20 Amazing Adventures Around Grand Teton National Park

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The Tetons will always hold a special place in my heart.  It’s one of those views that you can instantly fall in love with when you see it.  

I have an incredibly strong connection to the Grand Tetons, so it’s a place that we take our family often (at least once a year) in hopes that our children will fall in love with it as much as I have.

I grew up visiting the Idaho side of the Teton Range (the Tetons are on the border of Idaho and Wyoming), where my great-great-grandparents homesteaded in the 1800’s and to the family farms where my grandparents grew up.

When I got a bit older, I got a summer job working as a whitewater rafting guide all through college and lived right outside of Grand Teton National Park.  For those three summers working in the Tetons, I explored and discovered some of the most beautiful places on the whole earth. There is so much to do around Grand Teton National Park, that you couldn’t really fit it into one month, so here are the top things to do in the Tetons.

Best family adventures around Grand Teton National Park

We’ve taken dozens of trips to Grand Teton and the surrounding areas. While all of these activities are somethings that adults would enjoy solo, they’re also all things that we’ve taken our own kids to do and they’ve absolutely loved it.

So no matter what your adventure style, Grand Teton National Park has something for you nearby.

1. Go Whitewater Rafting on the Snake River

The Snake River flows right through Grand Teton National Park, and if you follow it south of Jackson Hole into the Snake River Canyon, there is a fantastic whitewater run.  This area is about 40 minutes south of Jackson Hole and there are several outfitters that will take you rafting, though I think this is one of the best rafting companies (and cheapest).

whitewater rafting with kids on snake river

The rapids in the canyon are great for everyone from absolute beginners to advanced rafters.  Most of the rapids in the canyon are a class II-III though at high water there is one that can be a class IV. The total time on the river is about 1.5-2 hours depending on how fast the water is flowing. All of the companies that run rafting trips on the Snake River have all the equipment that you need, so other than a swimming suit and shoes that can get wet (we use these sandals– they’re also great for summer hiking too), they have everything you need.  

2. Swim in String Lake

String Lake has the warmest water of all the lakes in Grand Teton National Park (though it’s still pretty cold), and it’s also quite shallow, which makes it a great place to swim with kids.  You can bring tubes, inflatable, or even motorless boats like SUP, or canoes to the lake (note: all boats need to be registered with the visitors center and have a permit). In the middle of the lake, there is a big rock that we love swimming out to with the kids and then sunning ourselves on to warm up a bit, before jumping off the top and back into the lake. 

swimming at Jenny lake

There are several areas with picnic tables at String Lake and the best beach areas are just down from the bathrooms, or farther south along the shore (a little south of the big rock in the middle).  

3. Go Biking in Grand Teton National Park

Biking is one of the best ways to see Grand Teton, and is always so much fun for families.  Biking is allowed on all the paved roads in Grand Teton as well as on Grassy Lake and Two Ocean Roads.

biking grand teton national park

For the best biking experience in Grand Teton, use the pathway through the park, so you don’t have to worry about cars or traffic.  The pathway goes from the town of Jackson, all the way north through the park and up to Jenny Lake. FOr more details on biking in Grand Teton, go here.    

4. Ride the Tram at Jackson Hole and Hike Down

Jackson Hole Mountain Resort is just a short drive from Grand Teton National Park via the Moose-Wilson Road.  While you’re there, make sure to take a ride up the famous aerial tram for some of the best views in the entire valley.  Once you get to the top, you can stay for a while and get a bite to eat at the restaurant, or if you’re feeling adventurous, you can hike DOWN the mountain from the tram station.  Note: Ticket prices are almost 20% cheaper if you buy them in advance online.

Keep your eyes peeled as you drive between Grand Teton and Jackson Hole Resort for moose.  This is one of the best places to go to see moose in the area!

5. Canoe or Kayak Across Multiple Lakes

If you’re looking for a way to get a full day of paddling in at Grand Teton, you’ll love paddling from lake to lake.  The best route that I’ve done is from String Lake to Leigh Lake, and then on to Bearpaw Lake.

canoeing with kids

There is a wide river that connects String lake and Leigh Lake, which you can paddle most of the way up.  Right before Leigh Lake, you need to portage your boats for a short distance and re-launch at Leigh Lake. Just north of Leigh Lake is Bearpaw Lake, which also allows boats (though it’s pretty small, so we left our lakes at Leigh and just hiked to Bearpaw).  

6. Go Mountain Biking

While you can’t really mountain bike directly in Grand Teton National Park, there are several areas just outside of the park where you can go mountain biking.  The closest is out at Shadow Mountain, though the trail there can be quite rough. Cache Creek just east of Jackson is a great place to go mountain biking with beginners.  

boy riding mountain bike

If you’re looking for more downhill mountain biking near Grand Teton, check out both Snow King and Jackson Hole resorts as they both have lift accessed mountain biking trails for more advanced riders.

7. Take a Hike In Grand Teton National Park

Grand Teton is one of the best National Parks for hiking with kids, since there are so many short hikes that can be done in half a day or less.  And they’re all amazingly beautiful! I’ve written an entire guide to easy hikes in Grand Teton with all the details!

Hiking with kids

8. Take a Scenic Float Trip with a View of the Tetons

Inside of Grand Teton National Park, you can take a scenic float trip down the Snake River.  These trips are all flat water with no rapids, and a guide will do all the work, so you can just sit back and soak in the views.  

If you take a trip in the early morning, this is a great place to view wildlife.  You’ll hopefully see deer, bald eagles, osprey and maybe even a moose or beaver. Remember that mornings are chilly so dress warm and in layers so you can take clothing off as it warms up.  

float down snake river

9. Soak in Granite Hot Springs

Granite Hot Springs is located just 30 minutes south of Jackson, and is a great place to go for a soak.  There is a large hot spring swimming pool there that is so fun to swim in. Below the pool is Granite Creek which has several other hot springs flowing into it, and many of them are often dammed up into small pools which are great if you’re looking for a free soak.  

We especially love to go to Granite Hot Springs on rainy days in Grand Teton when you still want to be outside, but you’re desperately craving WARMTH.  

10. Go Camping

Grand Teton is a great place to go camping and has just about anything that you could want.  Inside of the park there are several different camping options, including tent sites and RV hook-up sites.  

camping in yellowstone

If you want to get off the beaten path, there are some amazing places to go backcountry camping in Grand Teton if you get a permit.  My husband’s favorite was when he hiked the Grand Teton a few years ago and spent 2 nights at it’s base. My favorite backcountry camping in Grand Teton is at Bearpaw Lake (canoeing up from String Lake and across Leigh Lake).  

Camping in Grand Teton can fill up quickly, but isn’t nearly as crowded as nearby Yellowstone.  If you can’t find a campsite, there are plenty of boondocking areas nearby and campgrounds in Jackson.  

11. Take a Horseback Ride

What better way is there to get a taste of the wild west than to go on a horseback ride.  There are several places near Grand Teton where you can go for a ½ or full day trail ride.  If you’re looking for a real western experience you’ve got to spend a week at a ranch like Triangle X where you can do multiple rides and outdoor activities all from one place.  

12. Go to a Chuckwagon Dinner

This is an experience that your kids will absolutely love!  Chuckwagon dinners are part entertainment and part dinner, wrapped up with a whole lot of laughter, jokes, and fun.

In Jackson there are two main chuckwagon dinner experiences.  The first is the Bar T5, where you get loaded onto covered wagons and taken up the canyon for dinner and entertainment. 

The second chuckwagon in town is the Bar J Wranglers, which is all in one place, but the acting and singing are superb.  

If you’re looking for a full experience, I recommend going to the Bar T5, but if you just want the dinner and show, go to the Bar J Wranglers.

13. Watch the Daily Shootout at Town Square

Yes, it’s cheesy, fake and a bit overdramatic.  But if you’re in Jackson around 6 in the evening there is a shootout every day of the summer in the town square.  It’s a bit of fun free entertainment that will mix up the day from the usual outdoor adventures of the area.  

We like taking the kids out for ice cream at Moo’s and then let them run around the town square for a bit before the shootout begins.  It’s probably not worth a special trip, but if you’re in town already, I’d stop in.  

14. Go Fishing

The Snake River is known for having some of the best fly fishing in the west, as you’ll quickly notice by the number of fishing outfitters.  You can go with a guide in a wooden dory boat, or you can also fish from shore. Fishing is allowed in Grand Teton as well as along other parts of the Snake River, and a Wyoming fishing license is required.  

trout fishing big sky

15. Take an Early Morning Wildlife Drive

Animals do not like the heat of the day, so the best times to spot them are in the early morning.  There is no shortage of animals in Grand Teton National Park. The best places to spot animals in the early moring in Grand Teton are along the Moose-Wilson Road and also at Oxbow Bend on the Snake River. 

16. Watch the Sunset from Jackson Lake or Snake River Overlook

Sunset in the Tetons never disappoints.  If you’re looking for a great place to watch the sunset, my two favorite places are the Snake River Overlook and Jackson Lake.

The Snake River Overlook is where Ansel Adams took his iconic picture of the Tetons.  You’ll get a great view of the Teton range with the Snake River meandering in front of you. 

Jackson Lake is my favorite place to watch the sunset with the kids.  We usually take a picnic dinner and some balls and frisbees and play as we wait for the sun to go down (which is often past 9 in the summer).  It’s rarely crowded and with the Tetons towering in front of you, it’s a pretty spectacular scene.  

17. Take a Day Trip Into Yellowstone

Did you know that Yellowstone and Grand Teton are right next to each other?  They are only separated by the Rockefeller parkway which is only a couple of miles long.  If you’re staying in Grand Teton, it’s quite easy to head up to Yellowstone and do a loop to see several of the major sites in just one day.  

18. Rent a Boat at Colter Bay

Located on the shores of Jackson Lake, Colter Bay is a calm area of water that’s absolutely stunning (with super cold water).  From the marina you can rent kayaks, canoes, and motor boats. These boats are a great way to really experience Jackson Lake, or if you’re into fishing renting a boat is a fantastic way to get off shore a little. 

At the end of your day at Colter Bay, head up to Leek’s Marina for some amazing pizza and ice cream.

canoe in yellowstone

19. Drive to the  top of Teton Pass

The road up to the top of Teton Pass is steep and windy, but the views are absolutely worth the drive (wear these if you get motion sick).  The view from the top of Teton Pass is totally breathtaking.  You get views of the park, the town, and the entire Snake River Valley, and it’s hard to beat.  

20. Stay up late stargazing

Yes, I know that the whole family will be tired from a long day of exploring, but staying up late to do some stargazing in Grand Teton is absolutely worth it.  The stars in Grand Teton are unlike what you’ll see almost anywhere else in the US. The skies are clear and the light pollution is almost nonexistent. I actually recommend sleeping out under the stars without a tent, so you can curl up in your sleeping bag and watch shooting stars as you drift off to sleep!

Where is Grand Teton National Park located?

Grand Teton National Park is located in northwestern Wyoming, directly south of Yellowstone National Park.  The best town to access Grand Teton from is Jackson Wyoming, which you can fly into for easy access.  

When is the best time to take a vacation to Grand Teton National Park?

Summer is my favorite season in Grand Teton and the surrounding areas.  The wildflowers are in full bloom and the weather is getting warmer after a VERY LONG winter.  Even in the summer, expect that the mornings will be chilly, though midday temperatures can warm up in to the 90’s.  

What to pack for Grand Teton National Park?

Deciding what to pack and what to leave home when you visit Grand Teton National Park can be a bit of a challenge.  Here are the basics:

1. Bring bear spray with you.  While bear sightings aren’t as common as they are just to the north in Yellowstone, you always need to be prepared.  I’ve seen 2 bears in the backcountry here so they’re not uncommon.

2. Always wear a hat and sunscreen.  While the temperatures may not feel scorching, you are at a high elevation which increases your sun exposure.

3. A good backpack for hiking.  For our kids, we like to use hydration packs since they always seem to drink more when they use those.  

4. A bear-proof cooler.  We absolutely love our bear-proof cooler and it makes me so much more confident when picnicking in the mountains.  

Make sure to check out our complete packing list for what you need to bring to Grand Teton National Park for more details.

What is Grand Teton like in the winter?

Grand Teton is pretty desolate in the winter, and the main draw of the area is skiing. If you’re planning on skiing with kids, we absolutely love Grand Targhee on the west side of the Tetons.

skiing grand targhee kids
The view from the west side of the Teton Range

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