My Families Top 5 Things to Do in Grand Teton
We spent a week in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. We did a family trip, including our three kids (12-year-old girl, 9-year-old identical twins.) Jackson Hole is a perfect place to do a family vacation – especially one during the Coronavirus! We toured the area for a week and spent a lot of time in the Grand Teton and Snake River area. If you’re looking for things to do in Grand Teton, this list of my top five favorite things will help you! I’ll cover everything from Snake River Rafting, to Phelps Lake, to the best hikes in Grand Teton, and of course the magical Jenny Lake Grand Teton!
#1 Snake River Rafting Float
The Snake River is spectacular. We did a family Snake River Rafting trip. We had planned on doing white water rafting, but it was sold out. We did a private float with a guide. Tip: absolutely get a guide. What I found most amazing about the Snake River is that the water channels are always changing. The channels can change on a dime – if a tree falls in it will block one access area and create a new one.
Having a guide who can navigate this is very important. There have been deaths on the Snake River, even by Guides learning the new channels every season, so hiring a professional is a must, in my opinion.
The views along the Snake River Rafting trip are spectacular. It’s a very, very peaceful ride. My children even fell asleep!
The total float time is around 90-120 minutes. They took a 20-minute catnap. In July, the weather is beautiful. We found it a bit breezy while floating, so plan to wear a light jacket and maybe even sweatpants. This is a great excursion for little kids – even babies. It’s so quiet and peaceful that you’ll enjoy the atmosphere and they’ll likely feel the serenity and sleep!
You don’t need to wear a swimming suit during the Snake River Rafting excusion because you don’t get wet. We didn’t know that so we wore one. I would recommend layers – a tank top, bathing suit, sweatshirt and sweatpants and you’ll be all set.
Don’t forget your camera because you never know what you’ll see! We saw a deer and at least four Bald Eagles. The Snake River Rafting float is a much do – especially for families with young kids, or even adults looking to take in the beautiful of the Grand Tetons in a leisurely way.
#2: See Jenny Lake Grand Teton
Jenny Lake Grand Teton is absolutely one of top Things to Do in Grand Teton National Park. It’s jaw dropping beautiful. We’re talking, walk up to it, gasp and start taking pictures every which way beautiful. Photos can’t do Jenny Lake Grand Teton area justice. To see this in person is majestic.
The air is so crisp, the water looks so fresh and the view of the Grand Tetons framing the water mixed with the pines and trees is something not to be missed.
For us, we sat and stared. We talked to people who picnicked there and had a bear walk up to them! That was enough for us to stand back and just enjoy the atmosphere.
My kids sat there staring for at least 30 minutes. One of my sons said “this is the most peaceful place I’ve ever been to. I feel very Zen.” This coming from a 9-year-old!
We went in July and the parking lot was packed. But if it’s full, drive around for a bit until you get a spot because Jenny Lake Grand Teton is not something you want to miss!
#3 Phelps Lake: One of Best Hikes in Grand Teton!
Oh, holy cow, Phelps Lake will go down in the books as one of our all-time favorite family adventures and our families vote for the top things to do in Grand Teton! I guarantee you my kids will be talking about the hike to Phelps Lake for the rest of their lives!
There are two ways to hike to Phelps Lake. If you’re at the visitor center, go to the right – and keep right for the flat path. We didn’t know that so we went left. The hike to the left is not the flat way! Ha! However, the path to the left to hike to Phelps Lake is by far the most scenic and among the prettiest hikes I’ve ever done.
We hiked the flat path on the way back so I was able to compare, and there is no comparison when it comes to the difference in scenery!
Along the hike to Phelps Lake you’ll cross bridges with incredible water areas, see a waterfall, climb through gorgeous forest and when you see Phelps Lake – well, WOW. Wow is the only word for it!
The hike took us about 90 minutes the long way, and about 40 minutes back via the flat way. We had 3 kids in tow and stopped a few times for photos.
When you get the Phelps Lake, if you’re feeling brave, take the Woodland Trail path to find the jumping rock! This will be an additional 45-minute hike (again, a stunning walk) and you’ll get to a 25’-30’ rock you can “yeet yourself into outer space from” as my daughter would say!
All five of us took the plunge and oh holy Moses is it quite the jump! My advice? Decide you’re going to do it before you get up there, take no more than 4 seconds looking out, do not look down and JUMP! Man will you be glad you did. It’s positively terrifying but you’ll feel like the coolest person on the planet!
My kids seriously found their confidence doing that jump. It’s all they can talk about. They walked so tall on that hike home feeling like they truly conquered something. And I don’t blame them. It’s an enormously tall rock and I was terrified! I jumped a second time and landed on my bootie resulting in the world’s biggest bruise! It still hurts five days later while writing this!!!! The hike to Phelps Lake is the best hike in Grand Teton – absolutely spectacular.
#4: Wildlife Galore!
See the animals! They are everywhere! You pretty much can’t escape it, which is why it’s an easy way to cross off one of the things to do in Grand Teton list. We saw a moose a few times standing just feet from the drive path! A moose! A few feet away! What in the world?! It was magical! Deer are everywhere and they have the cutest ears ever.
We saw bison grazing. Be sure to bring binoculars because you can’t even believe the size of these creatures!
We saw Bald Eagles, tons of beautiful birds and cute little Marmots! We didn’t see any Elk or Bear because they tend to not be out as much during the day in the summer. I’ll be if you go really early you’ll see them though!
#5: Hire a Tour Guide
Have a guide from Jackson Hole Wildlife Safari’s to take you around. We did a private excursion with them and it was worth every penny. Our guide, Jeffrey, was fabulous and extremely knowledgeable about the entire park. He knew all the in’s and out’s, places to go away from crowds, secret little spots, and best places to take photos!
Jeffrey took us to see Bison, find quaint little lake spots, showed us the highlights, and whatever thing we were interested in, he guided us towards that. I can’t recommend the Jackson Hole Wildlife Safari’s tour company enough. True professionals and who know their stuff. We did an 8-hour tour with them and it was a fabulous way to start our trip and get our bearings. The company provides a lunch which you can stop and eat, or do what we did – eat in the car because we didn’t want to miss a second of seeing something new!
All five of these are awesome things to do in Grand Teton – and make for perfect excursions whether you’re going solo, with someone or as a family. You have to see this place to believe it. Have an awesome time! If you’ve been please leave a comment with what you think are the best things to do in Grand Teton!