The Craig Thomas Discovery Center is co-located with the Grand Teton National Park Visitor Center. It was constructed in 2007 and is a state-of-the-art facility. With over 22,000 square feet of displays, models, and artifacts, there is something to see and do for everyone in your family. The huge glass panel windows with unobstructed views of the Tetons, make it all the more alluring. It’s well worth stopping in.
If you chose to do a Snake River float / raft ride, many of them use this location as the parking area for the trip and location of where your float ride ends. This is how we stumbled on the Craig Thomas Discovery Center and I’m really happy that we did!
The displays were kid-friendly and there were many energetic and enthusiastic park rangers telling stories, explaining the displays, and assisting with the Junior Ranger program. This is where our family got indoctrinated to the Junior Ranger system – one of those energetic rangers recruited our 4 boys and I’m glad that he did! The activities and goal of getting their badges, helped us all get more out of the National Park experience. If you have school-age children, I’d highly recommend checking it out…especially at a ‘hands on’ visitor center like this one.
The terrain display (pictured) put everything into perspective…even for the ‘big kids’. The Teton range looked close enough to touch, yet the terrain model showed the long distance that it was from where we stood.
There are glass floor panels that show a video of wildlife, seasons, scenery, and people of the Grand Tetons. The theme of Places, People, and Preservation runs throughout the multiple high-tech and interactive displays. Check out the life-sized sculptures of an American Indian, Fur Trader, Explorer, and a Mountain Climber.
One of the most memorable experiences at Grand Tetons National Park is the wildlife. You will see buffalo frolicking in the fields (yes…these huge beasts can frolic!), herds of elk, bald eagles soaring, and if you’re lucky a grizzly bear, moose, and even a wolf or two. The Discovery Center has some great tutorials on these animals, their tracks, and habitat. The multimedia displays were really great in capturing the kid’s attention.
The auditorium can seat 154 people. Watch the movie, Grand Teton National Park: Life on the Edge, a 24 minute high-definition movie. There’s also a small gift shop where you can pick up some post cards, souvenirs, or other memento for your trip. Our family likes to collect Christmas ornaments from each of our adventures (a tradition that my Mom started when I was growing up!). Grab your memento here so you can fondly reminisce your Teton adventure.
The Craig Thomas Discovery Center is one of the nicest visitor centers that we’ve been to. Many times, we just stop in to grab a map and have the kids use indoor plumbing…but this place was its own stand-alone attraction. It’s a very well thought-out facility with some great architectural touches – the jagged roof line mirrors the Tetons, a mock Snake River runs through the building, and all the displays mentioned above. Check it out.