Grand Teton National Park….better than Yellowstone?

When I was growing up, I often heard about Yellowstone National Park. The place of wonder, the place many families went on summer vacations, the place where you could see so many wild animals. I had never actually heard about Grand Teton National Park until we began planning our destinations for traveling this year. 

I guess it goes to show that us adults are learning SO very much, right alongside our children during our travel. 

In case you were wondering, both parks have so much to see. Yet, our family ranks Grant Teton National Park much higher than Yellowstone National Park. That’s right! If you have to choose one National Park to visit out of the two of them, we suggest Grand Teton, National Park. 

Sunset from our campsite on the Plateau.

Maybe it was the new friendships we made at the amazing boondocking spot up on a high plateau that made us come to this conclusion.

String Lake, swimming with our friends!

Or maybe it was the amount of required driving at Yellowstone each day just to see anything that helped us come to this conclusion. Or it could have been how much we really enjoyed visiting the nearest city to Grand Teton, Jackson, Wyoming; and we did not get the same feel from the nearest town to Yellowstone called West Yellowstone.

Jackson, WY

Or, it could have been the abundance of paved biking trails through Grand Teton, while Yellowstone did not have any. Or, it could have been the breathtaking beauty of the Teton mountains that you could see from anywhere in or around the park that made us come to the conclusion that Grand Teton is a better place to visit than Yellowstone. 

Jenny Lake

We traveled to Grand Teton with the plan to boondock for a week at the well-known boondocking location just across the road from the National Park know as Upper Teton View on Campendium. It is a place to dry camp for free that is supported by the National Forest.

We arrived at the amazing spot to discover many other RV’s were already there. No problem, we found a spot and started to set up. It didn’t take long before the sun started to get lower in the sky, the air began to cool, and everyone in the Upper Teton boondocking area began to come outside.  We introduced ourselves to our neighbors and discovered that they too are a family with children who travel full time around the country in their RV. Not only that, but they also have a class C RV, sold their house, have a son Riley’s age, a daughter Lilya’s age and another daughter between Gwen and Jasmine’s age! The kids hit it off immediately! It was amazing to see. 

Bike riding started, ipads came out, a bonfire started and almost every adult and child staying on that wonderful plateau began to walk toward the front viewing area to watch the sunset over the Teton’s. 

We boondocked on that beautiful piece of land from Sunday, July 9th-Wednesday July 12th. Each night the kids referred to the nightly ‘get-together’ as another party. Everyone came out to watch the sunset, often times a bonfire began, and the kids were able to stay up way past their bedtimes running around playing. 

Notice our RV in the center. Each night different campers, tents, RVs came and went. It was a different crowd each night!

The only downside to our amazing piece of land was the internet speed with our Verizon and AT&T. It was previously reported to be fairly fast, but that was not the case the week we were in the area. It was really really slow. Too slow for either of us to work. Luckily I had the week off work, but Tony had to drive down to the little town of Moose to sit at their coffee shop each day to work. That left the kids and me up at the RV to hang with our new friends during the day. Which was great! Yet, we still wanted to be able to use the van to drive around and see more of the Park.

So we found a first-come campground in the National Park called Gros Ventre campground. We scouted it out and did internet speed tests at each open campsite and found one that had decent speed! With Tony’s National Park’s Access pass, we were able to book the site for only $10 per night. It was still dry-camping, meaning there were no hookups, but there was a dump-station on sight and a fresh water fill area! 

Tony worked each day at this picnic table outside. The prairie dogs were running over his feet, as they were very friendly 🙂

We were sad to leave our new friends but planned a few meet-ups in the Park later that week. Once Tony was able to work from the RV, the kids and I were able to take the van and explore during the day. We went swimming at String Lake, took a hike to Jenny Lake from String Lake and back, and worked on our Junior Ranger badges. 

Our original plan was to leave the Grand Teton area on Friday to spend a full week in Yellowstone. However, we were enjoying Grand Teton’s so much and had heard from many people there who had come from Yellowstone that it was overcrowded and not nearly as spectacular of a place as the Grand Tetons. So we changed a few things up and stayed in the Grand Teton area until Mondy, July 17th.

We used Saturday to spend more time in Jackson, WY. We needed new tires and breaks on the van, so it worked out well that we wanted to spend the day in Jackson Hole. We decided to get laundry done while the mechanics worked on our van.

We dropped the van off 15 minutes before the shop opened, and we were still 3rd in line! They told us it wouldn’t be done until later in the day. Luckily, we thought ahead and brought Tony’s bike along so that he could ride our clean laundry, once it was done, back to the van. Then the kids and I took the local bus to downtown Jackson to visit the Farmer’s Market. 

The kids were thrilled to take the free bus from the laundromat to the farmer’s market! Once Tony was done riding the clothes back to the van, he rode his bike downtown to meet us. The farmer’s market was huge and so much fun! We ate cherries and mango, window shopped, grabbed gelato (so there was a dairy free option for Jasmine), people-watched and just enjoyed the beautiful day. We found a local thrift store to browse around in and I was able to find a new pair of shoes for Riley that fit, as his current shoes were coming apart! This lifestyle really requires some good footwear! 

Sunday, we decided to take a family hike up to Hidden Falls, part-way around Jenny Lake to a set of beautiful waterfalls. The day before, we had bought the three older kids their own camelbacks to encourage them to drink and eat while hiking to keep up their energy. Also, to hopefully help make hiking fun for them. 🙂 

We hiked 3 miles, up some steep areas, while it continued to get pretty warm. The falls were beautiful and the kids even found a fun log to slide down once we arrived at the falls. 

Well, poor Gwen woke up just feeling off that morning. She didn’t eat breakfast, but she was a trooper and got dressed and ready to hike. Luckily we thought ahead and brought the hiking back-pack carrier and the soft Ergo carrier along on our hike. We ended up carrying Gwen for most of the hike and Jasmine for much of it as well.

Once Tony got to Hidden Falls with Gwen in the back-pack carrier, he leaned over sideways as poor Gweny threw up. She then drank some water and soon after fell asleep in his backpack carrier while he hiked a bit further to see about taking the boat back across Jenny Lake for a fee rather than make the kids hike back with Gweny feeling so poorly. Thank goodness there was a boat and we brought our money! It all worked out. The kids hiked 3 miles, up pretty high in elevation, and we realized that was our limit. Gweny woke up to take the boat and told me she felt much better and was all smiles after that. Thank goodness!

Thank goodness there was a boat and we brought our money with! It all worked out. The kids hiked 3 miles, up pretty high in elevation, and we realized that was our limit. Gweny woke up to take the boat and told me she felt much better and was all smiles after that. Thank goodness!

 

With the hiking, swimming, site-seeing, friend-making, shopping and overall making amazing memories, we really LOVED Grand Teton National park. We definitely want to come back here!!

Part 2 with many amazing pictures of Yellowstone National Park will be posted very soon!! Check out our post about Yellowstone National Park here

3 Comments

  1. Such wonderful memories, and awesome photos too! Xxoo

  2. Hi Jill! My name is Kim from Hedfex. (Our kids traded Pokémon cards a lot!) I’m loving your blog. Please keep the posts coming. We are going to be following in your footsteps next June (RV shopping as we speak) and appreciate the chance to learn from your adventures! I hope Yellowstone is a blast!

  3. Pingback: Yellowstone National Park…..so much driving! – Homeschool Nomads

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