It had been years since I visited the Grand Tetons, and I almost forgot just how incredible they are. Josh and I recently returned from another long trip to China, and we were aching to getaway in our RV which we only purchased less than a year ago. Being the fourth of July holiday here in the States, it’s a great opportunity to escape the Denver heat, do some exploring…and indulge our love of the wilderness. So, we decided to head north toward Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
Finding a Campground Near the Grand Tetons & Jackson Hole, Wyoming
The great thing about RV Travel is that you can just kinda roll with it, and not always have to plan every detail out. So we didn’t have a reservation or any kind of big plans for this trip. We just wanted to get away! Even though it was a holiday weekend, we figured that arriving on a weekday might help us land a spot somewhere at a forest service or national park campground in the area.
We briefly considered staying at an RV park, and there are a few in the area, such as Virginian Lodge Campground and even Jackson Hole Campground. However, most of these were full due to the holiday and the prices were significantly high ($100+ per night!).
Honestly,, we didn’t even feel like the RV parks would be worth it compared to the scenery of the area anyway. We wanted to camp in the wilderness!
We used the website www.freecampsites.net to search for some free or low cost campgrounds in the area. We found a few online, but didn’t have much luck finding them in person when we arrived. So we decided to go with our trusty All Stays app – which has been one of our best RV apps yet (if you don’t have All Stays, you absolutely should).
Using the app, we searched out a number of different forest service and National Park campgrounds. A few of them looked appealing to us, such as:
- Curtis Canyon Campground
- Hatchet Campground
- Atherton Creek Campground
- Gros Ventre Campground
- Signal Mountain Campground
- Colter Bay Campground
- Lizard Creek Campground
Ultimately, we pulled into Gros Ventre campground, alongside the river of the same name just outside of Jackson town. It’s a huge campground (340 sites) and although it’s associated with Grand Teton National Park, you don’t have to pay the national park admission to get to this campground!
Not paying the park entry fee saves you some cash if you don’t plan on going inside the park, or have multiple vehicles with you. However, we have the annual National Park pass – so we can go in and out of the parks as we want. A great value if you visit even 2 parks a year!
It was a nice campground. Spacious, flat sites with options for hook-ups or without. We had a site without hook-ups for $29 per night (and they have a nice dump station and water onsite anyway). We even had a moose wander into camp one morning (literally, I stepped outside the RV to take Hana on a walk and when I looked up there was a moose about 15 feet from my face!).
However, after a few days we decided that we wanted something more woodsy and actually inside Grand Teton – so we headed toward Signal Mountain Campground and Lodge.
Signal Mountain Campground and Lodge Was our Favorite!
Just driving in Grand Teton National Park is an experience. The mountains are spectacular, and there are so many beautiful lakes and hikes you can take. Signal Mountain Campground and Lodge is pretty deep within the park. It’s actually about 30 miles north of Jackson Hole and 25 miles south of Yellowstone.
Nestled in the wilderness and perched on the shoreline of Jackson Lake, Signal Mountain is actually both a campground and a lodge – with amazing views across the lake to the Teton mountains. The surroundings, views, and smells of nature…immediately we were in love.
This is exactly the type of camping we wanted on this trip!
One thing to keep in mind about parks like Signal Mountain is that it’s not a fancy RV park, so huge rigs will not fit! Sorry – but your 40 foot fifth wheel won’t get into this campground. That’s why we purchased the type of RV we did, a 30 footer…because it’s just short enough to fit in many of these tighter campgrounds. This is a perfect example of why it’s important to consider the type of camping you like to do, because size is one of the major considerations when buying an RV.
Natural Setting + Great Amenities
One of the main reasons we loved Signal Mountain Campground is that it gave us a fantastic camping experience in the Grand Tetons, but it also had some modern & resort-like amenities.
There is the campground, which has a very natural setting, but is quite well kept. The sites are intimate, but there are trees surrounding you so it still feels quite peaceful. There are bathrooms with running water, and up at the front entrance there are showers and a place to do laundry. There is also a fantastic general store that has just about everything you need – including fresh sandwiches, a beer fridge…and a tasty coffee bar! Better yet, the general store has an outdoor patio with fast WI-FI (a necessity for us out here in the woods!).
Being that Signal Mountain is also a lodge with rooms and cabins available to non-campers, there were also a couple restaurants on-site that have beautiful views out over the lake. Deadman’s Bar is open until midnight & they are famous for their mountain of nachos and margaritas.
There’s also marina onsite where you can rent kayaks, canoes, and motorboats. The resort also offers guided fishing and rafting tours too. There’s a couple gift shops on the property as well as a gas station – which is super convenient so you don’t have to go into town to fill up. There is also a boat launch if you have your own boat, and a couple of great picnic and swimming areas!
** NOTE: The beach area and shoreline is very rocky. They are mostly round rocks, but a lot of them. So wearing good water shoes will make it a lot more pleasant unless you have tough feet!
We really enjoyed relaxing on the lake for an entire afternoon just swimming, skipping rocks and looking straight out at the amazing mountains. Sunset is a great experience here too – many people will bring a chair down to the beach to watch the sun dip below the Grand Tetons…but there’s also a couple other areas you can walk through the woods and come out at a beautiful cliff and admire the views all by yourself!
This is how we spent the evening of the 4th of July – relaxing just at our campground & enjoying the lake here at Grand Teton National Park! Swimming, skipping rocks, watching the water skiers & the sunset. Just after I took this video, a bald eagle flew overhead. A beautiful evening in our AMAZING national parks!!!!!
Posted by Peanuts or Pretzels on Friday, July 6, 2018
Overall, we found these amenities to be a huge perk because we could just relax at our campsite or take a stroll along the lake. Or we could grab a latte and rent a boat!
Signal Mountain Campground has only a couple full hook-up sites, but there are a good number of electricity sites available. We decided to save the money and go with a $32 / night dry site because we have a generator if we need it and there is a dump station and water if we need it.
Getting a Spot at Signal Mountain Campground in Grand Teton National Park
The only potential issue with camping at Signal Mountain is that it’s so beautiful that in peak season it can be hard to get a spot. As of the date of this post, there are NO reservations accepted here, so you need to just show up and stake out a spot. But during high season, the campground can fill by 8 – 11 am!
Because of this, we were at an advantage since we stayed at Gros Ventre first. So I got up early and drive to Signal Mountain in my car around 7:30 am (Josh stayed back at the RV). That way I was able to drive around and see if anyone was leaving or had just left before departing our Gros Ventre spot (since it was a holiday, we didn’t want to give up our spot unless we found another one!).
Luckily, I was able to snag a spot at Signal Mountain pretty fast. After I claimed our spot, I called Josh down at Gros Ventre to let him know, and he packed up the RV and drove up to meet me. Granted, it was the fourth of July holiday – super peak season, but every morning around 8 am people came stalking. It was a little bit irritating, but you can’t blame them because it is a beautiful campground. Just be polite about it (some people were…others were not!).
** Don’t have an RV? Find out how much it costs and how to rent one here!
When Can We Go Camping Again at Grand Tetons?!?
We had an amazing time camping in the Grand Tetons, and specifically at Signal Mountain Campground in Grand Teton National park. Having just arrived back at home in Denver, we really miss it already! During our trip we did drive around to check out a few other campgrounds, but we still really loved Signal Mountain the best (although Colter Bay was maybe our second favorite, but it was a lot like Signal Mountain just bigger & more crowded).
One of the other reasons we really enjoyed Signal Mountain Campground is that much of Grand Tetons and Yellowstone National Park is not dog friendly. Sad, but understandable since there are SO many wild animals running around.
So within the parks there weren’t many places we could take Hana; however, at the campground there are a number of areas to walk Hana, including some short woodsy trails & she could even go down into the water at the lake. It was nice for her to sniff all the new smells and have a little adventure of her own.
Even though it was the fourth of July holiday, it was a super relaxing trip. And Signal Mountain was definitely our favorite campground we found in the Tetons – a place where both Josh and I said we want to return every year!!!
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