Wild-West Road-Trip: Grand Teton National Park

Wild-West Road-Trip: Grand Teton National Park

Published: August 1st, 2017

The Grand Teton National Park

Jenny Lake is likely the most popular area of the Grand Teton National Park. I knew parking would be tough because we had driven by the lot the day before and noted that there were vehicles spilling out onto the highway. We got there about 8:30 and we still had to park on the side of the road. At least people are visiting the park!

We had planned to do some hiking around the lake, and the most accessible trail for a young family is the one that leads to Hidden Falls. The easiest way to get us all there was to take the boat ferry to the trailhead and walk from there. The trail was pretty crowded, but we did make our way to the falls and even stopped along the way to see some of the rapids downstream.

After we’d seen the falls, the boys and I headed to Lower Inspiration Point. We made it up about half-way, but at some point, our path was limited by a trail closure. Still feeling mildly inspired, we were able to see the Grand Teton and Mount Owen. Owen was pretty excited that there was a mountain with which he could share a name.

(Jen, Owen, and Addy are on that boat)

Jennifer took Addy and Owen back to the visitors’ center on the boat, but Evan and I hiked the longer way around the lake. It was only two and a half miles, but it was slightly hilly. We stopped a couple times and talked to people, had snacks, and took in the scenery.

There was a lot of chatter on the radio that morning. Nick, Dave, and Scott were trading conversation about whether Scott should use his wheelchair to get to the boat dock and whether he’d be able to do anything on the other side of the lake. It reminded me of the effort that the NPS is putting into some of the trails to make them more accessible. I never did meet the three guys on the radio, but I hope they got it all worked out.

We left Jenny Lake and drove into town, again. Our logistics got a little out of wack and we had to make some last-minute changes. Our campsite, the Headwaters, is at the northern-most location in the park only two miles from the border with Yellowstone. Our sunset wildlife tour was in Jackson and that’s an hour and a half away by RV standards. We just felt like spending all that time driving down and back would waste a lot of our time in the park as well as putting us back really late at night and farther away from the next day’s drive. We decided it would be best to try to make other arrangements for the night.

Our driver and guide, Sarah, arrived to pick us up from the 49er Inn and brought muffins, snacks, fancy water, and a host of binoculars and spotting scopes. We set off to find some wildlife at 5:00pm. I really wanted a moose, but it wasn’t in the cards. We did see quite a few other animals on the tour, though.

I was surprised that a dead mouse could be found on the trail. Addy wanted to touch it, but Evan was squeamish.

I don't remember the name of this bird, but I'm sure Sandra knows;)

This one is a great Blue Heron. Do they all have yellow eyes?

These birds make nests in the nooks of man-made structures.

A red-tail hawk.

So many birds, and such a useless memory!

A harrier way off in the distance. This thing looked like it was floating in the air. Amazing.

A pronghorn (above) and its family (below).

Nearly all of these images were shot at 500mm on a full-frame camera. I can't get any closer without spending a lot more cash. If anyone would like to donate to the cause of getting closer, here's an option:


Grouse are usually well-hidden, but these two looked lost on the path.

Addy investigated some dried scat.

We smelled the sagebrush and it was awesome.

The thistle is a non-native plant, but it's beautiful nonetheless.

The mule-deer know that it's not hunting season, so they didn't seem to mind that we were close.

As the light faded, so did my chances of seeing a moose, elk, bear, or wolf. I was disappointed, but still satisfied that I was able to spend the time in such a beautiful place. The sun offered some solace as we made our way back to the hotel.

Tomorrow, we drive eight hours to Rocky Mountain National Park. It will be our last park on this trip and I'm hopeful that it will be a great end to our trip. Till then, take care, friends:)

- Wayne

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August 6th, 2017 Ginger :

Best yet....or have I said that before?!?


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