I headed into the break room to get ice and water to pass out for my patients with their meds.
However, when I entered, one of our maintenance staff had the ice machine all torn apart…thankfully, he had ice ready for us.
We ended up chatting for a bit, and he ended up mentioning that he and his family were getting ready to head out on a road trip.
“Oh, where to?”
“That’s awesome! How long are you going for?”
“About 3 weeks….we are taking the camper and will mostly stay at campgrounds. Maybe a couple of hotels on the way there and back.”
“Wow!!” I said with one part jealousy and one part wonder that someone would willingly place their family of 4 in tight quarters for any length.
Yellowstone sounded terrific, but I was pretty sure he had lost his marbles.
So, when the idea of visiting Yellowstone came up, what do you think we did? Naturally, we decided to do the same thing! 🤪
In fact, we decided to make that trip in close quarters a little longer with a side trip through Grand Teton National Park. Why not?!
We figured if we were going to be that close, we AT LEAST had to drive through the park. But, with a little stroke of luck, we were able to add a day to our trip, so we were able to spend a full day in Grand Teton before heading out on our Yellowstone 3-day itinerary.
Wait. One day….that’s not enough…is it?! Well, we certainly would have loved to spend a few more days exploring and hiking. But, we found out that it is totally possible to do Grand Teton National Park in one day and experience what makes this park so amazing.
Before heading out, we spent a LOT of time researching everything to do and ultimately decided on the below itinerary for visiting Grand Teton National Park in one day. Overall, we think this plan will give you a well-rounded introduction to everything Grand Tetons has to offer. It certainly did for us!
Just don’t blame us when you fall in love and start planning a second trip.
What to See in Grand Teton National Park in One Day
When you only have one day to spend, time is of the essence. There are so many things you could do, but rest assured that you will be surrounded by stunning scenery no matter where you choose to go. That said, these are the 7 things we recommend to make your day unforgettable:
- Schwabacher Landing
- Antelope Flats & Mormon Row
- Jenny Lake
- Hidden Falls
- Inspiration Point
- Cascade Canyon
- String Lake
You can see the overview of our day here:
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First, I apologize. You really need to visit Schwabacher Landing. But, that’s not why I’m sorry. I’m sorry because I have to tell you that the best time to visit for photos is sunrise. Yup. So, drag yourself and your kids out of your sleeping bag bright and early. This is one of the many times when being in our campervan from Wandervans was perfection. The kids were still tired, so they just stumbled down from the top bunk with their sleeping bags right into their seats. Bring your coffee and breakfast with you if you have to. Just do it. I promise it’s worth it. Even if you only have an iPhone to take pictures. (Secret time: that and the GoPro is all we had for this trip!) And, yes, even if it’s a little cloudy. This. This is why.
When you arrive, you’ll know you’re heading in the right direction by following all the photographers with their gear. You’ll find a handful of options along the path the stop – pick your favorite, grab a spot, and settle in to watch the spectacular views.
Once the photographers have gotten their shots, it will start to clear out. We ended up hanging out for a bit, grabbing our breakfast, and eating on the benches by the water.
You may not find this on every list of things to do, but that’s what we think makes it even more special. It was a very peaceful, quiet way to start the day…even if it was incredibly early.
Antelope Flats and Mormon Row
When I was researching the Tetons, one of the places I knew we had to visit was Antelope Flats and Mormon Row. As you turn down Antelope Flats Road, keep your eyes peeled! We got lucky and saw several Pronghorn Antelope on our way in. We took a few moments to stop and watch them through our binoculars, before heading on to Mormon Row. Once you arrive, find a spot to park and head out to explore.
We would have loved to do this one at sunrise as well, but we can’t have it all, can we?! 🤷🏻♀️ Ultimately, we knew we had to see the iconic Moulton Barn against the backdrop of the majestic Tetons.
We were not disappointed. After getting a few shots of the barn, we walked around and explored a little more, read a bit of the area’s history, and even found some smaller members of the wildlife community before heading out to Jenny Lake.
Jenny Lake is one of the most popular places in the park. And, for excellent reasons. That means that parking is…well, a challenge. But, we highly recommend that you stick it out and find a spot. Make sure you pack your bag with the essentials for a hike – and, don’t forget the bear spray! We weren’t lucky enough to see a bear here, but sightings are frequent. While here, the plan is to do some hiking at Jenny Lake. In particular, visit Hidden Falls, Inspiration Point, and then continue into Cascade Canyon if you have the time. It will be worth it. Even if you have to park along the road.
Once you arrive, spend a few minutes checking out the Jenny Lake Visitor Center and pick up a map of the area, if you’d like. Before you head out to visit Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point, this is a great time to pop into the general store for a snack or some coffee. They also have plenty of souvenirs, but keep in mind that whatever you buy now, you’ll have to carry!
There are two ways to access the most popular trails in the Jenny Lake Area. The first one is to take the trail around Jenny Lake, which is approximately 2.4 miles each way and is rated as an easy trail. However, since you’re only here for a day, we suggest option number two. Option number two is to take the shuttle provided by Jenny Lake Boating. The shuttles run every 10-15 minutes and will get you across to the beginning of the Hidden Falls trail in only a few minutes. We all loved the ride across. It was neat to see the area from the perspective of being on the water. Everywhere we turned, there was another stunning view.
Hidden Falls is actually one of the most accessible falls in the park…and, not so “hidden” at all. In fact, it was the busiest spot we visited in all of Grand Teton. However, it is still totally worth a visit! Once you disembark the shuttle, the trail is well marked and easy to find. In all honesty, you will likely be hiking with your friends from the shuttle. 😉Fun fact: we ran into someone from our shuttle later on our trip when we were in Yellowstone! The hike up to Hidden Falls is right at a ½ mile. It is rated as an easy hike, but keep in mind that if you’re not used to the elevation, it may feel more moderate. Thankfully, there’s beautiful scenery along the way to distract your lungs.
Once you arrive at Hidden Falls, there is a large area to spread out and enjoy the view. It’s a great spot to pause, eat a snack, and give little legs a chance to rest before continuing up the trail to Inspiration Point.
The trail up to Inspiration Point is roughly another ½ mile past Hidden Falls, again rated easy. Make sure to take the elevation into consideration if you have young kids or health concerns. There will be a couple of sections on the trail that are rocky and have steep drops on the side, so be cautious, especially with the kiddos.
Part of the way up the trail, you’ll get a glimpse of why this trail is going to be worth it.
At this point, a woman coming down heard me say “Wow” in awe.
She responded with a simple “Just wait…it’s even BETTER from the top.”
She wasn’t wrong.
Cascade Canyon is the one thing that I really wanted to do that we just simply couldn’t do. We spent a little too much time at Schwabacher’s Landing and Antelope Flats. With the kids, we just knew we didn’t have enough time to make the hike and make it back for the last shuttle (so we didn’t add another 2.4 miles to our hike). So, we tabled this one. We did, however, explore a little further past Inspiration Point to get a peek into the Canyon. This view alone was spectacular enough that it solidified the fact that we will be back.
If you were better at time management than us…or, if you don’t have smaller hikers, this would be our recommendation to make your day even more epic. We have heard that it’s also super common to see moose and bear along this trail!
Our last stop on our one-day tour through Grand Teton National Park before heading north into Yellowstone was String Lake. String Lake is a shallow lake – in some places, you can even walk all the way across! In the middle was a large rock where people had paddled out to and were hanging out and jumping into the water…I’d be sure to check the depth, though! We visited later in the afternoon, so we just enjoyed a few minutes of quiet down by the water. However, you can spend as little or as much time as you like. There are hikes, paddleboard, and kayak rentals, as well as a 3.8-mile loop hike around the lake. Or, if you’re just ready to relax, take a few moments and just soak it all in.
Final Thoughts on Grand Teton National Park in One Day
A few weeks after my encounter in the staff kitchen, I ran into my coworker again.
“How was your trip?”
“It was incredible!”
The excitement that sparkled in his eyes made it all clear. He wasn’t insane at all.
He knew what mattered. And, what matters is experiencing every moment of an epic trip with your family.