Grand Teton National Park & Jackson, Wyoming

On July 5th we left Island Park, ID, and drove to Idaho Falls, ID. Our first week here we had hotel reservations in Jackson, WY, so we could spend a couple of days exploring Grand Teton National Park and the town of Jackson.

Many people (including myself) think the town’s name is Jackson Hole. It is not. The valley that the town of Jackson is in is called Jackson Hole. Therein lies the confusion.

We took the “scenic” route to Jackson. It was a beautiful, sunny day which made the drive even prettier. We came into Jackson from the west on state Highway 22. Once we reached the summit of Teton Pass (approx. elevation 8400 ft.), there was a scenic overlook of Jackson Hole valley that was phenomenal!

From the top of Teton Pass, you can see part of Jackson Hole valley. It was WAY more gorgeous in person!

We stayed at the Elk Country Inn which was just four blocks from the town square. It was a little pricey for us, but they did allow dogs which we MUST have for our little Zoey. It was a very nice, clean place, so it was worth every penny. I’m kind of sorry now that I didn’t take any pictures of the hotel and cabins. 😔

Our two days in Grand Teton National Park were amazing. We didn’t see a lot of wildlife, but the mountains and gorgeous views more than made up for it. I’ll just let the pictures show you how beautiful it truly is.

This is the view out the window behind the cross. Imagine sitting in church and having that view as you pondered on the things of God.

Like I said, we didn’t see a lot of wildlife at Grand Teton National Park like we did at Yellowstone. That was probably because the weather while we were at Grand Teton was much warmer than normal. We did see a pronghorn which has a deer-like body and weighs 90-120 pounds. They have distinct white fur on their rumps, sides, breast, bellies, and necks. The pronghorn is the fastest land mammal in the Western Hemisphere with a top speed of 35 mph for 4 miles up to 55 mph for 0.5 of a mile. It is often cited as the second fastest land animal (second only to the Cheetah).

I wish I could have gotten a better picture of the pronghorn’s face and front of his body.

We also saw these little guys at numerous places. At first we thought they were prairie dogs, however, they were smaller and skinnier. After seeing them, I read something in the park’s newspaper about them. They are really Uinta (you-in-ta) ground squirrels. These squirrels are found in parts of Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, and Utah. They live in burrows (similar to prairie dogs) and hibernate approximately from mid-August to mid-March. The sounds they make are also similar to prairie dogs except, I think they are a little higher pitched. They are cute, though.

These three little guys were sure noisey. We think they were discussing turning this little bridge into a toll bridge and the price they should charge us to cross!

One day we met some people that own a cabin in the park. Their great-grandfather had purchased the property before it was made part of the National Park. Their property was grandfathered in, and as long as a descendant of the original owner has possession of the property the family retains ownership. Anyway … they told us where to go look for a moose, so later that evening, we took off close to dusk. When we arrived at the spot, there were already a lot of people looking down the hill. When I walked over to the group, I asked someone, and they pointed out the moose to me. We were definitely excited! We saw another moose, but he was further down and we couldn’t get very good photos.

The town of Jackson is a great town. They rely on tourism year round: there’s snow skiing visitors in the winter and the visitors to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks in the spring, summer, and fall. I asked a lady about how many skiers came in the winter. She said they average around 300,000 skiers a year, however, they average about 4 million visitors a year who are there for Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks. I was shocked! 😳 Here are a few pictures of the town.

The town square.

They have a small snow ski area right on the edge of town. However, the Teton Village Jackson Hole Mountain Resort (large ski resort) is about a 30 minute drive from town.

Those arches in the town square are made from elk antlers. No telling how many hundreds thousands of antlers are in the four arches! “Where do they get that many antlers?” you ask.

Just to the north of the town of Jackson (barely out of town) is the National Elk Refuge. The 24,700 acre refuge managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was created in 1912 to protect the elk habitat and provide a sanctuary for one of the largest elk herds on earth. It is home to an average of 7,500 elk each winter. Elk migrate during the fall to the refuge from as far away as southern Yellowstone National Park. They winter on the grassy plains of Jackson Hole. In the spring, they follow the melting snow and growing grasses back to the region from which they came.

Elk shed their antlers every year during the winter. The Boy Scouts have collected the antlers every year under permit since 1968. They sell them at auction under an agreement that 75% of the proceeds are returned to the refuge to be used for irrigation of the grasses to maintain maximum natural food supply. Ten to eleven thousand pounds of antlers are collected and auctioned off each year!

Since no elk are at the refuge in the summer, I took photos of the beautiful valley that they will return to this fall.

Well, there were some ducks in the Elk Refuge!

There is a bike path along the road the full length of the Elk Refuge (well, there are bike paths EVERYWHERE in this area). Now I’ve seen everything – a roundabout on a bike path! 😂

We really enjoyed our time in Jackson, Wyoming, and exploring Grand Teton National Park.

So, for now ….. “On the Road Again!”


Yellowstone National Park: Part 6

Friday, June 28th, we decided to drive from the West Entrance of the park to the South Entrance. We had not traveled the road from Old Faithful to the South Entrance. We knew there wasn’t a lot of things to stop and see from studying the park map, but we wanted to say we had been over all the park on all roads accessible by visitors’ vehicles.

A few miles passed the south entrance to Yellowstone is the most northern part of Grand Teton National Park. We will be visiting Grand Teton in the next couple of weeks, but we decided to drive a little ways into the north part of the park. We didn’t have a lot of time because we had to drive back home. However, we did enjoy the beautiful views. We look forward to exploring more of this park soon.

As people who grew up in Missouri (the Midwest), my husband and I have always paid attention to TV news reports regarding wildfires out west. We were always saddened by the reports of thousands of acres of forests being burned. As we’ve traveled through various parks (Custer State Park in South Dakota, Yellowstone, Grand Teton, and other national forests), we have seen the devastation of these fires; some the fire destroyed forests date as far back as 1988! I just wanted to share a few pictures of some of the burned areas we saw this day as a reminder to all people, all over the country, when outdoors camping or picnicking, PLEASE be sure your campfire is completely out!

Look at ALL the burned trees along both sides of the road! It was sad to drive through that area.

On our drive home through Yellowstone, we decided to stop at Midway Geyser Basin. We had driven by it a couple of times before. It was always packed with people, so we didn’t stop. It was fairly busy this day, also, and we almost didn’t stop. At the last second, I told Jack to pull in and stop. I AM SOOOO GLAD WE DID! I would have regretted missing the hot Springs and geysers in this location. It was gorgeous! Again, the photos can never do the true beauty justice.

It was SO windy that day and we saw A LOT of hats that people “lost.” People are not allowed to walk off the boardwalks in a thermal area because it is too dangerous.

On the last section of road in Yellowstone, there is a short, side road called Riverside Drive (Yep! It goes right along the Madison River for a couple of miles). We took that little side road, stopped a couple of times and enjoyed the quiet of the wilderness, and even saw some wildlife.

There is a male elk on the island.

There were several female elk with babies in this meadow.

Zoom in to the left of the two adult elk (to the left side of the island). If you look closely, you can see the ears of a baby.

Another male elk enjoying the grass along the side of the road.

Can you see the velvet on his antlers?

All in all, today’s trip was a huge success.

So, for now ….. “On the Road Again!”


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