This year has been a strange and troubling one for all of us, and what my family needed was a getaway to the outdoors. Grand Teton National Park offered wide open spaces to be social distant while on vacation. But, as you can imagine, it wasn’t business as usual there. Read on to find out what to expect if you visit Grand Teton during the pandemic.
** Everything is subject to change after this post has gone live. We were at the park at the end of June 2020 and COVID-19 health and operational guidelines may change. Please check the Grand Teton National Park official website for the most up-to-date information.
COVID-19 protocol at Grand Teton National Park
The park has taken many steps to reduce the spread of COVID-19. The one that will impact any visit is the closures of many buildings like visitor centers and ranger stations.
Places that are open, like some restaurants (for take-out only) and gift shops, encourage face masks, hand sanitizer and capacity limits. You’ll also encounter Plexiglass barriers in retail areas.
Here’s an example of our experience: The gift shop at Jenny Lake, for instance, had an employee at the door keeping track of the amount of people who entered, so a line formed outside.
The line at the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center in Moose had an even longer line outside since it was not only a line for the gift shop, but a line to get park permits.
There are plenty of signs throughout the park reminding people to maintain 6 feet of social distance.
It was pretty easy to keep a safe distance from people while hiking at Grand Teton. People tried their best to keep 6 feet apart, even while waiting in line at the Jenny Lake boat launch.
Tip: Hikers can take the short boat ride from the dock at Jenny Lake to trails on the other side, including the popular Hidden Fall Trail. The boat ride is an additional fee.
Related post: COVID-19 Safety Protocols at Yellowstone National Park
What are the crowds like at Grand Teton?
I can’t tell you how crowd levels compare to previous visits since this was my first time at the park. However, I imagine summer is typically busy, especially with the return of Grizzly 399.
We saw her and her cubs, by the way! Granted, we saw them all from very, very far away with the help of binoculars. But still. We saw them!
We tended to encounter a decent size crowd when we stopped at convenience stores. The largest crowd, though, was at Jenny Lake.
The paved path is very popular, but once you got a little ways off the path, the crowd thinned out. Our hike around Moose Ponds, which starts at the Jenny Lake area, was almost entirely ours alone.
Which restaurants are open at Grand Teton
We stayed at a cabin at Grand Teton National Park and it didn’t have a kitchen nor a fire pit outside. So, we did have to get food from time to time beyond our Nutella and Cheerios.
For one breakfast, we grabbed sandwiches at the convenience store at Headwaters. We heated them up at the convenience store.
For another, we got breakfast burritos at the convenience store at Signal Mountain. If you’re a coffee drinker, get the coffee there instead of the coffee at the Headwaters convenience store.
Other dining options that were open (take-out only):
- Sheffields at Flagg Ranch
- Colter Bay Convenience Store and Gas Station at Colter Bay Village
- Ranch House at Colter Bay Village
- John Colter Cafe Court at Colter Bay Village
What else is open at Grand Teton right now?
As I mentioned before, gift shops were open. Not a whole lot of people wearing masks, save for a handful of families and all employees.
Some visitor’s centers were open, though, when we visited, certain areas were still closed within the buildings. What’s open:
- The Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center in Moose (exhibits and the auditorium were not open)
- Colter Bay Visitor Center
- Jenny Lake Ranger Station
The Jenny Lake Visitor Center, LSR Preserve Center, and Flagg Ranch Information Station are not open for the 2020 summer season.
Horseback riding has not reopened, but there are quite a few other guided activities that are open:
- Float trips
- Fishing trips
If something isn’t listed here as being open, check the park’s Operating Hours page to see if/when it will reopen in 2020.
Where can you stay overnight at Grand Teton National Park?
I booked our three nights in a cabin at Headwaters at Flagg Ranch two weeks before our trip. In my mind, that’s extremely last minute, considering I tried to book Jenny Lake cabins more than a year in advance. I think that availability is unusual unless there was a cancellation.
Want to see what’s available this summer? Here’s the lodging that is open:
- Headwaters Lodge & Cabins
- Signal Mountain Lodge
- Triangle X Dude & Guest Ranch at Moran
- Colter Bay Cabins
- Colter Bay Tent Cabins
These are the open campgrounds:
- Headwaters Campground and RV Park
- Gros Ventre Campground at Moose
- Jenny Lake Campground
- Signal Mountain Campground
- Colter Bay Campground and RV Park
- Lizard Creek Campground
Plan a vacation to Grand Teton National Park
In the next few weeks, I’ll be publishing more stories about our trip to Grand Teton (and nearby Yellowstone National Park). Stay tuned for more stories about:
- These Cabins Put You Between Grand Teton and Yellowstone
- Easy Hike In Grand Teton
- What To Pack For A Grand Teton National Park Cabin Vacation
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