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Grand Tetons Itinerary: 3 Days of Epic Adventure

Grand Tetons Itinerary: 3 Days of Epic Adventure
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Travel to Wyoming’s Grand Teton National Park for days filled with towering mountains, sparkling lakes, and epic hikes. It’s a fantastic place to leave the stress of your day-to-day life behind and instead spend some time in nature. People have widely differing opinions on how long to stay and explore Grand Teton National Park. Some people think you only need a day, while others think you need a full week. We think you need a happy medium, so we’ve made this Grand Tetons itinerary for three days. It’s perfect for a long-weekend or a slightly longer road trip stop.

The best time to visit Grand Teton National Park is in the summer – or between May and September, to be a little more specific – and we’ve planned this itinerary out for that season. That said, this plan is flexible enough that you can make use of it at any time of year.

As with all of our itineraries, it’s important to note that this guide is just a structured suggestion of what you can do during your time in Grand Teton National Park. So feel free to adjust this guide to fit your preferences, whether that means taking activities out, putting some in, or changing up the order.

*Pro Tip: Like all national parks in the United States, you’ll need to pay an entrance fee to visit Grand Teton National Park. If you plan on visiting a few different national parks during your trip, you may want to consider buying the America the Beautiful Annual National Park Pass instead.

Day 1 Grand Tetons Itinerary: Jenny Lake & Beyond

Each day of this Grand Tetons itinerary revolves around a lake. For day 1, we’re starting with the beautiful Jenny Lake

Catch the Sunrise from Schwabacher Landing

Odds are, day 1 is the day you’ll have the most energy – so it’s the best day to wake up bright and early for the sunrise. And Schwabacher Landing is where you’ll want to see it!

This mountain-and-river-filled viewpoint is magical at any time of day. But with the pink pastels and golden yellows of sunrise, it’s like an added dash of pixie dust.

Sail Across Jenny Lake

After you’ve enjoyed a picture-perfect sunrise (and maybe grabbed some breakfast), it’s time to really let the adventures begin, starting with Jenny Lake.

Jenny Lake is one of the most breathtaking lakes in the Grand Tetons – and you can sail across it! This 15-minute ride is a lovely way to see the lake and the surrounding mountains. And, as an added bonus, this boat ride will cut a few kilometres off your day of hiking. It will cost you $20 roundtrip or $12 one-way per person though. 

*Note: The availability of the Jenny Lake boat rides vary based on the time of year. In the colder months, there are no sailings at all. And in the warmer months, the start time varies by week. If the boats aren’t running by the time you get to Jenny Lake, you can always hike around the lake and then sail back on your return trip.

Hike the Cascade Canyon Trail

The Cascade Canyon Trail is quite a lengthy hike – 15.1 kilometres to be a little more exact. And with 450 metres of elevation gain, it’s not flat and easy either. It typically takes hikers about four to five hours to complete, and there’s so much to see along the way.

Starting at Jenny Lake, you’ll quickly come across a few other Grand Teton gems, like Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point. Feel free to take your time admiring each of these natural landmarks – after all, they’re some of the coolest spots on the trail!

After Inspiration Point, there aren’t any major landmarks for several kilometres. That said, there are still lovely things to see. Towering trees, berry-laden bushes, and interesting wildlife are just the beginning.

Eventually, you’ll reach the Forks, a diverging path that marks the official end to the Cascade Canyon Trail. You can either turn around here or continue with one of the Cascade Canyon Trail extensions.

OPTIONAL: Cascade Canyon Trail Extensions

While there are a couple of Cascade Canyon Trail extensions – including the Jenny Lake Hike and the Hurricane Pass Hike – we’re just going to talk about our favorite addition: the Paintbrush Canyon-Cascade Canyon Loop.

In total, the Paintbrush Canyon-Cascade Canyon Loop is 32 kilometres long, has 1,365 metres of elevation gain, and takes 12 to 14 hours. Put another way, that’s another 24.5 kilometres of trail, 915 metres of elevation gain, and 8 to 10 hours of hiking AFTER the section of the Cascade Canyon Trail you’ll have already completed – not an easy thing to do, by any means.

But if you’re up for the challenge, the Paintbrush Canyon-Cascade Canyon Loop is pretty amazing. Gorgeous mountains, bright green trees, blooming wildflowers, and juicy huckleberry bushes will keep you company along the way.

Day 2 Grand Tetons Itinerary: Colter Bay & Beyond

While we didn’t quite make time for a dip in Jenny Lake on day 1, day 2 of this Grand Tetons itinerary makes some time for swimming – this time in Colter Bay.

Hike the Hermitage Bay Point Loop Trail

Another day, another hike! This time, it’s the 15.6-kilometre Hermitage Bay Point Loop Trail. Plan about four hours into your day for this epic hike filled with everything from lakes and mountains to wildflowers and wildlife.

Go for a Swim in Colter Bay

If you’re visiting Grand Teton National Park in the summer, it’s the perfect time to go for a swim – especially after the lengthy Hermitage Bay Point Loop Trail. And while you can’t swim in every body of water in the park, you can swim in Colter Bay. Fair warning: the water will be chilly, but that can be refreshing on a hot day.

And if you’re not in the mood for a swim, that’s okay too! There are loads of other things to do at Colter Bay. You can kayak, canoe, or stand up paddleboard on the water, or simply soak up the sun from the pebble-laden beach. Either way, Colter Bay is a fantastic place to spend an afternoon.

*Note: In the colder months, heading out on the water and soaking up the sun isn’t ideal. But there are other things to do in and around Colter Bay when the temperatures dip. This area also happens to be a popular spot for birding, snowshoeing, and even cross-country skiing.

Watch the Sunset from Oxbow Bend

Finish off the second day of this Grand Tetons itinerary with a sunset viewing at Oxbow Bend. The pink, orange, and yellow sky really just adds to the beauty of this already stunning Wyoming landscape. Don’t be afraid to fill up your camera roll with dozens of spectacular shots!

Day 3 Grand Tetons Itinerary: Delta Lake & Beyond

Day 3 revolves around the incredible Delta Lake hike, which is undoubtedly one of the best hikes in Grand Teton National Park. After all, we want to end on a high note!

Start with a Visit to Mormon Row

While sunrise at Mormon Row would be epic, we get it if you just don’t have the energy to wake up early enough. After all, with two days of hiking behind you and another head of you, your body is getting a whole lot of exercise.

But if you can convince yourself to wake up early enough to catch the sunrise from Mormon Row, we would highly recommend doing so. The rustic old barn, snow-capped mountain peaks, and golden light of sunrise make for a postcard-worthy scene. 

If not, don’t worry about it too much. Mormon Row is always stunning, so even if you head over a little later in the day, you’ll still get to take in the gorgeous landscape.

Tackle the Delta Lake Hike

After wrapping up at Mormon Row, make your way to the Lupine Meadows Trailhead to start the Delta Lake Hike. This 14-kilometre (round-trip) hike has 732 metres of elevation gain and is totally worth the effort.

At the end, you’ll be greeted with thriving evergreen trees, picturesque mountain peaks, and of course the gorgeous Delta Lake Hike. It’s a fantastic place to have a little picnic lunch and refuel your energy.

*Note: While temperatures may be warm enough to swim in the Grand Tetons’ Colter Bay, that’s not the case for Delta Lake. Even on the warmest days, swimmers can get hypothermia. So simply put, if you want to go for a swim in Grand Teton National Park, stick to Colter Bay.

OPTIONAL Grand Tetons Itinerary: Delta Lake Hike Extensions

Like with many of the hikes in Grand Teton National Park, there are ways to extend your Delta Lake Hike, if you’d like.

If you have the energy to hike another 4.5 kilometres, you can see two more picture-perfect lakes: Surprise Lake and Amphitheater Lake. More snow-capped mountain and sparkling lake views for you to enjoy!

Explore the City of Jackson

Even though this itinerary is all about Grand Teton National Park, no visit to this national park would be complete without some time in Jackson. With its charming buildings and friendly people, this adorable town is just a cool place to stroll around.

You can also try some wild game at a local restaurant, pop by the National Museum of Wildlife Art, or explore Jackson Town Square. Regardless of what you choose to do, Jackson is the perfect place to wrap up your Grand Tetons itinerary.

And there you have it! The ultimate Grand Tetons itinerary! We hope this guide helps you plan your epic, one-of-a-kind vacation. And if you have any questions, drop them in the comments, and we’ll do our best to get back to you!

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