We have now been around Grand Teton National Park for about a month. We’ve had rain, sleet, snow, wind, and now, finally, a fair amount of warm sunshine. I suppose our goal to get to Teton and Yellowstone “before the crowds” was flawed in that the crowds arrive when the weather is nicest. Arriving early to the mountains means that summer and even spring, sometimes, have not arrived. Lesson learned.
Grand Teton National Park really has a bit of everything. First, the mountains rise right up out of the valley floor without foothills. So, the view of these 10-13,000 foot mountains is close and spectacular. At the base of the mountains lies a string of glacial lakes with crystal clear water and tree lined shores. The valley beyond has winding rivers, enormous meadows and quite a bit of wildlife. Pretty much everything needed for a great outdoors trip – just wait for summer, unless you are a real fan of cold, wet weather.
The weather in the first couple weeks limited our exploring to drives in the Mini and a few short hikes. Despite mostly gray, cool, damp days, we saw some pretty amazing sights.
- Signal mountain view of the Tetons – this Jackson Overlook on this hill opposite the Teton Range and Jackson Lake is near perfection and we managed to sneak in a view on a day with a little sun where only the highest peaks were hidden by clouds.
- Flagstaff road – this forest service road off Hwy 26 winds through Teton National Forest and provided us with both a lunchtime with “Bullwinkle” moose and a stunning sunset view of the Tetons.
- Antelope Flats and Lower Gros Ventre roads – heads past some old Mormon farmhouses into the mountains east of the Tetons and led us to discover one of the largest landslides in North America and the cool lake it formed when it dammed up the Gros Ventre River. The scar and debris from this slide are still easily visible 90+ years later!
- Leigh Lake Trail – hiking along String Lake at literally the base of the Teton range makes for spectacular views. Despite a few mosquitoes, this hike was great and gave us the most amazing reflections of these mountains on the remote Leigh Lake.
- Deadman’ Bar Road has a 19% grade to gain access to the Snake River. Have you ever seen a sign like this? Gotta love the Mini!
- Wildlife – we’ve seen blue heron, duck, raccoon, elk, deer, pronghorn antelope, moose and bison. We even saw a giant bison jump a barbed wire fence. Who knew they could jump like that?!
After a short vacation to Iowa and Kansas for some family time, the sunshine finally showed up in Northwestern Wyoming! Boy, were we glad to see it. We’ve gone for a couple great rides around the park and are lucky to be enjoying the sights and smells of the beautiful wildflowers. We thought the Tetons were nice on a cloudy day, but they’re spectacular in the sunshine!
With great days like these more exploring is sure to come!