One of our favorite parts of visiting national parks is the opportunity to see wildlife! Each landscape is so unique, you’re bound to see something incredible. If you’ve been around for any period of time, you know we’re always on the hunt for GRIZZLIES. While we didn’t see any while in Grand Teton National Park, this is an excellent place to grab your binoculars and start looking!
Grand Teton is one of the best preserved temperate ecosystems in the WORLD. There is ample opportunity to see wildlife and I could *allllmost* guarantee 100% you will see something! But it’s just a fact of life that certain areas have better opportunities than others. So where do you go?! Well, I’ve got ya covered my animal loving friend. Today, we’re gonna talk about the best places to see wildlife in Grand Teton National Park.
Certain times of the year are better than others to see different species, so check out the best time to visit Grand Teton National Park to plan your trip!
Grand Teton National Park is not only one of MY favorite places in the whole world, it often becomes a favorite of many travelers! I think it’s because it is so unexpected… We hear so much about Yellowstone that we overlook Grand Teton! But don’t make that mistake, friend. You MUST take time to visit this magical park.
Grand Teton National Park is located in Wyoming near the famous ski town of Jackson Hole. It’s relatively easy to get to and has things to do for all abilities and ages. Be warned, though. It is a bit pricey to stay here because of its location and how touristy Jackson can be at times. I promise it’s worth it! And the wildlife you can see is AMAZING. Moose, grizzlies, black bears, elk, bison… and more!
Table of Contents
The Best Places to see Wildlife in Grand Teton
WILDLIFE SAFETY + VIEWING TIPS
I wish I didn’t have to say it, but I do. Please please please follow all the posted signs and rules within the park to protect this ecosystem. It’s only as well preserved as we treat it! Human interaction is absolutely detrimental to flora and fauna alike. Follow the leave no trace principles any time you’re out and about. Understand bear safety and what to do if you end up closer to a bear than expected. Keep 100 yards away from bears and wolves and 50 yards from moose and other wildlife. Let them be! Take pictures from afar.
Other great tips:
- A telephoto lens will be your best friend if you are into photography, as usually wildlife is far away. But don’t feel like you need to spend tons of money! Sometimes the animals will come closer than you think so you can get that great shot.
- The best time to view wildlife is dusk and dawn, when animals are the most active.
- While hiking in bear country, be sure to hike in a group if you can and make noise at intervals to let the bears know you’re there. It’s best not to use a bell or radio for your noise, those become similar to “white noise” for wildlife.
- Be prepared with bear spray… just in case! Know how to use it and have it easily accessible. You can’t take the canister on planes but you can rent it from the gift shop or buy it and give it away when you leave!
Alright, let’s hop into the best places to see wildlife in Grand Teton National Park.
MOOSE WILSON ROAD
Wow. This unassuming road was AMAZING. We stayed at a hotel in Salt Lake City before driving up to Grand Teton, and the concierge actually recommended driving down this road one evening at dusk. We owe her a drink!!
Moose-Wilson Road runs between Grand Teton National Park and Jackson Hole. Conveniently, we were staying at Snake River Lodge while here and this road led us directly to it! What we didn’t expect was that this amazing road for wildlife would also lead us to our bed for the night. What an amazing coincidence!
The two times we traversed down this road we were rewarded with bears, moose, and bison! The road has signs everywhere telling you to drive slow and be on the lookout for wildlife. The road itself is only about 8 miles long and could take you up to an hour to make it from one end to the other. Between traffic and potential for amazing “wildlife traffic jams,” this road is slooooow going. But it’s worth it!
Jenny Lake is one of the most popular stops on any Grand Teton itinerary so it can be a bit surprising to hear that you’re likely to encounter wildlife here! But the bears and moose don’t care because this is a perfect habitat for them! Despite the large crowds, be prepared for an animal encounter at any point. The hike around the lake towards Inspiration Point is the perfect spot for bears, so keep your eyes peeled!
WILLOW FLATS TO JACKSON LAKE LODGE
Bear management area, say what?! Willow Flats is often closed off to humans during peak bear seasons (Mid-May to Mid-July) but there are several pull outs and observation decks that will allow you to get a peak of this interesting spot. Elks often have babies here, which leads to easy prey for the bears. Grab your binoculars and settle in (from a safe distance!) for a chance to see these amazing creatures.
For our bird and water loving friends, you’ll want to head over to Oxbow Bend. Located near Jackson Lake Lodge Junction, this pullout gives you the opportunity to view wildlife around the water. Many birds flock to this area and you may also see otters, beavers, and moose if you’re lucky! I had no idea moose loved the water so much until venturing into this part of the world, so if it’s hot outside just park yourself near a body of water and you have a good chance of seeing these huge mammals.
Looking for that classic viewpoint of the bison grazing in front of a huge mountain range? Antelope Flats is your place! The grass and sage here attract bison that leisurely munch, giving you the perfect viewing opportunity. Smaller animals like moles also build tunnels here which can draw some bigger predators like coyotes and wolves!
NATIONAL ELK REFUGE
As you are driving into Grand Teton from the South, you’ll inevitably pass by the National Elk Refuge. If you come into the Tetons from Yellowstone, you will pass all the way through the park and head towards Jackson to see the refuge. It was created in 1912 to protect the habitat for one of the country’s largest elk herds! While during the summer you probably won’t see any elk hanging out here, this is the BEST place in the summer! The elk enjoy some of the higher elevations and areas within the park during the summer, but can typically be found enjoying the refuge once it gets colder.
I must admit this last wildlife viewing opportunity won’t come easy… but it will be worth it! Cascade Canyon is a 9.1 mile hike starting from South Jenny Lake that takes you along a river and up to a picturesque canyon. It’s often said to be one of the most beautiful hikes in Grand Teton AND teeming with wildlife! Be prepared to see moose, black bears, grizzly bears, as well as other smaller mammals. It’s best to hike this route with a group, make noise as you hike, and carry bear spray. Brush up on bear safety before you go!
Aside from these areas, you will have a high chance of spotting wildlife while you’re out hiking. Even though it’s a rather crowded trail, bears seem to love the Inspiration Point trail! Getting out into the less crowded trails will also give you a good shot.
Oh man, this article has me aching to get back to Grand Teton so I can see more wildlife! This landscape is absolutely perfect for observing the ecosystem that lives here and I hope you get to experience all Grand Teton has to offer. In case you didn’t know before you go, dawn and dusk are the BEST times to view wildlife. It’s worth the early wake up calls and the long days in the park to see some amazing animals.
Leave me a comment and let me know what your favorite spot in Grand Teton is to see wildlife? If you haven’t been yet, are you going to add any of these spots to your list?