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YNP and GT with 5 and 3 yr olds??

NY
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YNP and GT with 5 and 3 yr olds??

Hello all, curious to hear from anyone who has done a week-long trip in this area with toddlers. We plan to fly into Idaho Falls, stay near West Entrance to YNP for 3 nights, and then drive to Jackson and stay there and visit Grand Tetons for remainder of week. We know about the safety issues and child leash suggestions mentioned in earlier posts. Are there easy, short hikes/walks for toddlers in GT? We know there are paths in YNP. What activities did you do in area? Boat ride? Horseback riding? Swimming? Looking for your ideas and experiences to help us decide whether worthwhile to go this summer, or wait a few years until kids are older. Much thanks in advance.

Atlanta, Georgia
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1. Re: YNP and GT with 5 and 3 yr olds??

Pudgy_groundhog has taken her child to Yellowstone multiple times and she is now 6. I will pm her and see if she can give you some hints.

Good luck- Yellowstone is a magical place!!

Hudson Valley
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2. Re: YNP and GT with 5 and 3 yr olds??

Thanks for the heads up PeachBelle. :)

We mostly hike on our vacations and never planned any additional activities. We found our daughter was always happy to pick up sticks, play in the dirt, etc. We just plan on visiting spots where she can explore safely (no drop offs, thermal features, etc). On our most recent visit in the Tetons my daughter loved Taggart Lake. We did the ranger led hike and then stayed at the lake for a long time afterwards since it has a perfect spot for making mud pies. Not sure if this is short enough for you, but it's not difficult and you can take your time (it's worth it with the lake as the destination). Here's a picture of the spot: www.pbase.com/pudgy_groundhog/image/152787454

Another nice hike is Phelps Lake (we also did this one with a ranger). Nice visitor center at the trailhead (LSR preserve) with a lot of books with pictures and info (perfect if you have a rainy day). The kids might also enjoy the short boat ride across Jenny Lake and you can go for a walk on the other side. Hidden Falls is neat and right before the falls is a large boulder field where you can often see pikas. Jenny Lake and Colter Bay would be good destinations in general - by the water and can throw rocks in the water, etc.

I would highly recommend stopping at Mesa Falls (we stopped here on our way from Idaho Falls to Yellowstone). The falls are pretty, but your kids will LOVE the visitor's center. It's not huge, but they have a room with a lot of hands on stuff - furs, antlers, etc. Very worthwhile stop!

If you are in the NE part of Yellowstone, stop for a picnic at the Soda Butte picnic area. There are ground squirrels that live here, which are usually a hit with the kids. Lamar Valley is a good spot in general since you have a good chance at seeing bison close to the road (same with Hayden). We found it was hard for our daughter to look through binoculars and overall she did not have as much interest in wildlife that was further away. But she liked the bison because they were easy to see and close by.

The Old Faithful geyser basin is a great spot to spend some time. There are other geysers along here you can see erupt and a nice boardwalk. The visitor's center here has a room for kids (and the rest of the displays are great too). My daughter likes this area a lot. She liked the Grand Prismatic too (which two years ago she kept calling the Grand Problematic, lol). In general, we found the thermal features were kid pleasers (although a little more nerve wracking for the parents to walk around these spots with young kids :P ).

We didn't do it as a family, but you could ride the tram (kids usually like things like that).

That's off the top of my head ... will come back if I think of anything else!

Hudson Valley
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3. Re: YNP and GT with 5 and 3 yr olds??

This was at the Soda Butte picnic area - my daughter loved the squirrels!

www.pbase.com/pudgy_groundhog/image/116885660

Driggs, Idaho
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4. Re: YNP and GT with 5 and 3 yr olds??

I agree with PG's comments - living in this area, I just want my 5 yo to enjoy himself and be safe. I may not be able to get after it as much as I'd like w/o him but there are some pleasant places to visit, especially for a newcomer that everyone can enjoy.

1. String Lake Trailhead is a nice place to hang out with no hiking needed to access this shallow lake w/an easy entry (no steep drop off) which could allow for some splashing around too if it was hot. There are short trailheads located nearby that circle the lake, or head N to Leigh Lake.

2. The LSR Preserve (as mentioned above) has some fun photo spots at the beginning of the trail including a waterfall and deck that could provide a good photo op. The five year old could also participate in the Jr Ranger program in any park, but I found this spot a good place to end up to get his badge. It was less crowded.

3. Every visitor center has activities and movies geared towards children. I encourage a stop at the one in Moose (South Entrance) or LSR before you head out on the trails to help them understand a bit more of what they are going to see.

4. I think they are too young for horseback riding and rafting trips (unless the 5 yo meets weight requirements for a life jacket). However, they would be ok in a boat ride across Jenny Lake. I think everyone could make it to Hidden Falls once you get off the boat. However, hiking Inspiration Point might be a stretch for a 3 yo due to height and steepness.

Hudson Valley
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5. Re: YNP and GT with 5 and 3 yr olds??

Another thing to consider .... when my daughter was three we still carried her some times on hikes using an Ergo carrier (she would hike some, be carried some). If there are any spots you want to reach that you think might be a tad too far, it's an option.

And we always let our daughter pick out a special treat to have at the destination. She is highly motivated by junk food. :P

NY
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6. Re: YNP and GT with 5 and 3 yr olds??

Thank you everyone. Very helpful. Will look into all these suggestions.

Fort Worth, Texas
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7. Re: YNP and GT with 5 and 3 yr olds??

I took a trip with my son to YNP at age 2 and at age 4. I did create a trip report from the trip we took when he was 4. You can read it here: …weebly.com/yellowstone-road-trip---2012.html

I would definitely bring a good backpack carrier for the 3 year old. When my son was 4, he kept up very well with hiking to Mystic Falls, Natural Bridge, the thermal areas around Old Faithful, Canyon Falls, etc... So, if your 5 year old is active, I would think he/she would be fine. Our 4 year old walked without being carried.

We did a scenic river float in Gardiner. I'm not sure if the 3 year old would be too young, but that was fun. There is a stagecoach ride or the cowboy cookout in the Roosevelt area. We did the stage coach ride, and it was alright, but if your kids like horses, they might enjoy it. There is a boat ride we did on Yellowstone Lake when my son was 2, but he was also pretty bored with that.

His favorite things were the thermal areas (however he was actually very scared of these at age 4), waterfalls, rivers, and playing in the shallow water near Yellowstone Lake. He loved the picnic areas. I mention these in my trip report, but his 2 favorites were Sheepeater Cliff: yellowstone.co/videos/picnic/sheepeater.htm and Soda Butte Creek in Lamar Valley: yellowstone.co/videos/picnic/sodabutte.htm My son could literally have stood in that creek and tossed rocks in the water all day. LOL!

He also loved seeing the bison, and his favorite thermal feature was the Dragon's Breath Spring in the Mud Volcano area.

If you have any questions, you are welcome to message me. Have a great trip!!

TxLisa

Marcellus, New York
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8. Re: YNP and GT with 5 and 3 yr olds??

We have done YNP and GTNP with kids from toddler age on up. Plenty to see and do for all ages! I do vividly recall carrying my daughter piggy back down the trail from the falls to the boat at Jenny Lake when she was 4 or 5 though. LOL!

The junior ranger program might work well for the 5yo (my daughter was 7 when we discovered it but my 5 year old nephew just got his first badge last month) and it helps keep the kids interested and looking around. Not sure how hard the program at YNP is in summer though, as the kids did the winter version.

Edited to add - my kids really enjoyed the Bear and Wolf Discovery Center in West Yellowstone, if it is something your family might consider.

Edited: 03 February 2014, 02:44
9. Re: YNP and GT with 5 and 3 yr olds??

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