Jackson Hole: Kid-Friendly, Yet Still an Adventure

Grand Teton National Park

My boyfriend and I decided to take our kids (we both have an 8 year old from our previous marriages) on a road trip this summer. The drive from Salt Lake City, UT to Jackson Hole, WY takes just over 5 hours and we weren’t sure how the kiddos were going to fare on the road. To avert any disasters, we chose to spend the night at the halfway point in Bear Lake at a KOA Campground. By camping standards, this KOA was 4 stars. Granite counter tops in the bathrooms, showers, a swimming pool, mini-golf, a grocery store, and a beautiful view of Bear Lake. We arrived on Friday evening and immediately headed to Gladys’ for sandwiches. Once we had settled in, we headed on foot to La Beau’s for a raspberry milkshake.

The next morning we headed back to La Beau’s for breakfast burritos and coffee. After breakfast, we were on the road and heading north to Jackson. This drive was beautiful. We passed by Bear Lake and Star Valley, WY and headed into Teton National Forest. Our first stop was Teton Whitewater Rafting, where we grabbed wet suits for the kids and jumped on the bus that would take us to our first big adventure.

Rafting the Snake River

We spent the next hour and a half on one of the most beautiful stretches of river I have ever seen. It was the middle of June and while the weather was about 91 degrees, the water was only about 47 degrees. I immediately regretted not taking advantage of the $7 wet suit rental .We glided gracefully down the river with a total of 6 adults, including our guide, and 3 kids. My son shocked me by wanting to sit up at the front of the raft with his legs over the edge, which they call “riding the bull”. He hung onto the rope and the GoPro waterproof camera and squealed his way down the river with a grin from ear to ear.  Normally I am unable to get the Nintendo DS out of his hands, so seeing him this happy out in nature was a fun surprise for me.

Enjoying the cold water!

Our guide entertained us with great stories like “George Rock”: The place where George Bush, president at the time, flew out of the raft after hitting some wild rapids. As we glided by the cliffs from the movie “Sundance Kid”, spotted a bald eagle high up in the trees, and watched in awe as a man surfed in a section of the river called “The Big Kahuna”, I felt lucky to be in such a beautiful place. The trip in total took about 3.5 hours and I did not want it to end, even without the wetsuit.

Once back in Jackson we headed to the Snow King Resort to check-in. We were booked in a one-bedroom condo(unit 3780) at Love Ridge Lodges at Grand View. The Snow King Resort was the perfect location for the kids. There was an alpine slide by our balcony, a chair lift, tennis courts, and we were within walking distance of the public park that features live music on Saturday nights.

Living Room

Our condo was perfect. We had a large master bedroom and bathroom along with a 2nd bathroom and a VERY comfy murphy pull-down. The full-kitchen was stocked with high-end appliances and everything we would need to cook three meals a day.

 

 

Bubba's BBQ

Lacking the energy to cook the first night, we headed to Bubba’s BBQ for dinner. The food was good and the price was decent, but with my boyfriend being such a great chef we decided it was time to stock up our kitchen and have some home-cooked meals. We headed to Albertson’s grocery, stocked up on food, picked up a Red Box and called it a night.

 

 

The next morning we were off to Teton National Park. First we stopped at Sport Chalet for some advice on kid-friendly fishing spots and hoped to purchase a 1-day fishing license. While Sport Chalet was able to provide us with some great advice, they couldn’t give us a license because their machine was down. They sent us next door to Orvis where we picked up a 1-day adult license for $14 (Kids under 11 years old are free and I was not planning to do more than read a book on the shore).

We followed our Sport Chalet friend’s advice and headed to Gros Ventre River . We spotted buffalo and antelope and had a gorgeous drive along the river to Slide Lake. We stopped for lunch and headed back towards the park so the kids could swim in Jenny Lake while the mid-day sun was out and the fish weren’t biting.

Jenny Lake, Jackson Hole, WY

Jenny Lake is about 20 minutes from the entrance to the park and is a very popular tourist destination. For a fee of $10 p/adult and $5 p/child you can take a ferry across the lake to Inspiration Trail and Hidden Falls. Hidden Falls is an easy 15 minute hike with a 150 ft elevation change and breathtaking  scenery.

Hidden Falls at Jenny Lake

Once we were done we took the ferry back and headed to a great fishing spot just north of Jenny Lake, called String Lake. We found a dozen or so little openings along the lake where people set-up some picnics and brought along their paddle boards, kayaks and canoes. The kids played in the water while Dan attempted to fish. Unfortunately, the fish weren’t biting and there wasn’t much sunlight left so we stopped at Teton Glacier Turnout to try our luck one last time. Sadly we (Dan) did not catch any fish, but it was a relaxing day in a beautiful National Park and it could not have been a better day with the kids.

String Lake

We headed back just before sunset and whipped up some  pasta, chicken, salad, and garlic bread. After a day on the river it was perfection! We could hardly keep our eyes open as we attempted to watch a movie about Spooky Buddies and drifted off to sleep.

Full Kitchen

Monday morning we had to head home. Before heading out we stopped in the Jackson Hole downtown area on Broadway and poked our heads in a few shops. The kids spent all of the dollars they had earned throughout the trip by counting cows, staying quiet for 10 minutes, and loading the car on their own. Hehe!

Main Street Jackson Hole

All in all it was a great trip and we were able to show our kids that life outdoors can be just as great of an adventure as the ones in their video games.

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