the grand tetons: where to hike, sleep & eat
My favorite stop of this road trip so far, to my surprise, was the Grand Tetons National Park. I've been before with my parents, and I knew it was going to be beautiful, but this recent visit blew me away. The only way to describe the Teton range is intimidating, in the most wonderful way possible. On our hikes, I found myself constantly photographing the peaks and skyline, and soaking it all in. Trust me, you'll want to do the same.
where to hike
First thing's first, you're in bear country. You'll want to make sure before you set off on your adventure that you're prepared. We picked up bear spray from Walmart for only $30 before heading into the park. That's the most affordable I've seen for a reputable brand so if you're driving to the park from a city with a Walmart, definitely pick yours up there! Make sure you're bringing plenty of water on your hikes, and something we wished we brought the first time but didn't... snacks. It can be exhausting doing a 6 mile hike with elevation gain most of the way, and having a cereal bar on hand, would've come in handy. We learned quick, and the next day we picnicked at Taggart Lake after the first half of our hike, along with a few other families.
Now that we've gotten the basics out of the way, here are the trails I recommend and their length. The difficulty is based on my opinion, for official information regarding the trails in the park, please refer to: https://www.nps.gov/grte/index.htm
Hidden Falls Trail / 4.8 miles / moderate
Taggart Lake Loop / 4.1 miles / moderate
Jenny Lake Loop / 7.5 miles / moderate-hard
Bradley Lake Trail / 5.1 miles / moderate
Lots of people combine Taggart Lake & Bradley Lake to form a larger loop hike to see both lakes in one go. We thought that's what we were doing when we started on the Taggart Lake trail head, but since the day before we had hiked over 6 miles, and the Taggart Lake trail is entirely upwards for the first portion, we only hiked to Taggart Lake. If you add Bradley lake, there will be a point on the Taggart Lake trail where you see a sign for Bradley Lake. You go out to Bradley Lake first, and when you've finished that, you are supposed to turn around and finish with Taggart. Combining the two makes it over 7 miles, so make sure you have ample time to do this hike!
Hidden Falls is easy according to All Trails, moderately rated by others, and I found it to be the latter. Maybe it's because I'm from Florida? Either way, I don't see how this hike is "easy" if you're doing the full length from South Jenny Lake junction. We got through it fine, it wasn't extremely difficult by any means, I just wanted to throw that out there for any families looking to hike to Hidden Falls, it may not be as easy as the internet makes it sound. A great option if you're wanting to stick to very easy hikes is to take the boat shuttle which makes the hike to Hidden Falls only 1 mile round trip! Just be sure to note, the boat shuttle is seasonal.
Link for boat shuttle info: https://jennylakeboating.com/boat-trips/shuttle-service/
photo at taggart lake
where to sleep
There's nothing better than a pre-dinner nap. Especially after you've been hiking the entire day. If you're going to the Tetons, then you must stay in Jackson Hole, don't let the lodging prices deter you. When I found Cache House, I immediately booked. A trendy downtown hostel with plush beds & prices under $100 a night? Sign me up. Depending on what time of year you visit, I saw prices as low as $49 a night and it seemed like $92 was the most they'd charge during peak season. We chose a queen size bed, but you can also do two twins. Upon arrival you get a large locker that fit our suitcase, duffel bag + more. You also get a large drawer under your bed to store even more stuff, plus hooks next to your bed for bulky winter coats.
pictures of lockers and sleeping area
If privacy is a concern for you, trust me when I say, I felt just as comfortable here as I do in any hotel! They do such a good job enforcing quiet hours, so you don't have to worry about not getting enough sleep because of loud guests, and during these times of COVID-19, all bathrooms are cleaned after each guest uses them + it appeared they were booking every other bed to be socially distanced. This place is great for people off all ages, I know hostels are usually thought of as only for younger crowds, but we saw couples of all ages. The only con is if you're traveling with children, unfortunately Cache House is 18+ only so this place wouldn't be an option.
where to eat
Jackson Hole is not your typical "closest city to the national park" place. They have so many bars and restaurants with actually good food (thank god). During our 2 day stay we tried out Liberty Burger, Gather, and Healthy Being Cafe. All 3 are completely different dining styles & cuisines, and each restaurant got a thumbs up from both of us. After doing some research on where to eat dinner, Gather kept popping up. I snagged a last minute reservation and I'm so glad we splurged on dinner here.
We started with their burrata appetizer and it was phenomenal.
Our entrees were equally amazing, and if you're looking for cocktail recommendations: their jalapeño margarita was great! Gather is definitely my must-eat restaurant if you're only going have 1 meal out and are willing to pay around $20 per plate.
For something more casual, Liberty Burger has tons of options for everyone. I got the ahi tuna burger with wasabi aioli, and my boyfriend got a traditional beef burger, but they also had impossible burgers, veggie burgers, chicken options, etc. Liberty Burger is a solid option for a moderately priced and filling meal for everyone.
If you're looking for a more health conscious choice, Healthy Being Cafe is such a hidden gem. After our hike to Taggart Lake I wanted something satisfying and nutrient dense, and a quick google search lead me to Healthy Being. I got their vegan falafel salad and wow. It was so good I forgot to take a picture. I believe the falafel was made out of a nut mixture, and the dollops of homemade hummus and dressing all came together to make a perfect lunch. They also had tons of coffees, pressed juices, and sandwiches, so I think most people could easily find something at the cafe for them, vegan or not.
I could write for days about how much I loved the Tetons and Jackson Hole, but lucky for you I'll wrap it up. Can't wait to share the next adventure!
Till next time,