What a magical place the Grand Tetons are! I am so thankful we added this National Park to our summer itinerary. After being extremely disappointed that we were unable to visit Yellowstone when we were there this past summer, GTNP totally redeemed our whole vacation!
We were lucky enough to spend two full days in the Park and our family trekked over 15 miles of breathtaking hiking trails! We also encountered so much wildlife, it truly was an unforgettable experience.
Our family favorite was seeing a bear in the wild! We also loved that there weren’t long lines to get inside the Park and we did not need timed-entry reservations.
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- Hiking Must Haves:
- Bear Spray
- Hiking Poles (Adults)
- Hiking Poles (Kids)
- Women’s Hiking Shoes
- Men’s Hiking Shoes
- Hiking Shoes (Kids)
- Hiking Backpack
Things NOT to Miss in Grand Teton National Park:
The Craig Thomas Discovery & Visitor Center
We started with a stop at the Craig Thomas Discovery & Visitor Center. This place was amazing! The boys wanted to participate in the Jr. Park Ranger program, so we got the information and booklet they needed and explored the building. It was like a mini museum with different artifacts and visuals that we all enjoyed. The Ranger booklet was really fun for the boys to work on. And believe me, my kids never like doing workbooks and that sort of thing, but they had so much fun completing the pages in this book for their Jr. Ranger badges. Plus, it was something for them to do at night while we were back at the hotel! Once they finished, which took about a day, we went back to the Visitor Center and a Park Ranger swore them in as Jr. Rangers and they received a Grand Teton’s NP badge! It was a fun experience for us all and something we look forward to doing at each National Park we visit in the future!
Moose Ponds Trail
We decided that our first hike would be on the Moose Ponds trail based on different reviews I read on the AllTrails app and the time we had left in the day. This hike is a great introductory hike to the Park. The views were amazing every step of the way and it wasn’t too hard for anyone in our family. We didn’t see any moose at the ponds, but were told by fellow hikers that some were there sleeping in the thickets and to monitor the boys. We did see a marmot and several pronghorns while hiking!
- Moose Ponds Trail Information:
- Distance: 3.2 mile loop
- Time: 2 hours
- Location: Jenny Lake area
- Rating: Easy
Phelps Lake & Overlook Trail
This was the MOST exciting hike of our whole trip because we saw a small bear on the trail! I have always wanted to see a bear in the wild and it finally happened on this hike! Our original plan was to hike to Phelps Lake, but the parking lot was full and there was a long line of cars waiting for spots to open up. So, we decided to hike to the overlook first and then head back to see if parking was open (which it was not). This was a fairly easy hike, even though it was mostly uphill and the overlook of the lake was beautiful! On the way back down there were hikers walking back towards us that said there was a bear up ahead. Luckily we had bear spray, so those hikers stayed with us and we walked a short distance until we spotted the bear. From here, we stayed and watched while the bear lumbered along the trail looking for food in the bushes. It was so neat to see in person! It finally walked down off the trail and we hurried along back to the car. While I was disappointed that the Phelps Lake parking lot was full, I am so excited that it worked out the way it did! For a video of the bear, check out my Instagram page (Instagram.com/road_trip_queen/). The road leading to the trailhead parking lot is a dirt road and very bumpy! But we saw cars of all kinds, from sedans to vans to large SUVs. We drove all the way to the end, even though you will notice parking all along the dirt road. We parked when we saw the restrooms and were at the closest lot to the start of the trail!
- Phelps Lake Overlook Trail Information:
- Distance: 2 mile out & back
- Time: 1.5 hours
- Location: Moose-Wilson Road
- Rating: Easy
Hidden Falls Trail
We hiked to Hidden Falls after our adventure at the Phelps Lake Overlook trail. This hike starts at the Jenny Lake area, so we decided to head that way and grab lunch at the store right at the trailhead. From here, we followed the trail around Jenny Lake. If you don’t want to hike, you can purchase tickets for a boat ride across the lake that drops you off about a mile from Hidden Falls. We decided to take the hike since we had been riding in the car so much on this trip! The views are fantastic around the lake and we even saw a deer along the trail. Before getting all the way to Hidden Falls you will eventually see a bridge with a raging river running under it. This is a great place to stop for photos! We stopped in this area and had a picnic snack on the rocks and just watched the river roar by underneath us. From this spot, it’s about a mile or less to the Hidden Falls. This waterfall is majestic and another great location for photos!
- Hidden Falls Trail Information:
- Distance: 4.9 mile out & back
- Time: 2.5 hours
- Location: Jenny Lake area
- Rating: Easy/Moderate
You can’t visit Grand Teton National Park without stopping by Jenny Lake! It’s such a beautiful area and the start to many different trailheads. Plus, there’s also a Ranger Station, small Visitor Center, and store, and restrooms. The views around the lake are fantastic! It is a bit more crowded here than on the trails, but still a place you must stop to see!
As you can see, the Grand Tetons are not to be missed! If you are planning a trip to Yellowstone, be sure to add this as a stop since you’re only about two hours away. Again, we loved the easiness of this park and the short lines to get in. The views are stunning and the park offered some of the best hiking trails we’ve come across.