Less than a 10-hour drive from Denver and within 10 miles of Yellowstone National Park, the Grand Teton National Park is a magical getaway. Fall is one of the most beautiful times of the year to visit. The Jackson Valley and the Tetons boast beautiful color, wildlife and small crowds from September through mid-October for a relaxing time. The park has a myriad of activities such as boating, camping, fishing, rafting, hiking, biking and horseback riding. At its highest peak, this incredible Rocky Mountain range is 13,770 feet above sea level and a must-see vacation spot.
The trip will take about 9.5 hours with about a 563-mile drive. Take Interstate 25 North 116 miles toward Wyoming. Then take exit 8B to merge onto I-80 toward Laramie for another 254 miles. Take exit 104 for US-191 North/Elk Street and continue on US-191 for 162 miles. Turn left on US-26/US-89 North Cache Street and follow for 12.4 miles.
Craig Thomas Discovery & Visitor Center
25 S. Willow, Suite 10
Jackson, WY 83001
Although any time in the fall provides some beautiful sights, the third week in September has historically been the peak for fall colors. This 22,000-square-foot visitor’s center is the ideal place to begin your adventure. It features natural history exhibits, a map of the park, an introductory video, an extensive bookstore, scheduled activities, guided walks, mountaineering exhibits, backcountry camping equipment and boat permits.
Grand Teton National Park
P.O. Drawer 170
Moose, WY 83012
With the Jenny Lake Campground nearby, this visitor center offers activities, restrooms and phones. It’s an ideal place to relax and warm up by the fireplace on a chilly morning or a rainy day. Rangers lead a variety of programs throughout the day including a hike to Inspiration Point, a talk about climbing the Tetons and a variety of evening programs. This center also has colorful exhibits on geology and ecology.
Grand Teton National Park
Jenny Lake Road
Jackson Hole, WY 83013
Breakfast, lunch and five-course dinners all come with a side of breathtaking views of the Tetons. The Jenny Lake Lodge Dining Room serves up inventive food, locally inspired dishes and excellent service. It has tasty breakfasts for the sweet tooth such as cinnamon roll French toast and sautéed trout and eggs for the more adventurous. Amazing salads and sandwiches are offered for lunch. Dinner treats guests to seared Wyoming filet mignon, buffalo rib eye, seared ruby trout and an award-winning wine list that promises fresh flavors.
Leeks Marina & Pizzeria
89 National Park Road
Grand Teton National Park, WY 83012
Well known among the locals and always busy is the Leeks Marina & Pizzeria. Indoor and outdoor dining with the view of the Tetons, this restaurant offers lunch on a budget. This is perfect for families looking for a pizza or two to share. Guests can dine lakeside and gaze at the snow-capped Tetons while enjoying pizza and a cold beer. Most other restaurants in the area are sometimes more upscale than visitors want and this is the perfect place to bring the family.
Where To Stay
Jackson Lake Lodge
US Highway 89 North
Grand Teton National Park, WY 83013
Autumn in the Tetons is a great time of year to visit the Jackson Lake Lodge as rooms are more available. With 60-foot panoramic windows framing the Teton Mountains and Jackson Lake, this lodge boasts as being the most eco-friendly of resorts. From your lodge windows, you will look out to fields surrounding a blue lake. Older and fairly basic rooms allow you to get back to nature. This hotel is located in a great spot where you might see plenty of wildlife and the views from the lobby, bar and restaurant.
Snake River Lodge & Spa
7710 Granite Loop Road
Teton Village, WY 83025
Come discover the legendary American West at Snake River Lodge & Spa in Jackson Hole. Just minutes away from Grand Tetons and Yellowstone National Parks, this exhilarating lodge offers its guests an adventurous and unforgettable experience in the wilds of Wyoming. There is whitewater rafting on the nearby Snake River, miles of hiking trails and horseback riding tours throughout the valley. This resort boasts a 17,000-square-foot spa and 143 spacious guest rooms with comfortable pull-out beds, including three stunning penthouses, suites and condominiums. The pool area is beautiful with its waterfalls and large “cave-like” hot tub. There’s a place to relax and chat in the lobby with bar and fireplace.
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Colleen Bement is a freelance writer covering all things Denver. Her work can be found on Examiner.com.