Buffalo, moose, bears, elk, one-of-a-kind-mountains, river reading, hill climbing, sunrise watching, glory basking and mind blowing – a taste of the grandeur of my Grand Teton National Park experience. And the secret to enjoying these five wonderful days in this American gem? A free place to park and sleep.
Aside from my 48-cent tuna can lunches, PB&J dinners and free WiFi at the Jackson Hole library (more to come with all of that!), having a place to sleep for free was absolutely essential to enjoying the wonders of the Grand Tetons in a frugal fashion, especially with the hotel/inn accommodations within the park boasting prices like $299-a-night (!!!) at the Jackson Lake Lodge.
In my case, I had the amazing opportunity and absolute pleasure of staying with my cousin who had been working in the Grand Tetons for the summer. And although I don’t think my cousin will be available to house you for your next Tetons visit, I have an alternative for you!
Tucked away inside the park and littered along its edges, the Grand Tetons features multiple free campsites, you just have to know where to look. Inside the park, Grassy Lake Road is a great, free camping option for frugal wanderers and vacationers. With 20 “primitive campsites . . . picnic tables, pit toilets, trash cans, and food storage boxes . . . Free of charge,” according to the National Park Service’s (NPS) blog, Grassy Lake Road camping provides first come, first served campsites for car and tent campers, as well as a few small RVS. I recommend trying to get to these sites early to get a spot.
If you get to the Grassy Lake sites and find that they’re full, don’t despair! There is still free camping to be had. Make your way northeast to the Bridger-Teton National Forest on the edge of the park; find yourself a space to park along one of the back roads; whip out the firewood and metal, cooking sticks (my family calls them the “poker-sticks”); eat way too many s’mores; follow the NPS “Dispersed Camping” rules; pitch your tent or climb in the car/RV; and sleep like a baby for free!
I hope you’ve been encouraged to see that the beauty and majestic glory of the Grand Teton National Park is within your frugal grasp. It’s time to get those buffalo and bears out of your dreams and right in front of you … or right outside your vehicle with the doors locked and windows up.
Happy budget living, friends!
To see more Grand Tetons photos, check out my gallery in the last post!