Grand Teton National Park Boasts 5 Million Visits
There’s something special to be said for being popular. And here in Jackson Hole, we pride ourselves in being home to many popular worldwide recreational and wilderness activities and opportunities, punctuated by not just one, but two beloved and renowned national parks.
And wow! Grand Teton National Park just announced that its 2017 visitation total was yet another new record—4,969,000 visitors! The year that started the spree, 2014, was the busiest in park history. Every year since, enough people flock to “our” 485-square-mile park framed by the spectacular Teton Range to keep busting the visitation record.
Much-larger Yellowstone National Park drew 4.17 million visitors to northwestern Wyoming in 2017, a number that trailed only 2016’s 4.26 million visitors.
Yellowstone may have Old Faithful, but GTNP has a pretty equally impressive marvel of nature that also reaches almost impossibly to the sky—the 13,766-foot Grand Teton. And, unlike Old Faithful, the Grand is visible 24/7.
Often overlooked by Yellowstone National Park, Grand Teton National Park is generally beloved by all visitors to the point where they wish they had more time to explore it. The recreational opportunities in GTNP are seemingly endless—it is more “do,” whereas Yellowstone is more “see.”
To locals, Grand Teton National Park is literally in our backyard. Very close, very accessible; very much “oh-my-goodness-what-can’t-I-do-in-the-park-today?” Year round.
Truly a hiker’s park, it is more accessible for recreational activities than perhaps any other national park (At least we like to think so!). In addition to hikers, it also attracts world-class climbers and extreme skiers. There are 16 miles of paved, multi-use pathways available for biking throughout Grand Teton National Park—the most paved trails of any national park! In addition to the mighty Snake River that runs through the park there are numerous lakes for swimming, fishing and navigating on vessels large and small, motorized or man-powered. In wintertime you can scoot around and tour the awesomeness of GTNP on cross-country skis and snowshoes, or grab a fat bike for a brisk ride on the portion of the park road that is open to non-motorized travel in winter.
Grand Teton is also steeped in pioneer and environmental stewardship history, so while you recreate—and perhaps camp out— you can also be absorbing powerful and interesting knowledge of the area. That’s a nice bonus.
And the wildlife? Well, GTNP is where the wild things are, for sure. Moose, bear, elk, bison, wolves, coyotes, fox, bald eagles, hawks, pronghorn … it’s an impressive list. Spring and fall present some of the more unique opportunities to spy furry and feathered friends during the mating, migration and out-of-hibernation months. Guided, interpretative wildlife tours are offered all year long via safari-style vans and/or on cross-country skis and snowshoes. Avail yourself of this opportunity; you will not regret it.
All of the exercise and sightseeing is sure to make you hungry and thirsty, and perhaps our favorite recommendation is to end your day exploring GTNP with a bite and a libation at family-owned Dornan’s (located near the Moose entrance to the park). This legendary gem of an eatery is where you can sit on the deck in summer—or by a cozy fire inside in winter—looking out at one of the most enviable views of the Teton Range as you recount the highlight of your day’s memorable visit.
Our little corner of Wyoming is a premier destination for visitors and I don’t think 2018 will lag behind in terms of those heading west for adventure and thrills, serenity and inspiration. And our 89-year-old park has got it all, in spades. Ain’t life Grand?