Our 2 1/2 week summer visit to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, Yellowstone National Park and a Dude Ranch, goes down as one of our absolutely best trips we have done as a family. We told so many of our friends about it, they asked us, can we just copy your trip? Well, yes, you can! I developed a quick, free guide, called Family Travel Guide to Jackson, Wyoming for Adventurous Families that gives a detailed overview of our Jackson Hole Portion of our trip and what we loved most, from camping, hiking, fishing, to rafting, biking, ATVing, dude ranching, and rodeoing along with addresses and contact info.
You can download a PDF copy of this trip now that you can easily share with friends or print. Easy Peasy, planning done. More time for adventure. Or you can read below to get a summary along with a quick round up of of other great posts and recommendations from various travel bloggers.
Jackson Hole Adventure Rentals
Address: 1060 S Hwy 89, Jackson, WY 83001
Contact: (307) 733-5678
There are many ways to see the Jackson Hole Valley. On this trip, we chose to rent a SUV and trail a 19 foot Jay Trailer (with kitchen and beds to sleep 5) from Jackson Hole Adventure Rentals. We had a great experience renting from them and highly recommend. With this set up, we could make camp and leave our trailer during the day while exploring the region in the SUV. PS…Ask them if they have any extra, partially used cans of bear spray you can borrow. Saves buying a new one!
Gros Ventre Campground
The closest campground to the town of Jackson, Gros Ventre is 20 minutes north via highway, 191.
Gros Ventre Campground is the closest campground to the town of Jackson and is a great central spot to lay down your tent or RV for the week and explore the area. The facility includes electric hook ups if needed. We stayed here 3 nights and wished we had stayed longer. We found that picking up and trying new campgrounds every 2 days was too much. If you are traveling by trailer, make sure to get a site with electric hook-ups!
Bonus: Take the Antelope Flats Scenic Drive in the early AM to see some wildlife. We often did this on our way to get fresh coffee in the AM. Get great coffee nearby at the Kelly Deli nearby. Off the beaten path and worth it!
Hotel Alternatives: If you would rather stay in a hotel, we stayed in several at the beginning, middle, and end of our trip to resituate. Our favorite, hands down was the Rustic Inn Creekside. It was close to downtown and right on the Flat Creek River, allowing kids a place to swim and fish. Teepees with fire pits inside made for extra fun. This is a place to spend a few nights and correspondingly, a few extra $. However, If you are looking for a more economical alternative for those quick arrival/departure nights, then the Lodge at Jackson Hole or the Parkway Inn are decent options.
Jenny Lake to Inspiration Point
Located 7.7 miles north of Moose Junction (only 30 minutes from Gros Ventre Campground)
Jenny lake is a crowded but gorgeous lake with many hiking options. You can do a 7.1 mile hike around the lake or hike the nearby/almost adjoining Leigh Lake and String Lakes or my favorite, hike a mile up to Inspiration Point for a gorgeous view of it all.
Park at Jenny Lake entrance and take the shuttle boat to the Cascade Canyon Trailhead. From there, hike 1.1 miles up to inspiration point with a gorgeous view of the lake. You can stop there and go home like most hikers, but I highly recommend continuing on through the canyon. You will pass meandering rivers and boulders to play on. We barely missed a bear on our path a few minutes before. Bring your bear spray! You can continue for several miles up through the canyon.
Bonus: For a great multi-day backpack, the Paintbrush Canyon Loop is epic. Recommended by a family with a 7 year old daughter, they took it slow, starting at Leigh Lake and camping at Lower Paintbrush, Holly, and Upper Paintbrush campgrounds.
30 minute drive from Gros Ventre Campground to Laurance Rockefeller Preserve and Trailhead via the town of Moose Junction.
Bonus: grab snacks in Moose before the trip and Ice cream after the hike!
An easy, 4 miles RT to the gorgeous Phelps lake or 7 miles extended hike around the lake. If you do the shorter hike (which we did!), make sure to make it and extra half mile to Jumping Rock where you can jump 30 feet down into the cold mountain water! It’s a great pit stop before continuing or returning the way you came.
Additional hikes recommended by family friends:
- Taggart Lake (3.3M R/T)
- Jackson Peak (10.3M R/T)
- Hiking along String (3.8M Loop) and Leigh Lake (3.5M loop)
- Phillips Canyon: (8.1M R/T) / A great locals hike to a secluded lake and not in the National Park is off the Teton Pass as you head over to the Idaho side
Jackson Hole Anglers
Although you can find many a gorgeous fishing spot all along the many rivers, we chose to hire a guide for a day and float and fly fish our way down the Snake river. We caught many a cuthroat and eyed bald eagles along the way. Since each boat holds only 3 guests plus the guide, we divided the day with each of us doing a half day. Or hire two boats to carry the whole family.
Bonus: If fishing isn’t your thing, try rafting instead. We used Lewis and Clark Expeditions to take a day rafting down the Snake River. A great chance to have a little whitewater adventure and see lots of wildlife as well.
Rent bikes at Hoback Sports in Jackson
Address: 20 W Broadway, Jackson, WY 83001
Rent your bikes in Jackson and take off on trails that lead you all the way to Teton Village with beautiful rivers and mountain vistas along the way. The trip was about 15 miles and we used tandem/trailer bikes. I wouldn’t recommend these trailer bikes again as they were a little wobbly. Once in Teton Village, grab lunch and then take the free shuttle back to Jackson! Teton Village also offers a mountain bike park where you can take the tram to the top and bike all the way down. It requires renting a lot of protective gear as this is a real bike park!
Rent Legal Street ATVs at Jackson Hole Adventure Rentals
Address: 1060 S Hwy 89 Jackson, WY 83001
Phone: (307) 733-5678
Every trip has an activity for someone. And renting the ATVs was definitely a top choice for all three boys. We rented one in Jackson that seated all 4 of us. We were able to drive through town and then hit an antelope reserve outside of town where we could play on dirt roads and get very messy! Definitely a highlight of the trip….for them.
Wednesdays and Saturdays during the summer
Don’t miss the town of Jackson’s rodeo which takes place on Thursday and Saturday nights. Kids not only watch other kids and adults in barrel racing, bull riding, but also get to participate in some fun calf wrangling themselves. An event not to miss! We went twice.
Triangle X Ranch
2 Triangle X Ranch Rd, Moose, WY 83012
Phone: (307) 733-2183
If you haven’t gotten enough of Wyoming yet, add another week and do a Dude Ranch. We took the recommendation of friends, and booked the Triangle X Ranch, just north of Jackson by 20 minutes and it was the experience of a lite time. If you want a truly authentic experience, this is the place for you. This is a family owned and run dude ranch that has been in the family for over 50 years. Be ready to do some serious horseback riding (dedicated programs for kids), spend time with great people and feel like a real cowgirl or boy for a week.
Other Things to Do with Kids…and Adults
First, the city of Jackson has some great ideas on things to do with kids…from a list of Best Things to Do with Kids to tried and true Suggested Itineraries for Families. As well of course as my Guide to Jackson, Wyoming for Adventurous Families.
If you are looking at expanding beyond Jackson, check out Trekaroo’s Top 10 things to do with Families in Wyoming. We did adventure beyond Jackson to Yellowstone National Park which we loved but will need to be covered in another blog post!
I don’t know about you, but I hate to be pigeon holed into only “family” activities and dining. Most are great, but I love a little broader food and activity recommendations once in a while. Afar Media and Fathom are two great online travel magazines with recs on great hikes, restaurants and activities. Although not solely family focused, they offer a break from the traditional family schtick. Check out Afar’s top 7 recs and Fathom’s A Weekend That Puts the Why in Wyoming.
Get the Kids Excited with Some Western Movies and Books!
We visited the Jackson Hole Historical Society and Museum which was right down town. Their gift shop was the best and we picked up a few really old Western videos that the kids watched when we got home and loved! You can order the DVDs on Netflix or watch them directly on YouTube for $2.99. The Far Horizons, story of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, and Spencer’s Mountain a western family story (said to have inspired the Waltons!) starring Henry Fonda and filmed locally.
We also discovered a great book series, called Mysteries in our National Parks. These are light Nancy Drew/Hardy Boy style mysteries based in and on true events in the National Parks. We read “the Wolf Stalker” about the repatriation of the wolves in Yellowstone National Park. Loved it.
To Tech or Not to Tech
Although we try and stay away from technology on our family trips, a good audio story always makes the trip go faster. TravelStorys is a good app we used to help enhance the trip. It gives you access to the sights through authentic, hands-free and self-guided storytelling.
Don’t forget Insta for some inspiration before you go. Grand Teton NPS is our rec!
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