Grand Teton National Park is a wonderful place to visit any time of year, but fall is especially magical for a number of reasons. Beautiful fall colors, wildlife, and smaller crowds make for a wonderful and relaxing time of year. In general, fall in the Tetons lasts from the beginning of September through mid-October. But like all natural events, fall depends on local climatic conditions. The amount of rainfall and the nighttime temperatures both play important roles in determining fall colors. While no one can accurately predict exact "peaks" of fall colors, in the Tetons, the third week in September has historically been about the peak for fall colors. And of course, some years are better than others! No matter when you come in the fall, the park holds many wonders to explore.
The Teton Range has large stands of deciduous trees whose leaves blaze mostly yellow and orange (and occasionally red) shades in the fall. Cottonwoods line the banks of the Snake River and other creeks in the area. Aspens are found on hillsides and scattered throughout the park's moist areas. Numerous species of willows, as well as other shrubs, transform lake and canyon trails into yellow and red carpets in the fall.
Fall is also an important time for the deer species, whose annual rut (breeding season) takes place during this time. Male elk actively bugle to signal their dominance and attract females, an eerie sound that pierces early evenings. You may even witness a sparring match between two dominant male elk - an incredible sight to behold.
The bull moose in the park are also actively searching for females and may at times spar for dominance too. Bears are actively searching for the berries and any other food source they can find, as they only have a few short weeks left to gain the additional fat they will need to survive hibernation. Since so much wildlife is active (and often aggressive) in the fall, please remain a safe distance. Whether you are on foot or in your vehicle stay 100 yards from bears and wolves and 25 yards from all other large animals.
Elk Management Program
Congress included a provision for managing the elk population through a special annual elk reduction program. Hunting occurs in the park from mid-October through early December. Please see the elk brochure for more information and a map of the hunt areas. If you are recreating in the park during this period remember to wear orange or other bright colors to make your presence known.