Colter Bay

Mountains reflected on a calm lake.
Look across Jackson Lake to the Teton Range from Colter Bay.

NPS Photo/J. Bonney

Explore Colter Bay

Located in the northern part of Grand Teton National Park, Colter Bay sits on the shore of Jackson Lake and offers recreation opportunities on or near the water. From the lakeshore, visitors will have views across Jackson Lake to Mount Moran and the northern end of the Teton Range.

Several easy to moderate trails leave from Colter Bay. Stroll along the lakeshore for views of the Teton Range, hike to Swan Lake and Heron Pond to look for birds and wildlife, or head out to Hermitage Point for a longer hike.

Visitors have many options in how to explore Colter Bay: hike a trail, paddle a boat, hang out by the lakeshore, or stop by the visitor center. Park at Colter Bay to access all aspects of the area.
Boats in a marina with mountains in the background.
Hike the Lakeshore Trail

Take an easy walk on the Lakeshore Trail for views of Jackson Lake and the Teton Range.

Mountains across a Lilly pad covered pond.
Hike Heron Pond and Swan Lake

Take an easy loop trail for access to Swan Lake and Heron Pond.

Mountains reflected on a Lilly pad covered pond.
Hike Hermitage Point

Take an easy-moderate day or overnight hike to Hermitage Point for views of Jackson Lake and the Teton Range.

Two visitors walk in front of a brown building.
Stop by the Colter Bay Visitor Center to talk with a ranger.

NPS Photo/J. Bonney

Visit the Colter Bay Visitor Center

The Colter Bay Visitor Center sits above the Colter Bay Marina, with views of the Teton Range.

Stop at the Colter Bay Visitor Center to talk with a ranger, get a backcountry permit, or learn about Indigenous cultures and view traditional and contemporary artwork from participants in the Indigenous Arts and Cultural Demonstration Program during summer operations.

A black bear stands in a bush
Bears frequent the Colter Bay area. Stay alert.

NPS Photo/C. Adams

Bear and Wildlife Safety

Do you know what to do when encountering a wild animal? Colter Bay is home to black and grizzly bears, moose, elk, and other large animals. Bears are often seen on trails and in the developed areas. Being prepared for an animal encounter can help ensure the safety of you and the wildlife.

Learn more about how to stay safe in bear country.

Safety tip: never approach a wild animal. Always maintain a distance of at least 100yds/91m from bears and 25yds/23m from other wildlife.
A kayak on a lake with mountains in the background.
Explore Grand Teton by boating on Jackson Lake.

NPS Photo/R. Zott

Boat Jackson Lake

Jackson Lake is a popular area for boating. Several islands stand just outside of Colter Bay and are home to fish, birds, and other wildlife. Explore the lake by canoe, kayak, or motor boat.

Bring your own boat to explore the lake, or rent a boat from the Colter Bay Marina.

Stay Here

Stay in the Colter Bay Campground or RV Park, or rent a cabin.
Tent in campground
Find A Campground

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Frequently Asked Questions

  • Where is the entrance gate? Why haven’t I received a park map yet? There is no entrance gate when entering the park from Yellowstone. Stop by one of the visitor centers or information stations to receive a park map and newspaper.
  • Is Jackson Lake a natural lake or a reservoir? It is both. It is a 400-foot deep natural lake with 39-feet of reservoir storage added on top. During dry years, Colter Bay may become too shallow for motorboats or may dry up completely.
  • Where is the John D. Rockefeller Jr. Memorial Parkway? The Rockefeller Parkway refers to both the highway from the south boundary of Grand Teton National Park to West Thumb in Yellowstone National Park and the 24,000-acre parcel of land between Grand Teton and Yellowstone national parks. It was set aside in 1972 to honor John D. Rockefeller, Jr., a well-known philanthropist and conservationist. Rockefeller purchased thousands of acres of land that he later gave to the federal government to create or expand several national parks including Grand Teton.
  • Who was David T. Vernon? He was a Chicago newspaper illustrator with a passion to lean about Indian tribes. He gathered an impressive variety of Indian artifacts throughout his lifetime, and sold his collection to the Jackson Hole Preserve, Incorporated—a Rockefeller Family foundation dedicated to the conservation of cultural and natural resources.
  • Where’s the building with the huge mural windows overlooking the lake? The Jackson Lake Lodge was once known as the Rockefeller Lodge. The windows in the Upper Lobby look across Willow Flats and Jackson Lake toward Mount Moran. The view from Lunch Tree Hill next to the lodge inspired John D. Rockefeller Jr. to purchase lands in Jackson Hole for conservation and eventual park expansion.
  • Did John Colter ever visit here? John Colter did travel through Yellowstone during the winter of 1807-1808, but his route is unclear. In 1933, a rhyolite rock with his name engraved on one side and the year 1808 on the other side was found on the west side of the Teton Range. This rock is known as the Colter Stone.
  • Where may I find wildlife? Dawn and dusk are the best times to view wildlife from your car along most park roads. Many large animals seek shade during the heat of the day and come out in the cool of the day. Two special places are the Willow Flats Overlook, 6 miles south of Colter Bay, and the Oxbow Bend Turnout, 7.5 miles south of Colter Bay. These areas are home to elk, moose, sandhill cranes and many other animals.
  • When was the park established? The park's history is a tricky question. In 1929, the original park protected much of the Teton Range. In 1943, the creation of Jackson Hole National Monument protected the remaining federal land on the valley floor. In 1950, the park we enjoy today joined the original national park, the national monument, and 35,000 acres of private land donated by John D. Rockefeller, Jr.
  • Are there bears in the park? Yes, both black and grizzly bears, but don’t be tricked! Black bears may be blonde, cinnamon, brown or black, and grizzly bears may be brown to black. Ask a ranger for all the details. Please follow the park’s Bear Safety recommendations.
  • Do people climb those mountains? Yes, but most mountains require technical rock climbing and mountaineering skills to reach the summit. The Grand Teton has nearly 100 different climbing routes and variations.
  • Where does the Snake River start/end? The headwaters are in the Teton Wilderness just south of Yellowstone National Park. The Snake River flows into the Columbia River in Washington. Portions of the Snake River were designated “Wild and Scenic” in 2009.

Additional Colter Bay Information

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Hike in Grand Teton

Explore hikes throughout Grand Teton National Park.

Mountains reflected in an alpine lake.
Explore the Backcountry

Travel into the Teton backcountry for an overnight stay.

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Attend a Ranger Led Program

Learn more about Grand Teton by attending a ranger led program.

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Become a Junior Ranger

Experience Grand Teton and become a Junior Ranger. Open to all ages.

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Talk to a Park Ranger

Find a visitor center in Grand Teton.

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Plan Your Visit

Learn more about Grand Teton and plan your trip here.

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Last updated: February 14, 2024

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Contact Info

Mailing Address:

P.O. Box 170
Moose, WY 83012


Talk to a Ranger? To speak to a Grand Teton National Park ranger call 307–739–3399 for visitor information Monday-Friday during business hours.

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