"One touch of nature makes the whole world kin." - William Shakespeare
You’re already kin with your kin, but take a trip through the Alp-ish Rockies together and you’ll be as tight-knit as the von Trapps, enlivening the hills with family song. And what better time to experience a couple of pine-scented national parks than the off-season? If you’re up for an adventure through fall foliage and/or skiing through the parks, then head north and cozy up for a woodsy vacation sans traffic.
Fall: Pack your hiking boots, sweaters, rain jackets, gloves, hats and denim for horseback riding and hiking through golden aspen trees. Throw on the bike rack if cycling through national parks sounds as lovely to you as it should.
Winter: Pack your skis, snowshoes, winter clothing and your JetBoil camping stove for making hot cocoa while trekking through the woods.
6 DAYS LOGAN TO JACKSON TO YELLOWSTONE
Fish, kayak, or fish while you kayak on the Snake River in Grand Teton National Park.
Day 1: Logan → Logan Canyon
Lunch in Logan
Bluebird Restaurant • Crumb Brothers Artisan Bread • Even Stevens • Tandoori Oven
Hike/Ski through Tony Grove or on the Jardine Juniper trail for fall leaves or snowy pines. If there’s snow, check the avalanche report before you head out on the trails.
Beaver Mountain Ski Resort yurts or 10 minutes away at Beaver Creek Lodge.
Day 2: Beaver Mountain Ski Resort
There are plenty of trails to explore on Beaver Mountain where you can see autumn in all her glory. Try Limber Pine trail for an easy 1.5-mile loop, or a moderate 2.7-mile hike on the Turkey Trail from Peter Sinks to Little Bear Creek. For a list of all trails in the Beaver Mountain area, click here.
From June to October, you and your kids (age 7+) can ride gentle horses with experienced wranglers at Beaver Creek Lodge. They’ll even fix your lunch for you if you’d like.
Ski the Beav
If you want to take the whole family skiing, you kind of can’t get better than Beaver Mountain Ski Resort is small, affordable and has terrain for any skill level — the perfect spot for family skiing.
Beaver Creek Lodge can take you on a snowy ride December to April. They have 600 rental snowmobiles, so they’ll probably have enough for your toddler to have his own.
Days 3-4: Jackson & Grand Teton National Park
Here’s a tip: The scenic route to Jackson & Grand Teton National Park via Highway 89 only adds ten measly minutes to your drive and you get to see Bear Lake State Park along the way. Beaver Mountain to Jackson is 159 miles, approximately 3 hours.
First, you’re in bear country, which is awesome and potentially dangerous if you startle one. Clap your hands and talk in outside voices. Bears don’t want anything to do with you, so they’ll happily give way with a little advance warning. With that covered, here’s a handy-dandy hiking brochure for the area.
Jackson has 56 miles of paved pathways and 115 miles of mountain bike trails. Paved paths connect Jackson to Teton Village and Grand Teton National Park. Can you think of a better way to see fall colors? We’re skeptical, but we’re all ears. Here’s your biking guide for Jackson.
Jackson is a ski town of international acclaim so most hotels, lodges and restaurants are open for business throughout the winter. Yellowstone, not so much. So soak up some small town civilization for a couple of days before you head off to a land in its off-season.
Skiing & Snowshoeing
Cross-country skiing and snowshoeing are great options for traveling through the park and surrounding area, and an opportune time to see wildlife. From November 1 to May 1 the Teton Park Road from the Taggart Lake trailhead to the Signal Mountain Lodge is only open to non-motorized use. The road is groomed intermittently. You can also cross-country ski at Colter Bay, Antelope Flats Road, Taggart Lake and Flagg Ranch. Here’s some more info.
Days 5-6: Yellowstone National Park
Some roads close during fall, so make sure you check before you go. (Cyclists are still allowed on roads closed to automobiles, however; consider it a reward for your nobler, if more difficult, lifestyle.) Fall is win-win season for hikers: pretty colors, fewer people.
WINTER – ROAD CLOSURES & OVERSNOW TRAVEL
Park roads close in early November to regular traffic (exception: the road between Mammoth Hot Springs and the northeast entrance). Once enough snow accumulates, you can travel to Old Faithful, the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone and other popular destinations via guided snowmobile, snowcoach or a non-commercially-guided snowmobile program.
Day 7: Homeward Bound
Home! Where your music’s playin’. Home! Where your love lies waiting silently for you.