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
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.
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 7 – Sept 6: 7 am-7 pm
Sept 7 – Sept 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
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
Take a Hike
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
Take a Boat Ride on Jackson Lake
When you think of THE Grand Teton Lake, it’s probably Jackson Lake that you’re picturing. This lake, fed by the Snake River 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.
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)
Times – 10:15 AM, 1:15 PM, 3:15 PM, 5:15 PM daily.
Adult – $42
Child – $21
TIME – 7:15 AM except on Thursdays.
Adult – $54
Child – $29
Time – 12:15 PM Mon/Wed/Fri/Sat
Adult – $54
Child – $29
3. Rent a Kayak or Canoe from Jenny Lake or Jackson Lake
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)
- 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
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.
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 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!
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.
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
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
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
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 park along the Teton mountain range, numerous lakes, and scenic overlooks
Visit 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
If you’re not up for hiking around Jenny Lake, I recommend taking the Jenny Lake Scenic Drive. This is a one-lane road that drives along one side of the lake and has stunning views.
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.
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.
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 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.