Our second visit to Grand Teton National Park turned out to be a success! We first visited this park in 2015, after exploring Yellowstone National Park (you can read about that visit HERE). We immediately fell head-over-heels for the Tetons and the adorable town of Jackson, Wyoming. This area left a serious imprint on our hearts the first time we visited…so it was thrilling to learn that we loved it even more the second time around.
Being that we had already visited, we knew exactly what we wanted to do…have more time to enjoy the location! To do this, we scheduled my husband’s vacation time during our visit and we planned ahead and reserved a campsite in the National Park….(For those of you that are new to our story, we travel the U.S. fulltime with our kids, while my husband works and travels for business. You can learn a bit about our story HERE. Although we visit many vacation locations…we are still working and doing school…and not always on vacation. )…
Camping in the National Park, with no cell phone service…and on vacation…made us really feel like we are camping. Believe it or not, we don’t feel like we are camping through the country. We are simply exploring the country…and pulling our house behind us. You can take a peek at our RV home HERE, and see that we have all the modern conveniences of home…just in our minimal version.
Check out the bottom of this post for our list of favorites in Grand Teton NP and Jackson!
Colter Bay RV Park
This was the first time that we camped inside of a National Park. As we are a pretty big unit, we usually cannot fit our rig in most National Parks. It was incredibly fun to be right in the middle of everything, rather than having to drive in and out of the park each day.
The sites in this full-hook-up RV park are very close together, but the location was so great that we did not mind. Thankfully we had an end-of-the-row site, so we had a bit more room than most.
We really enjoyed walking down the short road to enjoy the beach area in Colter Bay. It was convenient to carry our kayak from the campsite and easily put it in the water.
The only bummer about the campground is that you can not have fires anywhere in the entire RV Park. For us, a campfire is the essence of camping…so this was a bit of a disappointment. Apparently you can have fires in the neighboring campground for tenters. Thankfully though, we had some awesome neighbors…so we shared a fire with them one night at a community fire-pit, not far from the water. We enjoyed every second of that campfire and celebrated the moment with roasting marshmallows and making s’mores!
Sunrise at Oxbow Bend
One of the sweetest moments for Chris and I was our early morning date at Oxbow Bend. I had read online that it is a beautiful spot to watch the sunrise…and let me tell you, yes it is!
We set our alarm for 4:40 and left the house (RV) by 5:00.
Armed with plenty of coffee and our camera, we arrived early to secure a good spot for snapping pics. It was gorgeous. Even before the sun rose, the view was amazing.
We then watched the sun kiss the Teton Range. Incredible!
We absolutely loved having an early morning coffee date. It makes me think that I should do this more often!
Hiking To Taggart & Bradley Lakes
A highlight of our time in the National Park was this awesome hike. We parked the truck at Taggart Lake Trailhead. You will find a parking lot, vault toilet and access to the bike path here.
We chose to start at the trailhead and go off to the left on the Valley Trail, which looped over to Taggart Lake and then up to Bradley Lake and then back down to the trailhead via another path…creating one big loop which totaled 5.9 miles total. You can track our hike on this awesome hiking map which lists hikes for the various lakes in Grand Teton. You can also find more info on this trail HERE
The trail up to Taggart Lake is quite nice and the views are lovely. This trail was fairly busy, although not terribly crowded.
For some reason, the first 2.4 miles up to Taggart Lake, seemed quite long…probably because we had not eaten lunch. We ended up snacking at this lake. Unfortunately, I failed to plan enough substantial energy food…so there were some rough moments when the tummies were hungry.
We eventually got around to the other side of Taggart Lake and stopped for some snacks. If you plan to stop along this lake, I would suggest continuing past your initial encounter with this lake and then stopping near the northeast side. This will lead you away from the more crowded areas which get congested with people.
The trail that leads from Taggart to Bradley Lake is even more beautiful…especially with the wildflowers starting to bloom.
And as we climbed a little bit in elevation, we met more snow.
Our hiking boots and trekking poles really came in handy…and I highly suggest the poles if you are on a trail with snow this time of year. It makes such a difference!
The lake was gorgeous!
And we enjoyed some rest and giggles…
The hike was definitely worth it. The lakes are quite beautiful. It’s too bad that we didn’t have our compact fishing poles for this trip…this would be a great place to hike with a rod.
Besides the gorgeous landscape, another thing I liked about this trail was that it looped around. It was nice to see a variety of landscape on the way back down as well.
And I always love hiking near water!
So that was our hike to the lakes. Beautiful right? Honestly, words can not express how beautiful this area is in the spring…especially on a warm day, with snow on the ground. I hope our photos inspire you to take a hike when visiting this park. It is a fabulous place to hit the trail.
Another great resource for planning your day hikes in Grand Teton NP is THIS MAP, which lists several hikes for you to choose from.
There is something about Wyoming. The deep blue skies. The mountains. The open range. We decided that our Instagram feed needed a barn photo, so we headed over to Mormon Row to see this historic row of barns.
This is an easy stop when driving to or from Jackson. When headed north through the park, you turn right on Antelope Flats Road and within a couple of miles you come to Mormon Row.
We parked the truck and walked around. This area is remarkable in the spring. We all stared in wonder and thought about how amazing it would be to have a true home on the range…with those mountains as your view.
Birthday Biking To Dornan’s
This boy turned 11 while we were camped-out in the Tetons! When asked what he wanted to do?…..I want to go for a family bike ride, he said.
So a bike ride it was. Near Moose Junction, there is a great little general store and deli next to a pizza place, bike rental shop, a gift shop and gear and apparel shop. This whole area is known as Dornan’s….so look for this when reading the signs. We parked in the Windy Point Parking Turnout, which is just west of the Moose Entrance.
As we were all a bit tired from the week, we choose to only bike two miles to the deli for lunch and then two miles back to the truck. We did stop at the Visitor Center on our way back though.
- There is a crazy long path that goes from the town of Jackson all the way to Jenny Lake (or so my map says). The stretch from Dornan’s to the Taggart Lake Trailhead is great for families to ride. You can go as far as you want and then turn around and head back.
- Keep your National Park Pass with you. If you head to Dornan’s and ride outside of the Entrance station, you will have to show your pass, or pay again, to get back in.
- Wear helmets. I had seen a lot of families biking without helmets near the trailhead the day before, so I assumed that we would not need our helmets. Yikes, no! Normally I am super safety-minded. I don’t know what I was thinking. Even though this is a safe trail, you need helmets.
- When looking for a parking spot, consider any of the parking turnouts. These are much less congested than the Visitor Center and trailhead parking lots.
- Bring you wallet when biking to Dornan’s. This is a great place to have lunch or an ice cream break. We loved that there was covered patio seating (and tables inside the deli/store) to eat our lunch.
Enjoying Jackson & Birthday Moments
Brendan’s other birthday request was to spend the evening in Jackson. We happily obliged. We love this town so much that we ended up visiting at least three or four times this trip.
Of course we visited Caldera Pizzeria for some yummy fungi slices (their Fungi pizza is one of my faves!) and hit a couple of Memorial Day sales in the shops.
For Brendan’s 11th Birthday, he wanted BBQ. First we hit the Snake River Brewery, so that we could sit outside and enjoy the weather. This place has great outside seating on big benches, awesome appetizers and a new, small putt-putt course…which provided some fun entertainment for the birthday boy, while mom and dad chilled for a few.
And….they provided a birthday dessert!
This place was perfect for an early family afternoon. Birthday root beer float, a big table for playing games like Banana-grams and Left Right Center, great food, drinks for the parents and mini-golf!
After this we walked the town a bit more and then found a spot for dinner. Over all, this 11-year old had a wonderful birthday. I think his birthday gifts offer a lot of insight into this little boy… a HE>i hat, a compact fishing pole for hiking, a compass and a high-powered headlamp….all indicative of his adventure-loving heart!
So there it is. A delightful week in the Tetons! In case you didn’t know, we have been posting some short video clips of our adventures on our YouTube Channel. Have you subscribed? You can get there with this link HERE. You can watch our little highlight video here:
Here is our list of FAVORITES in GRAND TETON NP & JACKSON:
- Sunrise at Oxbow Bend
- Hike to Bradley Lake
- Brunch at Cafe Genevieve in Jackson
- Bike ride and lunch at the deli in Dornan’s
- An afternoon on the patio at Snake River Brewery
- Kayaking on Colter Bay
- Fungi & Margherita Pizzas at Pizzeria Caldera
- Walking Mormon Row and taking Barn Photos
- Shopping around the plaza in downtown Jackson