The Best Things to do in Grand Teton National Park

The Best Things to do in Grand Teton National Park

Discover the incredible sites and the best things to do in Grand Teton National Park, one of my favorite places on earth.

Discover the incredible sites and the best things to do in Grand Teton National Park, one of my favorite places on earth.

What to do in Grand Teton National Park with Kids

With steep mountains jutting up directly from the earth, glass-like lakes, thick forests, and abundant wildlife, Grand Teton National Park, located in western Wyoming, is a guaranteed favorite for families. Not only are the views great, but there are more activities available than you’ll probably ever have time to do! We really love this park because it’s big enough and diverse enough to spend several days in, but not so large that you feel overwhelmed.

1. Hike to Hidden Falls & Inspiration Point

Hidden Falls at Jenny Lake
Beautiful Hidden Falls across from Jenny Lake

This easy 2-mile round trip hike requires a boat shuttle across beautiful Jenny Lake. This makes it a unique hike and especially fun for kids! Boat rides are always a good motivator. This is definitely one of the most popular things to do in Grand Teton National Park, so you need to plan accordingly, because the crowds can get out of control, especially during the summers.

Parking lot at Jenny Lake in Grand Teton National Park
The crazy line of cars at Jenny Lake. Seriously, get there early to avoid this nonsense!

The parking lot will be full by 8:00 AM! So if you only want to have one early morning during your trip, I recommend doing this hike on that day. Alternatively, you could go in the evening if you’re confident you and the kids can hike fast enough to catch the last boat! See the hours below.

Jenny Lake Boating Shuttle Hours:

Boats run every 10-15 minutes

May 15 June 6: 10 am-4 pm
June 7Sept 6: 7 am-7 pm
Sept 7Sept 30: 10 am-4 pm

Jenny Lake Boating Prices:

Adult Round-trip (12 yrs to 61 yrs) – $ 18.00
Adult One-Way – $ 10.00
Child Round-trip (2 yrs to 11 yrs) – $ 10.00 
Child One-Way – $ 8.00
Senior Round-trip (62 yrs and over) – $ 15.00
Under 2 years of age and over 80 yrs – FREE

See updated pricing and schedules

View in Jenny Lake
Is there a more picturesque boat ride? As you can see, the shuttles run constantly, so as long as you can find parking, you’re good to go!

Catching the Jenny Lake Boat Shuttle will save you about 5 miles of hiking, so it’s definitely worth planning for. After you get off the boat, follow the trail for .5 miles to Hidden Falls, the only waterfall you’ll be able to see in Grand Teton National Park.

After admiring Hidden Falls, continue up the trail another .5 miles to Inspiration Point for a breathtaking view of Jenny Lake.

Distance: 2 Miles, out and back
Difficulty: Easy

Take a Hike

Hiking

I’d say the hike to inspiration point is a must-do if you’re only doing one hike in Grand Teton National Park, but if you have time, definitely pick a few more hikes to do during your time here. These are our favorites, but read the Grand Teton Hiking Guide for more details.

  • Phelps Lake Overlook
  • Lakeshore Trail
  • Leigh & String Lakes
  • Death Canyon
  • Paintbrush Canyon
  • Jenny Lake Loop
  • Jackson Lake Overlook

Take a Boat Ride on Jackson Lake

Boat Ride on Jackson Lake

When you think of THE Grand Tetons Lake, it’s probably Jackson Lake that you’re picturing. This lake, fed by the Snake River overlook in the north and emptying at Jackson Lake Dam in the south, is over 15 miles long and nearly 500 feet across. It’s huge! Jackson Lake butts right up to the jutting Teton Range and the only way to get to this side of the mountains is to take a boat ride. From Colter Bay, you can book a Jackson Lake Cruise, where you’ll get to be right next to the mountains and learn about the lake, mountains, and Grand Teton National Park with a well-educated guide.

It’s fascinating to see the park from the boat and learn so much interesting information. I recommend taking the lunch cruise at noon for several reasons: 1. You’ll get lunch along with your boat tour and save on time 2. The sun will be overhead on the boat canopy, so you’ll be mostly shaded during the 1.5-hour ride.

Boat Ride on Jackson Lake

You can book your Jackson Lake Cruise at the boat office in Colter Bay. From the parking lot, go down to the water and take a left. You’ll see the office ahead of you. These lake cruises can sell out fast and are only sold day-of, so I recommend purchasing your ticket in the morning if possible. There is plenty of parking at Colter Bay, so don’t stress about not being able to park like at Jenny Lake. If you are too late for the lunch cruise, just book a ticket on a later cruise, it’s still great and you can eat lunch at one of the places to eat at Colter Bay.

Colter Bay is also a great place to swim, play at the beach, rent a kayak, canoe, or motorboat.

Jackson Lake Boat Cruise Times & Pricing:

June 16 – August 10* (the end date fluctuates with the level of Jackson Lake, which sometimes gets drained in years of drought)

SCENIC CRUISE

Times – 10:15 AM, 1:15 PM, 3:15 PM, 5:15 PM daily.

Adult – $42
Child – $21

BREAKFAST CRUISE

TIME – 7:15 AM except on Thursdays.

Adult – $54
Child – $29

LUNCH CRUISE

Time – 12:15 PM Mon/Wed/Fri/Sat

Adult – $54
Child – $29

3. Rent a Kayak or Canoe from Jenny Lake or Jackson Lake

Canoe from Jenny Lake
Signal Mountain in Grand Teton National Park is a much less crowded beach where you can rent kayaks and pontoons.

If you haven’t had enough of being on the water, you can:

  • Rent a kayak or canoe at Jenny Lake check pricing
  • Rent a kayak, canoe, or motor boat at Colter Bay on Jackson Lake (all watercraft are first come, first serve)
    check pricing
  • Rent a kayak or pontoon at Signal Mountain Lodge on Jackson Lake (kayaks are first come, first serve, pontoons should be reserved several months or weeks in advance) check pricing

Walk Through Laurence S. Rockefeller Visitor Center & Preserve

Laurence S. Rockefeller Visitor Center & Preserve

If you’ve heard how Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone came to be, then you’ll understand the huge role that the Rockefeller family played. This 1,100-acre preserve was the last bit of land inside the park belonging to the family. It was just donated to the park in 2001.

There is a beautiful and interactive Visitor Center with beautiful eco-friendly architecture. You can watch films, enjoy air conditioning, get a Junior Ranger book, and learn all about the wildlife, geology, and the indigenous life that were the first inhabitants of this special place.

Laurence S. Rockefeller Preserve
An Elk spotted at Laurence S. Rockefeller Preserve

The preserve is just down the road from the Visitor Center and has a very tiny parking lot with only a few people allowed in at a time. This is another activity you’ll need to either arrive early for or go later. It’s meant to be a quiet preserve full of wildlife, which is why it has this restriction.

Play at the Beach

There are several good beaches in Grand Teton National Park. Here are our favorites for kids:

String Lake

String Lake

String Lake is probably my very favorite spot in Grand Teton National Park, and it’s especially great for kids! It’s small and fairly shallow, making it a safe place for little swimmers. Surrounded by trees and mountains, it’s also fairly shady compared to the other lakes in the park. I love going at the end of the day to cool off from a long day of hiking and exploring. Pictures just don’t do this place justice, so you’ll have to see it for yourself!

String Lake
String Lake is the perfect place to cool off after a long day in Grand Teton National Park

Colter Bay

Colter Bay

Colter Bay is a beautiful, manmade bay in the middle of Jackson Lake, but it can get really crowded. There are picnic tables, a general store, a visitor center, and bathrooms. You can also rent kayaks, canoes, motorboats, or take a lake cruise.

Leek’s Marina

Leek's Marina
There’s hardly ever anyone at the beach at Leeks Marina, AND there’s a pizzeria here! What more do you need?

This Marina is hardly ever busy! Visitors come here to put in their boats but there are no rentals, which makes it less busy. There is an expansive amount of rock beach to play on. Even better, there’s a pizzeria right behind the marina so you can order a pizza to go and eat it on the beach and watch the boats go by! It’s the perfect picnic.

Signal Mountain Lodge

Signal Mountain Lodge

Located at the south of Jackson Lake, this is a less busy part of the park and you won’t have a problem finding parking or a spot at the beach. There is a general store, bathroom, and a restaurant which makes spending a few hours there convenient. You can also rent kayaks and pontoons, but the pontoons need to be reserved several weeks in advance in the summer.

Watch for Wildlife

Grand Teton National Park

There is plenty of wildlife to be seen in Grand Teton National Park. Elk, Bison, Black Bears, Grizzly Bears, Pronghorn, Moose, Rabbits, Chipmunks, and more!

Always keep a safe distance when viewing wildlife. Whether you are in your vehicle or on foot, you must maintain a distance of at least 100 yards from bears and wolves, and 25 yards from all other wildlife. Animals in the park are wild and may act aggressively if approached.”

-National Park Service

These are some great videos to watch before you go to the park. They are short and informative.

Drive the 42-Mile Scenic Loop

Grand Teton National Park View

This is one of the most popular Grand Teton National Park things to do and I always recommend that visitors try to do it on their first day to get a feel for the park and where everything is. Of course, feel free to make stops from this list along your way. It’s a great activity to do if the kids need some downtime or a nap. This loop will take you along some of the most stunning scenery in the Teton Park Road along the Teton mountain range, numerous lakes, and scenic overlooks

Visit Mormon Row Historic District

Mormon Row Historic District

You’ve probably seen hundreds of pictures of the Grand Teton barn before. It’s probably the most iconic shot of the area, with the towering Teton Mountains in the background, but there’s a real history to this barn and the surrounding buildings. In 1890, a group of Mormon (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) settlers came to Wyoming to try to make a life and establish a settlement. Unfortunately, due to bad weather and lack of water, they had to leave and a settlement was never formed. But this barn and 27 homesteads remain as a testament of early settlers.

Not only is this a very scenic drive, but there is usually a herd of bison that roam around here, making it a great place for spotting wildlife.

Jenny Lake Scenic Drive

Jenny Lake Scenic Drive

If you’re not a fan of hiking trails around Jenny Lake, I recommend taking the Jenny Lake Overlook Scenic Drive. This is a one-lane road that drives along one side of the lake and has stunning views.

Chapel of the Transfiguration

Chapel of the Transfiguration

This historical Episcopal chapel was built in 1925 and still holds services every Sunday during the summer. Not only is it a picturesque chapel, but the scenery behind it is stunning.

Oxbow Bend

Oxbow Bend

This is my very favorite view in all of the Grand Teton National Park! Besides the barn at Mormon Row, it’s probably the most iconic view of the Grand Teton range. It’s beautiful any time of day, but especially in the morning and at sunset, when the water is calm and the mountains reflect on the smooth water of the Snake River.

Explore Jackson

Jackson
There are four of these awesome antler arches in downtown Jackson. A picture underneath one is a must!

The city of Jackson, Wyoming is only a few miles from Grand Teton National Park. It’s a great place to base yourself for exploring the park. There are plenty of hotels and restaurants, and it’s a really lively small city to hang out in. If you’re interested in doing rafting or other outdoor activities, a lot of them meet in Jackson. We love getting burgers and shakes at Jackson Drug.

Explore Teton Village

Teton Village

Teton Village is located even closer to Grand Teton National Park and it’s surrounded by the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort where you can ski in the winter and hike or mountain bike in the summer. We loved taking the gondola 9,000 feet up the mountain. The views over the valley are amazing.

They have a really fun and active kids’ club at Teton Village and also a ski camp in the winter and a mountain bike in the summer. There’s also a rock-climbing wall and a trampoline park on the property. The fun for kids here is never-ending.

We like getting hot drinks at South Cable and Thai food at Teton Thai. There are tons of fun restaurants and hotels all over the resort, including the Four Seasons on the high end and the Continuum on the lower end. I like staying in Teton Village because Moose Wilson Road takes you to a less-used entrance station at the south of the park.

Grand Teton National Park is a magical park and an especially great park for families. With a good mix of outdoor activities, wildlife viewing, and educational opportunities, kids will appreciate this beautiful park for the special place it is.

Best Hotels in Grand Teton National Park

Jackson Lake Lodge

Jackson Lake Lodge

Located in Moran, the Jackson Lake Lodge is near the historical district and Grand Teton National Park mountains. You can closely go by Grand View Point and Oxbow Bend. All the rooms here have high-end amenities and comforts, making it one of the best places to stay in Grand Teton National Park.

Hatchet Resort

Hatchet Resort

Also located in Moral, the Hatchet Resort is nestled in the mountains and in the national park. Nearby attractions such as Oxbow Bend and Jenny Lake are just a short drive away. You can do many outdoor activities such as water rafting, hiking, biking, and snowmobiling. It’s the perfect hotel to stay in if you’re looking for a unique nature experience.

The hotel has an onsite family restaurant, The Hatchet Grill, and has free in-room WiFi and a fitness center. Each room also has free toiletries and TVs for your convenience.

Best Tours in Grand Teton National Park

Jackson: Snake River Class 2-3 Whitewater Rafting Adventure

Jackson: Snake River Class 2-3 Whitewater Rafting Adventure

If you’re looking for an adventurous whitewater tour, then this is the perfect option. This whitewater rafting trip takes you down Snake River on class 2-3 rapids along with an experienced paddling instructor to help you navigate the rapids. You’ll get to explore some of the most stunning landscapes in Grand Teton National Park and spot local wildlife like moose, elk, and osprey.

Jackson Hole: Bridger-Teton National Forest Horseback Ride

Jackson Hole: Bridger-Teton National Forest Horseback Ride

Explore the wilderness of Wyoming while riding a horse with a help of a professional guide. You’ll get to enjoy the breathtaking views of the mountains and the valley, as well as take in the traditional western culture of Wyoming.

Here are some of the highlights of this tour:

  • Journey back to the Wild West on a guided horseback ride through the Tetons
  • Trot with a guide through secluded and remote trails in the Wyoming wilderness
  • Personalize your ride to your time restraints with a 2-hour and 4-hour option
  • Learn the basics of horseback riding, including mounting, steering, and stopping
  • Discover the beautiful Bridger-Teton National Forest with a local wrangler

Grand Teton National Park: Full-Day Tour with Boat Ride

Grand Teton National Park: Full-Day Tour with Boat Ride

A full-day boat tour that lets you explore the Teton mountain range while taking a boat ride on Jenny Lake. You can hike, relax, and enjoy a picnic lunch in the wilderness while enjoying some of the most spectacular views of Grand Teton National Park. With an experienced guide, this tour will take you to places and even let you spot some local wildlife in the area.

Teton Village: Grand Tetons Sunrise Hot Air Balloon Tour

Teton Village: Grand Tetons Sunrise Hot Air Balloon Tour

Catch a spectacular sunrise view of the Grand Tetons on a hot air balloon ride. Soar above picturesque snow-capped mountains, forests, and valleys, and even enjoy a champagne toast at the end of your tour.

From Jackson: 4-Hour Eco Safari in Grand Teton National Park

From Jackson: 4-Hour Eco Safari in Grand Teton National Park

If you really want to take the time to enjoy nature and spot some local wildlife, then this is the tour for you. This eco safari takes you on a 4-hour journey through Grand Teton National Park, while you spot some of the area’s wildlife. With a knowledgeable guide, get to photograph elk, moose, deer, and much more.

Best Things to Do in Grand Teton National Park FAQ

What is the best way to explore Grand Teton National Park?

You can do so many things in Grand Teton National Park, from hot air balloon rides to horseback rides and whitewater rafting. Depending on your preferences and time restraints, I often recommend going on tours so you make the most of your stay and have a knowledgeable guide to help you spot local wildlife.

What makes Grand Teton National Park famous?

It’s spectacular mountain views and wildlife make it one of the most famous national parks in the country. It’s also home to over 200 miles of trails, beautiful lakes, and some of the most beautiful landscapes in North America.

What are some unique things about Grand Teton National Park?

The park is home to many different species of plants and animals. You can spot moose, elk, deer, osprey, and much more. You can spot the smallest bird found in North America here and the Grand Teton Mountain Range is known to be the youngest range in the Rocky Mountains.

Is Grand Teton National Park worth visiting?

Absolutely! Grand Teton National Park is one of the most beautiful places in North America and it offers something for everyone. Whether you’re looking to explore nature, go on adventures, or just relax and take in the views, Grand Teton is worth visiting.

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