This 2-day Grand Teton itinerary will give you a taste of everything this amazing area has to offer: a hike to an alpine lake nestled at the base of the Grand Teton, renting kayaks and exploring the majestic Jackson Lake, sleeping under the star-filled night sky, experiencing one of the most beautiful sunrises in the world and winding down with a cold beer and some good old-fashioned western fun! With so much to do and so many incredible activities to choose from, planning the perfect Grand Teton itinerary can be overwhelming. We’ve spent a lot of time here and if we had 2 days to spend in Grand Teton, this is exactly how we’d want to spend our time!
- About Grand Teton
- 2-day Grand Teton Itinerary Details
- Planning your trip to Grand Teton
- Other useful resources
Hi there! We’re Sarah and Matt, two nomads road tripping across the United States with our cat, Fitzgerald, making a new place our home month to month while working full time and adventuring as much as possible. We spend any free time we can get hiking, camping, backpacking, and exploring new places! We hope that our experiences will help you plan for your next adventure and inspire you to be an outlier!
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About Grand Teton National Park
With over 300,000 acres, 200 miles of hiking trails, innumerable lakes, meandering rivers, iconic mountain peaks, and pervasive wildlife, there is plenty to explore in Grand Teton National Park. From the dramatic top of the Grand Teton to the depths of Jackson Lake and everything in between, we have yet to find a place as beautiful as Grand Teton National Park. It is definitely our favorite national park!
Located about 30 minutes north of the ever-growing Jackson, WY and about an hour or so south of Yellowstone National Park, no visit to the West is complete without some time spent in the Tetons. However, with so much to do and so many great activities, it can be difficult to figure out how to best spend your time in Grand Teton National Park.
We have spent a ton of time in Grand Teton and are so excited to share one of our favorite places in the US with you! If you are struggling to figure out how to spend 2 days in Grand Teton, this article is perfect for you! We have done everything included in this article so you know it’s legit!
2-day Grand Teton itinerary details
In the following section, we’ll give you all the details on this epic 2-day Grand Teton itinerary!
Grand Teton Itinerary Map
To help you plan your weekend in Grand Teton, use the map below to see the locations of each of the items on the itinerary, organized by day. You can always download this map to reference during your visit.
There is no better way to get your introduction to Grand Teton National Park than by hiking. So naturally, day one starts with an easy/moderate day hike of your choosing (we’ll offer some recommendations but it’s totally up to you based on your interests and preferred effort level). In the afternoon, rent kayaks from the Grand Teton Lodge Company and explore Jackson Lake, the largest lake in the park with magnificent Teton views. And finally, wrap things up by spending the night camping at nearby Colter Bay campground.
Morning | short day hike of your choosing
Start your day with an easy/moderate day hike on one of the many trails throughout the park. If it were up to us, we’d head to one of the many beautiful lakes nestled in the foothills of the Teton range. But don’t bite off too big of a challenge because you’ll want to be finished hiking around 1pm to have time for kayaking on Jackson Lake. Our top choice would be Bradley and Taggart Lakes, but below are a few great options with distances and difficulty:
- Taggart Lake Loop (3.8 miles, easy)
- Bradley and Taggart Lake (6 miles, moderate)
- Leigh Lake trail: 3 – 7 miles, easy
- Phelps Lake loop trail: 7 miles, moderate
If you want to read more about these hikes or other incredible hikes in the Tetons, we’ve compiled a master list of the best hikes in Grand Teton National Park:
Afternoon | Kayaking on Jackson Lake
- Kayaking distance | 2 – 8 miles
- Total time | 2 – 3 hours
- Total cost |
- Epic-ness rating | 6
- Difficulty | easy – moderate
No Grand Teton itinerary is complete without getting out on the water! There are tons of lakes along the eastern foothills of the Tetons and even more alpine lakes at higher elevation. Of course you can’t kayak at the higher lakes, but you can easily and conveniently rent a kayak right from the shores of Jackson Lake. The Grand Tetons towers over the Western edge of the lake, making for a dramatic backdrop and one of the best views of the Tetons.
Where to Rent Kayaks
There are two main options for renting kayaks on Jackson Lake, which each come with tradeoffs:
- Grand Teton Lodge Company (GTLC) | Logistically GTLC is by far the easiest option. You can rent kayaks right on Jackson Lake so you don’t have to worry about transporting them. However, the convenience will come at a cost:
- Single kayak: $30 per hour *2-hour minimum*
- Tandem Kayak: $40 per hour *2-hour minimum*
- Canoes (hold up to 3 people): $25 per hour *2-hour minimum*
- Rendezvous River Sports: If you want to spend more time on the water, Rendezvous River Sports in Jackson offers a more affordable, but logistically complicated, option. You’ll have to transport the kayaks from Jackson to Jackson Lake yourself (about an hour drive).
- Single Kayak: $50 per day
- Tandem Kayak: $60 per day
- Canoe: $50 per day
Our two-cents | If you want to kayak for more than 2 hours and have a vehicle that can transport kayaks, it’s probably worth renting from Rendezvous. Otherwise, stick to Grand Teton Lodge Company for ease and simplicity. We went with GTLC because we didn’t want to waste time driving back into Jackson, but we’re obviously frustrated with the price tag!
Evening | Camp at Colter Bay
Of course there are plenty of fancier lodging options both in the park and in Jackson, but if you really want to experience Grand Teton, you have to sleep under the starts. Spend night one camping at Colter Bay Campground, located just a stone’s throw from the shores of Jackson Lake. Stock up at the camp store in Colter Bay Village before settling in for a night with cold beer and warm fire.
Sunset | Colter Bay Lakeshore Trail
If you are staying at Colter Bay campground, this easy 2.5 mile hike is a must do at sunset. Even if you don’t have the energy for 2.5 miles, just do as much of the trail as you can, because you do not want to miss one of the most magnificent sunsets you will every experience.
There’s a small rocky beach area at the tip of the peninsula, which makes for the perfect spot to watch the sunset over Jackson Lake in peace and solitude. We saw one other couple the entire night and basically had the view to ourselves, while most people stick to the Colter Bay Beach.
From the Colter Bay Campground you can access the Lakeshore Trail via several short trails through the woods, leading towards the water.
Day two kicks off early with a sunrise you won’t want to miss, followed by one of the most epic hikes in the Tetons! Wind down the afternoon with a cold beer and enjoy some western fun at the Teton Valley rodeo.
Morning | Sunrise at Schwabacher’s Landing
In case you haven’t caught on by now, the sunrises and sunsets are kind of unbelievable in Grand Teton. Schwabacher’s Landing is one of the most popular viewpoints in the park, offering gorgeous sunrise views of the pink sun slowly warm the cold, icy Tetons. Even better, on a calm morning, the entire scene is perfectly reflected onto the still waters of the Snake River.
The most popular viewpoint from this trail (which you’ve almost surely seen in photos, like the one below) is located just a few minutes from the trailhead, so expect heavy crowds. It’s certainly worth stopping here for a photo, but if you continue past this spot the crowds start to thin out and the views remain just as epic. The trail continues for another 0.8 miles or so until you reach the Snake River.
Morning | Hike Delta Lake
- Hiking distance | 7.2 miles
- Elevation gain | 2250 feet
- Total time | 4 – 6 hours
- Epic-ness rating | 9
- Difficulty | hard
- Easily combine with | Surprise and Amphitheater Lakes
Find this hike on AllTrails: Delta Lake via Lupine Meadows Access
If we had to pick just one day hike in the Grand Tetons, it would absolutely be Delta Lake, a cerulean-colored lake with a direct view of the Grand Tetons. With the glaciers clinging to the base of the Grand Tetons as they are slowly pulled by melting ice into the cold waters of Delta Lake is one of the most iconic Teton Views.
Be warned, the hike to Delta Lake is steep and the final quarter-mile isn’t an official trail and isn’t maintained by the park. This ain’t no walk in the park! Nonetheless, Delta Lake has become an increasingly popular destination in the Tetons, so don’t expect to have it to yourself.
The hike to Delta Lake shares much of the trail to Surprise and Amphitheater Lakes, making these three lakes easy to combine into one 11.5 mile hike if you are looking for something more challenging.
You can read more about the hike to Delta Lake in our complete guide:
Afternoon | Grab a beer at Teton Brewing Company
After two days of adventuring and long, steep climb to Delta Lake, you’ve earned an afternoon to relax! Located just across the Teton Pass about 30 minutes from Jackson, we highly recommend taking a trip to Teton Brewing Company, especially if you are staying in the Teton Valley on night two (as we recommend below). Their Teton Range Juicy IPA and Palisades Creek Hazy IPA quickly became a favorites of “go-to’s”.
Tip: If you can’t make it to the brewery, Teton Brewing Co. cans are sold at most grocery stores in the area. Grab a six-pack and enjoy anywhere!
Evening | Teton Valley Rodeo
For a little taste of life in the West, spend the evening at the Teton Valley Rodeo. It’s held every Friday night during the summer at the Teton Valley Fairgrounds just minutes from Driggs, Idaho. Entrance fees are $10 per adult and $5 per child.
Don’t expect anything fancy, but that is what is great about the rodeo. It is tons of family fun as local kids compete in the classic rodeo events like barrel races, sheep roping, and steer riding!.There are a few food vendors selling basics like burgers and french fries, and you can also pack your own snacks (and beer!) to bring in with you. And of course, far in the distance you can still see the towering Grand Teton!
Teton Valley, Idaho is an increasingly popular area as Jackson gets more and more crowded and expensive. Depending on your next destination, consider spending night two in Victor, Driggs, or Tetonia, Idaho. There should be plenty of AirBnB and VRBO options!
Grand Teton itinerary logistics
Getting to Grand Teton National Park
Grand Teton National Park is conveniently located between the bustling mountain town of Jackson, Wyoming, to the south and Yellowstone National Park to the north.
The closest airport to Grand Teton is in Jackson, but there are few direct flights and expect to pay a bit extra for the convenience. You can also fly into Idaho Falls, which is about two hours to the west or Salt Lake City, which is a little less than five hours to the south.
7-Day Pass (per car) | $35
Annual Pass | $80
To enter Grand Teton National Park, you’ll have to purchase a $35 per car pass that is valid for 7 days. You also have the option to purchase an annual US National Parks Pass for $80, which is worthwhile if you plan to visit 3 or more national parks over the next year.
Where to stay near Grand Teton
Most people visiting Grand Teton opt to stay in Jackson or in the park either at one of the campgrounds or lodging options. For more info on lodging in the park, you can visit the NPS website here.
If you don’t want to camp, Jackson, Wyoming is the closest and most convenient place to stay while visiting Grand Teton National Park. Located just 15 minutes south of the main entrance to Grand Teton, Jackson is a cute town with many fancy restaurants and shopping options. It’s a great place to splurge on a nice dinner or spend an afternoon window shopping and people watching.
However, the convenience of Jackson’s located will come at a cost. It’s super expensive to sleep (and eat…) here, and for that reason we tend to stay across the Idaho border in the Teton Valley instead.
Teton Valley, Idaho
The city of Jackson is trendy, expensive, and crowded. If you want to save a bit of money and escape some of the touristy crowds, while still enjoying mountain views and easy access to Grand Teton and Yellowstone, consider staying just over the border in the Teton Valley of Idaho. We love the towns of Victor, Driggs, and Tetonia and definitely recommend staying in one of the many AirBnbs (think cute cabins!) on the western side of the mountains.
The Teton Valley is a bit farther from Grand Teton National Park than Jackson, but still quite manageable for day trips into the park. Depending on exactly where you stay, it’s about a 40 minute to one hour drive to the main southern entrance of Grand Teton.
Staying in Teton Valley is also convenient if you plan to grab a beer at the Teton Brewing Company or go to the Teton Valley Rodeo, as we’ve recommended in this itinerary.
Campgrounds in the park
There are a total of six campgrounds inside Grand Teton National Park, including Colter Bay Campground which we’ve recommended for night one of this itinerary. All campgrounds must be reserved in advance, and reservations are made available 6 months in advance of your stay. Campgrounds in the park fill up well in advance, so be sure book as soon as reservations are released to secure a spot!
For more detail on camping options, you can read more here.
Dispersed camping in nearby national forests
If you want to save some money or weren’t able to secure a spot at the campgrounds, there is also dispersed camping available in the Bridger Teton National Forest. The benefits to camping in Bridger Teton are that its free and you can often find more solitude than a campground offers. The downsides are lack of amenities (ie. toilets) and a farther drive to most of the trailheads in Grand Teton.
Read more about dispersed camping in Bridger Teton here.
Best time to visit the Grand Tetons
For this particular Grand Teton itinerary, we’d recommend visiting in late May through June, or September. The trails we recommend should typically be snow free and the park is less crowded than in the peak season (July and August). Expect chilly temperatures at night during this time, but we think it’s a tradeoff worth making.
June is springtime in the Grand Tetons, making it an incredible time to visit as the wildflowers are absolutely beautiful. In September, the fall leaves will generally have just started to change colors.
Grand Teton Packing List
Good gear can make all the difference hiking in the Grand Tetons. Below we’ve compiled a list of our absolute must haves for day hiking – we use these items every time we hike and couldn’t live without them.
- Counter Assault Bear Spray | There are both grizzly and black bears in the Grand Tetons, so carrying bear spray with you is a must. Each person in the group should have their own can and carry it within arm’s reach (ie. attached to your hip – it’s nearly worthless packed away in your backpack)
- Garmin InReach Mini GPS | The one piece of gear you hope you never need to use, but is worth its weight in peace of mind. We always carry our Garmin In-reach Mini in case of emergency in areas without cell service and it gives us (and our parents) peace of mind.
- Bug Spray | If you plan to spend any time at a lake (which you almost surely will in the Tetons), make sure you pack bug spray to ward off those pesky mosquitos.
- Bathing suit | With so many lakes to choose from, no trip to the Tetons is complete without taking a swim!
- PackTowl lightweight towel | This compact lightweight towel packs down small, making it great for carrying on backpacking trips and perfect for drying off after taking a dip in one the Grand Teton’s alpine lakes!
- Hiking poles | If you plan to tackle any of the hikes that take you up into the Tetons (ie. Delta Lake), you’ll find hiking poles to be super helpful on the steeper sections of the trail.
- Hiking backpack | This backpack is lightweight but large enough to pack the essentials (snacks, water and layers) on a longer day hike, and it comes with a bladder!
- Hiking boots | Many of the hikes in the Grand Tetons are steep and rocky, so good hiking boots are key! (I can’t recommend my Danner Mountain 600’s enough, Matt loves his Salomon X Ultra 4).
- Pullovers | For extra warmth on chilly hikes in the Tetons, we always pack our Smartwool Merino Quarter Zips.
- Down Jacket | My Arc’teryx Cerium LT Hoody Women’s Down Hoodie is lightweight and incredibly warm with 850 fill down. If you hate being cold (like me) this is the jacket for you! The quality is top notch and totally worth the extra warmth.
- Gloves and hats | Mornings and evenings get chilly in the Grand Tetons, anytime of year, but especially if you are visiting during the fall through early summer.
Other useful resources
To help you plan out your ideal Grand Teton itinerary, we think you may also find these resources helpful:
- Grand Teton | 18 Best Hikes in Grand Teton National Park
- Grand Teton | How to Hike to Delta Lake in Grand Teton
- Sawtooth | How to Backpack the Stunning Alice Toxaway Loop
- Sawtooth | Alice Lake Loop in Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains
- Idaho | How to Kayak to Shoshone Falls in Southern Idaho
- Montana | Complete Guide to Hiking Cracker Lake Trail in Glacier
Questions about planning your perfect Grand Teton itinerary? Let us know in the comments below and we’d be happy to help!