Sadly, we're not all made of money, and just getting to Grand Teton National Park can cost a pretty penny, depending on where you're coming from. So if you need to cut down on your vacation cost without cutting down on the fun, read through the budget-friendly GTNP vacation ideas below.
Luckily, getting into Grand Teton National Park is relatively inexpensive. Just $25 ($20 for motorcycles) will get you a seven day pass to both Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks. If you hike or bike into the Park instead of driving you'll only have to pay $12. In the winter, the Park has a $5/day fee.
If you think you'll spend more than a week at Grand Teton National Park, it might be worth purchasing the Grand Teton and Yellowstone Annual Pass for $50. Park hoppers may want to look into the Interagency Annual Pass; at $80 it's good for all public land managed by the Park Service, Fish and Wildlife, BLM and the Forest Service.
$25 entrance fee per vehicle – good for 7 days.
If you're looking to save some money camping is definitely the way to go, whether you do it in Grand Teton National Park (under $20/night) or one of the nearby National Forest campsites (Curtis Canyon is just past the National Elk Refuge on the east side of the valley; sites are $12/night).
If you're willing to spend some coin on lodging, check out the Jackson Hole Lodging Guide to find affordable options.
Backpack the Teton Crest Trail
It would be easy to spend an entire vacation hiking along the Teton Crest Trail; good thing it's easy on the pocketbook, as well. This 40-mile trail follows the length of the Tetons from Teton Pass all the way north through Grand Teton National Park, with numerous beautiful mountain passes, high alpine lakes for swimming and more. While the trail can be done in three days if you push yourself, there's enough stunning terrain and options for side hikes and layover days that taking your time and spending at least four or five days is preferable.
Other Backpacking Options
If the Crest Trail sounds like more than you want to bite off, the canyons that lead up into the Tetons offer many options for one-, two- and three-day trips. The loop up Paintbrush Canyon and down Cascade Canyon is a favorite for many, with a number of lakes along the way.
Day hikes abound in Grand Teton National Park. Browse through the hiking guide for a small sample of the trails and canyons you can find.
Classic climbing routes have been put up throughout the Tetons. While many people initially think of the Grand Teton when they think of climbing in the Tetons, don't limit yourself to it. Guides Wall, up Cascade Canyon, is another Teton classic that climbers of all levels will enjoy and appreciate. Check in at Exum Guides or Jackson Hole Mountain Guides for some expert help or to hire a professional guide.
Ride the Village Gondola
If riding up the Big Red Tram is a bit more than you want to spend ($25), jump on board the Gondola instead. After enjoying the free view, you can spend a bit of cash on lunch or dinner at the Couloir Restaurant (be warned it's not cheap!) or just hike back down. If you'd rather hike uphill, the Gondola provides downhill-service as well.
Watch the Wildlife
Elk, moose, bear, antelope, birds of all types and more can be found everywhere around you in Grand Teton National Park, and there are few settings better suited for watching and photographing them. Some of the hot spots for wildlife viewing include Mormon Row (an area of historic cabins and buildings that date back to early settlers), where bison, antelope and coyotes can often be found; Oxbow Ben, whose riparian area attracts a wide variety of avian wildlife as well as beavers and moose; and Cascade Canyon, a popular hiking area where small pikas (just listen for the rubber duckies), marmots, moose and deer can be found along the hiking trails. If you have access to a boat, or if you just want to walk along the riverside, the Snake River also attracts wildlife of all shapes and sizes.
Bike through the Park
Although there's no single track within Grand Teton National Park, there are still some beautiful biking options for both the lycra- and baggie-minded riders among us. The paved multi-use path (eight miles one-way) is a smooth eight miles of Teton beauty for roadies, and the gravel-lined River Road (15 miles one-way) is a great spot to see wildlife as you pedal along. If you'd like something a bit more technical, Teton Pass has everything from the smooth and rolling Arrow Trail to full-on downhill fun at the Powerline Trail.
As long as you don't hire a guide, fishing in Grand Teton National Park won't cost you anymore than the price of some flies or worms and a license ($6/day for Wyoming residents, $14/day for non-residents). If you want some advice on places to go, the Snake River shoreline has plenty of places to cast a line, and the Jackson Lake and Jackson Lake Dam tailwaters are often filled with large, hungry fish. Check out the Fishing Guide for more places both in- and outside of the Park.
Visit the Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve
Opened in 2008, the Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve features a trail system of self-guided tours and hikes through a number of riparian areas and prime wildlife habitat, as well as a beautiful interpretive center.
Under 1 Hour
Throughout the summer, Grand Teton National Park rangers lead informative walks, hikes and more through the Park. Stop by any of the entrance stations to pick up a list of current programs. Times vary from 45 minutes to three hours.
Grand Teton Park Newspaper - Find a list of Ranger Programs Here
The Ferry across costs $10, but swimming along Jenny Lake is free and may be the best way to cool off on a hot summer day, as well as one of the best places to enjoy a picnic lunch. If Jenny Lake is a bit too busy for your taste, cruise on over to String Lake for a bit more seclusion.
Hike String Lake
This short loop follows the shoreline of String Lake and is a perfect place to stretch out your legs, see some wildlife and take a quick dip in a cool, refreshing lake if you don't have a lot of time between other activities.
The quick ride across Jenny Lake and short hike up to Hidden Falls won't take long, but the Falls themselves are beautiful and the boat ride across Jenny Lake ($10) is always fun.
A quick drive up Signal Mountain Road will grant some spectacular views of Grand Teton National Park, and the entire Teton Range, from a slightly different angle.
The Stagecoach Band
Every Sunday night, the Stagecoach Band lights up the Stagecoach Bar (located at the base of Teton Pass in Wilson) with rocking country swing and swinging rock and roll music that brings in locals and visitors alike to fill the dance floor. The cost? Free-ninety-nine, which means you can spend your dollars on one of Picas delicious burritos (located in the same building as the Stagecoach) and a nice cold drink between dances. Music starts at 6pm.
More live – and free – music can be found at Dornan's (located in Moose) every Monday night, when local musicians flock to this free open-mic event started and hosted by the famous Bill Briggs, the first man to ski the Grand Teton. Music starts at 7pm. If you'd like to perform, signups start at 5pm.
While there is certainly no shortage of expensive dining options in Jackson Hole, more affordable restaurants can be found. Try Picas (located at 1160 Alpine Lane or in the Stagecoach Bar at the base of Teton Pass) for a well-priced (and well spiced) burrito, or browse through the Jackson Hole Dining Guide for more choices.
Jackson Hole Rodeo
Every Saturday night the Teton County Fairgrounds welcomes the Jackson Hole Rodeo, complete with all the rodeo events we all love. General admission is just $13.
Campfire Ranger Talks
Totally free, these informative and entertaining talks can be found happening every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday at the Gros Ventre Amphitheater. Signal Mountain Campfire Amphitheater also hosts a campfire talk every evening. Both Campfire Talks start at 9pm.
Grand Teton Park Newspaper - Find Campfire Talks and Ranger Programs
Concerts on the Commons
Each Sunday from mid-July to early September, Jackson Hole Resort hosts Concerts on the Commons, a series of live, outdoor concerts. Free to everyone, the music starts at 4pm.
Picnic Dinner at the Snake River Overlook
Pick up some food from Smiths or Albertsons, bring you camp stove and drive out to the Snake River Overlook, on Antelope Flats, for a five-star dining experience. The food might not be from one of Jackson's top-priced restaurants, but the views of the sun setting over the Tetons will put any restaurant décor to shame.
Jackson Hole on a Budget
Just south of Grand Teton National Park, Jackson Wyoming is a popular basecamp for exploring the park. Check out this Suggested Itinerary for Budget Travel in Jackson Hole.
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