Derek Nielsen Photography

Derek Nielsen Photography

Uncategorized 11 Best Places To Visit In Grand Teton National Park
image of an incredible sunset over the Grand Teton National Park

Around just about every corner, the national parks in Wyoming offer stunning views, hikes, wildlife spotting, and ideal spots to snap pictures of nature. Add in the Tetons’ big neighbor to the north, Yellowstone, and soon, you’ll be scrambling to spend most of your day in a car instead of enjoying the nature you traveled to see. There are so many opportunities that if you’re planning a trip to Grand Teton National Park or the greater Jackson Hole area, the odds are good you’re feeling overwhelmed with all the options.

After thorough exploration, I can confidently say that eleven locations stand out as ‘can’t miss’ spots for any journey to Grand Teton National Park and Jackson Hole. These spots, especially for those seeking to capture the raw beauty of nature, are sure to inspire and leave you in awe.

Planning A Trip To Grand Teton National Park

Image of Oxbow Bend during sunrise with a canoe on the water during fall
Paddling Paradise – Limited Edition Fine Art Print of 6 – Derek Nielsen Photography

Grand Teton National Park is one of the most accessible and dramatically beautiful national parks in the United States. Because of that, it was number 8 on the most visited National Parks in 2023, with 3,417,106 annual visitors. Please make your reservations as far as possible before you go. Thankfully, the park is large enough to handle that many visitors, but accommodations are limited in the area. I recommend a trip to the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center on Teton Park Rd. This center serves as the main visitor center for the park, where backcountry permits and boating information are obtained. 

Park Fees

Entrance to Grand Teton National Park requires an admission fee. As of 2024, the fees are $20 per individual, $35 for a private car, $70 for an annual pass, and $80 for the America the Beautiful pass, which grants access to multiple National Parks for the year. 

Jackson Hole Airport 

Flights fly nonstop from all over the United States. This medium-sized regional airport is the primary way to access this region for those not looking to take a lengthy family road trip across the country. Offering rental cars and hotel shuttles, this heavily invested airport has more than a travel could need. Jackson Hole Airport is located just north of the town of Jackson along the main scenic highway running the length of the park. 

Best Places to Stay In Grand Teton National Park

Large fine art photograph of the Teton mountains displayed above a fire place in a modern mountain cabin
High Above The Tetons – Limited Edition Fine Art Print of 50 – Derek Nielsen Photography

Outside of staying in the town of Jackson and driving into the park each day, the national park has several locations to create the perfect base camp. All reservations are made through For those looking for a more rustic experience with fewer people, try visiting the Grand Teton National Forest and camping around Shadow Mountain. The view of the majestic alpine vistas from these public lands is hard to beat. 

Jackson Lake Lodge

Owned and managed by the Grand Teton Lodge Company, Jackson Lake Lodge has 385 rooms, including cottages. Most rooms are located on the third floor, giving guests a beautiful view of the mountains. Three different restaurants are available. The Mural Room and Blue Herron Lounge have breathtaking views of the mountains. 

Jenny Lake Lodge

Jenny Lake Lodge is the most luxurious option in the park for those looking for more elegant accommodation. With a dining experience impossible to match in the national park, The Dining Room at Jenny Lake Lodge checks all the boxes. Executive Chef Jedediah Dzimiera serves decadent creations like Summer Ratatouille and Cedar Braised Wagyu Zabuton. 

Signal Mountain Lodge

From cabins to lakefront lodge rooms with a deck overlooking the mountains, Signal Mountain Lodge is the perfect one-stop shop for new adventures into Grand Teton National Park. Also, because it is located near the entrance road to Yellowstone National Park and Jackson Lake Dam, wildlife viewing is at a premium. 

Lizard Creek Campground

Lizard Creek is one of my favorite campsites on the northern end of the park because it is dog-friendly. Because of its basic amenities, this campsite has fewer visitors than the other park camps, but believe me, it is gorgeous. Lizard Creek’s 60 campsites sit on the north shore of Jackson Lake, offering access to the water. 

Colter Bay Tent Village

Think of a hybrid camping experience where the tent provided for you is on steroids, but you still have to bring many of your supplies. Visitors can bring their own sleeping bags or rent them from the lodge. The bunks do not have linens. This is part of the larger Colter Bay Village and a favorite of many people of all the park’s campgrounds.  

Gross Ventre Campground

Located across the valley floor toward Kelly, this is the place to stay if you want the best chance to see moose. Get an early start for the best time to see them. Moose tend to bed down as early as late morning in the summer to avoid the heat. This is the park’s largest campsite and closest to the town of Jackson. 

Jenny Lake Campground

Last but not least, a tent-only campsite and my favorite in the Grand Teton National Park. Reservations can be at most seven days and a maximum of two tents per site. We often go into nature to get away from people, and that’s the best option forn this campsite in the bunch. 

#1 Schwabacher Landing.

Image of the Grand Tetons taken from Schwabacher Landing in the early dawn
Grand Teton Dawn – Limited Edition Fine Art Print of 100 – Derek Nielsen Photography

Getting there

Schwabacher Landing is located along Route 191, the main road along the face of the Teton range. If heading north from Jackson, the entrance will be on your left side, just past Morman Row. 


Photographer tips

The landing has two popular locations for photographers. If you’re going for photography, arrive very early. An hour and a half before sunrise should be enough time to beat the crowds and line up your perfect composition. If crowds aren’t your thing, the first parking area typically attracts fewer visitors while offering equally spectacular views. 


Wildlife tips

A trail leads through the area for those just there to take in the views or go for a hike, offering different views and opportunities to spot wildlife. While I was photographing the two popular viewpoints, I heard elk calling. Moose and occasional black bears are often seen in the area. So, as is always a good idea when hiking in the national parks in Wyoming, bring your bear spray!


#2 Oxbow Bend.

image of the Grand Tetons during fall at Oxbow Bend with an eagle soaring overhead
Soaring High – Open Edition Fine Art Print – Derek Nielsen Photography

Getting there

Oxbow Bend is located inside the entrance to Grand Teton National Park, a few minutes north of Moran Junction. The pull-off is on the left, coming from the junction. While the lot is small, there is plenty of roadside parking even during busy times. 


Photographer tips

This location offers many different compositions for photographers. Many choose to stay right in the parking lot, which provides a panoramic view of the mountains with the passing river. Others prefer to get down along the river and capture a reflection off the water. 


Wildlife tips

There is not much hiking in this area, but bird-watching is excellent. Raptors of all kinds patrol this area along with cormorants and, to my surprise, a pelican. 


#3 Willow Flats.

Image of the Grand Teton National Park at sunset with a beautiful light beam splitting the mountains
Heaven’s Gate – Limited Edition Fine Art Print of 50 – Derek Nielsen Photography

Getting there

Just a few minutes further down the road from Oxbow Bend headed toward Yellowstone, you’ll find Willow Flats. Its large parking lot sits atop the hill and draws only moderate crowds.


Wildlife tips

This can be an excellent place for wildlife viewing early in the morning. You’ll find elk, moose, grizzly bears, deer, and a variety of birds at Willow Flats. While its wildlife is often only able to be seen at a far distance, it’s an excellent location for kids or people who would prefer not to get too close. Willow Flats’ tall willow brush gives it its name but also makes hiking dangerous. An eight-foot-tall moose can quickly disappear just a few feet inside. 


Photographer tips

What Willow Flats lacks in hiking, it makes up for in panoramic landscapes. I was drawn to this location for sunsets. The sunsets behind the peaks cast beautiful light up into the clouds for some truly gorgeous pictures of nature.


#4 Gros Ventre River.

Large male moose in Grand Teton National Park standing in the woods looking directly at the camera
Heir To The Throne – Limited Edition Fine Art of 50 – Derek Nielsen Photography

Getting there

Gros Ventre River (pronounced “Grow-Vaunt”) is just a few minutes north of Jackson. A roundabout marks its location. Heading east or west will bring you to prime moose viewing locations, although the best locations are found in the west, toward the campground. 


Wildlife tips

If you’re looking to find moose, Gros Ventre’s riverside is arguably the best location not only in Grand Teton National Park and Jackson Hole but also in all the national parks in Wyoming. Moose love the wetland brush surrounding the river, providing them with both food and shelter.


During a recent trip to Gros Ventre to capture pictures of nature and local scenery, I came across a large moose right by the road on several occasions. But my best moose sightings required hiking a little. However, if you do choose to hike in, remember, this is still bear country, so BRING BEAR SPRAY!!! Also, moose themselves are very dangerous, powerful, and potentially fatal animals that should be given the same respect as a bear. Don’t approach, provoke, or harass them in any way. Educate yourself and enjoy


#5 Mormon Row.

panoramic photo of old barn near Jackson Wyoming

Getting there

Mormon Row is located about 15 minutes north of Jackson. Heading north, the road to Mormon Row will be on your right, leading away from the city or airport. 


Photographer tips

There are a few other barns across the street, but most visitors make the trek just to snap a photo of this one. Easily the most photographed and famous barn in the world, it’s a crowded, tourist hot spot on most days. So, photographers should arrive early—especially if you want a shot of the barn sans people. 


Mormon Row’s popularity is well-earned. The historic barn is gorgeous; its shape echoes the surrounding peaks, and its perceived isolation evokes an authentic Wild West feel.

#6 Snake River Overlook.

large framed fine art print of the Snake River Overlook in the Teton National Park displayed in a modern home
The Mountains Call – Limited Edition Fine Art Print Of 50 – Derek Nielsen Photography

For any photographer looking to trace the footsteps of the famous Ansel Adams, few locations are more famous than the Snake River Overlook. His iconic black-and-white photo location at this overlook is still the same view as it was all those years ago. Two parking lots and a walking path allow people of all abilities to enjoy one of the best views of the Grand Teton National Park. 

#7 Moose-Wilson Road.

image of a mother moose with her baby calf in the Grand Tetons

This is one of many scenic drives inside the park. Connecting the towns of Wilson and Moose, this winding road passes the Teton Village, Granite Canyon, and the Rockefeller Preserve. All along this road is the perfect wildlife habitat for moose, bears, foxes, pronghorn antelope, and numerous bird species. Watch your speed limits along this road because animal crossings are common. 

#8 National Elk Refuge.

elk in river yellowstone

At the base of the Jackson Hole Valley, an estimated 5,000 elk winter in a large herd. The refuge is open year-round but most popular in winter when the elk numbers climb. Sleigh rides are a family favorite, but be sure to dress warm; winds off the valley can be chilly. While visiting, stay on the path and don’t take anything from the environment, as tempting as it may be. 


#9 Cascade Canyon.

It is one of the more popular summer hikes in the park. For one thing, the canyon is gorgeous, with waterfalls and the potential to see wildlife. Another reason is the hike can start and end with a boat ride across Jenny Lake for a small fee. Tickets are purchased via Jennylakeboating. Reservations are not required. 

#10 Colter Bay Marina.

Grand Teton National Park has numerous lakes. I highly recommend getting out on the water to truly appreciate the park in all its glory. Boat rentals are available, including canoes, kayaks, and motorboats. If you are looking for a quiet escape from the chaos of the roads and trails, get out early to paddle peacefully on the lake. 

#11 Flagg Ranch and Flagg Ranch Road.

image of a large female grizzly bear looking right at the camera in the wild
Aware – Open Edition Fine Art Print – Derek Nielsen Photography

I may have saved the best part of the park for last. The area around Flagg Ranch is quiet, full of wildlife, and has one of the best roads in northwestern Wyoming. Located along the John D. Rockefeller, Jr. highway connecting Yellowstone and the Tetons, this region pays tribute to the honorary conservationist himself. Rockefeller’s contributions to conservation were revolutionary. If you are a decent off-road driver in the mountains with a full tank of gas, I highly recommend exploring the Ashton-Flagg Ranch road connecting Wyoming to Idaho across some beautiful terrain. 

Visit The Grand Tetons To Spend Time With Family and Fill Up Your Photography Portfolio. 

Grand Tetons in the fall colors at sunrise

The Grand Teton National Park and Jackson Hole boast hundreds of places to explore, hike and snap pictures of nature and wildlife. If you’re planning to visit the national parks in Wyoming, making time to hit these eleven locations will guarantee a successful family vacation and/or photography portfolio boost. I spent a lot of time in Grand Teton National Park during the 2020 pandemic. Check out my other articles about the best places to see Grand Teton Fall Colors or my favorite photography tips.


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