Places to Visit: Grand Teton National Park

Cody Wyoming
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Grand Teton National Park

If you are planning to visit Grand Teton National Park from Cody, Wyoming you will most likely be visiting Yellowstone National Park first. These parks, both comparable in magnificence and uniqueness, are extremely different. Driving out of one and into the other is like passing from one world into the next. When visiting Grand Teton National Park try to get off the road as much as possible and explore what the Tetons really have to offer. The views from US 89 are breathtaking and you will often see cars pulled off at every turnout so that visitors can take pictures, paint landscapes, or pull out a pair of binoculars to get a closer look at roaming wildlife.

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Grand Teton National Park is 40 miles long and anywhere from 7 to 9 miles wide. With over 200 miles of trail, there are many options to see a good portion of the park. Hikes vary widely and you may find yourself encircling a lake, climbing steep switchbacks, gradually making your way up a canyon, or walking on what feels like the top of the world along a ridgeline. There are seven glacial lakes that rest at the base of the Tetons. Jenny, Leigh, Bradley, Taggart, String, Phelps, and Jackson Lakes are all easily accessible by either road or trail and offer almost intimidating views of the Teton's towering peaks. Over twelve peaks reach above 12,000 feet in the park. The Grand Teton is the highest, looking down upon the valley from 13,770 feet. Every year many visitors find themselves empowered to summit the Grand Teton. There are a few guide services that can assist mountaineers on their journey to the top. If you don't have much time at Grand Teton National Park, a great option is to either hike or take the ferry to the other side of Jenny Lake for a glimpse at the incredible Hidden Falls, cascades which are tucked back in behind the trees and canyon sides on the opposite side of the lake.

Grand Teton National Park has a great geological history. The Tetons sit along a fault line that is still active today. Around 9 million years ago, after many earthquakes, two blocks of crust on either side of the fault collided and began to move in opposite directions. The Tetons began rising and the valley sinking. This means that the type of rock that towers high on the park's peaks is the same type of rock that sits 24,000 feet below the valley floor. Glaciers then formed, whose runoff, movement, and erosion have created the landscape that we see today.

Cascades, lakes, rivers, canyons, peaks, aspens, and wildlife fill Grand Teton National Park. As you are exploring these rich areas you are more than likely to encounter the many large critters that call the park home like moose, elk, mule deer, black bear, bison, pronghorn antelope, falcons, and eagles.

From Cody, Wyoming follow US-14/US-16 east toward Yellowstone. Turn left onto Grand Loop Road, or US-20 for about 20 miles. Then turn left onto US-191 which merges with US-89 to reach Grand Teton National Park. During the Winter months, Yellowstone Park is closed and the route between Cody and Grand Teton National Park travels south of Cody through Meeteetse to Thermopolis on US-120. Then continue to Shoshoni on US-20. Then head west on US-26 through Riverton and Dubois before entering the north end of Grand Teton National Park.

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Jackson Hole

See our Jackson Hole vacation guide for more information.