As far back as 1897, the idea to expand Yellowstone southward to include portions of Jackson Hole was proposed. However local ranchers, hunters, and landowners were strongly against the idea. It wasn’t until 1928 when a Coordinating Commission on National Parks and Forest met with Jackson residents to reach a consensus for park approval. In 1929, President Coolidge signed a bill creating the park which protected the Teton Range and six glacial lakes. Not happy with the limited park size, John D. Rockefeller, Jr. and the Snake River Land Company secretly bought area land from locals with the goal of preserving the area. The land was later donated to the park. Rockefeller continued to buy land and donate it to the park until his death.
“How we treat our land, how we build upon it, how we act toward our air and water, will in the long run tell what kind of people we really are.”Laurance S. Rockefeller
Today, the park receives over 3.5 million visitors a year. We recently visited and have a lot of information to share with you to help you plan a trip with your big family. We recommend a one-week Wyoming itinerary to visit both Grand Teton and Yellowstone.
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Grand Teton Entrances
- Granite Canyon Entrance – Travel 1.5 miles north of Teton Village on Moose-Wilson Road to access the southern part of Grand Teton National Park. Parts of this road are gravel and narrow.
- Moose Entrance – Located one mile west of US 26/89/191 on the Teton Park Road, this entrance gate gives those traveling from the south access to the central part of Grand Teton National Park.
- Moran Entrance – Located a quarter-mile north of Moran Junction on US 89/191/287, this entrance gate provides those traveling from the east access to northern Grand Teton National Park and north to Yellowstone.
Entrances Fees for Grand Teton
A seven-day pass can be purchased for $35 but we highly recommend buying an America the Beautiful pass for $80. The pass is good for one calendar year and is your ticket to more than 2,000 federal recreation sites.
If you have a 4th grader, check out the FREE Annual 4th Grade pass which is good for the duration of the school year through the following summer (September-August).
Current U.S. military members and their dependents in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, and Space Force, as well as Reserve and National Guard members, qualify for a free annual pass.
Best Time to Visit
Grand Teton receives more than 3 million visitors a year with June, July, and August as the busiest months. If you homeschool or can arrange online homework for a week, we highly recommend visiting in May or September. When we visited in mid-September we found the road and trail traffic to be light and the weather perfect.
Best Easy Hikes in Grand Teton with Kids
With more than 230 miles of trails in the Jackson Hole area, the park suggests 39 hikes of varying difficulty and mileage. Ranging from 20 minutes to 18 hours, you can easily add a few hikes to your itinerary. See our guide to the Best Grand Teton Hikes with Tweens and Teens.
7 Grand Teton Scenic Drives
While the scenic 42-mile loop of the park is not to be missed, below are additional drives that you should add to your trip.
- Jenny Lake Scenic Drive – Explore this scenic one-way road along the east shore of Jenny Lake. This 2.5-mile paved road offers parking lots and pullouts to view the peaks.
- Moose-Wilson Road – Traverse this narrow two-way road between Moose and Wilson. Closed to RVs and trailers, 1.5 miles of the road is unpaved. During our drive after a rainy day, the road had many deep water-filled craters. Construction along this road is scheduled for 2022-2023 which includes paving the gravel section.
- Signal Mountain Summit Road – The road climbs 800 feet during the 5-mile, many-switchback route to a parking lot and a short walk to two overlooks with panoramic views of the Teton Range, Jackson Hole, and Jackson Lake.
- Gros Ventre Road, Kelly, & Antelope Flats Loop (Kelly Loop) – Follow the Gros Ventre River northeast to Kelly and visit Mormon Row on the loopback.
- Lupine Meadows Trailhead to Jenny Lake Boat Launch – Although not an official scenic drive. the dirt road between these two points is an enjoyable drive. Start with driving over a short, one-way wood bridge to a t-intersection with the trailhead to the left and the boat launch to the right.
- Drive to Spaulding Bay boat launch – About 1.4 miles north of North Jenny Lake Junction, the turn for this road is unmarked. Follow the 2-mile dirt road to a small 4-vehicle parking lot and boat launch at Jackson Lake. 4WD is recommended as the often one-lane dirt road is very rough in places.
- Grassy Lake Road – 36-mile dirt road connecting Flagg Ranch to Ashton, Idaho. High-clearance vehicles are recommended. Along this road, Cascade Creek trailhead offers a 4-mile hike to waterfalls. Grassy Lake Reservoir is a popular fishing spot.
Grand Teton Three-Day Itinerary with Kids
While you can cover the park in two days with limited hiking, this itinerary offers an additional third day. However, your vacation can easily be expanded another day or two by adding hiking, biking, or water activities.
Although you can cover the park’s 42-mile Grand Teton Park Road/HWY 191 loop and 24 points of interest in one day, we’ve divided the park into three sections. Our must-see stops are bolded. The northern spur of the park between Jackson Lake Lodge and Flagg Ranch can be added to one of the below days or explored when you head up to Yellowstone.
Day One – Outer Loop
Explore the outside loop, Hwy 191/25/89. Drive up to Jackson Lake Lodge to get an overview of the park as you drive north up to the lodge, then turn around and backtrack. Now you have an idea of where the pullouts and turns are, by working your way back, most will now be right turns as you drive south which will help you traffic-wise during the busy summer months. Most of these stops are short get out, enjoy the view, and take a few pics. Below are all the points of interest in order.
- Starting at Jackson Lake Lodge, the first stop is Willow Flats Overlook. Take in the view across Jackson Lake toward the Teton Range.
- Oxbow Bend Turnout – At 12,610′, Mount Moran towers in the distance.
- Moran Junction river access
- Elks Ranch Flats Turnout – Expansive view of grasslands and the Teton range
- Cunningham Cabins Historic Site – One of the few remaining homestead cabins in Jackson Hole.
- Deadmans Bar Road to the river – Partially paved one-mile road to a boat ramp and parking.
- Snake River Overlook – Ansel Adams photographed this iconic view of the Teton Range and Snake River in 1941 o help promote and protect the area from development.
- Teton Point Turnout – Enjoy the view and see the terraces of the park.
- Schwabacher Landing – If you only do one thing on day one, this should be it. Drive down the one-mile gravel road to one of two dirt lots. Each lot has its own area to explore. The second lot’s trail leads to the above pictured popularly photographed scenic view. The path is easy but not necessarily stroller friendly due to tree roots.
- The first lot at Schwabacher Landing also offers an easy trail to hike.
- Glacier View turnout – View the glaciers, including the Middle Teton, Teepee, and Teton Glaciers, sheltered on the northeastern flanks of the highest peaks.
- Blacktail Ponds Overlook – Views of the park’s ponds, wet meadows, and valley floor.
Day Two -Inner Loop/Teton Park Road
Tour the inside loop drive, Teton Park Road, up from Moose Visitor Center to Jackson Lake Lodge. This section can also be driven from the north back to the southern point making most of the turn-offs and parking lots on your right. Below are all available stops in chronological order.
- Starting at Moose Junction, pay your entrance fee or show your America the Beautiful card to enter the park
- Menors Ferry Historic District, Chapel of the Transfiguration
- Taggart Lake Trailhead – Offers 3 hiking options of 3, 3.9, and 5.9 miles round trip.
- Teton Glacier Turnout – Views of the largest glacier in the park, Teton Glacier.
- Cross the single-lane wood bridge, the left dirt road leads to Lupine Meadows Trailhead and the right leads to a Jenny Lake boat launch
- Jenny Lake Visitor Center – Small information center in a relocated 1921 cabin.
- Cascade Canyon Turnout
- Jenny Lake Scenic Drive – One-way drive along Jenny Lake. Stops include Cathedral Group Turnout, Leigh Lake Trailhead, String Lake Trailhead (hike 3.7 miles around the lake), Jenny Lake Lodge, and Jenny Lake Overlook.
- Mount Moran Turnout
- Potholes Turnout
- Signal Mountain Lodge
- Signal Mountain Road
- Chapel of the Sacred Heart – Built in 1937, Catholic Sunday services are offered during the summer.
- Jackson Lake Dam – Originally built in 1906 to prove water to farms and ranchers in southern Idaho. The dam failed in 1910. It was rebuilt in 1916 and reinforced in the 1980s to withstand an M7.5 earthquake.
- Jackson Lake Junction
- Jackson Lake Lodge
Day Three – Lower Loop
Combine the Gros Ventre Road, Kelly, & Antelope Flats Loop with Moose-Wilson Drive to create a loop for your third day. The loop will give you another chance to see wildlife in the eastern part of the park and circle back to explore the southwest section before heading to Teton Village and Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. Explore the ski resort and head back to Jackson.
- From Jackson, start off early to head north to the Gros Ventre Junction to start the eastern part of the loop.
- Watch for wildlife in the area – bison, bears, and moose.
- Follow Gros Ventre Road to Kelly
- Take the road left onto Lower Gros Venture Road/Antelope Flats Road, and turn left when Antelope Flats heads west toward the Tetons
- Drive 2.5 miles to Mormon Row Historic District and Moulton Barns.
- Head west back to Hwy 191/89/26. Turn left/south at the intersection to drive to Moose Junction.
- Jenny Lake shuttle boat and hikes – If you had an early start, at this point we recommend driving up to Jenny Lake to take the shuttle boat across. There is a fee for the shuttle boat but it will save you 4 miles of hiking round trip. Shuttles run every 10-15 minutes. Hike to Inspiration Point (some parts are steep and narrow) and Hidden Falls. Take the shuttle boat back.
- Drive Teton Park Road down to Moose-Wilson Road to Teton Village.
- Ride the Aerial Tram (temporarily closed 2021) or Gondola to the top for views of the valley below. Buy tickets online to get lower prices than at the resort.
- Depending on which ride you take to the top, stop at Corbet’s Cabin on Rendezvous Peak for “Top of the World Waffles” (Aerial Tram) or at Off Piste Market for geat pizza (Gondola). During our visit, the tram was under construction, and waffles were sold at the Market.
- After visiting Teton Village, continue south on Moose-Wilson Road to Hwy 22 which leads you back to Jackson.
Add additional days to your trip or swap out some of the above suggestions with the following activity choices.
- Float Snake River – 10-mile, 3-hour float trip with a guide.
- Jackson Lake cruise – 1.5-2.5 hour cruise departing from Colter Bay Village Marina.
- Canoe or Kayak rental – explore Jackson Lake during your 2-hour minimum rental. Ages 4+.
- Horseback riding – book a 1-2 hour ride departing from multiple locations. Ages 8+.
- Rafting the Snake River – raft a 10-mile section of the river inside the park with a guide. Ages 6+.
- Jenny Lake cruise – 1-hour cruise on Jenny Lake with a guide.
Where to Eat Inside Grand Teton Park
Dinner reservations are required (we recommend you make them a couple of days in advance) for restaurants inside the park. Most are open seasonally from mid-May to early October. During our visit, the Pioneer Grill at Jackson Lake Lodge offered online ordering and takeout service.
- Mural Room at Jackson Lake Lodge – serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Offers beautiful views of the Teton Range but no children’s menu.
- Pioneer Grill at Jackson Lake Lodge – serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner. During our stay, we ordered online for pickup.
- The Dining Room at Jenny Lake Lodge – serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner. This is the most expensive option in the park. Don’t even look at the menu.
- Sheffields at Flagg Ranch – We enjoyed dinner at Sheffields Restaurant although it was pricey and did not have your normal kid choices. The elk was outstanding. However, we do think the trout my daughter had was either improperly cooked or bad as she had gastric distress afterward.
- Ranch House at Colter Bay Village – Walk-in only, no reservations. Serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
- Cafe Court Pizzeria at Colter Bay Village offers pizza, subs, and salads for dine-in or to-go.
- The General Store at Colter Bay Village – Pick up snacks, grab-n-go-meals, or ingredients to make at your campsite.
- Trapper Grill at Signal Mountain Lodge – Serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner. We enjoyed lunch here. The food was good and the menu offered 7 kid options.
- The Peak’s Restaurant at Signal Mountain Lodge – serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner. More expensive than Trapper Grill but serves steaks and seafood.
- Leek’s Pizzeria at Leeks Marina offers online ordering.
Where to Stay Near Grand Teton National Park
National Park Lodging
Grant Tetons National Park has four options for lodging, two accommodate big families in one room.
- Colter Bay Village on the north shore of Jackson Lake has options for big families. The “2 ROOM CABIN – 4 DOUBLES” sleeps eight. However, there are only 30 of this cabin type and they are very popular and sell out fast. For families of six, check out their tent cabins with 4 pull-down bunks and the ability to bring in two single cots.
- Signal Mountain Lodge offers two-bedroom cabins with 3 double beds to sleep families of up to 6.
Camping and RV
Reservations are required and can be made at recreation.gov.
- Headwaters at Flagg Ranch is located at the north end of the park and five miles from Yellowstone. The campground offers 34 tent sites, 97 full-hookup and pull-through RV sites, and 40 Camper Cabins. Facilities include 24-hour showers and laundry.
- Gros Ventre Campground offers camping for tents and dry camping for RVs.
- Colter Bay Campground and RV Park has many facilities including a visitor center, restaurants, stores, cabins, and a marina.
- Jenny Lake Campground is a tent-only campground with a view of Teewinot Mountain, Mount St. John, and Cascade Canyon.
- Signal Mountain Campground accepts both tents and smaller RVs (up to 30 feet in total length). Services and amenities include lodging, restaurants, showers, laundry, and a marina.
- Lizzard Creek Campground offers tent camping and pull-in/back-in sites for RVs or trailers up to 30ft.
If you need more room, consider a vacation rental near Grand Teton.
Local Hotels and Ski Condos
Check out our big family friendly hotel listings in Jackson, Wyoming, south of the park.
12 Tips for Visiting the Grand Tetons National Park with Kids
- Visit the Albertsons in Jackson to stock up on water, snacks, and items for sack lunches. Don’t forget the sunblock.
- Explore Jackson Lake Lodge. You don’t need a room reservation at Jackson Lake Lodge to explore inside. The view of the Tetons through the lobby’s 60-foot windows is spectacular. Head out to the patio and path to fully enjoy the view.
- Get artsy. Instead of a quick pic and back in the car. Pack supplies such as clipboards, paper, colored pencils, or markers, to have the kids color or draw the scenery. We suggest sitting at the benches at Swasbacher Landing, Jenny Lake Loop, and visitor centers.
- Hike safely. If you plan on hiking, buy or rent bear spray. Talk to your kids about hiking a safe distance from you. No running ahead.
- Become a Junior Ranger. Complete The Grand Adventure activity booklet to earn a badge.
- Check out the free Ranger Programs. For available programs, check the park’s online calendar, park newspaper, or visitor center. Ranger-guided programs are a great way to learn about the park.
- Download the NPS app. It’s like having a ranger in your cell phone. Plus you can download the Grand Teton park guide when you don’t have any cell service.
- Check out the visitor centers to learn about the area and get maps. Grand Tetons has 3 visitor centers and 3 smaller information centers – Colter Bay Visitor Center, Craig Thomas Discovery & Visitor Center, Flagg Ranch Information station, Jenny Lake Ranger Station, Jenny Lake Visitor Center, and Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve Center.
- Don’t let a rainy day get you down. Even if you can’t see the Tetons, there’s a lot to do. See our guide What to do at Grand Teton When It Rains. (coming soon)
- Don’t forget to explore the northern spur of the park between Jackson Lake Lodge and Lizard Creek and the John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway between Grand Teton and Yellowstone.
- Stop. Enjoy. Observe. Don’t rush through the park. Bring binoculars to scan the area for wildlife.
- Bring clothing layers. Mornings and evenings can be chilly and in May, September, and October very cold.
- Book accommodations early. Just like Yellowstone, this area’s accommodations sell out early. We recommend booking 6-12 months before your trip.
- It’s French. You might want to skip telling your male family members what the translation is for “Grand Teton”. Otherwise, they’ll manage to bring it up often. 😉
- It’s okay not to hike. Know your family’s limits, abilities, and vacation style.
Save now to your Grand Teton board for later!
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