If you want to see a glacier in the United States, this is one of the easiest viewpoints to reach via a leisurely drive through Grand Teton National Park.
Teton Glacier Turnout is an excellent spot for viewing the Teton Glacier from the roadside. Although climate change has caused the park’s glaciers to begin to shrink and retreat, Teton Glacier remains clearly identifiable as a frozen slab of ice in a high valley on the northern side of Grand Teton. As you travel along the park’s inner road on a warm summer day, stop to marvel that the ice remains year-round.
Learn about glacial impact on the region. Glaciers of the Pleistocene Ice Age did much of the carving out of the U-shaped canyons next to the tall craggy peaks of the Tetons. Those glaciers disappeared more than 10,000 years ago. Today’s visible glaciers were probably formed between the years 1400 and 1850, a period known as the Little Ice Age.
At the beginning of the spring season, see the glaciers in the Grand Tetons covered in pristine white snow. Later in the summer and fall, snowmelt reveals the gray hard-packed ice of the glacier itself, less easy to differentiate from the gray sedimentary rock of the peaks. Scientists monitor the conditions of the Teton Glacier and the park’s other nine or 10 glaciers with time-lapse photography and visits to assess volume, position and ice loss.
From Teton Glacier Turnout, continue north on Teton Park Road to see the Falling Ice Glacier from the Mount Moran Turnout. From Colter Bay, Skillet Glacier is visible. On the park’s eastern road, open year-round, Glacier View Turnout provides viewing for Middle Glacier, Teepee Glacier and Teton Glacier across the outwash plains covered in sagebrush.
Drive to Teton Glacier Turnout in about 30 minutes from Jackson. Note that the access road generally closes from the beginning of November through April because of snow and potential avalanche conditions. It may be possible to snowshoe or cross-country ski to the area.
Pay the Grand Teton National Park entrance fee to get access to all the park’s turnouts and other attractions for a week, or purchase an annual or lifetime senior pass to visit this and many other federal recreation locations.