Inside Signal Mountain Campground
Nailing down sleeping arrangements in Grand Teton can be tricky; most of the campsites in Grand Teton National Park are 1st come, 1st served. The Jenny Lake site is considered the prize, with Signal Mountain and Colter Bay as the runners up. If all else fails, Gros Ventre almost never fills up but if it does, you can always go primitive at Lizard.
Like 5 of the 6 campgrounds in Grand Teton National Park, Signal Mountain is first come first served. No reservations. While that gives you the flexibility to come as you like, it also means you have to arrive at the site early during the peak season. There are 86 camping sites in the campground. Typically, Signal Mountain fills up well before noon during high summer and just after noon during weekends late spring/early fall. If you are arriving late or the campground is full, the Gros Ventre campground (in the South East of Grand Teton Park) rarely fills to capacity. Go there and try Signal Mountain the next morning.
Signal Mountain Campground has several advantages. It is centrally located in the park in a forest near Jackson Lake; its central location makes it a good staging point for day-hikes/climbs throughout the park. The individual spots are a little crowded but, since you are in the middle of a pine forest, there is some privacy. Some sites have views of the lake. The sites are standard government sites (I suppose there’s a regulation somewhere) and come with a fire-pit, grill, picnic table and bear box. The restrooms (flush toilets/no hot water) are scattered throughout the campground but look convenient to all sites.
If you’ve never done “First Come/First Served” camping, drive up to the campground station. Get one of the cards. Drive into the campground and look for an open spot. Ones that have already been reserved have a card hanging on the post. When you find an empty site, fill out the card and hang from the post. Leave something on the site (chairs, cooler or gear), go back to the station, put the required money in the envelope and drop into the payment box.
HELPFUL HINT: BRING CASH
(include small bills so you can drop the correct amount)
Hiking Jenny Lake
Signal Mountain campground sits directly adjacent to the Signal Mountain store and Marina 16 miles north of Jenny Lake. It opens in May and closes mid-Oct (i.e. 8 May – 18 Oct in 2015). It is closed all winter. Check the NPS for specific dates as they change from year to year. Check in time is 11 AM and they want you to check out by 10 AM. The rangers do actually patrol the area and take a count of who’s staying/going every morning. The maximum length of stay is 14 days with no more than 30 days in the park per year. Cost per night has been bumping up lately but was $22 a night in 2015 ( $45 with electric).
Signal Mountain Store in walking distance
Generators are okay
Gas Station nearby (At the Store)
2 Restaurants (At the Store)
Gift Store (At the Store)
Firewood (At the Store)
Fishing at Jackson Lake (and you can rent boats)
No Showers (nearest ones are at Colter Bay)
No Laundry (nearest ones are at Colter Bay, next to the showers)
No gathering firewood (for sale at store)
Not Handicap accessible
No hot water
Up on Inspiration Point
For camping purposes, spring and fall can be kind of unpredictable. Although the snow is usually gone by May and hasn’t come yet in Oct, it does get below freezing some nights and/or you might get hit with an unseasonable snow storm. By summer the biggest weather threat comes from nightly thunderstorms that roll in violently and quickly move on. Cover your gear for rain even if there’s not a cloud in the sky. Bottom line, pack to unpredictability and check the weather report before leaving your site.
Cell phone service is uneven throughout the park; it cuts out at random intervals. Because cell phone communication/mapping isn’t a sure thing, follow the usual precautions of letting someone know where are and when you’ll be back. You might also want to leave a note in your tent just in case (so the rangers can find you if you’ve been missing for a couple of days).
People have a tendency to be lulled into a sense of security in a National Park but heat, cold, physical exhaustion and disorientation are still a thing in the Tetons. Rescue is uncertain if you don’t take care of yourself. Drink plenty of water, know your limitations and don’t take off into the forest assuming you won’t get misplaced. The Boy Scouts have it right…”Be Prepared”. Your modern equipment will most likely fail at the worst moment. Most people’s instinct when tired, thirsty and lost is to panic and blindly run in the direction you think is safe…don’t. Sit down, think and get reoriented. Remember to bring the old-fashioned rescue devices like whistles, lighters, flashlights, mirrors and marking tape.
Deer at campsite
in the Grand Tetons are legion…try not to piss them off by getting in their space. For non-people eating species (e.g. deer, elk, moose, and bison), stay 25 yards away. Don’t be fooled into thinking they are big and dumb; they can run like wind and have no problem with goring you. For the beasts that can plain eat your ass whole (e.g. bears and wolves), the US Government highly recommends staying a full 100 yards away. If you really want that special selfie with a Grizzly, just photoshop yourself into the picture when you get home.
In addition, you might want to buy some bear spray on the off-chance distance isn’t the solution to not getting eaten. It’s not just for bears either; feel free to use it on wolves, cougars, or anything else that is mistaking you for a buffet.
Animals even frequent Signal Mountain Campground itself. There are deer that meander through camp and, even though it’s a cliché, bears have been known to raid camper’s picnic baskets. Store food in the Bear Box and don’t hassle the natives.
Signal Mountain Lodge
PO Box 50
Moran, WY 83013
Phone:307-543-2831 or 800-672-6012