One-Day Trip: Jackson

Jackson, WY is a world apart from Yellowstone National Park. A world apart even from Grand Teton National Park, though not too far as to be unrecognizable.

Nestled in the Jackson Hole valley, the area has long been a hub for skiing and sightseeing. There is some nostalgia for the “Old West” in Jackson, most evident in the antler arches that mark the entrance to Jackson Town Square and exemplified in outstanding venues such as the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar and Wort Hotel.

At the same time, Jackson exemplifies a spirit of the “New West,” sporting a diverse culinary scene and offering urban amenities to visitors and residents alike. All the while surrounded by some of the most gorgeous scenery in the continental United States.

This itinerary takes you down to Jackson for lunch, with the intention of getting back to Grant Village in time for dinner—but it’s up to you how much time you want to spend in Grand Teton and Jackson.

Look Out Jackson Town: Driving From Grant And Back To Jackson, WY

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Suggested Starting Time: 9 a.m.

Although the drive is only one-and-three-quarter hours long, there is so much to see along the way, you’d be wise to take your time.

Breakfast

Buffet and sit-down meals are available from the Grand Teton Dining Room. You should also consider the Lake House Restaurant. Otherwise, your best bet is to grab something quick from the General Store.

Hitting the Road

The nice thing about visiting Yellowstone and Grand Teton is if you have the two-park pass or the Interagency Pass, you can breeze through the exit with ease, without having to buy a pass just to pass through Grand Teton National Park.

Continental Divide

The Continental Divide decides where and how water flows toward the Atlantic/Pacific Ocean. The signs designating the Divide make for excellent picture stops.

Lewis Lake

This lovely lake is visible from the road and acts as an amiable companion for the campers at Lewis Campground.

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Lewis Falls

This waterfall is visible from an outlook close to the road. We recommend stopping for a quick look; you should also consider hiking to Moose Falls, which can be found just before the South Entrance at the end of a short trail.

South Entrance

A fairly popular entrance.

John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway

Congress, in 1972, designated this 24,000 parcel of land in memory of John D. Rockefeller, Jr., an avid traveler of the region and proponent of other national parks.

Jackson Lake Overlook

This overlook essentially acts as the “first glimpse” you’ll get of the mountain range. It is remarkable and stunning.

Leeks Marina

You won’t have much need of the marina if you’re on a day trip, but if you’re interested in an early lunch, you should consider eating at the Leek’s Marina & Pizzeria.

Colter Bay Village

One of the major lodging/amenity stops in Grand Teton, Colter Bay is a wonderful place to stop, whether for a bite to eat or a jot into the Colter Bay Visitor Center.

Mount Moran

Jackson Lake Lodge

Comparable to the Old Faithful Inn in terms of stature, Jackson Lake Lodge is the resort in Grand Teton National Park. Even if you aren’t staying there, you should stop, if only to marvel at the mountains in the majestic lobby or from the outdoor balcony. You should also consider stopping on the way back for a snort in the Blue Heron.

Jackson Lake Junction

Here the road splits and meets up down at Moose Junction. It doesn’t matter time wise what route you take, but this itinerary follows the road down to Moran Junction first.

Moran Junction

Named for preeminent artist Thomas Moran, this stop encompasses little more than a ranger station and a few businesses.

U.S. Route 191/26/89

There are several overlooks and turnouts on this route you should consider stopping at, depending on when you want to reach Jackson.

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Cunningham Cabin Historic Site

John Pierce Cunningham lived in the Grand Teton region before it became a national park, building this cabin in 1888. The “dog-trot” structure still stands and was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1973.

Moose Junction

Another lodging/dining hub in Grand Teton National Park. Moose Junction is also where the inner road in Grand Teton rejoins the outer route. There are several attractions in Moose Junction that will be covered below, on the return route to Grant Village.

National Elk Refuge

Established in 1912, the National Elk Refuge is a sanctuary for a variety of animal species, besides elk, including bison and trumpeter swans.

National Museum of Wildlife Art

This museum is a pure and utter gem, with a collection that encompasses continents and centuries. The facility is smartly designed and spacious, with extensive galleries and a remarkable lounge. There’s also a fine café. Impressive bronze statues adorn the outside. If you have time to stop in, you absolutely, positively should.

Jackson Hole Greater Yellowstone Visitor Center

Located just outside Jackson, this visitor center ties together multiple thematic concerns in the area, with staff coming from the National Elk Refuge, Bridger-Teton National Forest, Grand Teton National Park, and other like-minded organizations.

Lunch and Things to Do: Jackson

There’s a host of good restaurants in Jackson, ranging from casual sit-down joints like The Bunnery Bakery & Restaurant, Café Genevieve and the Sweetwater Restaurant to specialized restaurants like Pinky G’s Pizzeria and The Merry Piglets Mexican Grill. You should also consider lighter fare from Cowboy Coffee, Jackson Hole Coffee Roasters or Persephone Bakery.

Although you can’t ski in the summer, there are plenty of shops to stop into downtown. The Valley Book Store Inc is a fantastic stop if you’re looking for some good vacation books. Otherwise, there’s a bevy of clothing stores and outfitter ventures.

You should also stop by the Snake River Brewery, whether for a quick drink or a meal.

Hitting the Road

If you want to get into Grant Village in time for dinner, you should consider getting on the road by four. Otherwise, take your time. There are plenty of dinner stops available in Grand Teton National Park as well.

Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center

Opened in 2007, the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center is a top-notch facility, with an impressive bookstore and even more impressive exhibit space, which details every facet of both Grand Teton and the National Park experience.

Menors Ferry Historic District

Listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 2011, this site marked where Bill Menor ran a ferry across the Snake River in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Visitors can still ride a replica of the ferry during the summer season.

Chapel of the Transfiguration

One of two churches in Grand Teton National Park, the Chapel (which belongs to the St. John’s Episcopal Church parish) is a gorgeous building, as is the Chapel of the Sacred Heart, described below. Both are also very popular for weddings. The whole building is arranged so the back window faces the Cathedral Group.

Jenny Lake Visitor Center

A fun place to stop, especially earlier in the season when it’s still a little nippy outside; they light a fire for the benefit of all involved!

Signal Mountain Lodge

A little out-of-the-way, the Signal Mountain Lodge is a good place to stop for a quick fill-up—for gas or otherwise.

Chapel of the Sacred Heart

The Catholic counterpart to the Episcopalian Chapel of the Transfiguration, belonging to the Our Lady of the Mountains parish, functioning as their summer chapel, this chapel doesn’t offer grand vistas of the Tetons, but it is still a beautiful building whose charms rival the Chapel of the Transfiguration.

Dinner: Grant Village

Dinner is available at both the Grant Village Dining Room and Lake House Restaurant. Otherwise, you can head to the General Store for quick food.

Lodging

Lodging is available through the Grant Village Lodge as well as the Grant Village Campground.

About Sean Reichard

Sean Reichard is the editor of Yellowstone Insider and author of Yellowstone Insider For Families 2017.

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