Written by | Derek Carlson

A Budget-Friendly Guide to Visiting Jackson Hole with Kids

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Let me start this post with a disclaimer: We LOVE LOVE LOVE visiting Jackson Hole with kids, so this post may be a touch biased.

Back in 2013, we were a newly engaged couple driving cross country. After driving across Idaho, we decided to make a last-minute detour through Yellowstone, the Grand Tetons, and Jackson Hole.

Over the past few months leading up to this road trip, we had been discussing where to have our wedding.

Our friends and family live all over the US, so nowhere made perfect sense from a travel perspective. As we looked out over the Grand Tetons, we joked that we should have it there.

Well, the seed was planted, and a year later, we tied the knot looking out over that exact same vista.

Since then, we have been back to visit another five times and were beyond excited to finally visit as a family.

Jackson Hole is simply an incredible place to visit with a lively downtown scene. Some of the most stunning mountain scenery you can find anywhere. Wildlife galore. Hundreds of miles of hiking trails and world-class skiing in the winter. Need I go on?

The Best Things to do in Jackson Hole With Kids

Jackson and the surrounding areas offer a ton of free and super low-cost options to keep the family entertained.

Look for Wildlife Around the Grand Tetons

Our favorite thing to do each and every time we visit is to go out on a self-guided wildlife tour. I still remember how excited our son was when he saw his first moose eating grass off the side of the road.

Over the years we have seen bison herds, moose, elk, deer, pronghorn, foxes, porcupines, eagles, hawks, beavers, and black bears climbing trees.

Bison at Grand Teton National Park outside Jackson Hole, WY

Somehow during our wedding, almost everyone who attended saw a grizzly bear, but we have yet to see one.

There are a number of spots we have found that consistently offer good wildlife viewing.

Moose Wilson Road

Has been a great spot for moose, but traffic does get backed up when one is hanging around next to the road. We have also seen a lot of elk and even a fox once.

Luckily the rangers are quick to keep things moving. This road does close in the winter and is pretty rough even in the summer, so if you have a low-clearance vehicle, you may want to steer clear. Bears are often seen along this area as well.

Antelope Flats

The open land around the Mormon Row barns is usually a great spot to see bison. Be aware that these animals are constantly on the move, so keep your distance or stay in the car if they are near the road. We have also seen porcupines, hawks, and pronghorns in this area.

Gros Ventre River

The stretch between the Gros Ventre Junction and Kelly has also been a great spot to see moose. It is along the way to Antelope Flats, so I highly recommend taking a drive along this stretch either in the morning or later in the evening when the moose are out grazing.

Moose along the Gros Ventre River in Jackson Hole, WY

Willow Flats

This spot is a bit further north into Grand Teton National Park, but the views of the Grand Tetons are stunning, and there is often an assortment of wildlife out on the flats.

There are overlooks along the road, or you can head to our favorite spot, which is the lawn in front of Jackson Lake Lodge.

Here we have seen a lot of elk and moose. It is especially magical during elk mating season, as you can hear their eerie mating calls early in the morning.

If you’re looking for up-to-date info on where the animals have been hanging out, I highly recommend following Mike Jackson at Best of the Tetons. He publishes stunning daily photo journals and provides tons of great info on animal reports.

Hikes with the Kids in Jackson Hole

Despite the rugged nature of the Grand Tetons, there are still a ton of extremely kid-friendly trails. With an abundance of lakes, rivers, and wildlife, there are plenty of spots to keep kids entertained along a hike.

Schwabacher Landing Trail

Schwabacher Landing is a popular spot right off the main road heading up into the Grand Teton National Park due to the beautiful mountain views.

There is also a trail that meanders along a slow-moving offshoot of the Snake River. The trail is short and perfectly flat and passes by willow groves and a number of beaver ponds. Moose are often spotted in this area as well.

Moose Pond Trail

Starting at Jenny Lake lodge, this trail is a flat out and back to the moose ponds. At 2.5 miles, this one is a bit more of a hike, but with minimal elevation gain, it is doable for all ages.

As the name suggests, keep an eye out for moose in the ponds.

Jenny Lake Trail to Inspiration Point

The Jenny Lake trail to inspiration point is one of the premier day hikes in Jackson Hole. At 2.5 miles each way, this one is a bit longer, but luckily there is a boat shuttle that runs across the lake.

You can hike one way and then give the kids a quick boat ride back to the car, which is always a ton of fun.

The climb up to Inspiration Point requires a lot of steps up a trail cut into the rock, so be careful with small children.

There is a great view of Hidden Falls ¼ mile up the canyon that is easily accessible with little ones.

Riding Bikes in Jackson Hole

Numerous bike trails follow some of the more popular roads outside of Jackson which makes for a relaxing bike ride. Especially with small children.

Both of the rides listed below have rental options at the head of the trail.

Jackson along National Elk Refuge

On the north side of town, stop by Teton Mountain Bike Tours. They provide bike rentals or, if you’re feeling a bit more adventurous, guided bike tours.

From there, you can bike on a 12-mile, dedicated paved trail all the way to Dornan’s and Antelope Flats Rd. Note that there are some hills on this trail heading out of Jackson.

Dornan’s along Teton Park Road Trail

The 2nd leg of this tour starts at Dornan’s Chuckwagon. If you need to rent a bike, stop by Adventure Sports, and they will get you outfitted with bikes and helmets and point you in the right direction.

The head of this trail puts you much closer to the Grand Teton National Park if you are looking for a shorter ride with incredible views.

Once again, this trail does include a fairly steep hill climb, so keep that in mind.

Other Activities for Kids in Jackson Hole

Here are a few more fun ideas to keep the kids entertained around Jackson Hole.

Cowboy Bar sign in Jackson Hole, WY

Jackson Hole Rodeo

The rodeo runs every Wednesday and Saturday and will take you back to the wild west beginnings of Jackson Hole. Tickets are pretty affordable, and kids under 2 are free.

When we visit, we’ll often walk by the rodeo grounds before the show so the kids can watch the horses being unloaded for their trailers.

Jackson Hole Aerial Tram

While not a cheap option, the view from the top of the tram is simply stunning. There are numerous trails from the top of the tram and a small waffle shop serving some tasty food.

Go On A Grand Adventure

Jackson Hole is an outpost for adventure, and plenty of companies are ready to take you out to experience it. River floats, white water rafting, wildlife tours, etc., are all available.

Once again, these are not budget-friendly options, but they can make for an unforgettable memory for a once-in-a-lifetime trip.

Budget-Friendly Places to Stay in Jackson Hole with Kids

Unfortunately, this is the part where budget-friendly and Jackson Hole don’t go together quite as well.

Lodging in the area is expensive, and unless you want to camp, there aren’t many ways around it.

Besides a one-night stay at Jackson Lake Lodge after our wedding (incredible, by the way, if you can get a Willow Flats view room) we have always stayed at the Cowboy Village.

The Cowboy Village Resort literally checks all the boxes for a place we’re looking for in a hotel.

  • In-Room Kitchen
  • Pool
  • Centrally located
  • Spacious Grounds
  • Charcoal BBQs

We love that we can cook basic meals, walk around town and have some space for the kids to play outside. The folks who work there are always super friendly as well.

They also offer a discount for returning visitors, so if you have been before, just mention it at check-in.

Airbnb in Jackson Hole

A number of our wedding guests used Airbnb, and we have considered it in the past. We have found that Teton Village has a lot of reasonably priced condos. There are somewhat fewer available in Jackson, and those tend to book quickly.

Camping at Gros Ventre Campground

Located 20 minutes north of Jackson Hole, the Gros Ventre Campground is an amazing spot to camp in the Jackson Hole area. Last summer, we spent a week there in a travel trailer, and it has topped the list of our favorite places to stay.

The campground backs up to the Gros Ventre river, which is a popular foraging and resting area for local moose. We saw over two-dozen moose, although some of these were most likely the same moose, over the course of the week, both along the river and up by the roads.

The campground is fairly large but starting in 2020; they now take reservations. Previously the campground was first-come-first-served, so it created some mayhem in the mornings trying to grab a spot.

The loops are well-spaced, so it never felt crowded in the campground. We stayed in one of the generator-free loops, which helped create a serene environment.

Where to Eat in Jackson Hole with Kids

Jackson is one of those few ultra touristy towns where it is actually pretty easy to get away from the usual, bland tourist food.

A good number of spots have popped up in recent years that serve some great meals in awesome settings to go along with some of the old Jackson staples.

Calico & Roadhouse Pub

If you have kids that need to burn off some energy, then Calico or The Roadhouse Pub (recently closed – hopefully, something else pops up in this location) is the place to go.

Located in Wilson, they share an expansive lawn that is filled with games for the kids so the parents can sit on the deck and enjoy some food or a drink.

Cafe Genevieve

Cafe Genevieve is our go-to spot for a hearty brunch. If you pick a warm morning, they have plenty of outdoor seating as it can get a little cramped inside with larger parties.

Persephone Bakery

Right next door to Cafe Genevieve is Persephone Bakery (now with a location in Wilson as well). It can get busy in the mornings, so we recommend using their online ordering system. They feature a great selection of bakery goods, coffee, breakfast items, and sandwiches.

Hand Fire Pizza

This new addition to the Jackson Hole pizza scene is located in an old movie theater. The result is a pizza restaurant with perhaps the highest ceilings you’ll ever see.

Their food is just dang good too. With an awesome tap list to go with it, this is a perfect spot to unwind with the family after a long day.

Grocery Stores

Jackson offers all the usual grocery options of any city. We typically run by Albertsons on our first day in town. If we need any day-to-day items like beer, wine, or snacks, we’ll usually hop over to Pearl Street Grocery, which is a quick walk from the Cowboy Village.

Budget Travel Tips to Jackson Hole

Here are a few ways we have reduced the costs for our trips to Jackson Hole.

  • Fly into Idaho Falls rather than Jackson Hole. We have found flights and car rental prices to be significantly cheaper in Idaho Falls, and it is only a ~2hr drive along with some beautiful scenery.
  • Stay at a condo or hotel with a kitchen. You can cook meals and prepare meals for days out in the park when access to restaurants may be limited.
  • Take advantage of the scenery. With a national park pass in hand, you can hike, go wildlife viewing and even take a day trip up to Yellowstone for no extra cost other than gas.

Thanks for reading! Take a look at our latest posts here and follow us on Instagram (@RoamtheNorthwest) to follow along with our next adventures!