This is a guide on how to have an epic adventure at Grand Teton National Park. This guide is meant for people of all ability levels. When I say people of all abilities I mean those with disabilities, those with physical or mental limitations, and those who don’t have any limitations at all. I like to find hikes and activities that accommodate everyone.
When to visit
The peak season for the Tetons is usually May-September. When planning your trip make sure to check if you need a reservation to enter the park. I visited in the middle of September to avoid a few crowds. Most businesses were still open but there were a few that were closed for the season.
The offseason is usually October-April because of the road conditions and lower temperatures. If you are going to visit in the winter be sure to check the NPS.gov website for road closures in and around the park. The tetons are gorgeous in the snow and I hope to visit during the colder months some day.
What to bring
Along with our regular traveling gear and essentials these were a few things that we were happy that we brought along.
Layers, hats, and gloves – It was very chilly in the mornings and evenings but it warmed up nicely during the day. I brought a coat and a lighter jacket for when it started to warm up. It was nice to have extra options of clothing. I was able to layer up when I needed to and kept the layers I shed during the day in my backpack or car.
Bike – My next visit to the Tetons I will most definitely be bringing a bike (I am currently saving for an adaptive bike). Seeing people use the Grand Tetons bike pathway got me excited for my bike. You have some amazing views of the Tetons along the pathway.
Lunch and Snacks – Save a few bucks and time on your trip by packing lunch and snacks. There are so many yummy places to eat near Jackson and the Teton Village, but it can be a bit pricey and take a bit of time to get to depending on where you are in the park.
Where to visit
This is a breakdown of my favorite things to do and places to see at Grand Tetons National Park. Remember that only you know your abilities. I recommend using a trail app and checking the reviews and conditions of these trails before you go to help navigate which ones you would like to explore based on time of year and depending on what you feel is safe for you. The NPS.gov website is a great resource in checking for alerts on closures.
Wheelchair Accessible Viewpoints
There are so many wheelchair accessible viewpoints at Grand Tetons but here are a few of my favorites that I recommend.
Snake River Overlook
This was a great place to watch the sunset. It wasn’t overly crowded either but I did visit just after the busy season so your experience may be different.
Elk Ranch Flats Turnout
I would say that this spot is partially wheelchair accessible. You can see the view very pretty well from just outside your car or really in your car, but if you have littles and want to get closer to the horses then there’s a small packed dirt trail to follow. Because it’s dirt, it may be inaccessible depending on what time of year you go.
Oxbow Bend Turnout
I can’t recommend this view enough. Its view of Mount Moran is incredible, especially at sunrise. It was super cold and busy in the morning but it was totally worth it. I was blown away. The reflection of Mount Moran on the river at sunrise was beautiful. I was also able to see an elk wade through the river and also saw a bald eagle perched in a tree while waiting for the sunrise. It was an amazing morning.
Jenny Lake Overlook
If you are wanting to see Jenny Lake then I highly recommend making it your first stop in the morning during your visit. The parking lot fills up very quickly. There is a visitor center and great gift shop to visit while you are in the area. It does have a partially paved part where you can view Jenny Lake. Below I will be talking about the trail and another way to enjoy the lake as a fun activity that can save your strength for hiking but still be able to see more of the lake.
Teton Glacier Overlook
This was a pretty cool turn out to see glaciers in the Tetons and also learn a little bit more about them. There are viewpoints all throughout the park and while I didn’t visit all of them I would say that the ones listed above were my favorites. Many of them allow accessible views of the Tetons from all different angles. You really get to experience the magnificence of them.
My favorite Trails
Taggart Lake Trail
This trail is 3.8 miles long with 419’ of elevation gain and it is a loop. If you want to shorten it I recommend going to the right. I went to the lake and back and it shortened it by about a mile. Do not forget to bring bear spray. This trail is very popular but that doesn’t mean that the bears stay away. Bear sightings are quite common and while that may seem exciting it can be VERY dangerous. There was a grizzly bear near the trail when I went so just be mindful of your surroundings and be prepared if you do happen to encounter a bear (see the point about bear spray).
Jenny Lake Trail
This trail is 7.9 miles long with 623’ of elevation gain. While this trail is not wheelchair accessible, there is a viewpoint of the lake just after you pass the visitor center and gift shop that has a paved trail leading up to it. This lake is gorgeous and I definitely would not miss it. We wanted to experience it a little more so we booked a tour which I will share about in the activities section below. This is great if you have a little extra time but remember the viewpoint is incredible to see, even if you don’t have much time..
String Lake Trail to Leigh Lake Trailhead
This trail is 0.9 miles long with only 3’ of elevation gain. This is a great wheelchair accessible trail that consists of a paved trail and boardwalks. Don’t forget that there are many different directions to go so make sure to bring your map. String Lake is also very popular for swimming and kayaking.
These are a few trails that I was not able to do myself because we ran out of time and some I just physically couldn’t do. AllTrails, reviews on google, and rangers at the visitor centers are all great resources to see what you and your body can handle.
Fun activities to do besides hiking
Jackson Hole Mountain Resort
The resort is not just fun to visit during the busy winter months for skiing; it’s also fun during the summer. My friend and I got a day pass and it was 100% worth the money for those with and without mobility struggles. We were able to ride the trams and gondolas and see more of the mountains. While I love to hike I’m usually not able to make it to the top of mountains because of my Cerebral Palsy so gondolas and lifts let me still experience it. The lifts are very wheelchair accessible and I would definitely visit again. Don’t forget to bring money because there are places to eat at the top. We decided to treat ourselves to pizza slices and sodas at the top and it was so worth it. We also got the lemon waffle and it was delicious. Remember also to layer up! You don’t realize how chilly it can get until you’re at the top of a mountain with the wind blowing. For more info and details on activities available during the summer months click the link below.
Jenny Lake Shuttle Service
This is a great activity for everyone, especially families and those that use a wheelchair. The shuttle goes from the East Dock to the trailheads for Cascade Canyon, Hidden Falls, and Inspiration point. The shuttle shortens your hike length so you can save your strength for other hikes during the day. If you aren’t planning on doing one of these hikes I recommend doing the tour below instead. No reservation is required since the boats run all day. Tickets can be purchased at the East Dock.
Jenny Lake Scenic Cruises
We loved this tour. It was a little more expensive than the shuttle but we got to see more of the lake. It was fun to learn lots of fun facts about the Tetons with our guide who was very knowledgeable.
Walk Downtown Jackson
Though it does get very busy in the summer months it’s still fun to stroll around downtown Jackson. There are some popular picture spots, you can window shop, or find some live music in one of the many bars.
Where to stay
Are you a camper? Glamper? Lodger? We usually try to camp for most of our National Parks trips but occasionally we’ll treat ourselves to a hotel, usually the last day of the trip back home. On this trip we stayed at the Teton Valley Resort. Keep in mind that this resort is in Victor which is on the Idaho side of the Tetons. It will take 45 minutes or longer to get into the park but it’s also much more affordable than staying in Jackson.
They have small cabins that are nicer on the inside than others that I’ve stayed in. They have “dry cabins” without bathrooms inside and others with bathrooms in the cabin itself. One of the exterior bathrooms is accessible while the other is not. We found that the pool and hot tub close early during the off season which started last year in September.
Where to Eat
Mangy Moose Restaurant and Saloon
We ate on the restaurant side of the Mangy Moose and LOOOOOOVED the flatbread and artichoke dip, the homemade cornbread, and the bison burger. There was a great selection of food and honestly a great place to go if you plan to visit Teton Village and go to the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort for the tram and gondolas. Some of the food was a bit pricey, but you could find things that were not as expensive.
This place was probably the best breakfast bakery place I have been to in a long time. I would give it a 10/10 and I will be going back next time I go even if I am just going camping. I’ll need to make a stop here. You definitely need to try it, but go early to miss the lines. The scone skillet was amazing. It was a tasty scone in a skillet with egg and the most delicious gravy. I’m getting hungry just by typing about it haha.
I hope this guide helps you plan your next trip to Grand Tetons National Park. I’d love to hear about your trips in the comments below or on my Instagram page! Feel free to DM me on Instagram for any questions you have as well @nationalparkcapable. I would love to help you plan your fun and accessible National Park adventure.