POST SUMMARY: Everything you need to know about visiting Grand Teton with kids and toddlers, including what to do, where to stay, and tips for ensuring a fantastic family vacation in Grand Teton National Park.
Visiting Grand Teton National Park with kids is sure to be a family adventure of a lifetime. With sparkling alpine lakes, family-friendly hikes, wildlife sightings, and the hip town of Jackson, Wyoming, an easy car ride away, Grand Teton offers a nature-filled getaway the entire family can enjoy.
After camping with a toddler in Yellowstone for a week, we drove the short distance to Grand Teton National Park to experience a completely different park. While my heart belongs to Yellowstone, Grand Teton is an epic national park that deserves its title as one of the best national parks in the west.
In this complete guide to a Grand Teton family vacation, we’ll cover family-friendly hikes, the best things to do in Grand Teton National Park with kids, what to bring, and tips for having an enjoyable time in the park. Scroll through the article or use the table of contents below to jump to specific sections.
CHECK OUT OUR OTHER GUIDES ON VISITING NATIONAL PARKS WITH KIDS:
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QUICK FAQ GUIDE TO VISITING GRAND TETON WITH KIDS
HOW MANY DAYS DO YOU NEED IN GRAND TETON WITH KIDS?
Three days in the park is the sweet spot for visiting Grand Teton National Park. Since traveling with kids can mean slower travel, three days allows you to see a lot at a leisurely pace. If you don’t have that much time or are planning to combine a trip to Yellowstone or Jackson, Wyoming, I would plan for a day and a half to two days so you can adequately explore the park.
IS THERE FOOD IN THE PARK?
Yes, the park has a handful of restaurants spread throughout the park You can see the complete list here. The restaurants are open in the summer months only. If visiting outside of the high season, you can go to Dornan’s, which is just outside of the Moose Entrance Station.
HOW MUCH DOES GRAND TETON NATIONAL PARK COST?
$35 per car, and the pass is good for seven days.
If you are traveling with a child in the 4th grade, you can get a 4th Grade Pass which allows your child and everyone in the family (if you’re in one vehicle) free admission. You can learn about getting a 4th Grade Pass here.
If you are visiting other National Parks, you may be better off buying a National Parks Pass. Good for one year, it gives you admission into every National Park, including additional National Park Service sites. We bought one since we visited Yellowstone and did a Utah National Parks Road Trip, and it saved us a lot of money. You can learn more about the pass and buy it here.
WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO VISIT GRAND TETON NATIONAL PARK WITH KIDS?
July and August are the best times to visit Grand Teton with kids if you want to do water activities. With the weather sitting in a comfortable range from 70 to 80 degrees, you’ll have beautiful weather to hike, swim, and play in the park. It’s also the BUSIEST time of the year. We visited during Labor Day Weekend, and while the crowds were fine once you were on the hiking trails, it was finding parking that was a real nuisance.
The summertime is when smoke from nearby and faraway fires can cause a hazy, smoky backdrop to your adventures. You can see in some of our photos a grey haze that were from fires in Oregon, Montana, and California. It wasn’t a big deal for us, but smoky skies can occur, particularly in August.
If you’ll be traveling to Grand Teton with kids in the summertime and crowds and looking for parking bother you, you must get to your destination by 8am at the latest or go in the late afternoon.
If you’re looking to avoid crowds, September after Labor Day is a beautiful time to visit the park. The weather is still pleasant, and the crowds will have significantly diminished. It’s also a great time to spot wildlife and to see the changing colors of the leaves.
Another option is to visit in June before the crowds swell to their highest numbers. Most of the park will be accessible, wildflowers will be in bloom, and the weather will be warm.
Here’s a rundown of weather averages in Grand Teton.
HOW TO GET TO GRAND TETON
Grand Teton is a unique national park in that it has an airport inside the park. Super convenient, huh? The only issue… it’s expensive. If you plan your trip out in advance, you might be able to find affordable flights at Jackson Hole Airport. The other option is to fly to Idaho Falls Regional Airport (a two-hour drive to Grand Teton) or Salt Lake City Airport (a five-hour drive to Grand Teton).
Salt Lake City airport is the longest drive, but you’ll find the best deals and an ample supply of rental cars. You’ll need a car in Grand Teton!
WHERE TO STAY IN GRAND TETON NATIONAL PARK WITH KIDS
Grand Teton is small enough that it’s not necessary to stay inside the park to get the full experience. Staying in Jackson, Wyoming, is an excellent choice for families who want to do things outside of the park.
However, if you are visiting in peak season and are planning to get an early start to your day to avoid crowds, then staying in the park is a great strategy. Staying near Signal Mountain or Jenny Lake is a great way to maximize your proximity to great hiking spots and stellar views.
STAYING INSIDE THE PARK
Grand Teton has seven lodging options ranging from rustic to luxury. Except for Headwaters Lodge, all of them are in good spots for keeping driving time down. Families will enjoy Jackson Lake Lodge for its stunning views and outdoor pool and Colter Bay Village for its access to kayaking, horseback riding, and hiking. You can see the full list of lodging choices in the park here.
Camping in the park is another option and an excellent way to keep costs down. There are seven campgrounds in the park, and all campgrounds are by reservation only. Central campgrounds are Jenny Lake and Signal Mountain. We camped at Colter Bay Campground, a great spot for kids. It has a fantastic beach and tons of amenities that make it feel like summer camp. You can learn about the campgrounds here.
READ NEXT: How To Enjoy Camping With A Toddler
TIP: For both hotels and camping, book your stay as soon as possible. Six months to a year in advance is ideal.
STAYING OUTSIDE THE PARK
Jackson is located south of Grand Teton and is a fabulous gateway town. Ample restaurants, shops, and outdoor activities make it a great place to base yourself.
Here are our recommendations for the best places to stay near Grand Teton with kids.
If you’re looking for a conventional hotel with a concierge, the Springhill Suites by Marriott is a great option for families with larger rooms, an outdoor pool, and complimentary breakfast. You can read reviews and check prices here. We don’t typically stay in hotels, but when we do, we gravitate toward Marriott because of their loyalty rewards program and their excellent service.
You can browse through other highly rated hotels in Jackson here.
Another option is to do a home rental through VRBO. We prefer this since we love the privacy, having a kitchen to cut down on dining out costs, and a separate bedroom for the kids. Check out these cute VRBO’s in Jackson below:
Condo With Views – (three bedrooms, walking distance to town, great for big families)
Outpost: Pitchfork 2303 – (two bedrooms, four bunk beds, a more affordable option that’s walking distance to town)
Outpost: One Town Hill 301 (three-bedroom luxury option, walking distance to town, stellar views)
WHAT TO PACK WHEN VISITING GRAND TETON WITH KIDS
Here’s a shortlist of things to bring with you when visiting Grand Teton National Park with kids and toddlers:
BEAR SPRAY: Yes, all of Grand Teton National Park and the surrounding areas are bear country. While the likelihood of a bear attack is unlikely, you’ll want some bear spray accessible and ready whenever you’re on hiking trails. Also, make sure you know how to use it! You can buy bear spray HERE. I suggest having it before you arrive. If you’re flying, do not pack it in your carry-on.
RAIN JACKET: It rains all year in Jackson so you’ll want to be prepared for a rainstorm. We experienced a couple during our summer trip to Grand Teton. We live in a rainy climate so prefer a high-quality waterproof rain jacket like this one from REI, but if you don’t live in an area that gets a lot of rain, you can shop for affordable rain jackets HERE.
WATER SHOES: Since kids love to wade, skip, and jump around in the alpine water, you’ll want to pack shoes that can go from trail to water. We love to use the Jefferson Shoe from Native since they double as regular everyday shoes. Less to pack! If you want something with more traction and durability, Keen has fantastic water shoes for kids that are durable and strong. You can compare prices for kids’ water shoes on Keen and REI. I like that KEEN also has toddler sizes.
SUNBLOCK: The higher elevation means you will burn faster. We prefer to use Blue Lizard sunscreen on our son.
REUSABLE WATER BOTTLE: Bring more water than you think you need. We always bring our Hydro Flask water bottle since it keeps our water ice-cold for 24 hours. We love them! We have one for ourselves and a small one for our son. You can buy it from Amazon or purchase it directly from Hydro Flask.
GRAND TETON MAP: Contrary to popular belief, paper maps are still important! Maps are available at every Visitor Center, and you can download the NPS app, but if you want an in-depth map that doesn’t require a good signal, you’ll want to get the National Geographic Trails Map for the park.
BABY/TODDLER CARRIER: If traveling to Grand Tetons with a toddler or baby, you’ll want to bring a hiking carrier. Strollers are of little use in the park. The Deuter Kid Comfort Pro is the premium choice when looking for a hiking backpack to carry toddlers. You can read about other great carriers in our guide to toddler carriers for travel.
**For a more extensive list, check out our Grand Teton Packing List with a full rundown of what you need when visiting the park.
VISITING YELLOWSTONE: Going from Grand Tetons to Yellowstone is a great idea if you have the time! They are close to each other but completely different. You can check out our guides to Yellowstone including Planning a trip to Yellowstone, What To Do in Yellowstone With Kids, and a Complete Yellowstone Itinerary.
THINGS TO DO IN GRAND TETON NATIONAL PARK WITH KIDS
Here’s a Grand Teton National Park map to help give you an idea of the layout of the park. You’ll see Jackson is to the South of the park and Yellowstone is to the North of the park. This is the map you’ll get at any Visitor Center or when you pay at an entrance station.
1. JENNY LAKE BOAT RIDE TO INSPIRATION POINT
Taking a boat shuttle across Jenny Lake is one of the best things to do with kids in Grand Teton because not only is it fun, it also takes you to one of the top hikes in the park, Inspiration Point. With beautiful views of Jenny Lake and Jackson, Wyoming you’ll have plenty of photo ops at the top. Along the way to Inspiration Point, you’ll pass Hidden Falls, a 100-foot waterfall. If you take the boat ride across the lake, the hike is a 2-mile round trip out and back hike. With a 500-foot elevation gain, a section of rock stairs, and steep switchbacks, it’s a moderate hike that young to older kids can do with relative ease. A hiking carrier is a good idea for steep sections if hiking with toddlers.
The boat ride does cost money, so if you want to avoid the fees, you can walk around the southern shore of Jenny Lake to do the complete out and back 5.89-mile hike. You could also opt to hike one way and boat back. You can see prices and info about the shuttle service HERE.
TIP: This is a popular hike. If doing this in the summer, it’s advised you get to the parking lot before 9 AM, preferably 8 AM, or do it in the late afternoon.
Hiking is one of the main activities when visiting the park. Luckily, there are many hikes that are suitable for all types of families. Here are some options for great Grand Teton family hikes.
Moose Ponds: An easy, flat trail that can be a 2 mile out and back hike or a 3-mile lollipop loop. This is the trail for spotting moose! You might also see pronghorn, elk, eagles, beavers, and bears. Early morning is the best time to spot wildlife. It’s a pleasant walk that’s perfect if you’re looking for an easy, family-friendly trail with beautiful surroundings.
Lake Shore Trail: A 2 mile roundtrip hike that takes you through a forested area and along the shores of Jackson Lake. This is a great hike to take toddlers and young kids on since it’s easy, and there are ample places to wade in the water or throw rocks. Also, the views of the Teton Range are outstanding. Located in Colter Bay, you can hang out at the beach afterward for fun water-time activities.
String Lake to Leigh Lake: A fantastic .9 mile out and back trail that takes you from String Lake To Leigh Lake. We chose to make the hike longer and do the Leigh Lake trail as well. A great trail for stopping and playing/swimming in the water or throwing rocks. String Lake is perfect for toddlers since it’s shallow and warmer. Leigh Lake is colder, but a great spot for jumping into the water.
Taggart Lake Trail: A beautiful 3 mile out and back hiking trail that leads you through a forest of pine, aspen, wildflowers and eventually Taggart Lake, another stunning crystal clear body of water.
Phelps Lake Loop Trail: A moderate 6. 3 mile roundtrip hike that is great for kids who are up for a longer hike. The hike starts at the Rockefeller Preserve, which is also a nice spot to look around at for its interesting exhibits. Even if you don’t plan to do the entire hike (we didn’t!) it’s worth it to hike out a portion of it to see the beauty of Phelps Lake.
Jenny Lake Loop: For families wanting a longer hike, the 7.6 mile trail around Jenny Lake is a fantastic choice because it’s flat, has an abundance of wildlife, and offers exceptional views of the Tetons.
3. WILDLIFE SPOTTING
The potential for wildlife spotting can happen anywhere in the park. If you’re looking to up your chances, there are choice spots and things you can do when traveling to Grand Teton with kids that will maximise the potential for an animal sighting.
The best time to spot wildlife is in the early morning at sunrise and the late afternoon before sunset.
MOOSE-WILSON ROAD: Drive along this road to see if you can spot moose that gravitate to the beaver ponds that line the area.
OXBOW BEND: One of the most beautiful places in the park is also a hot spot for wildlife. Named for the picturesque curve in the Snake River, you can often spot moose, beavers, osprey, eagles, and river otters.
MORMON ROW/ANTELOPE FLATS: Antelope Flats Road, north of Moose Junction off Highway 89/191, is where you might spot big herds of bison grazing on the fertile soil. You might even be able to spot elk, pronghorn, foxes, coyotes, hawks, and wolves.
For more wildlife viewing spots and tips on how to properly interact with wildlife, you can read through this article here.
If you prefer more guidance, you can do a guided tour with a naturalist who can teach you and your kids about the wildlife of Grand Teton. The tour is suitable for kids over the age of 5 and will help to give context to everything you’re seeing. They are also experts at knowing where to find the wildlife! You can read reviews and see prices for the tour here.
TIP: In Grand Teton National Park, you must maintain a distance of at least 100 yards from bears and wolves and 25 yards from all other wildlife. The park takes this very seriously, and people have been arrested for not respecting the rules.
4. BIKE TO JENNY LAKE
Grand Teton is an excellent place to go biking! With miles of fantastic trails, your kids will have a blast biking on the flat multi-use pathway that runs from Jackson through the national park. Here is a map provided by the NPS of the multi use path in Grand Teton National Park. While there are an ample amount of bike rental shops in Jackson, you’ll also need to rent a bike hitch for your car. We suggest renting bikes at Dornan’s (located within the park) because they offer kids bikes, and from the shop, you can jump right onto a bike trail to Jenny Lake. The views in that section are out of this world beautiful, so you won’t regret doing that section of the path! Dornan’s also has food, so you can time your day to start or return for lunchtime.
5. GO SWIMMING
If you’re visiting in July, August, or Early September, your kids can enjoy swimming in the brisk alpine waters of Grand Teton NP. Is the water cold? Yes! Very much so. We swam in the waters in September, and it definitely took a moment (or a lot of moments) to get in the water. It’s worth it though because the water is oh so inviting! A great idea after a long hike. There are swimming beaches at Colter Bay and Signal Mountain. Those are nice options if you also want the nearby amenities of bathrooms and places to eat. String Lake and Leigh Lake are also great options. We swam there, and our toddler loved the clear, shallow water.
6. FLOAT DOWN THE SNAKE RIVER
Get a new perspective of Grand Teton and float down the Snake River with a knowledgeable guide. The river is pretty tame, so children four and up are allowed on this 13 mile guided tour. You can learn more about it here. If you’re looking for a trip with more thrills, you’ll have to go outside of the park, where you’ll find bigger rapids. You can do this guided tour suitable for all ages and includes Class III waves.
7. RENT A KAYAK OR STAND UP PADDLEBOARD
Take to the water and rent a kayak or stand-up paddleboard. It’s a great option if you don’t want to get wet or if the water is too cold. You can rent kayaks or canoes from Jenny Lake Boating in Jenny Lake or the Colter Bay Marina at Colter Bay. For stand-up paddleboarding, you can rent from Superior Paddlesports. They offer inflatable stand-up paddleboards (so much easier to transport!), and they offer delivery to where you’re staying. Leigh Lake and String Lake are phenomenal places for stand-up paddleboarding with kids. We highly recommend it!
8. SUNSET PHOTO OP
Bask in the golden hour of Grand Teton with your kids. Don’t forget to pack hot chocolate and warm blankets! Popular sunset viewing spots include Mormon Row, where you can get a picture of the most photographed barn in the US, the T.A Moulton Barn, The Snake River Overlook where Ansel Adams took his famous photo, and Oxbow Bend where photographers flock to get a picture of the Tetons reflecting on the Snake River. We watched the sunset from the beach at Colter Bay, and it was one of our favorite memories. If you want to do sunset photography with your family, we suggest bringing a tripod to hold a long exposure.
9. HORSEBACK RIDING
If you’re traveling to Grand Teton with kids over the age of eight, horseback riding is a fun throwback way to experience the park. You can do a one-hour or two hours guided horseback riding out of Colter Bay Village, Jackson Lake Lodge, and Headwaters Lodge. You can learn more about horseback riding in Grand Teton here.
Grand Teton is a splendid place for your kids to learn the art of fishing. As long as you get a Wyoming license and bring your equipment, you can find the perfect spot, whether that’s lakeside or riverside. Be sure to check out the official site here for all rules and regulations on fishing in Grand Teton. If you want more guidance, you can sign up for a fishing tour that will provide all the equipment and firsthand knowledge of fishing in Grand Teton. Children have to be eight years and older to do a fishing tour.
11. PHELPS LAKE JUMPING ROCK
For older kids who want some thrills, jumping off Phelps Lake Jumping Rock is sure to satisfy. Located on the North Eastern corner of the lake is a jutting out rock that looms 20 feet above the water. The thrill isn’t just jumping from the rock, but the cool glacial water that gives a good zesty zing when you make contact. You’ll start the 2.5 mile hike from the Rockefeller Preserve, so you have a little time to work up a summer sweat before you jump into the frigid water.
12. VISIT MORMON ROW HISTORIC DISTRICT
Mormon Row is a great opportunity to give your kids a historical background to the area. Settled in the early 1900’s by mormons (or as they prefer to be called Latter Day Saints), the area houses a collection of old barns and buildings that are fun to explore and photograph. While technically, it’s not inside Grand Teton National Park, the area has become synonymous with Grand Teton since professional and amateur photographers flock to the area to snap the iconic picture of the Tetons framing the historic barns. It’s a fun outing and a good place to see the sunset or have a picnic.
13. RANGER PROGRAMS + JUNIOR RANGER BADGE
Every National Park offers a junior ranger program where kids complete a series of age-appropriate activities to receive a badge. Generally, it’s best suited for ages 6-10. You can pick up the free booklet at any visitor center in the park. Grand Teton also does fun and educational ranger-led programs that might be fun for your family to do together. They change throughout the year, but they can range from guided hikes to wildlife talks. Your best bet is to check the website here to see what programs they offer when you visit.
That’s our guide to visiting Grand Teton National Park with kids. Let us know if you have any questions in the comments below!
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