Seven Simple Summer Activities for Kids in Jackson Hole
These low-cost outings in the Tetons are fun for your kids and relaxing for you.
By LintonBingle | July 1, 2016
Jackson Hole has no shortage of amazing summer activities for kids. Whether it is a wildlife tour in Grand Teton National Park, a tram ride at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort or the Cowboy Coaster at Snow King Mountain Resort, your children are bound to take home lasting memories. That said, not every day in Jackson Hole needs to be an epic adventure, and in all likelihood, you and your children will feel more relaxed if you take a few days to enjoy the valley’s simpler pleasures. Avoid the crowds and cut your costs with these seven recommendations for stress-free summer fun in the Tetons.
Perhaps the oldest summer activity on Earth, a cool swim on a warm day can provide hours of entertainment for your kids. The beautiful String Lake in Grand Teton National Park offers calm, shallow water that tends to be warmer than other nearby lakes. Located 1.5 miles from the North Jenny Lake Junction on Teton Park Road, String Lake can be accessed with the daily fee or annual pass for Grand Teton National Park. Inner tubes, kayaks, canoes and other non-motorized water sports devices are welcome.
For just $5 per person, Jackson Lake Lodge lets non-guests swim in its outdoor pool and toddler pool, which are only steps away from a made-to-order BBQ station. In the town of Jackson, the Teton County/Jackson Recreation Center boasts an indoor aquatic center with a lap pool, water slide and kid-friendly leisure pool. Day-use fees for non-residents are $4.50 for children ages 3 to 12, $5.50 for teenagers ages 13 to 17, and $7 for adults ages 18 and older.
Parks of the Local Variety
Bouldering walls at Phil Baux Park. Photo courtesy of TripAdvisor.com.
Jackson Hole’s two national parks are the main draw for many visitors, but our town parks can be a refreshing change of pace when the traffic picks up in Grand Teton or Yellowstone. Located at the base of Snow King Mountain Resort in Jackson, Phil Baux Park has a playground and two small bouldering walls that allow kids of all ages and skill to test their rock climbing skills. Adjacent to a horse-riding arena in the town of Wilson, Owen Bircher Park is ideal for a midday picnic or birthday party, offering 11 picnic tables, BBQ pits, a sand volleyball court, and a large grassy area for various pick-up games. For more details on Jackson Hole’s town parks, check out the Teton County parks directory.
If you’d like more space to roam with your kids, the Rendezvous Land Conservancy's new R Park spans 40 acres of meadows, knolls, ponds and mountain views along the west bank of the Snake River. Walkways and bike paths roll through the R Park, which is centrally located at the intersection of Highway 22 and the Moose-Wilson Road in Wilson.
Bountiful Bike Paths
Jackson Hole’s extensive system of bike paths is now more connected following the recent completion of safe routes from Teton Village to Jackson and from Jackson to Jenny Lake. While biking those entire routes may be too difficult for younger children, you can pick and choose where to ride along Teton County’s pathways system. The new pathway along Highway 22 connects to the aforementioned R Park by crossing over the new Snake River pedestrian bridge, and once in the park, there are shorter pathways fit for younger kids.
If your family doesn’t have its own bikes, you can rent a variety of types at Hoback Sports or Teton Mountain Bike Tours in Jackson, Wilson Backcountry Sports in Wilson, Jackson Hole Sports and Teton Village Sports in Teton Village, or Adventure Sports at Dornan’s in Moose.
Fishing for Beginners
Sleeping Indian Pond. Photo courtesy of the Jackson National Fish Hatchery.
While there are seemingly endless spots for fishing on the Snake River and its tributaries, the running currents can make it difficult for your kids to learn the basics of landing a big one. For a simpler fishing environment, both the Jackson Hole & Greater Yellowstone Visitor Center and the Jackson National Fish Hatchery provide free access to stocked ponds on their properties. Keep in mind that a Wyoming fishing license is required for both residents and non-residents over 14 years of age, and non-residents under 14 can only fish when accompanied by an adult who has purchased a license.
Need fishing gear for the day? With locations in Jackson and at Dornan's in Moose, Snake River Angler sells rentals on fly-fishing rods, spin rods and other necessities.
View from the Phelps Lake Overlook. Photo courtesy of MLeWallpapers.com.
If you fear the words, “are we there yet?,” on an otherwise beautiful walkabout in the Tetons, your kids are probably better suited for shorter, less strenuous hikes. With the popular Jenny Lake hikes affected by a renewal project that will limit access to Hidden Falls and reduce parking availability this summer, we recommend other lakeshore hikes in Grand Teton National Park that are equally scenic and straightforward.
Located in the Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve off of Moose-Wilson Road, Phelps Lake can be approached from an access road (four-wheel drive and high ground clearance recommended) that ends at the Death Canyon Trailhead. A short distance from the trailhead, hikers should merge left onto the Valley Trail, which leads to the picturesque Phelps Lake Overlook after 1 mile of mild incline. From there, your family can decide whether to hike the additional 1.4 miles that wind down to a small, sandy shore on the lake.
Simpler still is the hike to Taggart Lake. Starting at the Taggart Lake Trailhead off of Teton Park Road, the 3.9-mile loop to and from the lake has gradual elevation changes through open meadows, streams and patches of evergreen forest. If your family is up for a longer adventure, you can tack on the 2.5-mile loop north to Bradley Lake.
No matter the length of your hike in Grand Teton National Park, always bring bear spray, sun and rain protection, and plenty of water for the entire family.
Photo courtesy of the Teton Raptor Center.
With so much natural wonder in Jackson Hole, it is easy to fool your kids into learning a lot on their summer vacation. Every Friday this summer from 9:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m., Wyoming Stargazing is hosting free stargazing events at the R Park. Participants can get an upclose look at planets, stars, nebulae and galaxies through a large Dobsonian telescope. While waiting their turns on the telescope, your children can explore the night sky with the Star Walk app installed on provided iPads.
During daylight hours, the Jackson Hole Children’s Museum features interactive exhibits that range from a new display on bats to a Wild Wind Machine and a huge magnetic play wall. With its Children’s Discovery Gallery, the National Museum of Wildlife Art offers a kid-friendly area compete with animal costumes, a puppet theater, a young artist’s studio, a life-size diorama and a reading nook. Outside the museum, families are welcome to walk the 0.75-mile Sculpture Trail, which weaves wildlife-themed sculptures into the hillside overlooking the National Elk Refuge.
If your children would rather witness living wildlife, the Teton Raptor Center hosts hour-long programs starting at 2 p.m. from Wednesday to Saturday throughout the summer. Starring eight resident raptors, including a red-tailed hawk, two eagles and various species of owls, the Raptor Encounters Program at Hardeman Ranch in Wilson educates participants on the conservation and rehabilitation of birds of prey in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.
Rainy Day Remedies
Teton County Library. Photo courtesy of GE Johnson.
More often than not, the weather is dry and sunny in Jackson Hole during the summer, but rainy days – particularly late-afternoon thunderstorms – are inevitable. On such occasions, the recently renovated Teton County Library is there to save the day with its new Teens & Children wing. In addition to its regularly scheduled children’s activities, the library will also be hosting free family concerts from the Grand Teton Music Festival on certain Thursdays this summer, including the progressive string trio Time for Three (July 21), trumpeter Jens Lindemann (Aug. 4) and the woodwind-centered A Mighty Wind! concert (Aug. 18).
Opening this July, Hole Bowl will bring readily accessible bowling lanes back to Jackson. Elegantly outfitted but still family centered, the new bowling alley will provide automatic gutter bumpers for children, as well as two reservable private lanes that will come with their own music and entertainment system. The much-anticipated establishment in the Powderhorn Mall area will also boast pool tables, dartboards, arcade games, classic American fare, and a full bar with lane service.
These seven summer recommendations only scratch the surface of the many child-friendly activities in Jackson Hole, but we hope they provide a day or two of relaxation while your family plans its next big adventure. Click here to learn more about the range of recreational opportunities in Jackson Hole.