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Grand Teton National Park with kids: The Best Things to Do

splashing around in Leigh Lake in Grand Teton national park

Headed to Jackson, Wyoming? Looking for fun things to do in Grand Teton National Park with kids? Make sure to keep reading because we’ve got lots of great options for you.

Grand Teton National Park is one of the most picturesque areas in the United States, possibly even the world. Clearly, the beautiful scenery is the main attraction, but kids are kids. “I’m bored” is not what you want to hear on vacation. So, with that in mind we wanted to put together a list of activities that blend the outdoors with some fun.

While there are multiple options like white water rafting and long hikes available for older kids, the options for younger ones might be more difficult to sift out. We recently made the trip with our toddlers (five and two years old), so we’ve rounded up our favorite options for you.

kids playing in Leigh Lake
the absolute joy of playing in frigid water!

This was part of our trip that included visiting Yellowstone National Park. For more information and planning tips, check out this post with a great itinerary for visiting Yellowstone. We also compiled a list of our favorite things to do in Yellowstone with kids. If you’re looking for a few fun ideas outside Teton Park, be sure to read this post about kids activities in Jackson Hole.

Jenny Lake Boat Ride and Hike 

Jenny Lake is the most popular lake in The Grand Teton National Park. From here you can hike to Inspiration Point, on the most popular trail in the park.  You can start the hike at the visitors center, or you can shorten it a bit by taking a short boat ride across the lake.  

We decided to take the boat ride across Jenny Lake. We knew the kids would enjoy it, and it shortened the trek a bit for their little legs.

Once you reach the other side of Jenny Lake, you can immediately start the hike up to Inspiration Point. About halfway up the trail you can stop for a view of Hidden Falls, which are actually some of the most photographed waterfalls in the park. We stayed here for about 20 minutes, letting the kids play a little before continuing on.

hiking to Inspiration Point at Jenny Lake
hiking to Inspiration Point at Jenny Lake

This is a fairly easy hike, even though the one mile trail has a good deal of uphill climb. Most of the climb was fairly gradual, and our five year old daughter completed it all on her own.  

There are several stops along the way, with multiple lookouts, so you can definitely shorten the hike if you want.  We made the entire trek up and back down in about an hour, always going at her pace.  This time doesn’t include the break for playtime at the Hidden Falls viewpoint. 

playing in the cold water at Oxbow Bend in Grand Teton National Park
playing at Oxbow Bend

Since this is a relatively easy hike, it gets extremely crowded.  Make sure to get there early, as the parking lot fills up quickly, with cars parking all the way out to the road only a few hours after opening.  

Also know that while the boat shuttle run every 10-15 minutes, the opening and closing times vary with the season.  While we were there, the shuttles didn’t start until 10am.  You might consider stopping by the day before so you will know what their first and last shuttle times are, as I can’t find an online schedule anywhere.   However, check out their website here, and you may be able to get a schedule this year.

String Lake Picnic and Play

While the kids loved the boat ride on Jenny Lake, we found String Lake to be much more our speed.  The crystal clear water is surrounded by forrest on one side and the extreme slopes of the Tetons on the other.  

There are several great spots to have a picnic, whether at a table or on the shore.   We spent over three hours here just letting the kids play at the water’s edge and enjoying the quiet sounds of nature.   This ended up being one of our favorite things to do in the park!

picnic at the beautiful String Lake in Grand Teton National Park
picnic at String Lake | Grand Teton National Park

Make sure to plan and take some small toys (that you’d be ok losing) and a picnic lunch so you can stay for a while.  When you’re finished eating, make sure to take your food back to the car or use the bear boxes located along the walking path to help keep bears away.  

I’d also consider an extra change of clothes.  If your kids are anything like ours, they will end up soaked and freezing.  We made the mistake of forgetting our bag with extra clothes in the condo, so we had to cut our day shorter than we’d planned.  

Dornan’s 

While Dornan’s is famous for their chuckwagon meals, you can also opt for gourmet sandwiches inside the grocery.  Back outside you can sit at one of the many picnic tables and enjoy your lunch while staring at the beautiful Teton Range.  Although our kids had fun just playing in the open green space, there are also a few yard games set up, including a life-sized version of connect four.  

playing at Dornan's
lunch time at Dornan’s

Schwabacher Landing

This is one of the best spots to get amazing views of the Teton Range.  You can walk along the Snake River here, with plenty of spots for kids to stop and play.  The trail follows the River for four miles, but can can go for any distance you choose.  Between the river and the grassy plains, there are lots of opportunities for wildlife watching here.

Schwabacher Landing with creek in foreground and Teton range behind
gorgeous scenery at Schwabacher Landing

This would be a great spot to have a picnic and spend a few hours just enjoying the scenery.  You could easily stop at Dornan’s for sandwiches then bring it all along for an afternoon of fun.  

To get here go north from Jackson toward Moose for about 15 miles on US 191, where you’ll see a wooden road sign for Schwabacher Landing Road. Follow the gravel road for about 1/3 mile to the dead end at the parking lot. The only facilities here are a basic toilet, just FYI.

Oxbow Bend

To truly escape the crowds and enjoy Grand Teton National Park as you’ve imagined it, you need to grab your essentials for a half day and visit Oxbow Bend.  This spot is dreamy.  Located at a quiet bend in the Snake River, you can see Mount Moran in the background while surrounded by grasses and a few forested areas.  

The river is calm here, more like a creek almost.  Our kids loved wading out into the cool water and splashing around.  You’re likely to see kayakers and a few fishermen floating by while you sit on the shore.  

You also have a good chance of spotting some wildlife, especially osprey, river otters, and moose.  Keep an eye out for bears, though.

To get here from Jackson, take US 191 past Moose going toward Moran.  At the Moran Junction, turn left toward Colter Bay, where you’ll go for about two miles and begin looking for Oxbow Bend Turn.  Follow the road for though the tree lined drive to the small parking area.  From here, you can walk a few yards and find your desired spot.  

family picnic at Oxbow Bend
picnic time | Oxbow Bend

Moose-Wilson Road Animal Spotting

Possibly one of the most trafficked areas of the Grand Teton National Park, this stretch of land along Moose-Wilson Road is home to a large amount of wildlife and beautiful scenery.  We saw everything here from birds of prey to elk, moose and bears- including a huge grizzly!  

You can enter or exit the park from here, so I would strongly recommend you drive through here at least once.  The road winds through forests and wetlands, so there is plenty of variety.  

Just note that if there has been lots of bear activity, park rangers may shut down this road, as they did once during our visit.  It is also closed from November to mid May. Moreover, a large section of this road is not paved, so depending on recent weather the road can be extremely rough and bumpy.  

moose on side of Moose-Wilson Road
a moose!

Ride The Greenway

The Jackson Hole area has 27 miles of paved trails, perfect for a bike ride. There are multiple areas where you can get onto the greenway with tons of options for where to go and what to see.  

For a scenic drive, I would choose to do a ride between Moose and Moran inside the park.  The trail is flat and you’ll have expansive views of the Tetons.  

There are several bike rental spots in town, but I can’t speak to any as we ran out of time to make a ride due to a few rainy days.  

at TA Moulton Barn
at the infamous TA Moulton Barn

Let us know what you think! Any other activities we should add to the list?

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  • Reply
    Desirae
    September 6, 2020 at 4:17 pm

    Could you do grand Tetons in just a day? We are thinking of driving down from island park.

    • Reply
      Heather
      September 9, 2020 at 6:27 pm

      Hey Desirae, Sorry to just now respond as we were traveling ourselves the past week. Yes, it is possible to visit the Grand Tetons in a day by driving to the main areas and quickly visiting each stop. I would pack a picnic lunch and enjoy it beside one of the many lakes. However, if you wanted to get a little further off the main path and visit a few more areas, I would recommend two days. Happy to answer any additional questions.

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