We visited Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming in July. This was my first time in the park since I camped out here with friends in 1995. I remember how beautiful and majestic the park was, so naturally I was excited to share the experience with my kids during our cross-country road trip.
The park is small in comparison to Yellowstone National Park, which is literally just a few miles away, but it is not to be missed. It can easily be done in a couple of days and you’ll want to stop every few minutes to take another photo of the 14 mountains and peaks that make up the Teton Range.
If you go, I hope you get as much from the experience as we did. I can’t wait to go back. Meantime, take a look at my list of the 10 things to do as a family at Grand Teton National Park. Have fun. 🙂
1. Stay at Togwotee Mountain Lodge. Located 15 minutes from the east entrance of the park, Togwotee Mountain Lodge has all you need (and more). There aren’t too many places to stay near the park, so if you want to be close to the park and also have easy access to a gas station, a restaurant, a convenience store and a gift shop, this is the place.
We stayed at Togwotee two nights over the summer in a room made for families complete with bunk beds and room to move that was just upstairs from the on-site restaurant, Grizzly Grill. The food was delicious, easily the best we had our entire trip. For breakfast, my kids and I shared the Breakfast Burrito, Ham and Egg Monte Cristo and Teton Skillet. We were in heaven.
Since there are no other restaurants for miles, you’ll want to eat at Grizzly Grill, but I’m pretty sure you will not be disappointed. If you order the Cinnamon Roll for breakfast, be prepared. It’s HUGE. We ate dinner there too, then walked across the parking lot for ice cream treats from the convenience store. Yum.
While we stayed in the main lodge, there are also a dozen or so individual cabins just behind the lodge that come with kitchenettes, satellite television, wi-fi and electric fireplaces. These are great options when you visit in the winter. Snowmobiling is popular here and you can just park your snowmobile in front of your cabin and head inside to get warm.
Speaking of snowmobiling, Togwotee Mountain Lodge is offering a pre-season winter package with rates as low as $126 per person per night when booked by Nov. 1 (for stays Dec. 1 – Mar. 26). The package includes lodging, a breakfast buffet and dinner, an airport shuttle and discounted snowmobile rentals.
2. Take a Boat Across Jenny Lake. One of the most popular activities at Grand Teton National Park is taking the shuttle across Jenny Lake with Jenny Lake Boating. The shuttle runs every 10-15 minutes. Once you cross the lake, head off on a short hike to Hidden Falls or Inspiration Point for scenic views of Jenny Lake and Jackson Hole. From Inspiration Point, you can either walk back to your car or take the shuttle.
3. Enjoy a Scenic Drive Around the Park. As I noted earlier, the park is not very big, so it’s worthwhile to simply take a drive around the park, making stops at lookout points here and there. It’s also easy to hit the visitors centers at Colter Bay, Moose and Jenny Lake to explore and learn more about the park from the on-duty park rangers.
4. Go on a Scenic Float Trip. Hook up with Barker-Ewing Scenic Float Trips for a 10-mile float trip along the Snake River. These gentle rafting trips are okay for young children, though do note that the minimum age for participants is six years old. During the half-day rafting adventure, you’ll float along a tremendously scenic section of the Snake River that is situated entirely within Grand Teton National Park.
5. Attend a Ranger-Led Program. It’s kind of a no-brainer, but on your first visit to Grand Teton, it’s a must to attend a ranger program. You and your kids can learn about bear safety, geology, history and native animals. There are even ranger-led hikes and campfire programs. Pick up a park newspaper when you arrive or go online ahead of time to check out the schedule for the day(s) you’ll be at the park.
6. Stamp Your Passport (Multiple Times). First, buy a Passport to Your National Parks. You can buy one online for $8.95 or you can buy one at the park visitors center or bookstore (same price). Inside the park, buy the official sticker for Grand Teton National Park to add to your passport book. Then, keep your eyes open for cancellation stamps. There are a handful of stamps, including stamps that can be found at the Jenny Lake Visitor Center and Flagg Ranch.
7. Enjoy a Narrated Cruise Across Jackson Lake. The Grand Teton Lodge Company offers scenic, narrated cruises across Jackson Lake. They also offer meal cruises (breakfast, lunch and dinner) that enable you to cruise across the lake, then disembark onto a private island for a sit-down meal in a picnic area with panoramic views of the Teton Range.
8. Take Lots of Photos. It’s okay, take as many photos as you like. I easily took dozens of photos of the Teton Range from visitors centers, lookout points, even from my car. Every view seemed better than the last and worthy of a photo. It’s incredible to look back at the photos and think that we were there in the shadow of the Teton Range. So beautiful.
9. Become a Junior Ranger. My kids love earning badges and patches at various national parks through the Junior Ranger program. You can pick up an activity booklet at any visitors center inside the park. Complete a certain number of activities depending on your child’s age. Children also need to attend a ranger-led program and following the program they can usually get sworn in on the spot by a park ranger.
10. Soak it All In. A visit to Grand Teton National Park is truly a one-of-a-kind experience. So, take it slow. Don’t rush. Enjoy the views and soak it all in so you can hold onto the memories for as long as you can.
Disclaimer: I was a guest of Togwotee Mountain Lodge. However, all views and opinions expressed here are my own.