When most people plan a trip to a National Park in the United States like the Grand Tetons, they give themselves sufficient time to experience everything the park has to offer.
Unfortunately for us, we only had about 24 hours to make our best attempt at seeing the park. We had just spent two days in Yellowstone, the neighbor to the north, and we had decided to spend a day in the Tetons prior to catching a flight out of Salt Lake City.
The whole trip was a bit overly ambitious as far as timing was concerned, so we knew we had to choose our activities wisely since time was a scarce resource.
24 Hours Spent in Grand Teton National Park
Gateway to The Grand Tetons
We spent our first and only evening exploring the town of Jackson. Jackson is a stone's throw from the park entrance and makes for a good home base for venturing into the park and surrounding area. Despite being such a popular tourist destination, Jackson still maintains an air of authenticity and feels much less "touristy" than we expected. There were dozens of interesting shops and good restaurants and bars around the town square and the mountains in the background made for a perfect backdrop.
Entering the Grand Tetons
The following morning, we made the 10 minute drive to the park entrance. One of the best parts about spending time in the Tetons is that you don't need to seek out the awe-inspiring scenery. You can't avoid it. No matter where you go in the park, the views are absolutely incredible. We spent a fair amount of time just driving down Teton Park Road, stopping every couple minutes to take photos of the jaw-dropping mountain range.
Canoeing in Jackson Lake
The main event of the day for us was canoeing in Jackson Lake. We rented a canoe at Colter Bay Village for a few hours and just paddled around the lake, stopping briefly on one of the small wooded islands off shore. Apparently grizzly bears occasionally swim to these small islands, but we didn't have the good fortune (or misfortune...) of seeing one. The views from the island and the canoe were as good as they come. As far as mountain ranges are concerned, it's truly hard to find many that are more impressive than the tetons, and it's difficult to think of a better way to experience the views than from the water.
Although our time in the park was much too short, we managed to have an incredible experience. We didn't try to squeeze too much into our limited itinerary and opted to focus on one main activity which turned out to be amazing.
Obviously if we had more time, we would have tried to do some hiking or horseback riding, but canoeing turned out to be the perfect way to experience the park in a limited amount of time.