We’ve been asked many times about what to pack when traveling to Grand Teton National Park. While packing for any National Park isn’t overly difficult, it helps to know a few tips and tricks ahead of your trip. A little preparation will make sure you can spend your precious vacation time enjoying yourself instead of heading to nearby Jackson, WY to pick up supplies that you should have grabbed before you entered the park!
Here are a few of the things that we think are “must haves” when planning a trip to Grand Teton National Park!
GEAR FOR HIKING AND EXPLORING IN GRAND TETON NATIONAL PARK
- Footwear: If you plan on only getting out of the car at overlooks, then any footwear will do. Most of the overlooks are paved. However, if you plan on hiking, you’ll want to make sure you bring along some sturdy hiking shoes. Since the snow stays until the middle of summer and glacial runoff occurs during the entire summer, the trails are frequently wet and muddy in spots. Waterproof hiking shoes with plenty of ankle support (for trails like Cascade Canyon) are highly recommended.
- Backpack: Services on Grand Teton hiking trails are non-existent, so be prepared to bring all your needs with you. For this, you’ll need a good backpack-even for day hiking. Aside from shoes, a backpack is a piece of gear that comes in contact with your body longer than anything else. We used to use cheap backpacks, but they always caused hot spots on our backs or waistline and never had the right number, size or location of compartments. A few years ago, we invested in Osprey backpacks for a few of us in our family, and we’ll never go back. There are many other options as well that you can find, either at Amazon or at a local outfitter of your choice. The main point is that you need to have one if you plan on hiking over an hour or so, which is easy to do!
PROTECTION AGAINST THE WEATHER (AND WILDLIFE!)
- Bear Spray: First and foremost, if you are hiking you want to bring bear spray with you. Spotting bears in the park happens frequently, and if you encounter one on a trail you’ll need to be prepared. You can pick it up in nearby Jackson, at the Craig Thomas Visitor and Discovery Center in the park or you can purchase the bear spray online (but don’t try to fly with it!). A piece of advice-make sure you know how to use it before you go hiking!
- Bug Spray: While the bears may not get you, the bugs surely will cause problems! Mosquito season in Grand Teton National Park is short but intense. We’ve found that Yaya Mosquito Ban works well. However, if you want something stronger (with Deet), go ahead and check out this option.
- Sunscreen: There are a lot of trees in Grand Teton National Park, but a lot of the hikes have stretches of exposed trail. Make sure you take care of your skin!
- Jacket: Being prepared with some sort of outerwear is highly recommended during all times of year. In the summer, a lightweight, waterproof jacket will help out, as the temperatures can get downright cold anytime of year. It’s normal for temperatures to drop down into the 40’s in the summer, and occasionally it will get down into the 30’s.
MAPS AND PLANNING GUIDES
- Maps: The National Park Service provides very useful information for hiking. While reviewing the information on their site is very good, we’ve found it not the best when it comes to helping direct us on trails, particularly because there are so many of them in the park. We’ve found several maps to help us out, and the one that we recommend the most is the National Geographic map for Grand Teton National Park. It has topographic information and can help you identify other landmarks in the area.
- Grand Teton Itinerary / Guide: In addition to books, we’ve also put together a downloadable .pdf planning guide to help you out while you are planning your trip or navigating around the park. We’ve taken the time to rank order the hikes (based on our ratings and the ratings of other park-goers), give you directions on how to get to various hikes, provide useful maps, places to see and tips on where to stay. Since they are downloadable, you can print them and have paper copies with you both as you plan your trip and during your trip.
- Planning Books: As you may know, cell phone service in Grand Teton National Park is non-existent in a lot of places. While the Park Rangers are very useful, they aren’t always in the spots you need them to be when you have questions, and the guides you get at the main entrance don’t exactly have what you might need. We recommend bringing with you at least one of your favorite planning books. For Grand Teton National Park, we recommend Compass American Guides (on Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons) by Fodor’s. Not only do they give you information about lodging and useful maps, they also help you out with what you may want to do in the area in addition to visiting the park and it is written by locals. They come in especially handy when the weather doesn’t cooperate and you are forced to change your plans.
- Hiking Guides: In addition to a book about general activities in the park, we also highly recommend bringing a book on local hikes. One book that we have found particularly useful is the Falcon Guide for day hiking in the Tetons. These guides provide additional details for hiking in Grand Teton National Park and can help you narrow down your choices.
OTHER MUST-HAVE ITEMS TO PACK
In addition to the special items above, we also recommend packing the following, no matter what time of year:
- First-aid kit: A small first-aid kit that can fit in your hiking backpack can be very useful, especially if you plan on hiking a decent amount.
- Camera: The scenery is gorgeous here, so make sure you bring a camera. Using your phone is fine, but make sure you take photos in the highest resolution possible so you can make great memories after the trip!
FURTHER INFORMATION ON GRAND TETON NATIONAL PARK FROM JUST GO TRAVEL STUDIOS
- For an overview of the entire park, you must see our blog post on Things to See and Do in Grand Teton National Park. This is the companion article to our downloadable itinerary for Grand Teton National Park.
- In addition to an overview of the park, we’ve created two articles that detail two of our favorite hikes in the park. See our blog on Hiking the Cascade Canyon Trail and Hiking the Taggart Lake Trail.