Last summer, my husband and I took a two-week family road trip from Minnesota with our two young children. We saw 10 National Parks and Monuments along the way, and one of our favorite stops was Grand Teton National Park. Grand Teton National Park is in northwestern Wyoming, just ten miles south of Yellowstone National Park. The park contains the picturesque major peaks of the 40-mile-long Teton Range, as well as the northern sections of the Jackson Hole Valley. We tent camped here for three nights, and that ended up being one of the best parts of our entire trip. Below you will find the details of our trip, as well as the story of our adventures. I hope you enjoy!
Location: Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming, USA
Campground: Colter Bay Village
Dates/Length of Stay: First week of June 2017 – 3 Night Stay
Children’s Ages: 1.5-year-old boy and 4-year-old girl
Animal Sightings: Moose, Grizzly Bear and Cubs, Deer, Pronghorns
Trip Highlights: Taggart Lake Hike, Fish Hatchery, Junior Ranger Program, Wildlife Sightings, Enjoying the Beach
We arrived in the late afternoon and decided to camp at Colter Bay Village. We choose this campground because it was on the North End of the park near Yellowstone. Our plan was to stay for three nights in Grand Teton and then head to Yellowstone for three more nights. We thought we’d camp on the North end of Teton in case we wanted to keep the same site throughout the Yellowstone portion of the trip. We did, however, end up changing camp when it came time, as that’s what made more sense for us. Nonetheless, the camping in Colter Bay Village was fantastic. Accommodations included a visitor center, laundry facility, clean showers and a nice store that provided us with everything we needed during our stay.
Since Grand Teton is in bear country, you need to be extremely careful storing your food when you are not at camp, so all of the sites come with “bear boxes” (a big metal box that latches, so bears can’t get inside) to help with this. During our stay, one of our campsite neighbors wasn’t great at following these rules. They left their cooler out on their picnic bench a couple times when they were away at camp, which of course made us slightly nervous about sleeping in a tent next to their site with our kiddos. We were happy to see that the park officials quickly dealt with this situation by giving them a verbal warning and going over with them exactly how to store their food. It is really important to take food storage safety seriously!
After setting up camp and having dinner, we decided to go for a sunset drive to look for some wildlife. Much to our delight, we saw a grizzly bear and her two cubs! We were instantly in love with the park. If you’ve been reading my blog for awhile, you already know that I am totally. afraid. of. animals, but even I was comfortable with this situation. We were able to pull our car over on the side of the road where a crowd of people had gathered to watch the bears out in the woods. There were rangers present to protect the bears and keep the people on the road and away from the animals. The way that people gathered in crowds to see the wildlife reminded me of being in a zoo (or perhaps a red carpet – so many big cameras), but for someone like me who is uncomfortable with up close encounters, this was perfect! The kids loved getting out of the car to watch the bears and my daughter still talks about seeing the cubs climbing the trees. We were so glad we had a camera with a nice zoom lens because the animals did stay quite far from the people. After our drive, we returned to camp for a campfire and rest.
On our second day, we woke up early to go for a sunrise animal drive and it was AWESOME! There were less crowds of people and more animals! Again we saw the bear and her cubs, and we also had our first moose sighting, which was very cool! The moose walked right out of the woods in front of our car! After our drive, we had breakfast and then packed up for the day and drove towards the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center. We took our time along the way and stopped at a lot of the pull-offs to take in the amazing views of the mountains.
At the Discovery and Visitor Center, we enjoyed the fun art and exhibits and had a quick lunch. We also made sure to pick up my daughters Junior Park Ranger book. Then it was off to the Taggart Lake Hike.
The Taggart Lake Hike was incredible. The views were epic, and it had everything from waterfalls, to wildlife, to forests, and a beautiful mountain lake. It was a great hike to do with kids, as it was relatively flat and not too rocky. The four of us loved it, and one of our favorite parts was relaxing by the lake and throwing rocks. We even saw a family of deer that stayed extremely close to the path as we walked by. They seemed very comfortable with people, and they certainly did not bother us at all. They were beautiful.
After Taggart Lake, we drove back towards camp, and on the way, drove up to the summit of Signal Mountain. We hiked around up there for awhile and enjoyed the gorgeous scenery. This was also the only place in the park we found phone service! I’m sure that’s not why it’s named Signal Mountain, but the name sure fits, ha! This is a ‘can’t miss’ spot for a drive or hike. We then headed back to camp for dinner, fire, and fun!
We had so much fun in Jackson! We went in a variety of shops and were able to get some souvenir shopping done. We also bought a couple blankets to help make our tent a bit warmer (even in June the nights were COLD)! The kids loved the candy store, of course! Then we had an enjoyable lunch while we planned the rest of our day. Everyone in Jackson was super friendly and it was a very fun town!
On the way back from Jackson, we stopped at the Fish Hatchery. This was super interesting. We were basically the only people there, so we got a private tour from one of the amazing rangers. Because we live on a lake, we do a lot of fishing, so my husband and kids really loved this stop.
Next, it was off to the Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve Center to listen to a ranger presentation on the animals of the park. We attended this because it was part of our daughters Junior Ranger Program, but honestly it was awesome! I recommend this to anyone visiting the park. We learned a lot about the animals and they provided tips on the best spots and times to see them. After the rangers finished their presentation, my daughter got to turn in her Junior Ranger booklet and was sworn in as a Junior Ranger. This was such a special moment for all of us! She was so proud!
We finished our day with a lakeside picnic on the shores of Jackson Lake. The kids absolutely loved playing on the rocky beach and throwing rocks into the lake. It was a beautiful spot, and I wish I could picnic here everyday! We stayed there until the sun began to set and then headed back to camp for the night.
The next morning, we packed up our gear and said goodbye to Grand Teton. Up next – Yellowstone for another three nights of amazing adventures. Stay tuned!
Arrive and set up camp
Sunset wildlife drive
Dinner & campfire
Sunrise wildlife drive
Breakfast at camp
Drive to Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center – Stop at various wayside stops
Pick up Junior Ranger Booklet and start working on activities
Lunch at Visitor Center
Taggart Lake Hike
Dinner & campfire
Sunrise Wildlife Drive
Breakfast at camp
Drive to Jackson – take the long loop
Shop and have lunch
Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve Center
Junior Park Ranger Program and Ceremony
Lakeside picnic and beach time
Dinner & campfire
Breakfast and departure to Yellowstone
I hope this information on our adventures in Grand Teton are helpful for you. This is such a special park, and it is a part of our family road trip I will remember forever! This was my second time visiting the park, and I already know I’ll be back for a third! The National Parks are so incredible – each one has its own unique personality and beauty. For a bit more information on the Park System click here. Thanks for reading, and I wish you happy adventures in Grand Teton National Park!
Much Love & Happy Travels,
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