The Glamourous Grand Tetons
The mountains are calling & you must go
When John Muir said, “The mountains are calling & I must go”, when he stopped everything & answered that call, I do believe he was referring to the Grand Tetons. They command respect, deserve attention and inspire an incredible sense of wonder. They are some of the most majestic mountains I have ever laid eyes on. Even driving away from them, I would catch myself looking in my rearview & side mirrors, just to make sure the beauty didn’t escape me & I could soak in every view opportunity possible.
My wife and I experienced the Tetons as part of our Honeymoon road-trip, which landed us in Wyoming for 4 days exploring the Grand Tetons. Originally, I wasn’t as excited or stoked about the Tetons as I was to visit Yellowstone, but after seeing them both…well, let’s just say I left my heart in Grand Teton National Park. Little pieces of it can be found at Oxbow Bend, Jenny Lake, Gros Ventre, Jackson Lake, Jackson Hole & the Elk Refuge (among other locations). All of which I will be writing about below and helping paint a grand picture of our Grand Teton adventure.
We entered the Tetons from the North, coming down from the southern Yellowstone entrance. I can’t say I really enjoy driving in general, but I could drive all day through scenery like this & find it more than enjoyable. Speaking of driving, I’m going to take this opportunity to get a bit preachy. There is a copious amount of wildlife in the greater Teton area, there is no reason to be going 90 MPH, driving reckless or take out wildlife because you’re in a hurry. One of the greatest benefits of being out here is to get away from the “Hurry & Hectic”. Take it slow, enjoy the moment, save the wildlife. We just saw too much of this while we were out there & worthy of a mention.
We made Gros Ventre Campground home during our Teton visit. An absolute beauty! And from what I learned after, one of the most highly sought after for reservations, so book early. The campground is located on edge of the Gros Ventre River, very open meadow-ish with scattered trees. Which provided panoramic views of the surrounding mountain ranges, including the Tetons from certain sites. Want to know the best ones? We explored the entire campground and determined the sites in Loop A #44-89 were our favorites, specifically the ones in the #60’s because (A) they are most remote (B) have nothing but open grasslands behind you, which I loved because they have great Moose/Elk/wildlife spotting potential. We would sit by the fire and listen to their grunts & calls (C) Walking trail directly to the river, less than 100 yards away (D) best views of the Tetons. There is a small hill to the Northwest that blocks the view of the Tetons in other areas of the campsite, but here you will find the best views. There is also an old truck/hiking trail from loop A that takes you North for some beautiful sunrise/sunset views, directly from camp. I enjoyed rising bright & early and catching the first rays of light hitting the Teton range. Once we got nestled into our cozy camp, here’s a few things we enjoyed doing over the following few days…
- Teton Park Rd. – A semi-circle route that branches off from HWY 89 & takes you up close & personal to the base of the Teton range, then brings you back to HWY 89. The drive on this road is gorgeous at every turn and so many place to stop & explore. From panoramic lake views to old historic sites & churches. You will find a handful of lakes
throughout the drive, tucked away against the base of the Tetons. They have their own vibe, Jenny Lake is vast & large, while String Lake is smaller, shallower and has emerald-colored shorelines. You must hike to Leigh Lake, but it’s worth the trek.
- Oxbow Bend – Locate north of the Tetons and off HWY 89 is a little viewpoint called Oxbow Bend. Here the river flows in the direction of the Tetons and a place very popular for photography. Early morning or late afternoon you can catch the beautiful mountain reflections off the river. This is also a great place to spot wildlife across the river. You are pretty much landlocked at the turnout as you can’t cross the river here, but it’s a nice spot for 180-degree view of a favorite animal hotspot. Early morning is your best chance to catch them wandering on the riverbanks.
- The Moulton Barn – This place is popular enough to google directions, but if you’ve ever researched the Tetons, you’ve likely seen a picture of this icon barn. It’s picturesque backdrop and historic story attract photographers from all over the world and is definitely a must visit while you’re here. I read somewhere that it’s the most photographed barn in the world, & there’s a good reason why. Just as the sunrises is the best time, get up early for this one.
- Blacktail Pond – Another great place to spot some wildlife. It’s a small road right off HWY 89 (Blacktail Butte Rd.) & it takes you to a lookout with views of the pond. There is also a little hiking trail from the parking lot if you wanted to venture down there a little further.
- Elk Refuge – this one spot I completely, 100% regret not visiting. On our last day I heard a lot of great things about this place and the abundance of wildlife here, but we just didn’t have the time to stop by and check it out. I’ll have to live vicariously through you on this one, send us some pics!
- Jackson Hole – I had heard a lot cool things about this little town & I must say it didn’t disappoint. It reminded me a bit of a movie set. Everything was perfectly in order, rustically designed and set against a massive ski resort. We wandered the streets, ate some great food, sipped some whiskey and ended our day in Jackson Hole with a horse drawn carriage ride through downtown.
The Tetons & this adventure was epic. An amazing experience to add to your bucket list of places to see & explore.