened them les trois tétons (the three teats), and the park is named after the loftiest peak, the 13,775-ft (4,200-m) Grand Teton. Together with its sisters, it looms over the broad valley of Jackson Hole, adding a backdrop of drama and mystery to a pristine open landscape of grassy meadows and sagebrush flats, where you’re likely to come across bison, moose, elk, pronghorn deer, and perhaps even the fabled grizzly if you’re lucky.

Scenic drives wind through the park, leading to spectacular viewpoints. Teton Park Road skirts the base of the mountains, taking you to pull-offs and overlooks where you can see the mesmerizing Teton Glacier, access amazing hiking trails, and enjoy grand vistas of the Teton Range.

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From mid- to late September, you’ll find warm days, fewer crowds, and early displays of brilliant fall color.

Picture perfect

Detour onto the Jenny Lake loop road, which runs along the eastern shore, for fabulous photographs of the peaks reflected in the crystal-clear waters of this pretty lake. The staging is so superb, there’s no such thing as a bad angle. Then climb the narrow, winding Signal Mountain Summit Road for splendid panoramic views over the valley and Jackson Lake. You can then witness the wonders of Grand Teton from the John D. Rockefeller Memorial Parkway, which follows the Wild and Scenic Snake River all through the park, before it links to another iconic Rocky Mountain national park: Yellowstone.

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Friends make the leap into the clear waters of Phelps Lake

Three Hikes

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Easy ▷ Taggert Lake Trail, 3.3 miles (5.3 km) round trip. This popular out-and-back hike offers stunning views of Grand Teton and passes through aspen groves, with great scenes of fall foliage.

Moderate Phelps Lake via the Lake Creek–Woodland Trail Loop, 3.4 miles (5.5 km) round trip. You’ll have magnificent mountain views and a chance to see moose and osprey in the Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve.

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Challenging ▷ Lake Solitude, 15 miles (24 km) round trip. Inspiration Point and Hidden Falls are highlights on this strenuous all-day hike, with wildflower meadows and panoramic views of the mountains and lakes.

Historic homes

Scattered around Jackson Hole are the remains of pioneer settlements and early ranches dating from the 1890s. These rustic cabins are a romantic link to the past, surrounded by a virgin landscape that would have looked much like it does today. They’re also a photographer’s delight, adding a human scale to the grandeur of the Tetons. Head for Mormon Row, a cluster of 27 homesteads that include the picturesque, weathered Moulton Barns.

Menors Ferry Historic District is another evocative place that’s a step into the past, with its general store, smokehouse, and storehouse. See early covered wagons and a replica bullboat covered in bison hide, which mountain men used to transport furs. The humble Maud Noble Cabin, nestled under the pines, was the launchpad for the creation of the national park. Other landmarks include the Murie Ranch and the Chapel of the Transfiguration, where, instead of stained glass, a clear window frames Grand Teton above the altar.

Outdoor adventures await

This park practically drags you out of your car to become part of its glorious landscape. From thrilling water sports to brisk snow sports, you can enjoy outdoor recreation year round. Hiking trails lure you into backcountry beauty spots with tantalizing names like Paintbrush Canyon and Lake Solitude. Cyclists hit the paved pathway and pedal beneath the peaks to Jenny Lake or along the National Elk Refuge.

Here, the blue glacial lakes beckon: launch a boat into their idyllic waters from several locations, or steer a kayak between String and Leigh lakes, where the plunk of your paddle is all that interrupts the blissful calm. Sprawling Jackson Lake sees more action, but its 15 wooded islands, with backcountry campsites, provide solitary escape.

Ramp up your waterborne adventures by rafting on the Snake River, the fourth-largest in the nation. Its headwaters are in Yellowstone, and this part is a designated Wild and Scenic River. Guided float trips promise an exhilarating ride. The river is also famous for trout fishing, especially for snagging fine-spotted cutthroat trout.

When winter blankets the park with snow and silence, explore the trails on skis or snowshoes and revel in its frosty beauty. No matter when you visit, the magnificent peaks and wonderful wildlife will be there to greet you.

FOCUS ON

Lichens

In contrast to the towering peaks are tiny lichens, among the oldest living organisms on our planet. A symbiotic marriage of fungi and algae, they grow just millimeters a year, yet they play an essential part in the park’s ecosystem. Lichens thrive in harsh alpine environments, and secrete acids that break down the rocks they grow on, aiding soil formation.

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White-topped peaks and burnt orange trees provide an idyllic backdrop to an old barn house on Mormon Row

Wildlife Hotspots

Grand Teton is a veritable Noah’s Ark of Western wildlife. The swift deer and elk, the hulking bison, and the fierce grizzly bear and wolf all live here. Birders, too, are in for a rare treat.

Oxbow Bend This section of Snake River is a favorite fishing spot for bald eagles, osprey, and American white pelicans. Along the banks you might see playful river otters, moose, or even a grizzly bear.

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Antelope Flats Road Herds of pronghorn and bison spend their time grazing on the grasslands of this spectacular route. You might even spot a coyote hunting small prey here.

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Blacktail Pond With its old beaver ponds and grassy meadows, this is a prime grazing spot for elk. Keep an eye out for moose munching on willows along the river. Several species of ducks come here to feed, too.

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Moose-Wilson Road In the south corner of the park, look for one of the park’s approximately 800 moose in the willow marshes, and black bears feeding on the berry bushes along this road.

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The youngest range in the Rockies, the Grand Tetons paint a vivid picture in fall

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