Try These Awesome (And Easy) Grand Teton Hikes

I spent a great amount of time researching possible hikes for my family’s visit to Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming. My kids are 8 and 10, so old enough for a few miles, but young enough to complain if it got to be too long or difficult. The kind of trail we sought needed to be less than 3 or so miles and easy terrain.

If you’re looking for a scenic but not-too-challenging hike, read on!

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These great hikes at Grand Teton National Park are easy and less than 3 miles long. The trails suggested are good for families and beginner hikers.

Where to find easy trails in Grand Tetons

Full disclosure: Some of you might think the second trail isn’t really a “hike.” That’s a fair opinion, but if you’re traveling with little ones or someone who needs an accessible trail, it’s a good hike. Trust me.

Both trails start at the Jenny Lake Visitor Center, which has ample parking (though it does fill up). 

Hiking around Jenny Lake at Grand Tetons National Park offers many scenic views

I know what you’re thinking: Grand Teton National Park is SO big, couldn’t you find other trails? 

Well, yes, and I had several in mind when I was planning our trip. In fact, I had several picked out that were marked for “Best Hikes for Children,” “Best for Wildlife Watching” and “Best for Great Views,” which I had found in the excellent Falcon Guides book “Best Easy Day Hikes: Grand Teton National Parks.”

Moose Ponds Trail: Looking for wildlife

We settled on Moose Ponds trail after reading the Falcon Guides book. It was ranked high for wildlife watching, and being just at 2.6 miles and marked Easy, it sounded just right for our first outing. 

Father and son hiking at Grand Teton National Park

The start of the hike is at the very popular Jenny Lake Visitor’s Center, and at first, it’s a paved trail. This part is an accessible path down to the lake, and if you have pretty young kids, it may be all you need for family to experience nature.

But, keep going, because it gets even more beautiful and the crowds start to thin out.

The bridge by the boat ferry dock at Jenny Lake

To get to Moose Ponds, you need to walk south of Jenny Lake, crossing the bridge at the boat ferry dock. Most people will stop here to take the ferry; you’ll want to keep walking.

The well-worn trail at this point is dirt with rocks jutting out here or there. It’s still pretty easy to hike, but keep your eye on the ground to not trip.

Tip: There is a parking lot at the boat launch parking, which is an excellent spot to park at and skip the crowded part of the Jenny Lake trail. It’s small, so if you arrive during peak time, though, you may not find a spot.

The trail you’re on now is Valley Trail. Be on the lookout for a sign marking Moose Ponds, you’ll want to head to the left at that point when most everyone else is continuing on Valley Trail.

Sign for Moose Ponds Loop Trail at Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming

Moose Ponds trail feels remote, when it really isn’t. I’ll admit, we were a little nervous about bears and, well, the trail’s namesake, moose. It feels remote, but it really isn’t., though.

Besides birds, we saw a marmot and lots of clues to the busy life of the resident beavers. But, there were no huge animal sightings.

We did cross a few streams and saw waterfalls in the distance, so overall, I’d say it was a wonderful hike.

Girl reaching for a stream at a crossing on Moose Ponds Trail

It felt a little longer than 2.6 miles, by the way. Just ask my kids.

The trail at Jenny Lake Visitor Center

The trail at Jenny Lake starts at, you guessed it, the Jenny Lake Visitor Center. I highly recommend this trail for this with limited mobility or really young kids who can’t walk far. It’s paved, it leads to beautiful views of the lake, and it’s very easy.

A paved path leading to Jenny Lake at Grand Teton National Park

There are benches throughout this trail, which are good for resting, but also highlight a different animal in the park. My kids thought it was funny that it not only showed the animal’s tracks, but its poop, too.

Adapting your plans on a national park vacation

I wish I could say we hiked more in Grand Teton National Park, but time ran short. Our other “long” easy hike was going to be Hidden Falls trail. Our plans changed after one kid fell during a pit stop to the hike to take in the lake views.

Open field at Grand Teton National Park

We decided hiking wasn’t in the cards and opted for a fun day in Jackson, Wyoming (AKA Jackson Hole). I’ll be sharing a blog post about that day in Jackson soon, but suffice to say it was exactly what my family needed that day, after all.

Plan a Grand Teton National Park Trip

Want to do more than just a quick hike in Grand Teton National Park? We stayed three nights at Grand Teton. We combined three nights in Grand Teton National Park with two nights in Yellowstone National Park. They’re very close to each other!

By the way, we went in mid-June and it was the perfect time to see the wildflowers bloom.

Field of wildflowers at Grand Teton National Park in June

Read these upcoming posts to learn more about Grand Teton National Park:

These Cabins Put You Between Grand Teton & Yellowstone

Everything You Need To Know About COVID Protocols At Grand Teton National Park

10 Fun Things To Do In One Day At Jackson Hole

Kid-Friendly Restaurants In Jackson Hole

If you want to read more about what we did in Yellowstone, be sure to read these posts:

7 Easy Hikes In Yellowstone National Park

Everything You Need To Know About COVID Protocols At Yellowstone

Things To Expect If Your Stay In A Canyon Lodge Cabin In Yellowstone

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Looking for an easy trails at Grand Teton National Park, one that's either accessible or easy enough for kids? Read this post about awesome and easy hikes at Grand Teton! #NationalParks #USA #Wyoming

Everything You Need To Know About COVID-19 Protocols At Grand Teton National Park

This year has been a strange and troubling one for all of us, and what my family needed was a getaway to the outdoors. Grand Teton National Park offered wide open spaces to be social distant while on vacation. But, as you can imagine, it wasn’t business as usual there. Read on to find out what to expect if you visit Grand Teton during the pandemic.

** Everything is subject to change after this post has gone live. We were at the park at the end of June 2020 and COVID-19 health and operational guidelines may change. Please check the Grand Teton National Park official website for the most up-to-date information.

Everything you need to know about visiting Grand Teton National Park in 2020 | What are the COVID-19 safety protocols at Grand Teton National Park | What's open and what is closed during the 2020 pandemic

COVID-19 protocol at Grand Teton National Park

The park has taken many steps to reduce the spread of COVID-19. The one that will impact any visit is the closures of many buildings like visitor centers and ranger stations.

Places that are open, like some restaurants (for take-out only) and gift shops, encourage face masks, hand sanitizer and capacity limits. You’ll also encounter Plexiglass barriers in retail areas.

Here’s an example of our experience: The gift shop at Jenny Lake, for instance, had an employee at the door keeping track of the amount of people who entered, so a line formed outside.

The line at the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center in Moose had an even longer line outside since it was not only a line for the gift shop, but a line to get park permits.

A view of the boat dock at Jenny Lake in Grand Teton National Park.

There are plenty of signs throughout the park reminding people to maintain 6 feet of social distance. 

It was pretty easy to keep a safe distance from people while hiking at Grand Teton. People tried their best to keep 6 feet apart, even while waiting in line at the Jenny Lake boat launch.

Tip: Hikers can take the short boat ride from the dock at Jenny Lake to trails on the other side, including the popular Hidden Fall Trail. The boat ride is an additional fee.

Related post: COVID-19 Safety Protocols at Yellowstone National Park

What are the crowds like at Grand Teton?

I can’t tell you how crowd levels compare to previous visits since this was my first time at the park. However, I imagine summer is typically busy, especially with the return of Grizzly 399.

Kids and photographers watching Grizzly 399 and her cubs in the distance at Grand Teton National Park

We saw her and her cubs, by the way! Granted, we saw them all from very, very far away with the help of binoculars. But still. We saw them!

We tended to encounter a decent size crowd when we stopped at convenience stores. The largest crowd, though, was at Jenny Lake.

The paved path is very popular, but once you got a little ways off the path, the crowd thinned out. Our hike around Moose Ponds, which starts at the Jenny Lake area, was almost entirely ours alone.

Which restaurants are open at Grand Teton

We stayed at a cabin at Grand Teton National Park and it didn’t have a kitchen nor a fire pit outside. So, we did have to get food from time to time beyond our Nutella and Cheerios.

For one breakfast, we grabbed sandwiches at the convenience store at Headwaters. We heated them up at the convenience store.

For another, we got breakfast burritos at the convenience store at Signal Mountain. If you’re a coffee drinker, get the coffee there instead of the coffee at the Headwaters convenience store.

Other dining options that were open (take-out only):

  • Sheffields at Flagg Ranch
  • Colter Bay Convenience Store and Gas Station at Colter Bay Village
  • Ranch House at Colter Bay Village
  • John Colter Cafe Court at Colter Bay Village

What else is open at Grand Teton right now?

As I mentioned before, gift shops were open. Not a whole lot of people wearing masks, save for a handful of families and all employees.

Interior of Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center in Moose, Wyoming

Some visitor’s centers were open, though, when we visited, certain areas were still closed within the buildings. What’s open:

  • The Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center in Moose (exhibits and the auditorium were not open)
  • Colter Bay Visitor Center
  • Jenny Lake Ranger Station

The Jenny Lake Visitor Center, LSR Preserve Center, and Flagg Ranch Information Station are not open for the 2020 summer season.

Horseback riding has not reopened, but there are quite a few other guided activities that are open:

  • Mountaineering
  • Kayaking
  • Float trips
  • Fishing trips

If something isn’t listed here as being open, check the park’s Operating Hours page to see if/when it will reopen in 2020.

Where can you stay overnight at Grand Teton National Park?

I booked our three nights in a cabin at Headwaters at Flagg Ranch two weeks before our trip. In my mind, that’s extremely last minute, considering I tried to book Jenny Lake cabins more than a year in advance. I think that availability is unusual unless there was a cancellation.

Exterior of a cabin at Headwaters Lodge & Cabins in Grand Teton National Park

Want to see what’s available this summer? Here’s the lodging that is open:

  • Headwaters Lodge & Cabins
  • Signal Mountain Lodge
  • Triangle X Dude & Guest Ranch at Moran
  • Colter Bay Cabins
  • Colter Bay Tent Cabins

These are the open campgrounds:

  • Headwaters Campground and RV Park
  • Gros Ventre Campground at Moose
  • Jenny Lake Campground
  • Signal Mountain Campground
  • Colter Bay Campground and RV Park
  • Lizard Creek Campground

Plan a vacation to Grand Teton National Park

In the next few weeks, I’ll be publishing more stories about our trip to Grand Teton (and nearby Yellowstone National Park). Stay tuned for more stories about:

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These Cabins Put You Between Yellowstone & Grand Teton

With Grand Teton National Park being so close to Yellowstone National Park, it’s pretty common to visit both on a trip. We did it this summer and found a great cabin in Grand Teton that just happens to be 2 miles from Yellowstone: Headwaters Lodge & Cabins. 

Where are the Headwaters Cabins within the Grand Teton National Park?

Headwaters is located at Flagg Ranch on the far north end of Grand Teton National Park. While a lot of the park’s attractions that we were interested in, especially Jenny Lake, were on the other end of the park, we enjoyed driving through the park to get to our cabin.

Entrance to Headwaters Lodge & Cabins at Flagg Ranch at Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming

It’s even further (about an hour) to drive to Jackson, Wyoming. Go there if you want a variety of shops, restaurants, and kid-pleasing tourist activities.

The good thing about the location of Headwaters?

Headwaters is very near Yellowstone National Park, making it almost a no-brainer that you should visit both parks. Separate entrance fee applies, though.

COVID-19 measures in place

**We stayed three nights at the cabin in June 2020, so while there were measures in place then, they could very well change before your visit. Read more about Grand Teton COVID-19 safety measures

Check-in for Headwaters cabins is at the lodge, where you’ll notice the hand sanitizer outside and signage prior to entering.

We wore masks indoors, and you’ll find that less than 50% will too when you go in. Employees wore masks at the lodge and the nearby convenience store.

The cabins didn’t have regular housekeeping.

The restaurant in the lodge did not offer a dine-in service; you could only order take-out. We found this to be the case throughout Grand Teton National Park, as well as when we visited Yellowstone National Park.

What the Grand Teton Headwaters cabins are like

There are two options for cabins, as well as tent and lodge accommodations (though in 2020, the lodge is not open). 

We reserved a deluxe cabin since it was the only one available, but also because it was the right size for our family of four. It had two queen size beds, a bathroom with a bathtub, and a small sitting area in front with two rocking chairs.

Exterior of a cabin at Headwaters Lodge & Cabins located in Grand Teton National Park, which is close to Yellowstone National Park.

I took zero pictures of the interior of the cabins because there really wasn’t anything to distinguish it from a regular hotel room. Set your expectations low and you won’t be disappointed.

The cabin is actually a building with four separate rooms to reserve. We never heard neighbors, so it did feel like we had the place to ourselves.

Like all accommodations inside the park, there was no TV, which just about ruined my kids’ lives. 

Just kidding.

But, there was no TV and there was no WiFi and it took a while for all of us to accept that it was a time to unplug.

There is no air conditioning but you also didn’t need it, even in June. It got pretty cold each night.

How much are the cabins?

The price of the cabins was pretty steep. I’m talking $300+ a night.

There are several lodging options, many with fewer amenities and therefore a better price. But, be warned: Not all lodges at Grand Teton are open due to COVID-19.

You may have better luck finding a cabin outside of the park with more amenities for a more reasonable price.

But you really can’t beat this location of Headwaters, so I’m torn between recommending you look elsewhere or spend big.

If you’re still convinced that these cabins are for you, I recommend booking as early as possible. While I snagged this cabin at the last minute (less than two weeks from our vacation start date), that is not common.

What’s near the cabins?

As you drive south from the cabin into Grand Teton National Park, you’ll pass several pullout stops with great views of Jackson Lake with the Grand Tetons towering behind it.

Wildflowers in June at Grand Teton National Park

We visited at the end of June during wild flower season, and it was stunning. 

This park is considerably smaller than Yellowstone National Park, so having a home base in the north part of the park was no big deal. During our drives through the park, we spotted several mama bears with cubs, even the famous Grizzly 399!

Watching from a safe distance as Grizzly 399 and her four cubs roam at Grand Teton National Park.

While seeing the famous grizzly and her cubs off in the distance was definitely a highlight, we saw a juvenile grizzly much closer to the road on our last night in the park.

Keep in mind this was in late June, so the bear activity will likely be different if you visit during a different season.

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Want to stay near two National Parks? We stayed at the Headwaters cabin inside Grand Teton National Park, which is just 2 miles away from Yellowstone National Park! Is this cabin right for your family? Read on for more details on booking a cabin at Grand Teton!