In advance of the Outdoor Club Grand Teton National Park trip

We recommend some things to do in advance
(some of them should be done well in advance)
of our between-summer-and-fall-quarter trip to Grand Teton National Park.

It can be difficult to coordinate timing of activities if we don’t all stay in the same area,
so we’ve all stayed at the same area / campground / cabins for at least part of the time.

Even if you have not made a complete decision to go on the trip,
deciding if your budget can afford a cabin or a campsite is important.

Take a look at Colter Bay Cabins:

and campground

and Colter Bay tent cabins

Having campsites near to or next to each other in the same campground loop is more fun.
(Especially when we can get some of the best campsites by having people make reservations as early as possible.)

The trip will be August 14 – 31 2024 +/- (between summer and fall quarter).
Campsites go on sale 6 months in advance, so plans are best made that far in advance.

The “Outdoor Club” does not get campsites (or any overnight accommodations),
students on the trip get them and share them as they want to. How many campsites will be needed?

6 months before the Outdoor Club 2024 trip to Grand Teton National Park, five people who went on the 2023 trip and are sure they are going on the 2024 trip, got together at 6:45 a.m. to get campsites. They got five campsites for August 14 – depart Aug. 28, in what we think is the best campground, Colter Bay in a tents-only loop (no motorhome generator noise). The loop also is at a slightly higher elevation that we have found has better cell phone reception (we drove around and checked). It is a short walk to the pay showers, laundromat with free wifi, store, restaurants. We got campsites around the outside edge of the loop, with forest behind and fewer nearby neighbors, certainly not in the center of the loop next to the restroom and dumpster noise, or with a road and traffic noise right behind a site. People have camped in these previous years and liked them the best.

The campsites hold a maximum 6 people and two vehicles. Close to the start of the adventure, some of the days and some of the campsites will be cancelled if they are not needed.

We do often have three person carpools, as many sedans that can seat four are better with only three people so there is space for gear, multiple ice chests, etc.

Two of these three person carpools are the correct number of people / vehicles for one campsite.

Sometimes people want to drive with only two people in their vehicle. We have also regularly had people driving by themselves, for example they had other plans of places / relatives to visit and did not want to carpool, including a guy who went back east to his next college after the trip.

Some people do not want to share one bear-proof-if-used-properly food locker between six people and would rather have only four people in their campsite.

The sites are $65.49 per night.

IF six people (and maximum 2 vehicles) share a site, that will be $10.92 per person, per night.,

IF four people share a site, that will be $16.48 per person, per night.,

IF only two people share a site, that will be $32.75 per person, per night.

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If you want a different campsite than the ones people already reserved,

or if you try to sign up for the trip shortly before the trip and other people have already signed up and decided how to share the reserved campsites and there are none left with space for people,

Getting a free account at, learning the system for getting campsites, and taking a look at pictures of the sites is at getting a campsite.

At least the day before you need to make a campsite reservation, confirm your login and password information for your free account and look around at the website to be sure it looks the same as you remember it. Set more than one alarm clock to get yourself up and at your computer before 7 a.m. Pacific time. Confirm that your clocks really are set for the official U.S. Pacific Standard time.

mountain range

Besides choosing your overnight accommodation,
there is much more to do in advance for a fun trip.

Decide on how you will get to Grand Teton National park in advance.

Details about how to get to Grand Teton National Park,

(fly all the way,

or get a cheap ticket to fly part way and then rent a car and drive the last 6 hours,

or get a cheap ticket to fly part way and then take the bus into Jackson, Wyoming (the closest town to where we stay)

or drive by yourself

or drive in a small or huge carpool or in a caravan of carpools)

Details are at the Grand Teton trip trip transportation webpage.


Decide on your driving route in advance.
Below, the driving route (recommended by previous trip participants) across California, Nevada, part of Idaho and into Wyoming:

simple map

Driving notes for the Tetons trip to help you SAVE MONEY ON GAS AND TIME ON THE ROAD, are at the Grand Teton trip trip transportation webpage.

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The last time you used your camera, and took out the memory card / chip
to look at your photos on a laptop, did you remember to put the memory chip back in?
Where is the charger for your digital camera?

Mend things before the trip,
that tiny tear in the rain pants
will be easier to fix at home than it will be in the campsite when it becomes a big rip
and it is raining heavily.

Your hiking boots do still have tread left on them, correct?

Are your boot laces about worn out?
Take a close look. People have sometimes not noticed separating soles – which increase your risk of trips.


Have you been washing / rinsing / drying clothes with a favorite scented product?
Scented attracts mosquitos and other unpleasant insects,
so for the wash just before the trip you might want to switch to unscented.

You might also consider choosing clothes that are not black, orange or red as they may attract mosquitos. Lighter colors instead of darker could be a good idea, too. reported that
“the US military changed its dress shirts from dark blue to light blue in part to mitigate mosquito biting.”

And you could go through your toiletries, shampoo, body soap, lotion, suntan lotion, deodorant etc. and only pack unscented since that great floral scent in the shampoo will attract mosquitos.

Don’t bring clothes camping that have been rinsed or dried with mosquito-attracting scented softeners (plus, dryer sheets can make a greasy stain on clothes if they get stuck to them, and the softeners can decrease the lofting and wicking of garments).


If you have your own water purifying pump, it will be much easier to back-wash it and/or take it apart and clean the exterior of the filter cartridge at home before the trip, than waiting until the trip when it starts to not work well. (Follow the manufacturers instructions, which you kept a copy of when you bought the pump, yes?)

Water purifying tablets are not advised because some brands are not effective on Giardia AND Cryptosporidium and we prefer to use a water purifying pump because it is easier and faster.

If you decide to do without a water-purifying pump, please note:

From National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine “Diarrhea is the most common illness limiting long-distance hikers. Hikers should purify water routinely, avoiding using untreated surface water. The risk of gastrointestinal illness can also be reduced by maintaining personal hygiene practices and cleaning cookware.” Preferably use a water purifying pump, but bring chemical means should the pump die. Be sure the chemical method you choose will work against cryptosporidium and giardia and note how long (four hours??) the water must be treated for the treatment to be effective. Note also that iodine tablets are not effective against cryptosporidium / giardia and some people are allergic to iodine.


cell phone screen showing elevation

Find a compass, altitude, latitude and longitude on your cell phone. The photo above was taken of a cell phone near Lake Solitude in Cascade Canyon.

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During any long hike or backpack,
To truly be able to leave no trace and follow backcountry rules about camping the proper distance from a lake or digging your personal latrine hole the proper distance from water, etc.,
you will need to know how far 100 or 200 feet is.

Lay out a tape measure at home and walk it and count your paces.

How to poop in the woods.

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A national park ski resort had advice that also applies to any trip to higher altitude than at home:
“We strongly recommend increasing your water intake several days before your ski trip, which will help keep you hydrated, give your body a chance to adjust to the lower oxygen levels at a high altitude,

and speed up your acclimation time.”


stones in a row on a wall
Are you sure the tent you are borrowing has all its parts? Was it put away after the most recent trip without fully drying it, and now it has mold? (Yup, you might guess that happened on a previous weekend trip and the guy did not discover it until he was on the trip. – They slept in the car.)

We advise people to bring tents to a pre-trip meeting and pitch them, as some turn out to not be adequate for use in rain, but might be with an additional huge tarp over them.

There are crucial things wrong with each of these tents.

Don’t buy a cheap tent has reasons why and more examples of tents to NOT bring.

The campsites students usually get for the Tetons trip will not be comfortable for people with a truck tent or SUV tailgate tent because the parking is parallel to and at the edge of the road (not a back-down-into parking space), so anyone using a tent like this would have vehicles driving right next to their tent all day and night. And a second vehicle would not fit in the parking pad.
car with a tent protruding from back door

If you expect lots of mosquitos you could pitch your tent IN a screenroom:

row of rocks carved into brick shapes

Consult with your doctor, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, Kaiser Permanente,
to see if you are up to date on your Tetanus vaccination.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a Tetanus vaccination every ten years for adults.
One of these:
• Tetanus and diphtheria (Td) vaccine
• Tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (Tdap) vaccine


Is it time to see the dentist about that tiny ache?


You should plan to bring an adequate supply of your prescriptions for a longer-than-you-anticipated road trip, so checking in advance if you have enough or need to do refills is wise.

Also check over-the-counter remedies (and check their expiration dates)
for any ailment you get that could spoil your trip, possibly including:

Benadryl (diphenhydramine)
aspirin, Ibuprofen, acetaminophen, Naproxen Sodium,
athlete’s foot, anti-itch hydrocortisone,
cold and cough syrups and lozenges, allergy tablets / eye relief / sinus relief, stomach ache, Breathe Right, Imodium, calamine lotion.

Over-the-counter medications can be ineffective if not used as directed on the label, or can even cause potentially long-lasting or even life-threatening consequences. “Oooops, was I supposed to take one of this tablet every six hours or two every four hours?” Don’t expect that you will remember, even if it is something you take regularly. If you re-pack them into small containers be sure to copy and pack the instructions (and expiration date) with them.

The faculty advisor and spouse are not allowed to share any over-the-counter remedies, yes, even just aspirin, with students. The small store at Colter Bay has only a few items. The big groceries/ pharmacies in town have just about anything you could want, but the town of Jackson is over 40 miles from where we stay overnight so bringing what you might need could keep you much happier.

pine tree branch ends
When you are at home you can usually quickly get issues with your vehicle resolved at a nearby mechanic or dealer of your make/model, so many people don’t regularly check their vehicle’s fluid levels, tire pressure, brake wear, etc.

People on a budget often put up with not-essential-for-safe-driving problems with their cars.

But deferred repairs and maintenance can spoil a road trip

and be much more expensive and/or difficult to fix when you are on the road.


The Road trip vehicle prep and recommended service webpage includes things people can do without paying a mechanic and a checklist.

If you intend to drive a convertible and it has an electric power top, be sure you know how to put the top up manually in case the push-button function stops working. Rain storms can come in quickly and heavily. You should have alternate ways to get around if lightning is forecast, because
you are not safe during lightning in a convertible.
“The only safe place is inside a substantial building or hard-topped vehicle.”

Where did you store the snow chains / cables? If you do not have them, in the rare instance that there is snow, the Rangers can refuse to let you in the park.
Besides the chains, do you also need new wiper blades, deicing fluid for the windshield washer tank, a windshield scraper or deicer? Pack something to kneel on when you are putting the chains on. Is it time for new antifreeze or a brake job? Do the defroster and heater actually function? Do you know how to use your jack and is it still in the car?

Make spare vehicle keys to have in different places, give to others in your carpool. It is worth investing in a spare vehicle key or two or three, in the pockets / daypacks of various people, since your cell phone does not function everywhere in the park and you could need to take a bit of a hike to get to a hotel front desk to try to use their phone to get an Auto Club locksmith to unlock your car when you lock the keys in it. And getting that help to your vehicle can take quite awhile! If you rent a vehicle for the trip, talk to me about where you might be able to find a spare key in that rental.

CSAA or other Auto Association memberships usually give you (or maybe your parent?) free maps.
Paper maps can be easier to use for planning. Yes, you can download maps on your phone, but paper maps can be essential for driving through areas without phone service.
You will want at least the state maps of California, Nevada, Idaho, Wyoming and Montana. You might also want, for the drive home through more National Parks, Washington and Oregon or Colorado, Utah, New Mexico and Arizona.

This advice above is from the trip equipment page, which is important reading for the Grand Teton National Park trip.

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five national park entrance pass cards
Plan in advance how you will split the park entrance fee.

Each carload will pay their own park vehicle entrance fee. Effective June 1, 2018 (and we expect it to be the same in 2024) the park entrance fee for Grand Teton National park will be $35 per vehicle, $30 per motorcycle or $20 per person, and an annual (Grand Teton park only) park pass will cost $70. $35 is for for seven days (only one week and most people go on this trip for more than one week and want to see adjacent Yellowstone National Park as well, which has it’s own weekly fee).

If you stay for more than one week and visit Yellowstone, this would come to $105 if you buy 3 separate $35 passes, so you save money by investing in a $80 National Parks and Federal Recreation Lands annual pass.
Then you will get in free to see other national parks on the way to and from Grand Teton and have free entrance to Yosemite if you go on a winter adventure with the club.

OR better yet, find someone to carpool with who already has a National Parks and Federal Recreation Lands annual pass

OR find someone who is an active duty U.S. military member or dependent and has their ID Card (CAC card or form 1173) and can get a free national parks pass

OR find someone who is 62 or over to get a lifetime seniors pass for $80.

(The passes can’t be transferred/shared so the person who gets the pass needs to be in the vehicle and show a photo ID.)

The pass will get you FREE ENTRANCE (for one full year) to any of the 63 U.S. National Parks (and many more National Historic Reserves, Monuments, Seashores). California has nine U.S. National Parks, Utah has five, and Colorado has four, Washington and Wyoming each have two, Montana and Oregon each have one U.S. National Park.

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If it is necessary for you to attend religious services during the trip you need to plan ahead
by researching where you can attend, and let people in your carpool know of your needs and the dates / times / locations.

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pink topped mountains reflected in very blue lake

You’ll be bringing a lot of gear, so
4 people should be the limit in a 5-passenger SUV,
3 people should ride in a sedan that seats four,
and some cars really should only have 2 people.

If everyone brought a large container of full-sized toiletries, as in the left of the photo below, they would take up too much space. By bringing travel/sample sized containers of shampoo, lotion, etc. in a smaller bag, as in the example on the right in the photo below, there is room for even a full sized can of spray insect repellent.

NO!→ toiletries for bear box.jpg: ← Yes!!

Tear off the appropriate size and number of sheets of foil you will need, fold and pack them with a few plastic sandwich bags as needed instead of bringing whole packages.

Yes! → foil and plastic bags: ← No

If you think you can fit five people in a vehicle that seats five AND ALL THEIR GEAR, you need to plan early for how everything will fit (it likely can’t unless you have a large cartop carrier – see advice at Carpool Faqs).
You might even want to get together a few days in advance of the trip, with the bags people want to bring, and try packing.

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If there is any chance you will want to make a side trip into Canada, you will need a passport

U.S. passport cover

and a Canadian Non-Resident Interprovincial Motor Vehicle Liability Card,
sometimes called a “Canadian ID card”
(FREE from your insurance carrier).
See: logistics for a side trip to Canada from Grand Teton National Park.
row of peaks

Start looking around for downloads and links to info
to put on your smart-enough-phone to be able to access info more easily, including webpages about the trip AND

Planets Visible in the Night Sky in Grand Teton National Park

Jackson Hole weather

Weather map: “GeoColor is a multispectral product composed of True Color (using a simulated green component) during the daytime, and an Infrared product that uses bands 7 and 13 at night. During the day, the imagery looks approximately as it would appear when viewed with human eyes from space. At night, the blue colors represent liquid water clouds such as fog and stratus, while gray to white indicate higher ice clouds, and the city lights come from a static database that was derived from the VIIRS Day Night Band.”

For the drive: Tetons area road conditions (Wyoming Department of Transportation)

A drawing of the peaks with the names of the peaks, from various locations:


Your safety in grizzly bear territory is a must read, especially about bear spray.


Old Faithful in Yellowstone erupts on the average every 60 to 110 minutes, for 1 1/2 to 5 minutes, with an average height of 130 feet. Scroll down at for the next eruption prediction. “The famous geyser currently erupts around 17 times a day and can be predicted with a 90 percent confidence rate within a 10 minute variation.” Our favorite memory of an Old Faithful eruption was at night with light from a full moon and lightning from a thunderstorm in the background.
cell phone with app showing

An app for Grand Teton National Park info
(best downloaded before you get there when you can find reliable internet),
with info about visitor centers, historic places, natural features, and services throughout the park.

“Even without cellular service, the app will be able to share your location on the map and bring up all site content.”
and you should get the Yellowstone app as well:


You can download a free copy of these Red Cross first books to your smart-enough-phone to bring with you (perhaps especially useful on the looooong hike many people do, and/or if you decide to backpack), the Red Cross Wilderness and Remote First Aid Emergency Reference Guide and Red Cross Wilderness and Remote First Aid Pocket Guide


NPS lightning 1: NPS lightning 2: NPS lightning 3:

Lightning strikes in the last 24 hours are recorded at:;x=-108.2102;z=7;t=1;m=oss;r=0;s=0;o=0;b=27.83;n=0;d=2;dl=2;dc=0;ts=0;

Using the lightning strikes links above
you can check out where the storm lightning hits are moving
and it can help you decide

if you are going to the swimming pool, taking a shower now or later,
and when you actually hear thunder you can check out where it hit (closer to Yellowstone, or nearby at north Jackson Lake, or . . . YIPES, that really was nearby!).


Yellowstone National park has a live weather display

brief weather descriptions


Books to download for free instead of buying them at a visitor center, (well worth looking at for info about animals and much more before you go on the trip) are listed at Recommended Reading



Grand Teton National Park birds has photos and details about the most common ones we can hope to see
including Bald Eagle, Canada Goose, Golden Eagle, Great Blue Heron, Great Gray Owl, Harlequin Duck, Loon, Magpie, Northern Flicker (woodpecker), Osprey, Pelican, Ouzel, Peregrine Falcon, Raven, Sandhill Crane, Steller’s Jay and Trumpeter Swan, with links to calls / songs from most of them to listen to.

and you can Download photos of over a hundred birds of Grand Teton National Park

hawk flying



You should read the sample trip agreement before you come to sign up.

The answer to the question WHY ARE THERE SO MANY RULES? is here.