Oxbow Bend in Grand Teton National Park
Oxbow Bend is located on the Snake River in the northern part of Grand Teton National Park, in Wyoming. It is about a mile east of the Jackson Lake Junction, near the park’s eastern entrance. The overlook is an extremely popular spot for viewing the Teton mountain range and for wildlife watching, particularly for river otters and beavers.
Getting to Oxbow Bend
The Oxbow Bend overlook is right on US Highway 89/191/287 in the eastern part of the park. This road stays open year-round, so even in winter you should be able to take in this specatular view.
The coordinates of the overlook are 43.866245, -110.547152, (Google Maps Link) which should get you right to the parking lot.
Keep in mind that the turnout is often crowded as it is a small overlook area. The crowds are heavy, especially in the summer, so it’s best to plan to visit either early or late in the day to avoid the people if possible.
The closest national park visitor center to Oxbow Bend in Grand Teton National Park is the Colter Bay Visitor Center, which is about 8 miles away. The center is a great place to start your visit to the park, you can find ranger-led programs, exhibits, and information on park regulations and services, as well as books, maps, and souvenirs. Additionally, you can obtain backcountry permits and camping reservations at this visitor center.
The closest park entry point to Oxbow Bend is the Moran entry point, near the junction of highways 26 & 191 in Moran.
Here are a few distances to Oxbow Bend from various places around GTNP:
- Jackson Hole, WY: 33 miles / 41 minutes
- Moran, WY: 3 miles / 7 minutes
- Jenny Lake Visitor Center: 15 miles / 25 minutes
- Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center: 21 miles / 30 minutes
- Colter Bay Visitor Center: 8 miles / 15 minutes
- Teton Glacier Turnout: 18 miles / 24 minutes
If you are looking to stay as close when you visit Oxbow Bend, Moran has a few Airbnb options, but Jackson Lake Lodge is a great place to stay within the park. The lodge is only 3 miles (5 km) away from this overlook.
The View at Oxbow Bend
From Oxbow Bend, you can see the entire Teton mountain range, which includes Mount Moran and the Grand Teton (the highest peak in the range at 13,775 feet). Several other peaks such as Mount Owen, Teewinot Mountain, and the Middle Teton can also be viewed from this spot.
The views of the Teton mountain range from Oxbow Bend turnout are particularly famous for their reflections on the Snake River (as shown in the above picture). The Snake River bends right at the overlook, creating a beautiful and serene setting. The reflections on the winding river can be particularly stunning during the early morning or at sunset.
The Oxbow Bend turnout is a prime spot for viewing wildlife in Grand Teton park too. The area always has moose, elk, various waterfowl, bald eagles and osprey. The best time to see moose here is either dawn or dusk.
Avoiding the Crowds at Oxbow Bend
Oxbow Bend is an extremely popular overlook that provides stunning views of the Teton mountain range and the Snake River. It is quite famous for the views of the mountain range when they’re draped in fall colors, as the aspens and cottonwoods turn gold and orange.
However, due to its enormous popularity, it can get quite crowded during the peak tourist season between June and August. If you are visiting during these months, it’s best to visit Oxbow early in the morning or late in the evening to avoid the crowds.
Less Crowded Alternative Overlooks
Another way to steer clear of the crowds at Oxbow Bend is to simply find an alternative place with a similar view. The problem with Oxbow Bend is that it is one of the four most popular overlooks inside Grand Teton National Park. This particular overlook is widely talked about, and many famous photos have been taken from here. However, there are other places in the park that offer similar views:
- Schwabacher Landing: This is another popular spot for photography, located along the Snake River, with great views of the Teton Range. It’s a little further north of Oxbow Bend and often less crowded.
- String Lake Trailhead: Located slightly further south of Oxbow Bend, String Lake offers great views of the Teton Range, and it’s a popular spot for boating, fishing, and swimming.
- Signal Mountain Summit Road: The summit of Signal Mountain offers panoramic views of the entire Teton Range, and it’s a great spot for sunrise or sunset. It’s also a great spot for wildlife watching.
- Jenny Lake Visitor Center: The Jenny Lake area offers great views of the Teton Range, and it’s home to several hiking trails. The Jenny Lake Trail offers a great view of the lake and the mountains.
- Mormon Row Historic District: Located near the south entrance of the Park, Mormon Row is an historic homestead area with a great view of the Teton Range.
Oxbow Bend in the Winter
Oxbow Bend is typically accessible by car during the winter, although the road may be closed temporarily due to snow and ice. The park service plows the road, but it’s important to check the current road conditions before embarking on your trip, as it can vary depending on the amount of snowfall.
It’s also essential to note that during the winter, the park service may require visitors to carry chains or use four-wheel drive vehicles. The Grand Teton National Park website should have the most up-to-date information on road conditions.
Hiking at Oxbow Bend
There are several hiking trails located near the Oxbow Bend overlook. Most trails here are flat(ish), and are less than 5 miles round trip.
- The Snake River Overlook Trail: This is a short, easy trail that leads to an overlook with views of the Snake River, the Teton Range, and Oxbow Bend. It’s a half-mile round trip and it’s wheelchair accessible.
- The Hermitage Point Trail: This is a moderate, 2.5-mile round trip trail that offers views of the Teton Range, the Snake River, and the Hermitage Point.
- The Leigh Lake Trail: This trail is a moderate, 4.5-mile round trip hike that takes you to Leigh Lake which is a beautiful lake located in the shadow of the Teton Range.
- The Taggart Lake Trail: This is a moderate, 3-mile round trip hike that offers great views of the Teton Range and Taggart Lake.