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Traveling with Teens to Wyoming’s Grand Tetons

By September 30, 2015October 18th, 2017No Comments

Jenny Lake at the Grand TetonsGrand Teton National Park, located directly south of Yellowstone, is filled with wildlife, pristine lakes and notably jagged peaks—created by glaciers instead of volcanoes like their neighbor to the north. Although it’s Wyoming’s lesser-known national park, it is still pretty famous among nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts.

While little ones will love exploring Yellowstone, the Grand Tetons are the perfect spot for teens that love adventure and staying active.

Lay of the Land

Some of the most popular Teton lakes are Jackson Lake, Leigh Lake and Jenny Lake, but there are at least 100 more scattered through the mountainous areas leading up to the range. A lot of the roads wind along the waterside where you can catch glimpses through the thick tree line. In addition to the lakes, Snake River winds through the park, connecting all of them either by the river or by smaller streams.

The unique shapes of the glaciers that form the Grand Teton range make it easily identifiable. The highest peak, known itself as Grand Teton, rises over 13,000 feet; nine other peaks, including the monolithic Mount Moran, rise over 12,000 feet, making the range a fairly tall one.

Encourage your teens to take the opportunity to practice their photography skills; the park holds a truly magnificent beauty that makes it the perfect place to practice. To learn more about the geology and wildlife in the park, stop by the visitor centers. If you’re lucky, a ranger might be out front, giving a talk about black bears and grizzly bears—with furs you can touch to feel the differences in their coats.

Experiencing the Tetons by Land…

The obvious way to get active in a natural park is to wander the hiking trails, of which the Tetons have plenty. There are at least 40 different day trips that can be taken along the park’s hiking trails ranging from half a mile to 24 miles. Choose one that you and your teens can complete together. The Jenny Lake area, which sits near Cascade Canyon, is a great place to start. It’s filled with trails, but there is also a shuttle boat to take you across the lake to the canyon. Consider the five-mile Hidden Falls hike that leads to a 200-foot waterfall or the Jenny Lake Loop that will lead you around the shoreline.

Grand Tetons bear pelts

If you’re experienced adventurers or looking to try something new, the park is a great place for rock climbing. No permit is required for mountaineering (unless you plan on camping overnight in the backcountry, which does require a permit) so this is the ideal setting to try it out for the first time. You can also hire local climbing guides to give you lessors or lead you and your teens up Grand Teton or Mount Moran.

Biking is a major pastime for many visitors to the Grand Teton National Park. Not only is a great way to immerse yourself in the landscape, it’s also the best way to spot local wildlife. Many of the bike pathways and shared-use roads pass right through their habitats so keep your eyes peeled for bears, bison, elk, wolves and pronghorn antelope in the park. Look up while you ride and you’re almost sure to spot some bald eagles or ospreys. In addition to biking, you can stop by one of the park’s ranches for guided horseback rides.

Stagecoach ride in Jackson at the Grand TetonsRemind teens to bring some extra clothes in case of spring or summer thunderstorms or fall snowstorms. And don’t forget to bring plenty of water bottles!

…Or By “Sea”

If you want to get out on the lakes, there are plenty of opportunities. Choose from boat rentals or scenic cruises on Jenny Lake. At the larger Jackson Lake, you have even more options. Teens can go sailing, waterskiing, windsurfing, kayaking or stand-up paddle boarding—all fantastic adventures in such a gorgeous natural setting.

Another option is a guided rafting trip down the Snake River. Some packages stop along the way for a lunch of flame-grilled hamburgers or a dinner of fresh fish from the river. This scenic river trips can be another fantastic way to see the park’s wildlife. From the water, you have an inside view of the shaded riverside spots where the animals spend much of their time and the temperatures will be a little cooler too.

The Fabulous Town of Jackson

Nestled between the river and the mountains lies the valley commonly known as Jackson Hole. Within the valley, there is one town—the town of Jackson.

Jackson, Wyoming is a charming town filled with old-fashioned fun and several ski resorts. The town square features four entrances, each covered with arches composed of shed elk antlers that read “Jackson Hole, WY”. See the town with a tour in a bright red horse drawn carriage.

Grand Tetons field with antelope

Your adventures are sure to work up an appetite so stop by Cafe Genevieve, a quaint log cabin café that offers delicious buffalo burgers, soups and pulled pork sandwiches alongside homemade potato chips. The restaurant is close to the main square so when you’re done eating, you can visit the shops and ice cream parlors that line the nearby streets for some souvenirs, gifts for family back home and dessert.

 

Ashley Ryan

Author Ashley Ryan

Ashley Ryan is a southern California native with a background in journalism and anthropology. She loves learning about other cultures and combines her passions for traveling, writing and photography in her professional work. To learn more or get in touch, visit facebook.com/rooftopsandflipflops

More posts by Ashley Ryan

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