Visiting the Grand Tetons should definitely be on your families bucket list. We only had one day to explore this lovely National Park, but that one day was certainly worth it! It is certainly smaller than most of the National Parks we have been too, but not one to miss. If passing through on your way to Yellowstone or if you are visiting Jackson Hole be sure to make a stop here to see these stunning natural wonders. See what we did and the hikes we took on our visit to the Grand Tetons.
We always kick off our National Park visits by visiting the Visitor Center. That way you can grab a paper map, as you never know what kind of wifi you will have, if any out on the trails. Also you can talk with the park rangers and get more insight into the best family friendly trails, what not to miss while visiting the park and any insider tips you can get. We also love doing the Junior Park Ranger program every time we visit a National Park, so we always pick up one of those guides to complete while we are in the park.
Once you arrive at the Jenny Lake Visitor Center you will immediately see Jenny Lake. It is so beautiful and pretty cold too. The first thing we did was purchase tickets at the visitor center to take a boat shuttle across Jenny Lake to the other side of the Lake. On the other side you will find a bunch of family friendly trails and waterfalls, our favorite. The boat dock is located in the Southern Jenny Lake area. Just follow the “boat dock” signs from the Jenny Lake Visitors Center. The shuttle boat eliminates a 2-mile hike (each way) to the Cascade Canyon trailhead, thereby saving time and energy for your hiking day. Shuttles run every 10-15 minutes throughout the day. The last boat will leave the dock at the posted closing time.
Boast Shuttle Prices:
$ 20.00 – Adult Round-trip (12 yrs to 61 yrs)
$ 12.00 – Adult One-Way
$ 12.00 – Child Round-trip (2 yrs to 11 yrs)
$ 10.00 – Child One-Way
$ 17.00 – Senior Round-trip (62 yrs and over)
You can also hike around the entire lake, but it will take between 3 to 5 hours, depending on the speed of your family. This loop trail is 7.1 miles and provides a plethora of views including Cascade Canyon, the Cathedral Group, and Jenny Lake. From the Jenny Lake Trailhead, follow the trail north, along the east side of the lake, to the south end of String Lake. Cross the bridge to stay around Jenny Lake and spot some incredible views of the Cathedral Group: Mount Owen, the Grand Teton, and Teewinot. Continue south along the west side of Jenny Lake, passing trail junctions for Hidden Falls, Inspiration Point and Cascade Canyon, all of which are great trails that may be added to this hike if wanted.
Once we got off the boat we went straight to see the view from Inspiration Point, which draws thousands of visitors each year. The entire out and back trail is 1.8 miles. Jenny Lake lies below to the east and the Teton Range towers to the west. On a clear day, you can see the Yellowstone Plateau to the north, the Absaroka and Gros Ventre ranges to the east, and the Snake River Range to the south. You feel as though you are high in the mountains, yet you are only 420 feet above the lake below. You are standing at the mouth of Cascade Canyon that slices through the heart of the Teton Range inviting you to explore.
Next we hiked the Hidden Falls waterfall trail. This is a heavily trafficked trailed, but absolutely worth it. Hidden Falls is an easy, 1 mile out and back hike with 300 ft of elevation gain. Once you get there you will get to see a stunning 100 ft cascading waterfall.
Once we finished those two hikes, we headed back to the Jenny Lake Visitor center via the boat shuttle.
Next we hopped back in our car to enjoy the park via the scenic drive over to Jackson Lake and Colter Bay Village. We went into the Colter Bay Village to grab lunch for our family. They had lovely to go lunch options. We got our lunch to-go and went and had a picnic right on the Colter Bay shore. We watched the boats and kayakers enjoying the lake. My kids finally decided that a polar plunge was a good idea. They got permission to go out on the Colter Bay dock and jump into the icey cold water and swam to shore. Kind of a rite of passage for my kids to polar plunge anytime they get the opportunity.
Lastly we stopped by the Snake River lookout on our scenic drive as the last stop of our trip in the Grand Tetons.