Grand Teton National Park
My visit to the Grand Teton National Park didn’t start well. I arrived in the Jackson Hole, Wyoming, area before noon and the skies were gray and threatened to rain. I wasn’t going to let that stop me from achieving my itinerary so I drove to Mormon Row, near the Moose Entrance of the park. I wanted to get that iconic photo of the barn with the Tetons in the background.
I got that shot but with the Tetons shrouded in rain clouds, not as I had planned. I decided to take lunch and hoped that the clouds would pass but it wasn’t to be. By the time I finished lunch, it began to rain and it turned heavy. I decided to cancel my first day visit to the park and I went to town, Jackson, Wyoming. It was a good decision as the rain lasted into the night. The forecast for the next day would call for a cloudy day with rain late in the day so I waited for my chance to visit the park.
I got an early start to my day, so early the nearby restaurants were still closed for breakfast so I decided to use this time to drive to Dornan’s restaurant near the Moose entrance where I had lunch the day before. Unfortunately, they weren’t open yet either when I arrived and wouldn’t open for more than an hour. I wouldn’t let this stop me. I ate some protein bars and continued into the park. With only one day to see the park, I would have to eliminate the longer hikes. My plan would be to do the Teton driving loop, combining Teton Park Road and Highway 191 with lots of stops along the way. I made a couple of stops before I arrived at one of my main points of interest of Jenny Lake.
I took the trail from the parking lot and saw the view of Jenny Lake with the mountains on the opposite side for the first time. Its beauty made me pause in admiration. I started on the Jenny Lake Trail not knowing how far I would go. I knew I didn’t have enough time to complete the whole trail around the lake. The number of people quickly diminished as I went further down the trail with the beauty of the lake and mountains consistently on my left. I passed several beautiful shorelines as I continued before I found myself one mile into my hike. I had to stop myself and return back to visitors center or this trail would take up most of my only day here.
I stopped at a couple of those shorelines I passed earlier, one had a log on the shore where I sat and just enjoyed the pristine surroundings. It was the epidemy of unplugging from life. Before I got back to my car, I stopped at the Jenny Lake store and found a frozen breakfast burrito. It was the worse breakfast burrito I ever had but I was so hungry, I ate most of it.
I got back on the road and made a couple of more stops at turnouts that had short trails and I took advantage of them. I got some great shots of the Teton range. I arrived at Signal Mountain Road and I proceeded to drive up the narrow road to the top.
Signal Mountain provides a beautiful look of Jackson Lake on one side and the Jackson Valley on the other side. This was a must stop for me and the view was well worth the drive.
I made my way down the same road, back to Teton Park Road. The Signal Mountain Lodge was just a short distance away and the Trapper Grill was open for hungry visitors. I was definitely one of those. But, before I had lunch, I walked down to the dock and had a long glance at Jackson Lake. It was a perfect spot to have a meal, even in my car due to social distancing guidelines.
It was time to move forward and on to Highway 191. But, before I reached the 191, I stopped at Jackson Lake Dam and another view of Jackson Lake. I continue and reached the 191 where a left would have taken me to Yellowstone so I made a right and the highway crossed the Snake River and eventually followed the river. I exited the park and checked my list that I had made of turnouts and viewpoints I wanted to visit. Of course, I also stopped at a couple that wasn’t on the list as well. Snake River Overlook, Glacier View, Blacktail Ponds Overlook, were some of my stops on my list but the one I enjoyed the most along this portion of the loop was Schwabacher Landing.
I took the short narrow road down to the river and actually parked at the first dirt lot on the left before the landing. It had a trail along a finger of the Snake River and there were only a half dozen cars in the lot.
I saw some people further up the trail and basically had the area to myself. It was a pristine landscape with ducks in the river and the Tetons in the background.
There was even a beaver dam. Unfortunately, I didn’t see a single beaver but the dam was obvious on this rivulet. I spent close to an hour in this little area before I made one more stop. My persistent personality took me back to Mormon Row and the barn. I wanted to get that shot I had planned on without the Tetons covered in the clouds. It’s also off Highway 191 as well and I got my wish as the peaks were free of clouds. There was a catch, I had to wait 20 minutes for a group of people to clear my frame as they too several selfies in front of the barn. The barn and their giant foreheads is all they got. I don’t understand selfies. I got several great photos, too many to post, and just in time. The skies became gray again. I had completed the loop and it was now late in the afternoon so I made my way back to my hotel.
It turned out to be an amazing day of exploring. The Grand Tetons is a beautiful park to visit and I only saw a small portion of it. The next day would bring more than just rain but actual snow to the area so it wouldn’t have been helpful to stay another day. My road trip continued and I’ll have to come back again, hopefully I’ll have better weather.