Like many units in the National Park Service, Grand Teton National Park had a record-breaking year in 2016. More than 3.2 million visitors traveled to the iconic Wyoming park last year. This number was up from 2.7 million in 2014. While the majestic Teton Mountains captivate many tourists, the wildlife is another top attraction. Although with more than 310,000 acres, spotting wildlife in Grand Teton National Park can be tricky.
The experts’ best suggestion for spotting wildlife? Get off the highway. Seriously.
This may seem like a no brainer, but thousands of people visit Grand Teton National Park every year and never travel off Highway 89/191 that extends the length of the park. The best chance you have to see wildlife in Grand Teton National Park is by moving away from the visitor center parking lots and into the more remote sections of the park. An multi-day backpacking trip is not necessary. But a day hike or a picnic lunch on one of the six moraine lakes at the base of the Teton Mountains will dramatically increase your odds of seeing wildlife during your visit.
So might a stop at one of these wildlife hotspots in the park:
3 Best Spots to See Wildlife in Grand Teton National Park
1. Oxbow Bend
You know you’ve hit the best spot to see wildlife in Grand Teton National Park when at dusk the line of cars in the pull-outs belong to Jackson, Wyoming native and not a rental car company. Between Moran Junction and Jackson Lake Junction is the Oxbow Bend Turnout. It’s some of the most popular wildlife viewing by both Jackson locals and visiting wildlife photographers. Moose, deer, and the occasional bear frequent the river flats in this area. Smaller wildlife (otters, bald eagles, swans, etc.) regularly dot the landscape as well. If you’ve seen stunning photos of golden river sunsets in Jackson, chances are you’re seeing shots of Oxbow Bend.
2. Antelope Flats Road
Travel south from Oxbow Bend along the main park highway and you’ll meet a left hand turn to Antelope Flats. In 2016 the National Park Service acquired an additional 640 acres of land in the Antelope Flats area. With good reason — as its name suggests — the area is a popular place for wildlife in Grand Teton National Park. Pronghorn aren’t the only animals you’ll see here either. Visitors can see bison and dozens of bird species. The area also lies along the migration route for the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem’s large elk population. One of the best features? It’s a spot for a 360° unobstructed view of Jackson Hole Valley, something you won’t find in many other places in the park.
3. Moose-Wilson Road
Moose-Wilson Road is the 8 mile route between Teton Village at the southern entrance of Grand Teton National Park and the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center. While we cannot guarantee a moose sighting, visitors who leave early in the morning or in late evening just might spot one. The underbrush or along the slopes of the roadside are good places to point your camera lens in this area.
And if you’re not lucky enough to spot wildlife in any of these locations, be sure to check out the National Museum of Wildlife Art in Jackson, Wyoming. It’s one of the premier collections of wildlife photography, sculpture and other art in the world. Definitely not to be missed!