The Grand Teton National Park has a striking landscape with its magnificent mountain peaks rising from the sage valley. That mountain range is beautiful anytime of the day, regardless if the weather is sunny or cloudy. The Grand Teton National Park was established on February 26, 1929 and Grand Teton is the tallest mountain in the range.
Monday, 8/28, the four of us (Phil, Carol, Jim and I) arrived at the Colter Bay campground in the Grand Teton National Park. It is a nice campground since it has a lot of trees and is next door to Colter Bay Village and Jackson Lake.
Once we got settled into our camping spots, we went to the Colter Bay Visitor Center to get information about hiking trails and activities. We then walked around Jackson Lake to check it out.
That evening, we attended a talk by a ranger and author Kenneth Thomasma at the visitor center. Mr. Thomasma is a local author and storyteller who talked about the Lewis & Clark expedition and Sacajawea. He has written a number of books about native Indians and was there to promote one of them, “The Truth about Sacajawea”. He gave an animated and interesting talk!
The next day, Tuesday, 8/28, we took a several hour hike by Swan Lake and Heron pond. The scenery was beautiful between the woods and the large amount of lily pads on Swan Lake. We encountered a deer eating that did not seem afraid of people. We stopped for a few minutes to watch her graze.
Later that afternoon, we went to the Jackson Lake Lodge to sit on the balcony and have iced tea while enjoying the gorgeous views of the Grand Tetons. After that we went to Willow Flats Overlook to see if we could see any elk or moose. We were lucky to see a few elk grazing from very afar.
Wednesday, 8/30, we all drove from Colter Bay Village to Moose Junction via the Teton Park Road. It was a very scenic drive, especially the stops at String Lake and Jenny Lake. The water was so clear and several people were exploring the lakes via kayak. I thought of these mountains as sort of the North American Alps. The view of the Grand Teton mountains across Jenny Lake was so beautiful, it looked almost like a painted scenery backdrop!
We then drove to Jackson to walk around and have lunch. It is a nice old town but a bit touristy with a number of expensive art galleries, though they did have some very nice Western themed art (paintings, sculptures, etc.).
Before leaving Jackson, we stopped by the local farmers market called “The People’s Market”. There were booths for astronomy, a raptor rescue organization called Teton Raptor Center, local arts/crafts, food and produce. We purchased some jalapeno cheese tamales, produce and delicious local artisan cheese.
Thursday, 8/31, we went to Moose Junction since we had booked a morning float ride on the Snake River. It was the first float ride for all of us! The ride was relaxing but we did not see much wildlife other than a few bald eagles and some Common Mergansers.
We then went to the National Museum of Wildlife Art just outside of Jackson. It is a very nice museum with paintings and sculptures of western wildlife from artists of the 1800’s up to now. The museum building is interesting since it is made of rock and is set back into the hillside so it blends into its surroundings nicely. It has a number of wildlife sculptures spread around the outside of the museum. We had lunch at the museum’s café, which I highly recommend. The food and service were pretty good and the views of the surrounding valley and mountains were beautiful. If you are ever in this area and like art, this museum is a very worthwhile stop!
After lunch, we stopped by the nearby Jackson National Fish Hatchery. They raise the native Snake River cutthroat trout. It is a small operation that has a self-guided tour. It was interesting to see the hatchery process spanning from eggs up to when the young trout are ready to be released into the wild.
After the hatchery, we drove on to checkout the Gros Ventre campground. We had heard that the campground was very nice from the Long, Long Honeymoon blog. On our way there, we saw a number of cars pulled off the side of the road and people looking over a drop into a thick willow area next to the Gros Ventre River. We stopped to look and there were two bull moose grazing on the willows. This was a highlight of our day!
The Gros Ventre campground looks nice with a lot of trees/greenery and bear proof containers. A place we might want to try out in the future even though it is boondocking and first come, first served…no reservations. Next stop was the Mormon Row Historic District where we saw what might be the most photographed barn in Wyoming, the Moulton barn.
On the way back to our campsite, we stopped at the Snake River Overlook turnout to see the view of the Snake River and the Grand Tetons, the same view that Ansel Adams had in his well known 1942 “The Tetons and the Snake River” photo. That was one of the photos he took for the National Park Service, who had commissioned him to take photos of the western National Parks from 1941-1942. Though we did not do any physical activity such as hiking, it was a full day seeing many sites of the Grand Teton area.
Our last day, Friday, 9/01, Carol, Jim and I went for a 2 ½ hour horseback trail ride at the Jackson Lodge Corrals. It was a pleasant ride where we saw flying sand cranes (learned that their calls were used for the raptors in Jurassic Park film) and trumpet swans. We saw a very nice view of Oxbow Bend and the Snake River.
That evening, we ended our Grand Teton visit with a dinner at The Mural Room at the Jackson Lake Lodge, enjoying yet another memorable view of the Grand Tetons at sunset. The next day we headed off to Arco, Idaho to visit Craters of the Moon National Monument, the fourth stop of our eclipse trip.