This is a guest post by Lisa Hansen, mastermind behind Get Outside Pass offering discounts for Yellowstone, Grand Teton and more. More info at the bottom of this post. The best part is 100% of profits go back to helping kids get outside.
Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks together form one of the largest wild areas in the states. Contrastingly different in landscape and activities, these two parks are convenient neighbors so visitors can experience it all. But to cover such a vast area requires quite a bit of driving, not an ideal activity if you have little ones trying to share a backseat, in need of a nap, a snack, or a potty break.
Here is our Top 10 list of things to do in Yellowstone and Grand Teton Parks if you are traveling with kiddos.
Camping & Hiking
If you only do one thing on this list, this is it. Camping is the perfect way to get kids to experience and enjoy the outdoors. There are a bunch of campgrounds within Yellowstone and Grand Teton parks. Some accept advanced reservations but many are first come first serve and you can easily find a spot if you get an early start.
There are tons of National Forest campgrounds surrounding the parks, or you can take a more luxurious route and stay in a KOA or RV park with more amenities.
Another unique option is to do a glamping overnight with an outfitter like Wilderness Trails, who offers a combo trip including horseback riding, cowboy cookout, and an overnight in a wall tent. No matter what you do, make sure to pack the s’mores and cook something easy like hot dogs and grilled corn on the cob.
Depending on the weather, there are great swimming holes in Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons. On a hot summer day, take a dip in the popular Firehole River in Yellowstone (between Madison and Old Faithful) or in String Lake in the Tetons (also a great spot to bring a paddle board or inflatable kayak).
On a cooler or stormy day, you can soak and swim at the Boiling River (at the northern end of Yellowstone) or visit a nearby hot spring (Granite is located south of Jackson, Norris is located northwest of Yellowstone near Bozeman, and Chico is located just north of Yellowstone in Paradise Valley).
Junior Ranger Program
Older kids will love filling out the Junior Ranger workbooks and getting an official Junior Ranger badge. This is a great car activity and gets kids excited about seeing different areas of the park.
In addition, make sure to grab the park newspaper to see what ranger programs are offered during your visit … many of them are catered to kids.
This is such a great way to spend an afternoon, or even just an hour, and the kids will love being in charge of their own horse. While there is often an age minimum for horseback riding, some outfitters will let little ones ride with a parent.
There are a number of options within and surrounding the parks, but we love Diamond P Ranch, just outside of West Yellowstone.
Ideal for that hot summer day, whitewater rafting will be the closest thing to a natural roller coaster for your kids. Combine it with a zipline ride in Big Sky or Gardiner!!
Most rafting outfitters require kids to be at least 6 years old to go whitewater rafting (scenic float trips are a great option for younger kids).
It’s the Wild West after all! There are many to choose from … West Yellowstone, Cody, and Jackson all feature seasonal evening rodeos, fun for the whole family.
Old Faithful Geyser
You can’t really visit Yellowstone without stopping at Old Faithful, so make sure to tack on a short nearby hike to Mystic Falls, an ice cream cone while you wait for Old Faithful to blow, and a visit to the Old Faithful Visitor Education Center where kids can learn about the geothermal features that make this attraction unique.
Jenny Lake Boat Ride
Ride the Jenny Lake Boat across Jenny Lake in the heart of Grand Teton National Park and then hike up to Hidden Falls, Inspiration Point, or back around the lake. All ages welcome on the boat.
It might seem a little touristy and kitchy but this is one of my favorite things to do with visiting family and friends. With a funny musical focus and great food, Bar J Chuckwagon is the best, located west of Jackson Hole.
Back in town, try Bar T 5 for a Cowboy & Indian theme. Last but not least, Dornan’s offers a typical chuck-wagon dinner but without the entertainment.
Snow King Mountain
Looking for a way to spend a day in Jackson with kids? Head to Snow King Mountain to find activities that will easily fill the day, including a ropes course and zipline, mountain coaster, alpine slide, scenic chairlift, bungee trampoline, mini-golf, maze, and more.
About Get Outside Pass
We are Get Outside Pass, a discount “pass” that unlocks savings for top activities that surround the park. We have a Yellowstone (which also includes Grand Teton National Park) and a Glacier pass for 2018 and more coming for 2019. What we love sharing the most is that we dedicate 100% of our profits to organizations that get underserved kids into the outdoors.
The GO Yellowstone Pass includes discounts like:
- 10% off Horseback Riding
- 20% off Whitewater Rafting
- $1.50 off the Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center
- … and 30 more!
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