Grand Teton National Park

Trip Start Nov 22, 2007
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Trip End Dec 01, 2008


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Where I stayed
Gros Ventre Campground

Flag of United States  , Wyoming
Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Grand Teton National Park, August 1 - 9, 2008
The ride from Salt Lake to Grand Teton is a scenic one. You criss-cross the state lines of Utah, Idaho, and Wyoming. Once past the Utah line, the skies open up for a 360-cerulean-topped landscape. The earth flows alternately from multi-colored foothills, to green pastures, to golden prairies, with the occasional lake and frequent river running roadside. We came to Grand Teton from the south through Jackson, a bustling tourist town.
A side-story: We spent a day in Jackson walking around, looking at the interesting little shops. If you have the money and want to spend it, there are unique treasures to be found in some of the art, fur, leather, Native American creations of all kinds, and jewelry shops. If you want to spend money on lunch, however, good luck! Our story about picturesque Jackson is a complaint. We were unable to get any service from two restaurants (although they had wait staff that were practiced in the art of ignoring customers) and were forgotten by our waitress at the third. We walked out of all three. This is a tourist town! They should be well versed in basic service! We hardly look like the types that would do a "dine and dash," and we were freshly showered. I know things are more laid-back here than on the east coast, but to be virtually ignored doesn't seem appropriate no matter what speed you are operating on. For some reason, we could not seem to get anyone to wait on us. We finally ended up at a Mexican restaurant. We were provided with freshly made tortilla chips and salsa upon arrival, and ultimately were seated, ordered, and served within 15 minutes. Our jovial waiter was pleasant and courteous. It wasn't the hamburger we started out for, but the food was quite good.
Anyway, enough of that and back to the Tetons! The national park at Grand Teton is a beautiful park, especially for driving or motorcycle riding. The southern entrance is about 12 miles from Jackson, and it is a nice drive that takes you through an area of the national Elk Refuge, lots of greenery, and rocks. You also pass the National Museum of Wildlife Art-a place we hoped to stop but didn't find the time on this trip-which has this great sculpture of running elk at the entrance. The Teton Range looms ahead, surrounded by sagebrush flatlands and glacial lakes, virtually unobstructed by foothills. It is quite breathtaking!
We spent the first few nights at the southernmost campground, Gros Ventre (pronounced the American way (i.e., phonetically), not the French way, by the ranger at the information center). We saw our first moose one evening along the shore of the Gros Ventre River. The campground is a few miles off the main highway 191 that cuts through the park all the way to Yellowstone. On the way to the campground, we were excited to see a herd of bison! Some were in the middle of the road, and traffic had stopped to let them pass (wildlife always has the right of way). This herd was there every time we went to and from our campsite over the next few days. I'll tell you, it's one thing to see these huge creatures right on the side of the road from a 30-foot Winnebago; it's quite another to ride past them on your motorcycle! Talk about feeling vulnerable . . . Luckily they seem to dislike the sound of a revving engine, so you can prompt them to move along if necessary. Whew!
We did a lot of motorcycle riding in Grand Teton-up Highway 191, on the Jenny Lake Scenic drive, along Teton Park Road, and up Signal Mountain. (We only got caught in the rain a couple times!) There were a lot of motorcycles. Sturgis is only a few hundred miles away, and the Rally was scheduled to start in a few days. The park is a spread out place, but no matter where you are, you have a great view of the Tetons. Even though it was late summer, there were wildflowers blooming everywhere. The sides of the roads were splattered with yellow, purple, and orange colors contrasting the greenery. The range is very obliging when it comes to photo ops-the view changes with the time of day, the type of clouds, the temperature, your location. It's hard to capture the majesty of the range in the pictures, but hopefully our photos will help. I think the best view is from the Jackson Lake Lodge, where the light green grasslands spread out before you with the blue of Jackson Lake at midrange, further along the lodge pole pines create a dark green border leading to the foot of the grayish-blue giant peaks capped in snow in the distance. Add to this the peachy-pink sunset and white clouds and you can start to imagine the beauty.
We moved north to the Colter Bay campground later in the week. This campground is conveniently located to various amenities, and the campsites are nicely wooded pull-throughs along the side of the paved loops. Not long after we set up camp, a deer came right through our campsite-munching on a nearby bush. The place is also filled with red squirrels, chipmunks and Uinta ground squirrels. We did few hikes in the park-one around Jenny Lake, another on the Cascade Canyon Trail, another around the Colter Bay area and Jackson Lake. We hiked to the Hidden Falls on the Cascade Canyon trail, then took a less-traveled trail up a stream and waterfall near String Lake. We were hoping to hike far enough up to get to a snow patch we had seen from below, but the trail got too slippery and steep. We did come upon a yellow-bellied Marmot hanging out on the rocks and lots of wildflowers!
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