Jackson Hole is located in a valley of mountains on the northwest side of Wyoming. Famous for its unparalleled access to the Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park, Jackson Hole has also become a must-visit destination for its old-time western flair, creative energy, and beautiful Town Square.
The journey from Jackson Hole to Yellowstone lasts just 2-hours, but takes you straight past the majestic Grand Tetons, meaning there are multiple sites along the way that are worth making a stop. If you want to see both parks, the roads are generally clear from mid-May through mid-October.
If Yellowstone is on your bucket list (and it definitely should be), there’s no better way to experience it than in a campervan.
- This is a guest post contributed by Moterra Campervans
Most people don’t live near Jackson Hole. In fact, the town only has 10,000 residents!
Luckily, there’s an airport located right in town. The Jackson Hole Airport (JAC) is one of the quickest ways to get to Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons, and since the runway is in front of the Grand Tetons, it also provides amazing landing and take-off views.
After landing, you’ll need to rent a car. Or better yet, a camper van! Camper vans can be hired right in Jackson Hole from Moterra Campervans.
Use the discount code: parkedinparadise at checkout for $40 off your trip to Jackson, WY!
There are 80 miles between Jackson Hole and the Yellowstone south entrance, but so much in-between. Along the way, you’ll pass right through the Grand Teton National Park; where we highly recommend spending a few nights.
Grand Teton National Park
Within 10 minutes of leaving Jackson Hole on interstate 191 North, you’ll come across the entrance to Grand Teton National Park.
Immediately, the distinctly dramatic mountain range of The Grand Tetons will come into view. Once inside the park, there are more than enough activities to fill your day. With deep canyons filled with wildflowers and crystal-clear alpine lakes, this area offers amazing opportunities for day-hikes, biking, rafting, fishing, mountain biking, and wildlife watching.
While the park boasts over 200 miles of hiking trails, it only takes around 2 hours to drive from one end of the park to the other, so we recommend setting up a basecamp in one spot for a few nights and branching out from there.
Scenic Drives In Grand Teton National Park
The Grand Tetons have some of the most impressive scenic drives in the northwest. It’s not uncommon to spot elk, bison, and mule deer right from the car. The most prominent scenic drives are:
It’s best to do the drives during dawn and dusk because you’ll have the most success at spotting wildlife and you’ll get the best pictures during the golden hour. Along the way, you can stop at one of the many pull-outs to grab a snack or go for a short hike.
Each campground in the Tetons operates separately with its own procedures and fees which can make planning intimidating at first. That’s where a camper van comes in handy because you’ll get more flexibility than driving a larger RV.
Moterra campervans, for example, are only 19 feet long so they fit into the ‘tent’ camping sites.
Campgrounds in the Grand Tetons fill up fast, and many of them are only available on a first-come, first-served basis. If you want any shot at getting these campsites during the popular summer months, it’s best to arrive before 11 am. Alternatively, free dispersed camping is available in the Bridger-Teton National Forest just east of the park.
One of the most popular campsites in the park is Colter Bay. This is one of our favorites because it sits right along the shores of Jackson Lake and has quick access to a small, well-stocked grocery store, boat rentals, and floats. There are also a number of short, scenic hiking trails that are accessible right from the campground so you don’t need to make a separate trip.
The campsites at Colter Bay cannot be pre-booked and are allocated on a first-come, first-serve basis. Fortunately, camper vans like the ones from Moterra, easily fit into the tent sites so you have a better opportunity to get one.
If arriving early in the day is not your style, consider pre-booking an RV campsite. It’s a little more expensive but guarantees your space.
Pronounced Gro Vont, the Gros Ventre campground is located right on the river bank and is known for attracting pronghorn antelope and moose. Graced with stellar views of the Tetons, it’s roughly 20 minutes from Jackson and the Teton Park entrance.
This is often the last campground to fill so it’s your best option if you haven’t pre-booked your first night’s stay.
Located between the Tetons and Yellowstone, the Headwaters Campground at Flagg Ranch is perfectly positioned for campers hoping who want a launching point into both Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons.
At Headwaters, there are laundry showers, and a grocery store on-site so you won’t be without amenities. You can also pre-reserve camping spots so there’s no fighting to arrive early in the morning.
The Drive To Yellowstone
When you’ve had your fill of the Grand Tetons, take the scenic drive on Teton Park Road to I-191 N. The drive takes about 1.5 hours but you’ll probably want to set aside more time because it’s not unusual to make a pit stop along the snake river or stop to view a wandering elk.
Camping In Yellowstone
Camping is simply one of the best ways to experience the majestic wilderness of Yellowstone National Park. Not to mention, lodging in the park often books out six-months in advance so camping is the more practical solution as well.
Campsites in the lower loop of the park can be pre-booked, while the northern campgrounds are available on a first-come, first-served basis.
Because of its location less than a mile from the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, Canyon Village Campground is one of the most popular places in the park to camp. Situated within a lodgepole pine forest, Canyon Campground has shower, laundry and restroom facilities. It’s also nearby Canyon Village which has a wide range of stores and restaurants so it’s perfect for campers that want a few amenities.
Sites can be pre-booked making it a great place to stay if you want a stress-free experience.
Mammoth Hot Springs Campground
5 miles from the Yellowstone Park’s north entrance, the Mammoth Hot Spring Campground is close access to many of the park’s most popular attractions, including the famous Mammoth Hot Springs Terraces, the Upper Terrace Drive, and historic Fort Yellowstone. You can also find a general store, restaurant, and gift shop within walking distance.
If you’re looking for a campground in a central location, Madison Campground is the place to stay. It sits at the confluence of the Gibbon and Firehole river, which form the infamous Madison River.
This is one of Yellowstone’s largest campgrounds, and sites can be pre-booked making it convenient for planners. While there are no showers on-site, you can take a quick drive down the road to the pay showers at Old Faithful Inn.
Things to do in Yellowstone
There is so much to do in Yellowstone’s 2.2 million acres it can be hard to know where to start! Driving past bison covered planes, exploring the rugged Lamar Valley by horseback, or taking a safari with a wildlife specialist are just a few.
Without a doubt, one of the best experiences is watching the Old Faithful eruption at the Old Faithful Inn. Grab a coffee and arrive early in the morning to beat the mid-day crowds.
The nearby visitor center is an important stop in explaining how the geysers work. There’s also an extensive boardwalk system through one most densely clustered regions of hydrothermal features in the world.
One could easily spend a half-day or more exploring the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. Uncle Tom’s Point is the starting point of a gorgeous trail loop that winds through lunar landscapes of boiling mud pots and along the shores of Lily Pad Lake.
For ambitious hikers, consider taking the 328 stairs down into the Canyon for an unforgettable view of the lower falls.
Driving to the North Rim, you can hike down to the Brink of Lower Falls. It’s a can’t-miss view up the canyon where you can see 60,000 gallons of water cascade 308 feet every second!
Wildlife enthusiasts refer to Yellowstone as the American Serengeti because of the abundant animals. You can witness newborns in the spring, a bounty of animals in the summer, or the fall mating season. Early morning is your best shot at witnessing wildlife, and private safaris are available to guide you through the best locations.
A series of rainbow-colored travertine terraces lie in the far northwest corner of Yellowstone–the are the Mammoth Hot Springs. With nearly two miles of constructed boardwalk, you can get lost weaving through the different terrace formations.
While at the north end of the park, don’t forget to soak in the boiling river.
Every road in Yellowstone is scenic, but a few routes, in particular, are worth driving. Beartooth Highway is known as the All-American Road and rises 5,000 feet in elevation. Winding through 20 mountain peaks, the road gives you an up-close view of some of the most extreme terrain in North America.
- Beartooth Pass
- Chief Joseph Highway
- Gallatin Canyon
- Madison River Valley
- Paradise Valley
- Lamar Valley
Why Take A Camper Van?
We can’t think of a better way to experience these parks than in a camper. Yellowstone is made up of 2.2 million acres and lodging is limited, so camping is definitely the best way to see the park. However the winding, narrow roads of Yellowstone can make maneuvering an RV difficult, plus the RV parks are noisy and crowded.
Moterras 19ft camper vans can fit in tent sites giving you significantly more options and flexibility, and also allow you to get remote.
Yellowstone and The Grand Tetons are popular, so these parks favor those campers who can pack up fast and get to the attractions early. A campervan allows you to get up, make breakfast, and go, without the hassle of pulling down tents and packing down camp kitchens.
Being able to travel with a kitchen on-board means you can pack breakfast, lunch, and dinner in the vehicle. That allows you to do roadside picnics and spend more time inside the park.
Camper vans are also a more comfortable sleeping experience than tent camping on the ground. You’ll wake up cleaner and better rested for a long day of hiking.
When To Visit
The best time of year to visit is between May and September. Heavy snow causes road closures between November and May.
If you don’t have a camper van of your own, Moterra Campervans is a luxury campervan rental provider in town that can rent you a camper for your vacation.
Why rent from Moterra?
- Moterra was founded by Jackson Hole locals, who are incredibly passionate about this area and exploring it in a campervan.
- They only rent out new Mercedes Benz Sprinters, which are expertly built out by Sportsmobile. With in-built kitchens, fridges, sinks, and showers (in the High Roofs), this is glamping at its finest.
- All rentals come with the essentials you will need, including cooking equipment, cleaning supplies, bedding… and even bear spray!
- At 19 feet, these vans are small enough to easily park in a grocery parking lot, or navigate the tight bends of Yellowstone. Even better, you can book tent campgrounds up the parks, which are more plentiful, quiet and available than the RV lots.
- Moterra specializes in Custom Itineraries in this area, and can even go so far as booking your campgrounds and activities for you.
What is the rental process like?
The rental process is easy and can all be done online. Visit their rental page, choose your dates and location, and then the type of van you would like (Moterra offers both Pop-Top Sprinters and High-Roof Sprinters). If a van is available it will allow you to book. A 50% deposit is needed to book the van.
Use the discount code: parkedinparadise at checkout for $40 off your trip to Jackson, WY!
How many people can fit?
Moterra’s High Roof vans have a queen bed in the back, as well as an optional single bunk for a child. Moterra’s Pop Top vans have two double-sized beds in it (one down the bottom and one in the Pop Top), so can sleep 4-5.
How far in advance should you rent?
Moterra books up their summer season in Jackson (mid-May through October) by the end of April every year, so get in early!
- Our favorite map → National Geographic Road Atlas: Adventure Edition
- Discounted camping clubs
- Rover.com dog sitters