Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming
Updated: Feb 7
Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming features majestic views, incredible hiking, wildlife viewing and water adventures. This park offers a one-of-a-kind experience for people of all ages and abilities. This family guide to Grand Teton National Park will help you plan your trip with kids to this amazing National Park.
Fun: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ (out of 5)
Difficulty: Very Easy Easy MODERATE Hard Very Hard
(Very easy to very hard, depending on what you decide to do)
Elevation Gain: Flat to steep depending on what you are doing
Terrain: Mountains, dirt, rocks, lakes, rivers, streams
Time: A few hours to several days
When to Go: Summer/Fall
$35 per vehicle for a 7 day pass
Free if you have a 4th grader with Every Kid Outdoors program
Hotels, restaurants and grocery stores in Jackson, Wyoming
Bathrooms at visitor’s centers and most trailheads
Convenient stores and gas stations scattered throughout Grand Teton National Park
THINGS TO BRING
Camping gear if camping
Hiking gear (water, snacks, sturdy shoes, bear spray)
Water gear (kayaks, paddleboards, water shoes, googles, life jackets)
Binoculars for wildlife viewing
We absolutely love Grand Teton National Park. It has everything – Mountains for hiking and exploring, water for paddling, swimming and boating and excellent wildlife viewing. The views are absolutely stunning no matter what viewpoint you are looking from. We spent a week in Grand Teton National Monument and we were not ready to go home. There are so many adventures to go on in this 300,000+ acre park.
THINGS TO DO
There are endless hiking opportunities ranging from very easy to very hard within Grand Teton National Park. We hiked trails that were very easy to moderate. Here are a few we did with an 11, 10, 7 and 3 year old.
String Lake Loop: 4.4 miles, 400 ft. elevation gain – Gorgeous views of Tetons up close and lakes below.
Moose Ponds: 2 to 3.2 miles, 150ft elevation gain: Complete the loop or hike an-out-and back to the moose pond. Keep your eye out for animals near the ponds. Hike earlier morning or evening to avoid crowds around Jenny Lake and to see more wildlife.
Hidden Falls Trail: 4.9 miles, 600 ft elevation gain: Popular hike half way around Jenny Lake to Hidden Falls. You can opt to take a paid boat ride across the lake making the total hike only 1 mile to the falls. Will be crowded in the summer months.
Jackson Lake Shoreline Trail from Signal Mountain Marina: 0.25 to unknown miles, rolling hills: I can’t find this hike on All Trails or Google, but it was my favorite in The Tetons. It feels like you are walking the ocean shoreline in Oregon with incredible mountain views of The Tetons in the distance. It starts from the south side of Signal Mountain Marina near the beach and heads south. I’m not sure how far you can follow this trail, but we did about 2 miles total.
String to Leigh Lake: 2 miles, flat: Easy, very family friendly hike next to that follows String Lake to Leigh Lake. We started at the north end of the String Lake parking lot, but you can make this longer by starting at the south parking lot or continuing further around Leigh Lake. Great views of Tetons and String Lake. Take a few minutes to wade in String Lake. Great for all ages and abilities.
Heron Pond-Swan Lake Loop: 3.2 miles, 150 ft elevation gain: Flat and easier hike for kids that begins on the south side of Colter Bay. Views of Jackson Lake in beginning followed by hike through forest trees. Beautiful swans in Swan Lake.
Schwabacher’s Landing: 1.8 miles, flat: Drive the the end of Schwabacher's Landing Road off Highway 89 and walk along the trail near the calm river for spectacular views of all the Tetons and wildlife. Keep your eyes out for beavers at the beaver dam. Perfect hike/walk for all ages and abilities. Our toddler just wanted to throw rocks in the water the entire hike. Its an out-and-back trail so go as far or as little as you want.
From the larger Jackson Lake to small streams, you can find a water adventure that suits you and your family at Grand Teton National Park. Boat permits are required for motorized boats and non-motorized boats such as kayaks. Permits can be purchased at the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center and the Colter Bay Visitor Center.
Jackson Lake is the largest lake in Grand Teton National Park. Motorized boats are allowed. Signal campground and Colter Bay both are next to Jackson Lake in different areas. We stayed at Signal Mountain campground and loved having close access to Jackson Lake. There is a large boat ramp and dock as well as beach area to swim in. We brought googles, paddleboards and kayaks and spent hours enjoying the lake. The views are breathtaking.
The Jenny Lake area is a central hub for hiking and water craft of 10 horsepower max. Get here first thing in the morning or later afternoon in order to get a close parking spot and avoid the crowds.
String Lake is narrow, shallow, clear lake that connects Leigh Lake and Jenny Lake. This was our favorite place to kayak because of the crystal clear water. Get here early or late afternoon to get a parking spot. There are a couple docking areas -- One at the south end of the lake and another at the north end of the parking lot. There are also great swimming areas and a large rock to jump from.
Camping in Teton National Park use to be on a first come first serve basis. As of January 26th, 2021 you can now book a site at reservations.gov. I saw fights break out over camping spots our week at Signal Mountain. The reservation system was definitely needed. In 2020 we arrived at Jenny Lake at 5:45 A.M. with 4 kids to get a spot--- We were too late. We were able to get a spot at Signal Mountain at 7 A.M. (which we absolutely loved) and stayed an entire week.
Gros Ventre Campground is the furthest south campground within the park and allows for tents, trailers and RVs. It is has 300+ sites. It is near the Gros Ventre River and a bit further away from the major hiking and hub of The Tetons.
I absolutely love Signal Mountain Campground! We stayed here for a week and absolutely loved the scenery as well as its central location. Signal Mountain sits on the south end of Jackson Lake. It is next to the Signal Mountain Marina allowing quick access from the campground to water recreation at Jackson Lake. It is only a 10 minute drive to the hiking hub of Jenny Lake. It’s a medium sized campground at 76 sites. It has tent, RV and trailer sites. There is a gas station, convenient store, laundry facilities and pay showers. There are several camp sites close to the lake with gorgeous lake views. The sunsets are magical. Make sure to follow all the food regulations for bears. There is a bear box at every site. We had few bears walk through camp while we were there.
Jenny Lake Campground sits right under The Grand Teton. It is central hub for hiking. This is a smaller campground that is tent only. Its probably the most sought after campground within the park due to its location and atmosphere.
Colter Bay is a larger campground with 300+sites for tents, RVS and trailers. It is closer to Yellowstone so if you are hitting both parks this might be a good campground for you. It is also a great place if you are bringing a motorized boat due to the large docking area and bay. Colter bay has a larger gift shop/convenient store, gas station, laundry and pay showers. There are a several great hiking trails from Colter Bay.
Lizard campground is on the North end of Jackson Lake and is only 11 miles south of the south entrance to Yellowstone National Park. It is further away from the central hub of the Tetons which gives it a more secluded and rustic feel. Great place to stay if you want a quieter location close to Yellowstone.
Headwaters Campground is the furthest North campground and is only a couple miles from the south entrance to Yellowstone. It offers 100+ camping sites plus an additional 40 camper cabins. Showers are available to every camper.
We saw more wildlife in at Teton National Park than we did in Yellowstone – yep, it’s true. Bears, moose, elk, deer, bison, swans, squirrels, and a variety of birds. I don’t know that there is really a special spot to see wildlife – we saw wildlife wherever we went. I just suggest keeping your eyes peeled and look around while driving and hiking. Bringing binoculars would be a plus.
Mormon Row contains old homes and barns from around 1900 of the early settlers of the area from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. This area offers incredible views of The Tetons that many photographers seek. It is also fun to explore the area and look into the old buildings and imagine how life was 100+ years ago.
Signal Mountain Viewpoint is just off Teton Park Road just south of Signal Mountain Campground. Follow Signal Mountain road for 5 miles for an elevation gain of about 1000 feet. No trailers or RVs allowed. At the top you will see panoramic vistas of the valley below.
John Cunningham built this cabin in the 1880s and was a rancher/farmer in the area until around 1930. He played an essential role in the preservation of the the Teton area. We had fun exploring the cabin and finding prairie dogs.
We love going through National Park visitor's centers for learning opportunities and to get Junior Ranger books. The Junior Ranger program keeps the kids busy while we drive and helps them learn about each park and how to preserve it. Grand Teton National Park has four visitor centers: Craig Thomas Discovery & Visitor Center, Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve Center, Jenny Lake and Colter Bay. Junior Ranger books can be picked up at any visitor center location.
PROS & CONS
All ages will enjoy
Variety of activities: Hiking, water fun, wildlife viewing etc.
Mild temperatures in the summer
Near Yellowstone National Park
Popular areas within the park can become overcrowded
Campgrounds fill quickly
Grand Teton National Park is located in the north-western corner of Wyoming, just below Yellowstone National Park. There is a north, south, and east entrance into the park. Put your desired location within the park in your GPS to get to the right location. At the park entrance you will receive a map of the park which is great to have in areas where there isn't great cell phone reception.
OTHER NEARBY ADVENTURES
Hi, I'm Corrine! I'm an outdoor enthusiast, mother of four, wife, nurse and runner. I believe God gave us this beautiful earth to explore, enjoy and protect.
My goal is to inspire you to get outside and create your own amazing memories as a family. Life is precious and there are too many adventures to be had to spend life on the couch or in front of a screen.
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