Emily Buckley, editor-in-chief
In our part of the country, there is no need to step foot on an airplane or travel too far to find relaxation and unmatched beauty. In less than three hours you can make your way to Grand Teton National Park.
Few landscapes in the world are as striking and memorable as that of Grand Teton National Park. The park has much to offer, whatever your age and interests.
Grand Teton National Park also has a rich cultural history with old homesteads and cattle ranches to explore and photograph. Walk on a trail built by the Civilian Conservation Corps or one that American Indians or fur trappers might have used in the 1820s. You can ride a bike, take a hike, paddle a canoe, ride horseback or take a scenic boat ride: There is something for everyone.
Where to stay: Imagine looking out your window to wide open Willow Flats surrounded by a blue mountain lake with moose, elk and bison wandering close by. Then rising above this scene is one of the most photographed mountain ranges in the world — the Grand Teton Range. All of it so close, you feel like you can touch it. This is the thrill you can expect from the historical Jackson Lake Lodge in Grand Teton National Park.
What to see: You can see the amazing Grand Tetons from every angle of the park, but make sure you wake up early to avoid missing some of the wonder. Even before the sun creeps over the hills, the Tetons are painted in color. Take the 42-mile scenic drive around the loop of the park. If you are lucky you may see some big-game animals, which are most active in the early hours.
What to do: Before you start your driving tour, stop at the visitors center to get information about the Park and collect a kit for your children to become “Junior Rangers.” Hobby or trade photographers will want to stop at Oxbow Bend to capture an iconic photo of the Snake River with Mount Moran’s reflection.
Signal Mountain is a popular area where you can camp, picnic or hike to the summit (7,593 feet). Taggart Lake Trail is the perfect family hike, since the Lake is only 1.6 miles from the trailhead. The trail goes through beautiful groves of aspens, mountain streams and open fields, and it is not steep at all.
You can’t visit Grand Teton National Park without visiting Jenny Lake, which is home to the Park’s most popular hike. This acclaimed hike takes you to Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point (our family even saw a family of bears on this hike two years ago!). Jenny Lake is great for fishing, canoeing or boating, and the Park offers a boat shuttle to transport visitors across the Lake and back. This is a popular choice for families because it is both fun and shaves two miles off the four-mile round-trip hike, if you ride the boat one way.
Colter Bay Village is another place to find active fun. Visitors can rent canoes or kayaks, swim, fish, windsurf, water ski, horseback ride or take scenic boat tours or fishing trips. There is plenty to “do” in Grand Teton National Park. It is the perfect place to get away from the business of life and reconnect with nature and your family.
The west entrance of Grand Teton National Park is only a few miles from Jackson, Wyoming, where you’ll find more family-fun adventures and activities waiting for you. Check out Jackson Hole: A Vacation for the Whole Family, for our best picks and tips for a family vacation in Jackson.