The past two Sundays, we have ventured down to Grand Teton National Park, about 2 hours South of West Yellowstone, MT. The 40 mile long Teton Range was formed over 10 million years ago, during a series of earthquakes along the Teton fault line. The western side of the line rose up, creating the mountain range, and the eastern side sunk down, creating the valley referred to as Jackson Hole. Over two million years ago, glaciers were present, carving out the mountains, and creating Jackson Lake, which is over 400 feet deep. The lake is very popular for boating, canoeing and kayaking.
Our first visit to the park, was mainly social. We met up with friends, old and new, for lunch at the Signal Mountain Lodge in the park. It was great getting caught up on everyone’s summer jobs, and we have some great opportunities to think about for future work camping positions. Karen and Al are working at Luton’s Teton Cabins. Steve and Joan, along with Maxine and Dave, are working for a company that maps out BLM land.
After lunch, instead of driving on the heavily populated main roads, Al led the pack in an off-road adventure on the Snake River. It was a great way to view the park and wildlife, without fighting all the tourists. July is the busiest month for both the Tetons and Yellowstone.
Once we completed our off-road adventure, we headed back to Karen and Al’s fifth wheel, to visit for an hour or so, before saying our goodbyes, as we all had two-hour drives back ‘home’. On our way back, we did stop at the sign in Yellowstone where the Continental Divide passes through the park (I like to take pictures of signs)! The Continental Divide, in case you are wondering, is the line that divides the flow of water between the Pacific Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean. Every continent except Antarctica has their own continental divide.
While we were stopped at the pull-out, this gentleman pulled up with a very cool RV set-up. A Ford Falcon (year unknown) towing a T@B trailer.
This past Sunday (July 19), we drove back down to the park to do a little more exploring, and met up again with Karen and Al. They were running a little behind, so Dan and I stopped in to check out the Jackson Lake Lodge. While we were looking at the scenery out back, a women came up to the man next to me and said ‘did you see the moose’? He shook his head and she said to follow her. I quickly followed her as well! She pointed to an area of tall brush, and we waited and were quickly rewarded with this quick view of a moose!
I have never seen a moose before (Dan has while fishing in northern Minnesota with his college roommate Mike) so this was very exciting for me. And then there was more movement in the brush, and we saw a brief glimpse of a baby moose!
That just made my day right there! They both went out of sight, and we waited a while, but then continued on to meet up with our friends. We headed up to the top of Signal Mountain, which overlooks the valley.
If you look at the photo above, you will notice a uniquely shaped lake. We discussed various names, and Al came up with “Viagra Lake”. We will leave it up to you to decide what object you think it resembles! We headed back down and continued along the Teton Park Road, stopping at various overlooks. The first one overlooked Mount Moran (elevation 12,605 feet). We had low-lying clouds in the morning.
We stopped in at String Lake, which is a very popular swimming and kayaking area. It is also where many of the backcountry hiking trails begin. We saw a number of very tired, but happy guys that were just completing a multi-day hike.
We continued on down the road, and we were going to stop by Jenny Lake and the Jenny Lake Visitors Center, but they were overflowing with cars and people. We headed down towards Moose Junction to do some hiking in the Rockerfeller Preserve and noticed a lot of cars pulled over with a Park Ranger nearby trying to clear the traffic jam. We were briefly able to see another moose, fairly close to the road! This is when I am glad we have a sunroof in our truck, as I can pop up and take pictures while Dan continues driving. Now we just need to see a Bull Moose with a big rack.
Unfortunately, when we arrived in the parking lot at the Preserve, it was all backed up and the Park Ranger told us there were eight cars ahead of us waiting for a parking spot. We talked it over with Karen and Al, and decided to just head out to lunch. We will plan on a hike later in August, when the park is less crowded. This is certainly a huge advantage to work camping, in that you can pick and choose when to do the things you want. Gone are the days of cramming in everything in one exhausting week of vacation. We see many people at night in the gift store that have “hit the wall” and are just exhausted from battling the crowds all day.
We had a nice late lunch at Dornan’s, which has an upper viewing deck overlooking the Tetons.
After lunch, we headed over to Lower Schwabacher area to view the Grand Tetons, before heading back home. The Grand Teton, at 13,770 feet, is the tallest peak in the range, with the Middle Teton and South Teton beside it. Since the clouds had finally lifted, it was a beautiful view with a nice reflection in the Snake River..
We had another great day, with friends, in the park. There are still many more things to do, and we will plan another visit in August. We also plan on spending some time in the city of Jackson, just south of the park. Most people refer to the city as Jackson Hole, but that is the name of the valley region, not the city. And we do plan on coming down through Idaho next time, so we can view the western half of the Teton Range.
Quote for the day: “The mountains are calling and I must go.” – John Muir