There are three roads in and out of Jackson. Ask any local and they’ll have a definite favorite. Mine is the Teton Pass, also known as Wyoming Highway 22. It doesn’t have the grand mountain views that you get entering the valley via Togowtee Pass, but from Teton Pass’s crest, you get a real sense of the valley being ringed by mountains, along with great views of the Snake River and its tributaries.
Once you’re in the valley, all roads lead to magnificent beauty, resident wildlife, or, very often, both. The traffic jams we have here are more often caused by bison than bad drivers. If traffic is stopped and there’s not a herd of bison lumbering across the highway, chances are there’s a moose somewhere in the aspens or willows off the side of the road and people have stopped their cars to take photos. Welcome to driving in Wyoming.
Your best bet for seeing bison in the valley is on this 16-mile loop starting and ending at the Gros Ventre Junction. Bonus sights include Kelly’s yurt park, the Gros Ventre Slide, Shadow Mountain, historic Mormon Row, and the 100-year-old Moulton Barn. Come fall, a side trip on the Gros Ventre Road will take you to some of the best colors in the valley.
Moose Wilson Road
Last fall, a section of this eight-mile narrow, winding road linking Teton Village and Moose was closed due to nearby grizzly bear activity. You never know what kind of wildlife you’ll see on this drive: moose and elk are most usual, black and grizzly bears are rarer, but possible.
Snake River Canyon
The only non-mountain-pass route into and out of the valley includes a 20-mile section through the Grand Canyon of the Snake River. Through much of the canyon, U.S. Highway 26/89 is feet from the Snake River. Pullouts along the way offer views of (and, for kayakers, access to) major rapids.
Inner Park Loop Road
Time for only one drive in the valley? Do Grand Teton National Park’s Inner Park Loop Road. Open to cars between May 1 and Oct. 31, this 20-some mile stretch of road winds under nearly all of the park’s major peaks and also past meadows popular with elk. The one-way, three-mile Jenny Lake Scenic Loop has even better views than the main road.
There are plenty of mountains to climb in Grand Teton National Park. Signal Mountain is the only one you can climb with your car though. A paved road gently climbs five miles to Signal Mountain’s 7,720-foot summit, from which you have 360-degree views of the valley below.