KJ Morris strives to inspire imagination and creativity in kids and families. As the founder and director of the Jackson Hole Children’s Museum, she encourages families to explore the world – particularly this exceptional patch of it – through interactive exhibits and programs in the arts, sciences, ecology and history. A longtime valley resident, Morris shared her favorite things to do as a family in Jackson Hole.
The Kids Ranch welcomes with open arms and myriad activities every kid, age 6 months to 18. From the Wild West Woods to the educational ski and snowboard program, children spend the day discovering the mountain. Parents too enjoy the time to explore alone, and the afternoon reunion with their parents makes the day away all the more special. Together again, families can frolic on the snow castle in the Teton Village Commons, followed by hot chocolate at the new General Store.
A river exhibit, up until the end of December, includes a tank filled with indigenous species including the rare blue cutthroat trout. The Snow Patrol exhibit returns this winter with its model of the Aerial Tram, driveable snowplow and Go-Pro skiing simulation. The Clubhouse hosts daily programs, including exciting Saturday sessions like kitchen experiments.
Snow King Sports and Events Center hosts midday public skating. Outdoor rinks include the frozen horse arena at Owen Bircher Park on Main Street in Wilson – an illuminated rink that features a daily family skate and an enclosed warming hut. For a more wild skating experience, venture 20 miles northeast of Jackson to Slide Lake, a frozen expanse perfect for skaters.
Grand Teton National Park rangers lead guided snowshoe hikes from the Craig Thomas Discover and Visitor Center along an easy route that criss-crosses animal tracks. The program runs from late December through mid-March; call (307) 739-3399 for details and to make reservations. Or venture out on your own with a pair of rental snowshoes. Family-friendly spots include Whitegrass Ranch (on the southern edge of Grand Teton National Park) and Ditch Creek (past the Kelly campus of the Teton Science School). The slight uphill of Ditch Creek turns into downhill all the way back. On the drive home, don’t forget to stop at the Kelly store for hot cocoa.
Regular kids programs take a hands-on approach to history. Call (307) 733-2414 for details.
Most Mondays, the wildlife museum stages a 45-minute-long exploration of its exhibits – a perfect follow-up to a weekend spent skiing. After Young at Art, continue to wander through the museum and its preeminent collection of art inspired by animals.
Turn off at Emily’s Pond (on the east side of the Snake River Bridge, approximately 4 miles west of Jackson on Highway 22), park at the trailhead and walk along the levee. The county grooms 2.2 miles of flat terrain plus the “lollipop loop” at the end. The pounded pathway is perfect for little feet in boots.
Volunteers are welcome at nonprofits like the Animal Adoption Center and museums like the Jackson Hole Children’s Museum where, if a family calls in advance, a special project will be waiting for them.
Bundle up for a sleigh ride through the elk herd that resides on the National Elk Refuge. The rides run all winter long from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily including weekends and holidays (except Christmas Day). Buy tickets ($18 adults, $14 for children ages 5 to 12, free for children under 5) at the Jackson Hole and Greater Yellowstone Visitor Center (532 North Cache) and board a free shuttle bus to the refuge entrance three miles north of Jackson. To make a reservation (not required, though seats are first-come, first-served), call (307) 733-0277 or 1-800-772-5386.
King Tubes, at the base of Snow King Ski Area, brings out the kid in everyone. From mid-December through mid-March, King Tubes runs afternoon and evening tube rides on its rope tow.
After a long day adventuring, take the kids to the family-friendly Rendezvous Bistro. Corner booths offer ample room for squirming and plenty of paper to draw on (crayons come on every table).