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In-Depth Guide: Car-Free Biking in Jackson Hole and Grand Teton National Park

Often zipped through on a whirlwind national parks tour, Grand Teton National Park is deserving of a slower pace than many travelers give it. Much smaller than neighboring Yellowstone, this park and the surrounding communities in Jackson Hole still pack plenty to do along with jaw-dropping scenery.

And one of the best ways to slow down while still covering a lot of ground? It’s something a lot of us haven’t done since childhood: biking.

A few years ago, I rediscovered how much pure fun biking is—as long I could do it in a place that feels safe (read: no cars). It’s why I recently set out to show how many incredible car-free bike paths you can find across the USA. Exploring new places by bike gives you a view that walking or driving a car can’t. In tourist hot spots where most people get from place to place in their cars, biking gives you a view that few others experience.

So if you prefer slowing down to absorb the scenery, this biking guide to the Grand Teton and Jackson Hole Community Pathways is for you (even if you haven’t been on two wheels since you were 12).

Bike on a paved pathway with Grand Teton Mountains in the background

Keep reading for an overview of the paved bike paths that will take you all around Jackson Hole, through varied landscapes, and into the park with unobstructed views of the Teton Mountains. I’ll share suggested routes based on how far you want to ride, where to get a bike and map, can’t-miss scenic stops, and trail tips.

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Where is Jackson Hole?

While Jackson and Jackson Hole are often used interchangeably, they aren’t the same. Located in western Wyoming not far from the Idaho border, Jackson Hole refers to the entire valley nestled below the majestic Teton Mountains.

Jackson Hole includes several towns: Jackson, Teton Village, Wilson, and a few other small towns.

Head north from any of the towns in Jackson Hole, and you’ll find yourself in Grand Teton National Park. If you keep driving north through and out of the park, you’ll hit Yellowstone National Park in just a few minutes.

Jackson Hole Community Pathways—Bike Trail Overview

The Jackson Hole Community Pathway System is a multi-use trail network that runs between all of the towns in the valley and extends north into Grand Teton National Park itself.

While the trails around Jackson Hole offer varied landscapes—including horse ranches, residential neighborhoods, and various perspectives of the mountains—the portion of the trail in the park provides unobstructed views as you ride parallel to the Teton Mountains. The scenery is truly breathtaking (as in, I found myself stopping often to audibly marvel—to no one in particular—while I soaked in the views).

Image collage of scenic views of mountains, the Snake River, and horse ranches from the bike paths around Jackson Hole and Grand Teton National Park.

Overall the trails are very well marked, though there are a couple spots without great signage (I note these in the routes below). I highly recommend picking up a bike path map, which you should be able to get with your rental.

One thing to note about these bike paths is that many sections run alongside busy roads. The majority of the paths are completely separate from the road (and I only cover these car-free sections in this guide), but you definitely hear and see road traffic in many places.

Despite this, these paths offer some of the most phenomenal scenery I’ve seen, and I think they’ll be hard to beat by other USA bike paths.

Length: Almost 70 miles of paths available

Surface: Paved (one on-road section includes a dirt road)

Level of Difficulty: Easy to moderate (some sections have hills)

Trail Access: The bike path is very easy to access via many scenic turnouts, visitors centers, on-street parking, and parking areas. The town of Jackson has on-road bike lanes, so if you are comfortable with this, you may be able to access the rest of the trail system from your hotel or inn. Additionally, you can do a one-way bike trip along the START Bus route and return with your bike on the bus.

Where to Get a Bike

There are several rental options if you don’t have your own bike. Since I had a great experience with Wheel Wranglers, they’re my top pick and I’d recommend them to anyone. However, I’m also providing some basic information for a couple other bike rental outfitters in Jackson Hole if you would like to explore options or if Wheel Wranglers is booked up.

1. Recommended: Wheel Wranglers

Rental Cost: $45+ per day for adult bikes (discount for several days)

With a focus on sustainability and providing personal customer service (including bike delivery!), Wheel Wranglers is a great choice for bike rentals in Jackson Hole. This is the company I used, and while I don’t have anything to compare it to in Jackson, I would highly recommend them.

Wheel Wranglers is a new company that started in 2019. I chose them because of their commitment to people and the planet (this genuine commitment is woven throughout their website and evident in my interactions with them). I was really impressed with their helpful customer service, quality, and flexibility. When my bike rental was dropped off, Bill talked to me about my plans and gave me several suggestions, marking things on the map that they provide with the rental.

Customers can book easily their website, and the online system provides a lot of details and tech specs for all the bikes. I wasn’t sure which bike to go with and called to talk to them about my plans so they could suggest which bike would be best.

Bikes on a car bike rack with the Teton Mountains in the background
Windy Point Turnout in Grand Teton National Park

Wheel Wranglers offers full-day and multi-day rentals of a variety of bikes. They also offer bike rack rentals for your car, which I recommend if you want to bike in the park without having to start your ride in Jackson (see routes below for mileage).

Included in your rental: helmet, lock, seat pouch and flat kit, flat pedals or SPD Road & Mtn pedals, free delivery, and a local map or custom cycling route.

2. Hoback Sports or Teton Village Sports

Rental Cost: $49+ per day for adult bikes (3-hour and one-way rentals available starting at $39)

Hoback Sports has a storefront located in Jackson, and Teton Village Sports is located in Teton Village. Their pricing is similar, and both offer some delivery service (though the delivery area is not specified on their website).

While they are separate companies, they are connected in their one-way rental option where you pick up your rental in one location, drop it off to the other location, and ride the START Bus back (bus pass included in the one-way rental price).

3. START Bike Share

Rental Cost: $8 day pass for unlimited 60-minute rides ($0.10/minute if you go over)

This option is really meant for in-town short rides. While this guide is all about the car-free bike paths, I wanted to make sure you knew about this inexpensive option if you’re open to bike lanes and on-road bike routes.

Where to rent Bear Spray

You can purchase bear spray in many places, including the Jackson Hole & Greater Yellowstone Visitor Center, but I felt like this was a little silly given the fact that I probably (hopefully) wouldn’t use it—and then what? I try to give it away to someone? I throw it away? (Is that even allowed?) #aintnobodygottimeforthat

I found that I could rent bear spray at Teton Backcountry Rentals in Jackson for less than purchasing a can. I had to watch an instructional video since bear spray is essentially a weapon, as well as sign some forms. If you end up using the spray, you have to pay full price. While the customer service was nothing to write home about (I felt a bit like I was bothering them), they provided the service I needed in a convenient location, saved me money, and it only took about 15 minutes out of my day.

Pro tip: don’t forget to actually bring the bear spray with you! I got a mile or two into my ride in Grand Teton National Park and realized I had left it in the car. When I saw muddy bear prints on the path a couple minutes later, I decided that backtracking was worth it to have peace of mind.

Trail Tips

Stay in your lane. Just like driving, stay towards the right if you’re going at a slow pace, pass on the left (and look over your shoulder to make sure nobody is coming on your left).

When passing other cyclists or pedestrians, yield to oncoming traffic, and use a bike bell or say “Passing on your left” loudly enough so they’re aware of your presence.

Don’t wear earbuds so you can remain aware of your surroundings (nature makes a better soundtrack, anyway).

Move to the side when you stop (and don’t stop suddenly in case someone is behind you).

Familiarize yourself with how to handle a bear encounter, and carry bear spray with you. I saw a bear in a tree while driving in the park, saw bear prints on the bike path, and saw signs indicating bear activity in the area on my ride to Teton Village. It’s definitely something you want to be prepared for!

Speaking of wildlife, always give animals plenty of space, regardless of whether they are powerful enough to take you out with their claws or antlers. It is stressful to animals when humans encroach on their personal space.

Make sure you check the national park and Friends of the Pathways websites for trail and visitor center closures. Portions of the pathway are closed seasonally (e.g., for elk migration) and some park visitor centers are as well. I have included some known seasonal closures below. Generally speaking, most things should be open from May – September.

Scenic Bike Ride in Grand Teton National Park (Short or Long Route)

If you only have time for one bike ride near Jackson Hole and want to pack in the most scenic views, I recommend that you ride the section in Grand Teton National Park.

The car-free bike path takes you as far as Jenny Lake, and you have the flexibility to make this a short, medium, or long ride depending on where you start. For any of these alternatives, you can make a pit stop in Moose to eat at Dornan’s or get a made-to-order sandwich in the grocery store.

*Signifies locations with bathrooms or porta-potties

Length: 11 to 40 miles round trip (the recommended route below from Moose to Jenny Lake is 15 miles round trip)

Tall grass in focus in the foreground and Teton Mountains in the background

Start: Park at the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center*, located just outside the park entrance. (If you want a picnic lunch, make sure you stop off at the grocery store in Moose before hitting the trail.)

Cross the road to the bike path. In about a half mile, you’ll reach the Grand Teton National Park entrance. If you have not paid your entrance fee yet, you can park your bike and do so here. Fee options: You can purchase a vehicle pass, which also allows you to enter on foot or bicycle. Alternatively, if you don’t plan to drive into the park at all, you can purchase a hiker/biker pass. Check the national park website for current fees.

TIP: Heading to multiple national parks in one year? Grab the America the Beautiful Annual Pass to save on entrance fees.

Bike parked near the entrance of Grand Teton National Park with the mountains in the background.
Bike parking just past the Grand Teton National Park entrance gate

From the entrance, start your scenic biking adventure in the park. There’s a bit of an ascent before you reach the first scenic turnout on the right in about 1.3 miles, Windy Point.

The bike path remains on the right side of the road (keeping the road between you and the mountains) for about another mile until just before Taggart Lake Trailhead* when it crosses. From here on out, you’ll have unobstructed, jaw-dropping mountain views.

You’ll soon come to a field on your left that’s fenced off and is a nice bird-watching spot. Across the road, stop off at Cottonwood Creek Picnic Area* for a quiet and scenic picnic spot.

Continue on until you reach Teton Glacier Turnout, another great picnic or photo spot. Take a few minutes to learn about the glacial activity that formed the mountains as you read the interpretive signs here.

Sign beside the bike path in Grand Teton National Park in honor of Gabriella Axelrad, a 13-year-old who died in a bicycle accident in 1999 before the pathways were built.
Tree glowing in the sunlight in the middle of a field with mountains in the background.
Views along this portion of the bike path are stunning!
  • Shorter alternative (11 miles round trip): Start at Windy Point Turnout, which is just inside the park on the right after you go up a hill.
  • Longer alternative (40 miles round trip): Start at Jackson Hole & Greater Yellowstone Visitor Center on the north side of Jackson. Use the restroom here because you won’t have another one for about 12.5 miles. This route takes you alongside a busy road for much of the trip. It’s mostly wide open space, passes through the National Elk Refuge, and there are several scenic turnouts along the way. Some hills and the length make this a moderately challenging ride for the biking enthusiast, but those who regularly bike will probably enjoy the miles. Stop off at the National Museum of Wildlife Art to enjoy lunch at Palate. ***A portion of the bike path is closed from November 1 to April 30 for elk migration.***
  • Medium alternatives (31 miles or 21 miles round trip): Start at the Grand Teton National Park Sign turnout or Sleeping Indian Overlook for slightly shorter versions of the above. There are less hills and you’ll spend less time on the main road, but it still lets you get more miles in on the bike path. ***A portion of the bike path is closed from November 1 to April 30 for elk migration.***

End: From Teton Glacier Turnout, keep biking along another incredibly scenic 3 miles until you reach Jenny Lake*.

The trail veers to the left as you approach the Jenny Lake Visitor’s Center area, and you’ll find bike racks available where the trail ends. Lock up your bike here and take the short walk down to the lakefront.

Bike in a bike rack with Grand Teton Mountains in the background
Bench and tall pine trees in the foreground with Jenny Lake in the middle and the Teton Mountains and blue sky in the background
It’s just a short walk down to Jenny Lake from the visitor’s center.

Jenny Lake is a popular spot and has a gift shop, real bathrooms, and a water bottle filling station. There are also hiking trails, ranger led hikes, interpretive signs, and a shuttle boat across the lake if you plan to spend some time here.

From Jenny Lake, head back the way you came on the bike path.

Bonus ride: The Teton Park Road between the Taggart Lake Trailhead and Signal Mountain remains closed to vehicles until May 1, but it opens up early to bicycles in April. If you’re visiting during April and the road has been plowed, this opens up a 14-mile stretch of car-free biking on the road (it’s an additional 10 miles beyond Jenny Lake). Check out this blog post for some photos and firsthand experience of biking GTNP in April.

Wake-Up Morning Bike Ride in Jackson: South Park Loop

The South Park Loop in Jackson goes from invigorating hills alongside a busy road that are sure to kick start your morning, to a quiet side road with lovely open spaces. You’ll pass by pretty ranches and get glimpses of the mountains peeking through trees from time to time.

Length: 9 – 10 miles

View from the Jackson Hole Community bike path of a field, evergreen trees, and mountains in the distant background

Start: Park at the shopping center on the corner of Route 89 and High School Road (Smith’s Food and Drug), where you can catch the path heading south on Route 89. Bill from Wheel Wranglers gave me the very helpful tip to start the loop going this direction so you do hills first before moving onto a more leisurely ride. Otherwise, the hills will be the last part of your loop. (I’m way too lazy for that.)

In 3.5 miles, a portion of the path continues straight and another section turns right (marked with directional signs). Here you’ll head right to follow the quiet South Park Loop Road.

Bike path signage at a fork with a field and mountains in the background
Most of the Jackson Hole Community Pathways are well-marked with maps and mileage.

Continue following this road as it loops around until you reach High School Road.

End: If you turn right onto High School Road, technically you will be on a road rather than a bike path for about 0.5 miles, until you reach the path again next to the elementary and high school. I’m pretty strict about my guides sticking to car-free bike paths, but I did take this shorter route to get back to the Smith’s parking lot. However, you can continue on the pathway around the schools, back to Route 89, and turn right before crossing under the tunnel to find your way back to the parking lot. If you take the shortcut, the ride is about 9 miles, and if you continue around on the pathway, it is about 10 miles.

Long and Leisurely Bike Ride in Jackson Hole (Varied Landscape)

The highlight of this ride is definitely the Pathway Bridge over the Snake River, but you’ll also be rewarded towards the end as you bike toward Teton Village with beautiful views of the mountains in the distance, and open fields sweeping out on either side (think ranches with dozens of frolicking horses).

Bike and viewfinder binoculars on the Pathway Bridge overlooking the Snake River and mountains in the background.

Admittedly some stretches of this ride aren’t that scenic and perhaps a little boring, as the path passes through residential neighborhoods, alongside schools, and beside a busy road with no mountain views for a bit. But in my opinion, the highlights make it a worthy ride, especially if you’re looking for something interesting to do outside of Grand Teton National Park.

And personally, I enjoy seeing the “regular” sides of life in any town I visit.

A great place to stop for food on this route is The Aspens Market. There’s a small grocery store here with some salads and sandwiches to go, a soup and salad bar, and picnic tables outside.

Alternatively, you can eat at Persephone, a bakery + cafe serving up the most divine breakfasts and lunches. While I only ate at the location in Jackson, it was highly recommended to me by several people and definitely a splurge I’d recommend. (If you don’t eat here during your bike ride, make sure to stop into the Jackson location at some point during your trip.)

*Signifies locations with bathrooms or porta-potties

Length: About 25 miles (or 27 miles with detour)

Start: The pathway kicks off at the Russ Garaman Arch, located across the street from the town post office.

There is street parking available on Elk Run Lane, but be careful to read signs as some of the street parking is designated for residents of the condos. I parked on the post office side of the road, on the opposite side of the street from the arch and the condos, which did not have any signage as being restricted. (It’s always helpful to ask a local, which I also did, if you’re not sure.)

Wooden archway over a paved path with sign that says "Russ Garamin Trail"

As you head through the arch, you’ll pass through Russ Garaman Park* (bathrooms not open year round), a section of the patway that’s completely removed from the road. There were a good amount of cyclists, joggers, and dog walkers, so ensure you’re being a good bike path citizen (don’t plan on speeding through this section!).

Next a tunnel takes you under the busy Route 89 as you head toward a business park and the section that zigzags through the schools.

(Note: I saw no directional signage when the path first reached the schools. The elementary school and a soccer field were straight ahead, and I could turn right or left. Turning left toward the high school kept me heading the correct direction.)

At Middle School Junction (corner of South Park Loop Road and Blair Drive), continue straight.

Soon you’ll be treated to a stretch of bike path that passes wide open fields with mountain views in the distance, again separated from the road.

There’s a small incline before the path splits. If you go right, you will head towards a tunnel. Turn left here, keeping the fields on your left, to continue uphill for a short distance along Route 22.

Head through a tunnel under Route 22 and towards the Pathway Bridge over the Snake River (bathroom available at Emily Stevens Park* on Route 22 just before the bridge). This is an awesome spot to rest and take photos.

After the bridge, bike through Rendezvous Park in the town of Stilson. Here you’re met with an option at a fork in the path: continue straight/right toward Teton Village, or take a short detour to the left towards Wilson.

I think the detour is worth it, as it is separated from the road and passes through a wetland area with interpretive signs. Once you reach the school, the pathway ends and you can turn back the way you came.

Bike on a pull-off area with a bench under a tree and wetland informational sign
The view from the end of a short wetland detour towards Wilson.

(If you’re willing to bike on the road, Bill from Wheel Wranglers recommended Pearl Street Bagels or Stagecoach in Wilson as good places to eat. However, I did not bike past the school so can’t provide any insight on the ride.)

If you don’t take the detour, continue in the direction of Teton Village (if you do take the detour, turn left when you arrive back at this intersection).

In about 10-15 minutes, you’ll reach The Aspens*, which has a variety of stores and at least a couple places to eat, as well as picnic tables and bathrooms.

This portion and for a little while after the market is a bit boring, but as you continue on towards Teton Village, the views start to open up to fields on either side and mountains to your left and in the distance ahead. It’s not the same epic, up-close view that you get while biking in Grand Teton National Park itself, but I really enjoyed seeing the mountains from a different perspective.

End: When you reach Teton Village, you can bike around the town or even take the Aerial Tram or Gondola** up the mountain if you have time. From Teton Village, head back to Jackson the way you came.

Horses in a field across the road with mountains in the background
Sign that says "Welcome to Teton Village" beside a road with mountains in the background

**While I didn’t ride the tram or gondola myself, I’d like to make time for the next time for one or both the next time I’m in Jackson Hole. What’s the difference between the aerial tram and the gondola? The tram takes you all the way up the mountain to over 10,000 feet where there are 360-degree views at the top, along with Top of the World Waffles. It fits many people and takes about 9 minutes. The gondola takes you partway up the mountain and fits only 6 people, and there are a couple of restaurants with decks. There are hiking trails from both. From reading about them, I’d probably choose the tram if I only had time for one.

When you are almost back to Russ Garaman Arch, the path turns to the left and there is a bench and pathway leading to the stream on the right—it’s a peaceful little stop and great way to rest after a long bike ride.

Note: The Pathway continues on past Teton Village into another section of Grand Teton National Park, and it is possible to make this ride into a loop that takes you back to Jackson. However, Moose-Wilson Road soon turns into a two-mile dirt road. There’s no separate bike pathway, so you’ll be riding on fairly rough terrain and have to contend with car traffic.

Which of these routes do you most want to try? Let me know in the comments!

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Roaming the Americas - Naomi Liz

ABOUT NAOMI LIZ

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