Grand Teton National Park is filled with amazing sites and all kinds of incredible outdoor places to explore. Much less frequented though are its phenomenal night skies! If you’re looking to do some night photography in the park and aren’t sure where to start, this guide will help you find some perfect locations.
Since the Milky Way Galaxy is primarily in the southern part of the sky through most of the summer, you’ll want to be facing in that direction. This list takes the guesswork out of potential vantage points, allowing you to drive up and start shooting!
The first and most easily accessible on this list is the massive expanse of Antelope Flats. It’s far enough away from Jackson to get outside of the light pollution, but close enough to get to if your night time schedule is limited. That being said though, there’s plenty of options here that will keep you coming back to try new ideas you’ll find each time you visit.
If your goal is to get a sky filled with stars and the Milky Way over a long and empty landscape, your best bet is to use one of the pullouts a mile or two north of the town of Kelly during summer months.
Continuing north will bring you to more pullouts beyond Ditch Creek where the Teton Mountains will be to your west, a great setup for fall and late summer.
Speaking of Antelope Flats, the Moulton Barns on Mormon Row also make an excellent foreground under a starry night sky. Both barns and even many of the other structures provide excellent silhouettes and foregrounds. You’ll have to wait till the fall though to get the Milky Way over the Tetons.
Snake River Overlook
The Snake River Overlook isn’t just an iconic landscape during the day, it’s also a mesmerizing vista by night. Catch it in late summer to get the Milky Way gorgeously stretching over the Teton Mountains and Snake River.
Jackson Lake Dam
The Jackson Lake Dam by day provides a nice view of the Teton Mountains above a large glacial lake. By night though, this simple view becomes an ideal nighttime perspective looking back toward the Tetons, dwarfed by the Milky Way Galaxy’s bright arms. The lake itself also provides some fantastic reflection opportunities. Park at the dam itself or at Catholic Bay just a short distance south from the dam.
Signal Mountain Summit
From the summit of Signal Mountain is an expansive overlook of the Jackson Hole valley. Though not quite the perfect angle of the Teton Mountains, they still rise beautifully to the southwest with a sprawling view of the valley all the way down to the town of Jackson and beyond.
At night this view is especially impressive because not only do you get the Milky Way arching over the whole valley, but with the extra elevation the atmospheric phenomenon of airglow becomes much more apparent.
While the view is fantastic, be aware that this area is frequented by bears, particularly at a time when human activity has died down. While it’s not likely they’ll have a lot of business at the summit parking lot, any leftover food that careless visitors leave could be an attractant, so be sure to carry bear spray with you regardless of where you are in the park. If nothing else it’ll provide a bit of peace of mind when you’re alone in bear country in the dark.
Northern Lights in Grand Teton National Park
What do you do if you happen to be out when the northern lights are out in Grand Teton National Park? A lot of these locations might not actually be ideal since you want to face south for the Milky Way and north for the northern lights.
Antelope Flats is still a great place to start. With the wide open expenses in all directions, this area allows you to look both north and south effortlessly. From here though, the farther north you go the less likely you’ll be able to include the Tetons in your shot with the auroras.
Another good area is also the southern end of the Teton Park Road. There are many options via numerous pullouts along the road, though with northern lights you might not want to go beyond Jenny Lake if you’re wanting to get the Tetons in your shot.
While these are only a few recommendations for the best places I’ve found to shoot at night, that doesn’t mean it’s everywhere with possibility. The only way you’ll find some new hidden gems is to get out and explore Grand Teton National Park and find the places that resonate with you.