The Glacier View Turnout at Grand Teton National Park
Glacier View Turnout is a viewpoint in Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming, USA. It is located on the Teton Park Road, near the park’s northern boundary, and offers a panoramic view of the Teton Range, including the Middle Glacier, the Teepee Glacier, and the Teton Glacier. It is one of the best places to take pictures of the Teton Range, especially during the early morning or late evening when the light is best.
How to Get to the Glacier View Turnout
Access to the Glacier View Turnout is usually always available. There may be times during the winter months where snow and ice shut the road down, but overall, this particular view spot is always open.
The turnout is right on US Highway 26/89/191, which cuts right through the middle of Grand Teton National Park. The coordinates of the turnout are 43.690851, -110.672593, (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.
Here are a few distances to Glacier View Turnout from various places around GTNP:
- Jackson, WY: 16 miles / 20 minutes
- Moose, WY: 4 miles / 7 minutes
- Jenny Lake Visitors Center: 12 miles / 18 minutes
- Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center: 4 miles / 8 minutes
- Colter Bay Visitor Center: 29 miles / 35 minutes
- Teton Glacier Turnout: 8 miles / 14 minutes
- Oxbow Bend Overlook: 18 miles / 24 minutes
Park Shuttle Service
Instead of driving through the Grand Teton National Park, consider using the free shuttle service.
The park has a free shuttle service that runs between the park’s visitor centers and the various destinations within the park, including the Glacier View Turnout. The shuttle service, called the Jenny Lake Shuttle, operates during the summer months, typically from late May to early September, and it provides transportation to popular destinations in the park, including the Glacier View Turnout.
The shuttle service has several routes and stops, including one that goes to the Glacier View Turnout and Teton Glacier Overlook. Visitors can board the shuttle at any of the designated stops, and it will take them to the Glacier View Turnout, and then to other destinations within the park. The shuttles run frequently, and visitors can plan their trip by checking the schedule in advance.
The Glaciers of Glacier View Turnout
From Glacier View Turnout in Grand Teton National Park, visitors can see three distinct glaciers.
The Teton Glacier is located on the northern face of the Middle Teton, and is the largest named glacier in the park. This particular viewpoint offers a panoramic view of the glacier and the surrounding mountain range, and it’s a great spot to take photos of the glacier and the peaks.
The Teton Glacier is a valley glacier (also known as a mountain or alpine glacier), which is a glacier that flows down a valley, usually in a relatively straight path.
The Middle Teton Glacier sits on the northeast flank of the Middle Teton, and is visible along the route to the Lower Saddle. The valley glacier is a popular mountain and ice climbing expeditions and for access to the summit of Middle Teton and other peaks to the south.
The third glacier, the Teepee Glacier, was a surface glacier, but it now appears to be gone as of late 2022. Scientists are currently unsure because there may be ice under the rocks on the surface, but for not it does appear that this particular glacier is no longer here. It originally was near the top of Grand Teton Peak, the highest of the peaks in the Tetons.
Visitor Center Glacier Experiences
All of the Grand Teton National Park Visitor Centers provide more information about the park’s glaciers. The visitor centers have exhibits, brochures, and ranger-led programs that give visitors an understanding of the park’s glaciers and their role in the park’s overall ecosystem. The Grand Teton National Park visitor parks are:
- Jenny Lake Visitor Center: The Jenny Lake Visitor Center is located on the south side of the park, and it provides information about the park’s natural and cultural history, including the glaciers. The center has exhibits and brochures that explain the park’s geology and how the glaciers have shaped the landscape.
- Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center: The Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center is located in Moose, WY, near the park’s south entrance. The center has exhibits and brochures that explain the park’s geology, wildlife, and cultural history, including the glaciers.
- Colter Bay Visitor Center: The Colter Bay Visitor Center is located on the north shore of Jackson Lake, and it provides information about the park’s geology, wildlife, and cultural history, including the glaciers.
Visitors can also attend ranger-led programs that are offered at various times during the day, in which rangers will provide more information about the park’s glaciers and their role in the park’s ecosystem. These programs are a great way for visitors to learn about the park’s glaciers and to ask questions about them.
The Best Time to Visit Glacier View Turnout
The best time to visit Glacier View Turnout in Grand Teton National Park will depend on what else you had planned to do inside the park while you were there. The highway that goes to the turnout should be open virtually all year. There will be periodic weather closures in the winter and spring, but more or less, the location will be accessible all year.
Summer is the most popular time to visit the park, and it’s a great time to experience the park’s wildflowers, wildlife, and outdoor recreational activities such as hiking, camping, and backpacking. The weather is generally warm and sunny, but thunderstorms are common in the afternoon.
The only complaint with the summer is that the crowds will be out in full force. Expect long lines and expensive amenities in nearby Jackson Hole. Grand Teton National Park is the 7th most visited park in the country, with most visitors coming between June and August.
Many roads in the park are still closed in the spring due to weather. Snow here typically doesn’t melt fully until May or sometimes later.
However, spring is typically still a great time to visit the park. The weather is mild, the snow is melting, and the wildlife is active. The park’s wildflowers are in bloom, and the waterfalls are at their peak.
Fall is a great time to visit the park as the weather is mild, the crowds are thin, and the fall colors are spectacular. As an added benefit, the smaller park roads are still open during these months. The Grand Teton Drive closes for the winter at the beginning of November.
Winter is a great time to visit the park if you enjoy skiing, snowshoeing, and other winter sports. The park’s roads (aside from the main highway that runs up the middle of the park) are closed to regular vehicles, but they are open to cross-country skiers and snowmobilers. The park’s visitor centers are closed during the winter, but the park’s ski areas are open.
However, it’s also worth noting that the viewpoint from the Glacier View Turnout may not be as spectacular during the winter, as the snow likely covers most of the view. The Teton glaciers will still be visible, but the snow on the mountain will make them less noticeable.
Alternative Glacier Views
Grand Teton Park has a total of 12 glaciers located within the Teton Range. This National Park boasts some of the largest glaciers in the Rocky Mountains outside of Alaska. The Teton glaciers are all located on the northern faces of the Middle Teton, South Teton, and Nez Perce peaks.
Since the Glacier View Turnout is one of the most popular and sought-after spots, you may be better off searching for alternative places to take in the views. While they may not have the perfect view of the glaciers that the popular turnout has, there are several other overlooks that you can see the Teton glaciers from.
Some of the other places to view glaciers in the park include:
- Teton Glacier Turnout: The Teton Glacier overlook view point is located just off the Teton Park Road, about 8 miles from Glacier View Turnout. It offers a good vantage point of the Teton Glacier and the Middle Teton. However, keep in mind that the road to this turnout is closed for the winter from November through May.
- Signal Mountain Summit: This viewpoint is located on the north shore of Jackson Lake, and it offers a panoramic view of the Teton Range, including the Teton Glacier and the Middle Teton. Visitors can reach the summit by taking a short hike or by taking the Signal Mountain Summit Road, which is closed during the winter.
- Jackson Hole Mountain Resort: This ski resort is located on the east side of the Teton Range, and it offers a great view of the Teton Glacier and the Middle Teton. Visitors can take the aerial tram to the summit, and enjoy the view from the top.
- Jenny Lake: This lake is located on the south side of the Teton Range, and it offers a great view of the Teton Glacier and the Middle Teton. Visitors can take a boat tour of the lake, or hike around it and enjoy the view from different points.
Hikes Near the Glacier View Turnout
There are several hiking trails that start from or near the Glacier View Turnout in Grand Teton National Park, including:
- Teton Glacier Overlook Trail: This short and easy trail is located just off the Teton Park Road, and it’s a great option for visitors who want a closer view of the Teton Glacier. The trail is less than a mile round trip, and it provides great views of the glacier and the surrounding mountains.
- Teton Crest Trail: This is a classic backpacking trail that traverses the entire Teton Range and passes by the Teton Glacier. The trail is about 40 miles long, and it is considered one of the most scenic trails in the park.
- Amphitheater Lake Trail: This trail is a moderate hike that leads to a beautiful mountain lake that sits below the Middle Teton. The trailhead is located near the Glacier View Turnout, and the hike is about 4 miles round trip.
- Death Canyon Trail: This trail is a moderate to strenuous hike that leads to the head of Death Canyon, which is a great spot to see the Teton Glacier. The trailhead is located a short drive from the Glacier View Turnout, and the hike is about 8 miles round trip.
The Glaciers are Shrinking
Finally, I think visitors should take the opportunity to see any glacier while they still can.
Glaciers are important indicators of climate change. The magnificent glaciers in Grand Teton National Park (and elsewhere) are quickly receding due to Earth’s warming climate. They are all losing mass at an accelerating rate, which will eventually lead to their disappearance, just like the Teepee Glacier.
Between 1967 and 2006, Middle Teton Glacier lost approximately 25% of its surface area, shrinking from 52 to 39 acres. In the same period, Teton Glacier lost approximately 14 to 20 percent of its surface area, a reduction from 64 to 53 acres.