June 30th-July 7th, 2018
The Grand Teton national park is located between Jackson, WY and Yellowstone National Park.
The Teton Range has more than twelve peaks at elevations greater than 12,000 feet, with its highest peak reaching 13,770 feet. They are the youngest range in the Rocky Mountain chain and a natural phenomenon. As the earth split along a fault line, the mountains rose and the valley sank forming this jagged mountain range.
The Grand Teton National Park is 484-square miles full of wildlife, pristine lakes, hiking trails, the Snake River, and history. There is a 42 mile scenic loop that has great views of the mountains and wildlife going in all directions. First time we saw Bison! FYI.. Bison is the scientific name but we have all said ‘where the Buffalo roam’. But if you really want to know the difference between a buffalo and a bison, the American Bison is native to North and South America and Europe, while the other two buffalo species reside in Africa and Asia.
The Grand Tetons are by far my favorite mountain range in the US! They unexpectedly rise straight out of the ground with no foothills and have fresh jagged peaks. When you see their majestic rugged white peaks reflecting back at you from the lakes and rivers, the world slows down, you take a deep breath and try to soak up that feeling wishing you could stay forever. Such serenity!
I learned that the closest you can get to these beautiful beasts is to walk or boat ride over to the far side of Jenny Lake and hike into the Canyon. We chose to take a boat ride because there aren’t many national parks that offer boat rides on the lakes. And you can have a pristine view of the Tetons as you approach the dock at the base of the canyon.
We arrived early so we could get one of the 25 free tickets for the ranger led hike to Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point. I love these ranger led programs because you can learn so much about the area. We reserved a spot for the 8:30am hike. At the end of the tour, she left us at Inspiration point so we could explore on our own. Before she left she swore the girls in as Junior rangers at this point. This is the first time they have been sworn in outside of a visitors center, how inspiring to take a pledge on the Grand Tetons overlooking Jenny Lake. Three days after we left, Hidden Falls had a emergency closure due to a 100 foot fissure.
It was a bit cold here in JULY!!!! It warmed up for us later in the day but the 40 degreed temps this morning were brutal. At least we were hiking.
Jenny Lake’s VC is a small VC with passport stamp, relief map, a silent 10 minute film, skeletons, and portable potties.
Craig Thomas VC
This center has the main park film in the theater, great view, many wildlife exhibits, camping reservations and bathrooms. As part of the Junior Ranger program at this park you have a chose between a badge and a patch so they did the workbooks twice so they could earn both. Here is them earning their patch.
Colter Bay VC is next to Jackson Lake
This is one of the most famous scenic spots in Grand Teton National Park for wildlife- watching and photographing the stunning Mt Moran. The Snake River slithers all throughout the park. We fell in love with the river back in Twin Falls and loved seeing more of it here.
Pilgrim Creek Road
Our friend Jacob suggested we drive down Pilgrim Creek Road to look for bears and wolves. This is great Elk terrority so they tend to hang out here. We saw lots of tracks but no encounters. We enjoyed walking around in the creek.
I highly suggest you go there for some great photos, picnic, hike and wildlife spotting. We got lucky and saw a female moose at noon time just as we sat down to eat our picnic lunch.
I was thrilled we spotted a Moose…first one we’ve seen on this adventure.
This is suppose to be a great area to spot Grizzly Bears but while we were visiting they had this area closed because of bear activity. Instead they have a trailer set up with rangers and these stuffed bears explaining bear safety and bear education.
The cabin stands as one of the valley’s few remaining structures from the homesteading era when settlers filed nearly 400 claims in Jackson Hole. There are a ton of Uinta ground squirrels. They are the cutest things!
The Mormon row historic district is worth the drive out the dirt road, near Moose. You will go onto Antelope Flats Road and see… you guessed it… Antelope. Technically they are Pronghorn. It’s as if they hired this guy to stand and pose for pictures for me.
I was taking the pictures from the back seat of the Jeep because Abby was driving. Mackenzie took a turn as well. They did great! Arriving to the parks early has it advantages, no crowds and lots of wildlife.
When you get on Mormon Road (only open in summer) you will see the most photographed barn in the world, Moulton’s Barn; can you see why? There is a small parking lot right as you pass it. It’s a great place to reflect on our nations history of pioneers settling here and farming with only 60 days of growing season.
Also in the Moose area is the The Chapel of the Transfiguration. It is a log cabin church that sits in front of the Cathedral Group of the peaks. There was no need for a stain glass window behind the altar in this church, the natural picturesque view is framed by a large window for all to view while in service.
The chapel still functions as an Episcopal church with services May through September. You can exchange marriage vows here as well.
You can ring the church bell as you walk under the arbor on the way to the chapel.
Colter Bay Trail
This trail was an unexpected delight.
Signal Mountain drive is near Jackson Lake. We drove up there, but in our opinion it wasn’t a must do. On our drive back down the winding road, a cyclist was in front of us, drifting hands free dancing all the way down the mountain.
Two Ocean Lakes
We drove out to two Ocean Lake. We had to eat our picnic lunch in the Jeep because we were attacked by a swarm of mosquitos as we tried to exit. We sprayed down and set out on a hike. The first lake we came to Abby decided to take off her shoes and waded in the lake trying to catch fish and came out with a leech attached to her foot! That was a first for her! We dried off and set off again only to find ourselves on a trail not looking at the lake so we turned back around. We had so many things to see today and walking in the meadows with a ton of bugs was not exciting to us at the time. I snapped a few pics to remember this trail, not that we will ever forget the “Leech Lake”.
We hiked around String Lake and Leigh Lake. It was crowded at the area near the parking lot because of July 4th holiday so we carried our blanket, books and food until we found a little quiet private cove. Mackenzie finished her book and I may have taken a snooze. It was so relaxing.
Second bear sighting on this adventure, first in this park. This guy was walking back into the woods when we spotted him. He was mixed with brown AND black fur, quiet unusual.
Pizza in the Park…with a magnificent view!
We ate at The Pizza and Pasta Co in Dornan’s; order the Moose bread if you visit! The food was great but the view was unforgettable. Over 21 can sit on the upper deck:)
We saw so many elk that we stopped taking pictures of them…whoops. It’s like the guy we saw pull over the side of the road and take pictures of cows last week, you get accustom to seeing these great creatures.