Just south of Yellowstone, about an hour drive down the John D. Rockefeller Highway, is a National Park that stole our hearts, The Grand Tetons. The Teton Mountain range is a dramatic change in scenery. There are no foothills to this mountain range, it shoots directly out of the flat prairie, jutting a spectacular 7,000 feet and piercing the sky. The Northern part of the park, where we were camping, is home to several beautiful lakes and the mountains and lakes appear to live in complete harmony. The view is seamless, not knowing where the water ends, the rock begins and the sky meets. The southern part of the park is home to flat, grassy gold prairies which provide a unique contrast to the distant views of the mountains.
Our first day in the area was spent exploring the town of Jackson, which sits at the southern tip of the Park. To be honest, we just ate our way through Jackson. We had lunch at Palate, which is located in the National Museum of Wildlife Art. The outdoor patio provides stunning views of the prairie amid bronze sculptures of the local wildlife. The food scene in Jackson rivals anything you’d see in a city like Chicago or Seattle. And one can’t miss the town square, with the elk horn archways on each corner. Wander into one of the many boot shops which featured leather from local ranches. The boots and Stetson cowboy hats are still American made!!
We spent a week in the Grand Tetons, but could have spent two or three. The hiking, kayaking and biking opportunities were so plentiful that we did not have enough time to explore even half of what we wanted to see and a return visit here is a must!! Justin and Tabatha spent a day on Jackson Lake kayaking around the small islands on the eastern side near Colter Bay Village while Amanda and Micah hiked around Jenny Lake.
One of the best hikes we took all summer was the hike around Jenny Lake to Inspiration Point. You can take a boat across Jenny Lake to Inspiration Point, but we decided to take the two mile Cascade Canyon Trail to Inspiration Point instead, and it proved to be one of our smartest decisions. The foliage had just started to change colors and the yellow, orange, red and green leave colors where amazing. Along the trail, we stumbled upon an Osprey nest, about twenty-five feet above us. You could clearly see two hungry younglings in the nest calling for their mother. We learned their mother can hear their calls from over two miles away, just like Amanda. Our hike took us to Hidden Falls, and great views of pristine Jenny Lake. We enjoyed a sardine and pretzel lunch on the Jenny Lake boat dock.
Our greatest adventure at Grand Tetons took place on what we thought would be a rather easy biking trail. We were biking near the Moose Visitor Center when we were alerted by a hiker that bears were nearby. We got off our bikes and walked near a small crowd and some rangers who were watching a mother bear and her two cubs in the foliage. We were about twenty-five feet from the mother bear who was pacing in front of her cubs as they were eating shrubs. The mother bear approached the rangers and we were able to get a great view of the seven hundred pound bear. It was exciting! And it was great to have our first bear sighting around Park Rangers who knew exactly what they were doing and how to handle the bear. We felt completely safe and could spend our time watching the bears instead of worrying about our own safety.
The park had one of our favorite campsites, at Colter Bay, with trails weaving through the campground. We would often hike down to Jackson Lake to watch the sunset behind the great mountains. The park also has a small, wooden church which has been visited by the last six Presidents! You can also tour an old ferry post and general store. Justin is looking forward to coming back in a few years and climbing the Tetons. Micah talks about getting good enough at rock and mountain climbing to join him. We shall see.