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While International travel will be on hold now. It is a great time to explore the United States making Jackson Hole and hiking the Grand Tetons the perfect covid getaway. While I will miss my European pastries, architecture, and slower pace of life, it forces us to explore our home. Sometimes we forget how beautiful the United States is because we travel overseas so much. My husband celebrated our 15th Anniversary this year and planned somewhere exotic. Realizing that we couldn’t leave the U.S., we decided to explore somewhere new within the country. While I grew up mostly on the west coast, my husband is from the south. He hasn’t had the privilege of exploring Wyoming, Utah, and Idaho. We decided to fly into Salt Lake City and then drive to Jackson Hole, Wyoming. I recommend the drive because there is so much to see. At first, I was sad about missing our exotic trip, but we had a wonderful time exploring Jackson Hole.
Jackson Hole is nestled at the base of the Grand Teton mountains. The Grand Teton park is located five miles west of the city in Moose, Wyoming. The Teton range is different from the Smoky Mountains, which tend to be flatter. The Tetons are jagged, pointing straight to heaven, and dusted in snow even in June. It is so beautiful your photos don’t need much editing. The views extend for miles in every direction.
Hiking the Grand Teton Trails: A Great Escape From Covid
We really enjoyed hiking, and the Tetons are a fabulous place to go. Plus, you are guaranteed to see some up-close wildlife encounters. Speaking of wildlife, I recommend bear spray; rent it in town before you go hiking. It is roughly $8 a day but is cheaper if you rent for more days. Bear spray is PROHIBITED on airplanes; therefore, you must rent or buy once you are in Jackson Hole. The Grand Teton Visitors Center does NOT sell it. I recommend renting it from Teton Backcountry Rentals before heading out on the trails. If you plan on hiking at higher elevations, you may also want to rent spikes for your shoes. In June, the mountains still had snow on them.
If you are wanting to see beavers in their natural habitat, this is the place to go. Schwabacher Landing is located on a flood plain making it the ideal location to view wildlife. Closely look while walking, and you may see a beaver building a dam in the river. This is a straightforward hike that virtually anyone can complete. The trail skirts along the Snake River, showcasing views of the Tetons. The hike is flat, making it perfect for those who cannot do the climbing. It is also stroller friendly (it would need to be a jogger or off roading stroller). The trail is roughly 1.8 miles round trip. It is an out and back trail. Don’t be surprised if you see a moose sipping water in the early evening or another animal at the river basin.
From Jackson: Go north on HWY 89 for roughly 10 miles turn left onto Schwabacher Landing Road, then keep left and you’ll see the parking area.
Another area that is accessible for everyone is Mormon Row. Mormon Row is a historic district where you can see two barns with a backdrop of the Tetons. This is the perfect place to take some incredible photos. You may see some prairie dogs running wild as well. I tried to snap a picture of one, and he yelled at me-HA!
From Jackson: Take 89 past Moose Junction and turn right onto Antelope Flats Road. Continue about 1.5 miles until you see a pink stucco house with a small dirt parking lot, park there and you can walk. It is about .2 of a loop.
Hidden Falls/Inspiration Point
This is probably the most popular hike in the Grand Tetons, it offers two points of interest, and you can hike all of it or take a boat ride. You begin the hike near Jenny Lake, which provides some pretty incredible views. This is a great place to do some stand-up paddle boarding or kayaking if you are interested in either of those activities. This is definitely a more challenging hike if you are hiking the entire way. The boat ride will shave off about 2.5 miles from the walk. We hiked the whole thing, so I don’t have much information about the boat, but it is a nominal fee to ride the boat. This, however, is an excellent option for those who cannot hike. And if you can’t hike at all, they offer an hour-long boat ride, which gives some history; click here for the schedule. We discovered there are two hiking paths. Both will spit you out at the waterfalls, but one is rockier, while the other is flatter. We did however, run right into a MOOSE on the trail on our return trip. Literally, we were coming around a corner when we saw the leaves moving. Upon closer review, we saw a moose standing there. I was utterly freaked out, but my husband grabbed the camera to snap a photo. It was pretty incredible to see him standing right in front of us. This trailhead is roughly 20 miles from Jackson. Just follow 89, turn left onto Teton Park Rd, then follow that to Jenny Lake Rd, and you will see the entrance a few miles down the road.
Hidden Falls is a great place to stop for a picnic. I highly recommend food and lots of water on this trail. We didn’t do much research before we started and had almost no food or water-rookie mistake. It is also a relatively easy hike to do if you take the boat. I would think this hike would be too rocky to make it over with a stroller. It would be best to carry your kiddos from the boat launch to the falls, which is just under 3/4 of a mile.
Inspiration Point is a rocky hike with steep inclines but worth the views of the incredible Grand Tetons. The views from the top left us speechless. This is definitely not a hike for the feeble. Add in the high elevation, and even the healthiest can be left breathless from the climb. But if you can do it, go! I would be very nervous with small children on the trail, only because of the steep inclines and narrow passageways at times. It wasn’t terribly busy, but I’m sure on active years, it would be extremely stressful. This is not a hike you could do with a stroller.
From Jackson: Take 89 N to E Pearl Ave and make a left follow it for about 7 miles and you will see the trailhead entrance for Jenny Lake.
This is a relatively easy hike in the Grand Tetons for everyone, and if you can’t handle the trails, you can stay close to the water and just hang out there. This would be a great hike to do with kids, and we actually saw younger kiddos on this hike. There are nice trails that skirt that water as well here. It would be a great place for a picnic and allow the kiddos to play in the water on a hot summer day. My one warning with this hike is that it is a lot of wooded areas, which was slightly creepy at times. It would be silent, and then you would hear an animal, but you didn’t know what kind of animal. I would definitely suggest bear spray for here.
From Jackson: Head north on 89, stay on 89 N until the park. Turn left into the park stay left until the fork where you will go right, from there make a left onto Beaver Creek Rd, and follow it until you see the parking lot. It’s about 30 mins from Jackson Hole.
The Animals You May Encounter While Hiking in the Grand Tetons
While we were hiking in the Grand Tetons, of course, we saw the moose, but we were lucky enough to see some other pretty incredible animals. A bucket list item was seeing a bear, just not up close. Not only did we see a bear, but we saw a mama bear and her cubs! Y’all, that was the coolest thing ever. I will warn you if there is even a chance a bear is out there, the road closes down. It makes it easy to find where the bears are, though. Everyone stops and gets out of their cars to hunt for the bear. The park rangers are great about keeping people back to allow the animals to move freely. We watched the bears cross the road as well. Bring some binoculars, and I recommend using a DSLR camera at least. In addition to the bears and moose, we saw herds of elk and coyotes as well as some beavers. The kids will love looking out the windows because you never know what you are going to encounter.
Hiking the Grand Tetons is the perfect covid free vacation you can take this summer. There is so much to do in the area. We hardly scratched the surface.