Grand Teton National Park (GTNP) is an amazing place just south of Yellowstone National Park (YNP) so it’s almost a crime to visit one and not the other unless you are in a major time crunch. Major side note–make time to spend a few days in the area; a single day will not be enough time to explore YNP especially if you have come ‘all the way’ to Yellowstone. Trust me, it is worth it.
Grand Teton National Park is named for Grand Teton, the tallest mountain in the Teton Range. The park includes the major peaks of the 40-mile-long Teton Range as well as most of the northern sections of the valley known as Jackson Hole. The range can even be seen from YNP, from across Yelloswtone Lake. It is truly beautiful and majestic to gaze upon and just marvel at its beauty, it’s rugged beauty of snow capped peaks– even in the heat of the summer.
And then when you realize that in just a few short hours you would be hiking among those peaks?? Simply an amazing feeling!
This is part two of two of my mini series on one of this summer’s adventures. If you missed part one on Yellowstone National Park, you can view it here. Right after taking our [obligatory] tourist picture by the GTNP sign, we continued down the road to the visitor’s center.
At the visitor center, we were given maps and suggestions on the best way to enjoy the park since we only had that day to explore and the park is huge. We also had quite a drive ahead of us to the place we were staying that night and I didn’t want to drive at night, uphill, in mountains, in the darkness, with wildlife roaming the streets– ok, maybe not roaming. I wanted to get to the night’s lodging at a reasonable hour.
The suggestion was to head to Leigh lake to relax and have lunch (pre-packed). If we had a canoe or kayak or any other watercraft, we could have gone on the lake, or gone fishing if we had fishing equipment, or gone swimming if we had our bathing suits on or weren’t too lazy to go change. We went with the lunch option :). On the way there, we got a chance to take in more views of the Teton Range.
We went by a church so we decided to take a peak inside. It was pretty empty, but that didn’t stop us from signing our names in the guest book :).
We got to the parking lot at Leigh Lake and headed to the shore, lunch in hand, and bug spray in other hand. Lessons had been learned!
After lunch and a quick rest, we headed on out again, this time to Jenny Lake. According to popular report, it is the prettiest lake in GTNP. It’s also really huge (not sure if it’s the largest in the park). In fact, so huge, we had to take a boat ($20 ?) to go across it in order to embark on the star attraction for the day- hiking among the Tetons.
As we approached the shore, my heart started to beat a little faster. It was just so much more beautiful up close. An experience I can’t do much justice to with my words. As we prepared to get off the boat, we were given instructions on how and when to get back to catch the boat back to the other side.
Armed with water, snacks, more food, and bug spray, we set off on the steep uphill climb on the trail. We were headed to the ‘tree line’ as we had been told to do by the guy at the gift shop at Lake Lodge. We also wanted to hike to Inspiration Point — because who wouldn’t want to hike to a place that’s named Inspiration Point?? It was a race against time, but we were determined to get both hikes done.
The above pictures were taken on the Cascade Canyon trail. It was tough but quite rewarding. One of the rewards was we got to watch a moose just nonchalantly having its dinner. It was pretty engrossed in it’s meal so mostly just the horns are visible. Pro tip–bring binoculars with you when visiting YNP and GTNP– you get to see so much more clearly without being so close to the wildlife and endangering yourself.
This is me receiving some inspiration at Inspiration Point. This is also the point where we met an extremely bold chipmunk who wanted to steal our lunch. Like for real, we had to fight for our food!
After hiking back down and getting back to the other side of the lake, we decided it was time to head to our hotel- a ski resort in Wyoming. No, we weren’t adding skiing to our itinerary! It was just what we could find when searching for accommodation for this trip. Never had I been so scared driving in my life.
First, there was a few miles of pretty much off-roading on a very narrow path as we were leaving GTNP, then there were these extremely steep passes in the mountains that we had to drive through. I legit thought my vehicle wouldn’t make it. At least, I get to say I’ve driven through a few small towns in Idaho now– not sure if that counts enough to add Idaho to the list of places I’ve been to.
I’m not sure if the mountains were actually red or it was God showing off- either way, I really like this shot.
We continued our sojourn up another steep mountain to the ski lodge at the very top, but not before we were waylaid by some cows who didn’t happen to be in a very good mood.
We grabbed a quick dinner at the resort- Elk burger for the win! My first time tasting elk. I probably wouldn’t eat it again, except maybe if it were free. It wasn’t bad, I just don’t feel the need to have a repeat experience if I have other options ;).
Then it was time for night-night and once again, I was grateful for a bed :).
The next morning, I got in the car and drove about 5 hours from the ski resort in Wyoming, through Idaho again, past YNP, past West Yellowstone, MT and back to Bozeman, MT. Then I got on my very delayed flight back home, the delay being a whole different story. Let’s just say I ended up having a 10 minute layover in Minneapolis and I ran like a black bear from YNP was chasing me. Thankfully, I made my connecting flight. I got home at about midnight and was at work by 8-ish the next morning.
This was how I felt once I got on that plane– #likeaboss.
I am so grateful that I got to go on this trip and with the best travel buddies I could’ve asked for. It was a lot of fun and such a beautiful experience. I can’t wait for the next one!
Till next time, friends, keep traveling and collecting memories.