Traveling through the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone gave me a whole new appreciation for National Parks and Wyoming. Every minute on the winding roads had something beautiful and exciting to offer. I have never seen so many natural wonders in one place and the wildlife was unbelievable. I’ve listed the best places during summer in the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone below and highly recommend putting it on your travel list!
We drove from Colorado to Wyoming and can’t believe we hadn’t done it sooner. Being from Alaska, it’s hard to impress me with mountains, wildlife and scenic views. The Grand Tetons and Yellowstone had so many amazing natural beauties including geysers, waterfalls, and all the wildlife you could ask for. Seeing buffalo up close and personal and feeling the hot spring mist was unforgettable. I look forward to my next visit!
National Parks and Elk Refugee Near Jackson, Wyoming
Grand Teton National Park: includes the Teton Mountain Range, roughly 310,000 acres of breathtaking mountains, lakes and the Snake River. The national park brings in more than two million recreational tourists each year and is about 5 miles away from Jackson. There are over 200 miles of trails to explore and don’t forget about floating the Snake River to view the mountains and wildlife from the water.
Yellowstone National Park: is mostly located in Wyoming but also extends through Idaho, and Montana. Yellowstone was the first national park in the country, and brings in roughly four million visitors each year and s about 60 miles from Jackson. The amazing natural wonders including geysers, waterfalls, mud volcanos are something you have to see.
National Elk Refuge: was made to shelter one of the largest elk herds in the country and is right outside of Jackson. You can drive through during the summer and search for herds and throughout the winter there are horse drawn sleigh tours.
Top 3 Places to Hike in Grand Tetons
Jenny Lake Boat Ride and Trail- We decided to take the ferry there and back so we could hike up to Inspiration Point, Hidden Falls and Cascade Canyon and still have time to make it to Yellowstone. We took the ferry right when they opened at 7am to avoid the traffic and to spot wildlife. I highly recommend doing the full hike. Inspiration Pointe had a beautiful overlook and the Hidden Falls was definitely worth a few extra minutes of hiking.
Phelps Lake Trail– is a 7 mile hike (you don’t have to go all the way around the lake if you are looking for a shorter hike) lightly trafficked and I would say easy. It’s a great hike conveniently located near Jackson and Moose Wyoming so not too far away from town. The lake at the end was beautiful. We hiked around 4:30pm and the trail was wasn’t crowded which was nice, we heard the parking can be difficult during busy times.
Death Canyon– is a 7.3 mile with light traffic. It’s a moderate and worth the view of Phelps Lake, snowy mountains, waterfalls, and streams! Don’t be surprised if there is still snow and dress appropriately! Take the time to go beyond Patrol Cabin as the canyon opens out and you get tremendous views. Death Canyon was recommended by a park employee as his favorite views and definitely agree.
Best Hikes and Viewing Points in Yellowstone National Park
Places to Stop and Pull Over in Yellowstone When Coming from the South
Lewis Falls – great way to start your trip into the park, easy to see right off the road but might catch you by surprise if you’re not looking for it. Located roughly 11 miles inside Yellowstone’s south entrance, and two miles south of Lewis Lake.
Black Sand Basin– this was one of my favorite places in Yellowstone because there were so many unique geysers and pools full of beautiful colors. Cliff geyser, emerald pool, opalescent pool, rainbow pool and spouter geyser are natural wonders you cannot miss.
Biscuit Basin – Even through the boardwalk is short, there are plenty of hydrothermal features to see. Highlights include colorful hot springs and spurting geysers like Black Opal Pool, Sapphire Pool, Jewel Geyser, Shell Spring, Avoca Spring, Mustard Spring, and Black Pearl Geyser.
Fairy Falls/Grand Prismatic Overlook– See an incredible waterfall and two geysers along this hike starting near the Grand Prismatic Hot Spring off the Grand Loop Road. One of my favorite hikes in Yellowstone, and includes the Fairy Falls trail to Imperial and Spray geysers. It provides an amazing overlook of Grand Prismatic. I still can’t get over how beautiful the colors were.
Artist Point and the Grand Canyon of Yellow Stone– Artist Point is one of the iconic overlooks on the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River, you can also see one of the park’s most famous views of the Lower Falls.
Brink of the Lower Falls– MUST SEE. This was my favorite waterfall spot! It’s a steep hike about ¾ of a mile round trip. Definitely a must see. The trail ends at a platform right at the top of the falls. You get to feel the power of the waterfall and see the height of this fall. It gives you a gorgeous perspective and viewpoint of being down in the canyon.
Mud Volcanos and Dragons Breath- You can hike a short boardwalk to see Dragon’s Mouth Spring and what remains of Mud Volcano. There’s also a ¾ mile trail with hydrothermal features with fun names like Grizzly Fumarole, Sour Lake, Black Dragon’s Caldron, Churning Caldron, Sizzling Basin, and Cooking Hillside.
Across the road from the Mud Volcano Area is an overlook for Sulphur Caldron, one of the most acidic springs in all of Yellowstone. It’s stinky but cool to look over the ledge at!
Old Faithful Geyser– During the time we went, it was predicted that the geyser was irrupting every 60-70 minutes. We happened to time it perfectly and showed up 5 minutes before Old Faithful was predicted to go off! Old Faithful geyser was named for its frequent and somewhat predictable eruptions, which number more than a million since Yellowstone became the world’s first national park in 1872. Pretty amazing to
I definitely recommend checking out the Old Faithful Inn and the gift shop. I got some huckleberry flavored popcorn and coffee. Basic, I know but so good!
Lamar Valley– Saw all the wildlife! Bears, buffalo (and babies), antelope, elk, wolves and deer.
Time to Go: Animals are most active at early morning and evening. If you’re going early, aim to be in the valleys before sunrise!
Tips for Viewing Animals in Lamar Valley
- Pack binoculars or a spotting scope. Many animals are tough to see with the naked eye. There were quite a few people who let us view through their spotting scope.
- Look for groups of people pulled over, or when you drive by ask them what they are looking at.
- Be still and park the car at a viewing point. We waited quietly at a few spots and were able to find animals moving through.
Places to Stay in Yellowstone
Packing List for Yellowstone:
Protein Bars: Epic Meat Bars, Epic Performance Bars
Nuts: My favorite are pistachios
Stopping in Jackson Hole while in Wyoming? Check out my favorite places in Jackson, WY!