Spending one day in Grand Teton National Park in the most epic way possible involves two primary activities: hiking to Delta Lake and visiting Mormon Row.
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These particular activities are not only two of the most popular ways to spend one day in Grand Teton National Park, but they are also arguably the most Instagrammable places in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. From a jaw-dropping glacier lake to a pine layered hike to historic barn ruins, Delta Lake and Mormon Row are must-see spots in Grand Teton National Park.
Here is the perfect itinerary for an epic Grand Teton day trip!
1. Start Your One Day In Grand Teton National Park As Early As Possible
Rise and shine!
The first activity on this one day Grand Teton itinerary is the Delta Lake hike.
You will need to start this hike early for several reasons:
- In order to get to Delta Lake by midday, you will need to begin hiking in the early morning.
- It is safer to hike in bear country during daylight (you’ll learn about bear safety later in this article).
- The hike will take up the majority of the day, and you definitely don’t want to hike down the wildlife-filled mountain alone at night.
For these reasons, it is advisable that you begin your hike no later than 9:00 a.m. This means, if you are staying in Cody, Wyoming, you will want to leave your hotel room by 4:30 a.m. at the latest.
In order to ensure your prompt departure, I suggest packing as much as you can for Grand Teton National Park the night before. Below you will find a list of everything you will need to pack.
2. What To Bring For One Day In Grand Teton National Park
Here is a bear-minimum (pun intended) list of what to pack for one epic day in the Tetons.
1. Plenty of water. As you will soon learn, the Delta Lake hike is not for the faint of heart. You will need a lot of water, as it is imperative to stay extra hydrated when hiking in backcountry. It is recommended to bring at least 2.5 liters of water per person.
2. Picnic lunch. Once you arrive at Delta Lake later in the day, you will be enjoying a lakeside picnic lunch. So, pack some sandwiches, chips, apples, trail mix and any other yummy packable foods you wish.
3. Extra snacks. Like I alluded to already, this hike is long and difficult. Pack extra snacks to munch on while you hike.
4. Insulated picnic backpack. This packing list item isn’t mandatory, but we love hiking with our insulated picnic backpack. It holds plenty of food and snacks, makes hiking with food super manageable, and helps keep our water cold throughout the day.
Hiking Gear For One Day In Grand Teton National Park
5. Bear spray. You can buy bear spray for around $50 USD per can at any local grocery store, or you can rent bear spray at Teton Backcountry Rentals for $8 USD per can per day. Whether you plan to buy or rent, though, be sure you have the bear spray the day before because the stores will likely be closed when you begin your hike.
6. Appropriate hiking clothes and hiking boots. Hiking boots with ankle support are preferred, but tennis shoes will work too.
7. Swimsuit, in case you decide to jump into Delta Lake.
8. Sunglasses and/or a baseball cap.
10. America The Beautiful Annual Park Pass — if you have one. The America The Beautiful Park Pass costs $80 USD and will give you entrance into all the U.S. National Parks plus other federal lands for an entire year. Otherwise, bring $35 USD per vehicle for a one day park pass.
12. Travel first aid kit, like this one.
13. Camera gear. Click here for all the best budget camera gear for travel photography.
3. Sunrise Drive With A View Of The Grand Tetons
Now that you’re all packed and departed, you will get to indulge in a peaceful sunrise drive through the park entrance and past the Teton mountains.
Their jagged peaks will glow hues of gold, orange and baby pink with a clear sky, so have your camera accessible.
4. Head To The Delta Lake Trailhead
Drive directly to the Delta Lake trailhead and waste no time. Although you don’t need to feel completely hurried, remember that it is important for your safety to begin as early as possible.
The trailhead to Delta Lake begins at Lupine Meadows Park Access. The Delta Lake trail is unmarked, so you will not see signs that say “Delta Lake” explicitly. The trailhead GPS coordinates are (43.73562, -110.74116).
If you follow these AllTrails directions, you shouldn’t have a problem finding it.
Parking is hard to come by here, so be prepared to walk a half mile or so to the trailhead. Take the first available parking spot, as it is honestly not worth your time to drive to the trailhead to see if there is a closer spot. Learn from our mistake.
In addition, note that there are bathrooms located at trailhead next to the parking lot for your convenience.
5. Begin Your Hike To Grand Teton National Park’s Delta Lake
Rumors are true. The Delta Lake hike is difficult.
There’s no romanticizing endlessly steep switchbacks, muddy trails, an unmarked half-mile boulder scramble and a vertical climb at the very end. (Did I mention you are hiking through black and grizzly bear country?)
However, the rewarding view is so worth the sweaty t-shirts and sore quadriceps.
It’s the Lake Louise of the United States.
To learn everything you need to know about Delta Lake, Wyoming, as well as the Delta Lake hike, stay tuned for my Delta Lake Grand Teton Hike blog post, which will be released this Wednesday.
6. Be Bear Aware
As you are already well aware, Grand Teton National Park is situated in the heart of both black bear and grizzly bear country.
It should go without saying that bears can be very dangerous. Although bear attacks are extremely rare, it is likely that you will see at least one bear on your one day in Grand Teton National Park.
(We saw a bear cub on our Delta Lake hike from a distance. It was fun from a distance, but all I could nervously think was, “Um, where is momma bear?”)
Everyone who plans on hiking in Grand Teton National Park — whether to Delta Lake or elsewhere — must carry bear spray on them, and it must be accessible.
I encourage you to read this bear encounter safety article from the National Park Service to get the most up-to-date information. But, for now, here are the bear safety basics.
Bear Safety Basics
- Always carry bear spray, and make sure the bear spray is easily accessible — not packed away in your backpack. Most bear spray cans come with a shoulder strap clip.
- Know how to use the bear spray before you hike.
- Clap and yell, “Hey bear!” when turning a trail corner or going through dense forestry. This warns bears of your presence and makes them less like to attack out of fear.
- Stay away from bear cubs. If you see a bear cub, know that a protective mother is close by. Calmly and quietly walk away.
- Know the difference between a black bear and a grizzly bear. Grizzlies can be more aggressive. They are distinguished by their humped back and curved snout.
- If you encounter a bear, DO NOT RUN. This will scare the bear and provoke aggression.
- If you encounter a bear, try to slowly and quietly walk away. It is a common misconception that you should act big and scary, but this is only true for predatory wildlife (such as mountain lions or bears that are stalking you). Otherwise, you should do everything in your power to not scare the bear.
- Use the bear spray if and only if the bear is charging you.
- Do not drop your backpack because this reinforces bears to get human food.
- Protect your young.
- If a bear is stalking you, then it most likely sees you as prey. This is extremely dangerous (and unlikely). Make sure to let the bear know you are not easy prey. This is the only time you should act big and scary around a bear.
- If a bear is attacking you, get down onto your stomach, and cover your neck and head with your hands.
Bear Safety Overview For One Day In Grand Teton National Park
Basically, the goal is to not scare the bears. Unprovoked bear attacks are almost unheard of. The majority of bear attacks occur because the human scared the bear.
7. Enjoy A Packed Picnic Lunch (And Maybe A Swim) At Delta Lake
At last! You made it through bear country, navigated the boulder scramble and can finally enjoy the iconic glacier water that makes up Delta Lake.
Find an area to set up your picnic and indulge! Rest, refuel, hydrate and give gratitude to your body for bringing you to this magnificent place.
And, if you’re feeling extra brave, take a quick jump into the beautiful turquoise glacier water.
Delta Lake’s water temperature averages well below 32 degrees Fahrenheit (0 degrees Celsius), but they say ice baths are good for muscle recovery anyway, right?
I suggest sitting on the right hand side of the lake for your picnic, as this will give you the best views of the lake and the courageous cliff jumpers.
8. Hike Back Down From Delta Lake
After refreshing at Delta Lake for a couple hours, start your trek back down the mountain.
Remember, the sun sets past the mountain extremely early, and the shadowed side of the mountain (where the trail is) gets dark fast.
I suggest you begin your hike down from Delta Lake no later than 3:00 p.m. in order to ensure enough sunlight to get back to the bottom.
Luckily, the hike back down is a lot easier than the hike up. You will follow the same trail but in reverse.
9. Sunset Drive To Mormon Row
By this point in the day, your legs will be tired, but your heart will be full. The view of Delta Lake is unmatchable — even though it may have cost you the feeling in your feet.
So, for the rest of your Grand Teton National Park day trip, you will be taking it easy while still seeing the best of Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
Plug, “Mormon Row” into your GPS, turn on some Western road trip music and follow the directions while enjoying the beginning of the Teton sunset.
10. Explore Mormon Row
If you are unfamiliar, the Mormon Row Historic District, otherwise known as Mormon Row, is essentially a homestead ghost town in the southeastern region of Grand Teton National Park.
In the 19th century, members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from Salt Lake City migrated to this region to continue building their flourishing population. There, they built homesteads in a line to promote their growing community.
Thus, the name “Mormon Row.”
Today, we can leisurely walk through history along Mormon Row and take photo-opp advantage of the legendary Teton mountain view that backdrops the wooden barns.
Mormon Row has become remarkably popular among travel Instagrammers in the past couple years, so be sure to take a picture or two while you’re here.
11. Head To Jackson Lake Lodge For A Quick Dinner
You’re probably pretty hungry after your epic day trip, so I’m going to make the dinner option easy for you.
Avoid wait times and unforeseen seasonal restaurant closures by getting dinner at Jackson Lake Lodge. You can order a yummy American meal inside their lobby, and be sure to reward yourself with a delicious milkshake!
12. Return To Your Hotel Room And Rest
You made it. Can you believe it?
Your epic one day in Grand Teton National Park has come to an end!
Take the rest of the night to kick your legs up. Watch some hotel TV, binge some laptop Netflix or maybe even take a dip in the hotel hot tub.
Bonus: The Best Time Of Year For One Day In Grand Teton National Park
The best time of year to visit Grand Teton National Park is in the summer. Temperatures are mild because of the mountain range, snow is melted off the trails and the sunshine is plentiful.
Therefore, to get the absolute most out of your one day in Grand Teton National Park, visit in the late spring or summer.
We went to Grand Teton National Park in the beginning of August, which would normally be an excruciatingly hot month to go on a hiking trip. However, the August weather was perfect in the Tetons.
Between the pride-bearing hike, the awe-inspiring glacier lake and the historic ghost town you witnessed, I know that the epic memories you made on this day trip will last a lifetime.
Likewise, you can be confident that you fully experienced Grand Teton National Park even though you were only there for one day!
Is there anything else you would like to see in Grand Teton National Park? Let me know in the comments below.
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