Last June, I had the opportunity to travel to Wyoming (and Montana and Idaho) and cross a few new states off my bucket list! I had a wedding in Cody, Wyoming (check it out here if you missed it!) and I convinced my friend, Katie, to come with me and spend a few days before and after the wedding exploring two National Parks that I have always wanted to see! We flew into Bozeman, MT on a Wednesday and took a leisurely road trip (pulling off for many scenic stops) down the border of Idaho and Wyoming before staying in our first airbnb in Idaho, just a mere hour away from the bottom entrance of Grand Teton National Park.
Thursday morning we woke up bright and early, made a coffee pitstop, and then crossed from Idaho into Wyoming via the gorgeous Teton Pass Hwy. Situated at an elevation of 8,435ft there was still quite a bit of snow despite it being June 1st and that was a fun novelty for these two midwesterners. And I mean the views were just insane.
After descending out of the mountains, we stopped for breakfast at Pearl Street Bagels in the tiny town of Wilson (just outside Jackson Hole, Wyoming).
And then we headed north towards the entrance of the Grand Teton National Park.
You can pretty easily fit a visit to the Grand Tetons into one day (as long as you are ok skipping hikes and seeing it more road trip style.) The main attractions of the park are all found on one big loop and we started on the outer loop, further away from the mountain range, and made our way counterclockwise around the loop.
If you are a map person like me, I added little orange arrows to show our route. As you can see, there is a lot more to this National Park, but most of the rest of it is accessible only through hiking which we just didn’t have time for this visit.
Highlights of the outer loop included: Morman Row, Albright Overlook, Blacktail Ponds Overlook (one of our favorites on this outer loop and one spot where we did take a little walk), Glacier View Turnout, Snake River Overlook, and Oxbow Bend Turnout.
Highlights included Mountain View Turnout, Jenny Lake Overlook, and Jenny Lake. We actually didn’t finish the inner loop but instead turned around and headed back north after making it down to Jenny Lake. This decision was made simply because we were running out of time and still had a pretty long drive to make it to our airbnb that night in Cody, WY. But we didn’t feel like we missed out much because everything we saw was amazing. I really loved starting with the outer loop and seeing the iconic Teton Mountain Range from a distance and then coming closer to the mountains on the inner loop. I know we were looking at the exact same mountains the whole time but they somehow kept getting more impressive the closer we got to them. And it was wild to realize there were all these lakes and valleys (and a whole river) hidden between the outer loop road and the foot of the mountains because you would never know it from the views on the outer loop.
This lake is seriously SO gorgeous and if I had just a bit more time I would have loved to have hiked on some of the trails around this lake. When we pulled into the parking lot by the visitors center it had just started to rain and so we took a break in our car to eat lunch and then decided it was worth getting wet for the 10 min walk to the lake shoreline. As we started walking towards the lake the rain slowed down so that it was just a mere sprinkling and then it stopped entirely which allowed us to spend a decent amount of time exploring some of the paths along the bottom part of the lake. The nice thing was that the rain scared most people away so we actually got this usually crowded area mostly to ourselves. We spent the longest amount of time here and did walk a bit around the lake but I could have easily spent all day here. (Also, one of the most popular hikes in this park is accessible via ferry that leaves from the bottom of Jenny Lake and takes you across the lake towards the mountains and if we had one extra day it would have been something I did!)
After Jenny Lake, we turned around and headed back up north along the inner loop and this time kept going north past Jackson Lake. This road goes straight from Grand Teton’s National Park into Yellowstone National Park via Yellostone’s southern entrance and is the most direct way to get from where we were to Cody, Wyoming (which is located about 50 minutes east of the Eastern entrance to Yellowstone). Even though we still had about 3.5 hours to go before we reached Cody, the drive was insanely beautiful because almost the whole drive was within Yellowstone and gave us our first taste of the wild and magnificent beauty of this National Park. However, for the sake of brevity, I am going to wait to share the photos of that last leg of our day until another post.
We didn’t spend too much time along Jackson Lake as the clouds were coming in and we wanted to keep moving on our road trip. But if you did have more time in the Grand Tetons, it looks like there is so much to explore on and around this massive lake.
Katie and I are both so grateful we included the Grand Tetons in this trip because it had some of our favorite views of the entire trip. The mountains are unreal and pictures truly do not do them justice.
Up next I’ll share the first part of our Yellowstone adventures!