Grand Teton National Park, with its towering mountains, sweeping vistas, and active wildlife will delight children of all ages. Located in the mountains of Wyoming, Grand Teton is one of the top parks for young adventurers.
Become A Junior Ranger
Kids can become a junior ranger by picking up The Grand Adventure activity guide from any visitor center. The Grand Adventure leads kids through the park providing questions and activities all along the way (download the pdf guide to the program on this page). Your young explorer will learn about the park and nature in general by being asked to observe the differences between plants and animals near water, wetlands, and flats; playing ranger bingo (check off animals, plants, and park features as they’re found); and other articles and activities. Completing the activity booklet and two additional activities (one must be ranger-led), such as a hike, will earn a junior ranger badge.
Nodding at the visibility of wildlife in the park, Kristen Dragoo, both a park ranger and the education and outreach coordinator for Grand Teton, says, “The biggest draw for families is the variety of wildlife at Grand Teton. Parents bring their kids to see the animals and kids get pretty excited about that.”
Children 8 to 12 can also earn their junior ranger badge by participating in the Junior Ranger Day Program. Children are dropped off in the care of a ranger and led on a two-mile group trip through the park. Participating in this fun and educational ranger-led day program gives kids an even more in-depth look at Grand Teton, not to mention the inside scoop! Reservations can be made at any visitor center.
Take A Hike
There is also an assortment of ranger-led hikes. According to Dragoo, “Ranger-guided programs vary summer to summer, but guided hike are popular with families because they’re usually the shorter, easier to moderate trails and they’re ranger led, so it’s educational. We usually do ranger-led hikes to Taggart Lake, Jenny Lake, and Colter Bay, but times vary.”
Cuddle Around A Campfire
Summer campers might receive a visit from a story-telling ranger. Rangers sometimes visit campgrounds to tell campfire stories about the park and its history. Listeners get to hear about wildlife, geology, early explorers and American Indians. “Campfire programs are very popular. Families gather to talk about wildlife or the history of the park. It’s a very traditional national park experience,” Dragoo says.
Summer visitors can also join the rangers for Teton Tales, a 45-minute campfire session of fascinating stories about Grand Teton. In addition, many campgrounds host specific nightly ranger talks or slide shows.
To keep up to date on all these great activities—anyone visiting Grand Teton is encouraged to ask about events, or view posted materials, at their campground contact station, or better yet, at your closest visitor center. It’s easy to find out what’s happening, and knowing your options can often help you discover an activity that becomes a highpoint of your visit. Check out the park’s website thoroughly before your visit.
According to Dragoo, “One great area that is very family friendly is String Lake. It’s a nice, relatively shallow lake so it’s great for swimming and wading; it’s right at the base of a mountain, so it’s scenic. Of course, all of our lakes are cold, but this one gets the warmest because of how shallow it is. There are a few beach areas where families like to picnic and swim, and there is a nice hiking trail around the lake too. Sometimes families bring kayaks or canoes to do a little boating.”
Don’t Forget Formal Options
The park’s concessioners also provide a variety of kid-friendly activities, including but not limited to: youth backpacking trips, boat rentals, horseback riding, and kayaking.