The logical base for exploring the Tetons is the town of Jackson, Wyoming. Not to
be confused with Jackson Hole (which is the valley that Jackson sits in). Jackson
is perhaps a tad on the touristy side as it tries to play up the 'American West' theme
as much as possible. Just north of the town is the beginning of Grand Teton National
Park. To the east is the National Elk Refuge and Bridger-Teton National Forest surrounds
the rest. Speaking of elk, these arches which stand at all four corners of Jackson's
town square are made entirely of elk antlers (retrieved by natual means - no hunting).
You don't have drive very far north of town before you come over a small hill and
are faced with the classic postcard view of the Teton range
The Tetons are technically less visited than Yellowstone National Park just to the
north but the geography of Grand Teton Park is such that it is basically one large
mountain range with a road running along the east side of it in the valley. The
linear aspect of it made it seem more crowded to us. There is an obvious concentration
of visitors along the road and the farther from the road (in either direction) one goes,
the fewer people one sees. Our trip to the Tetons became a study in less traveled
routes which we think we did rather well at. For the record, the Tetons can be accessed
from the west side (Idaho) via several multi-day hikes from Targhee National Forest.
The most popular short hikes are in the area around Jenny Lake and the Jackson Lake
Lodge. From the south Jenny Lake parking area, a boat crosses the lake and lets
visitors off at the base of Cascade Canyon trail which leads up to Hidden Falls and
Inspiration Point (National Park rule #1: There must be an Inspiration Point). One
can also hike around the lake. In fact the north route around the lake is relatively
unused. Most day-hikers take the boat across and hike back along the south shore.
If you're doing this (we did it in reverse), we strongly recommend obtaining a map
of equestrian trails first. There is an equestrian trail that parallels the Jenny
Lake trail on a ridge a bit above it. While the lakefront trail was packed with people,
we saw no one else on the equestrian trail the entire time. (If you don't get the map,
just follow the signs to the horse corrals and follow the obvious trails from there).
Up on the equestrian trail we came across a colony of marmots living in and around
this rock. Marmots aren't necessarily the most exciting of wildlife, especially for
folks from the western US and Canada, but we spent a little while watching them, and
There's no avoiding the crowds at Hidden Falls or on the Inspiration Point trail.
Hidden Falls is aptly named as it comes down a chute in the canyon walls at a
90 degree angle to the main canyon. This would be an extremely scenic spot if it
were not so full of people. From here we took the boat back across the lake. The
ride is short and fairly scenic although no more so than any spot around the edge
of the lake.
This picture was an accident that turned out rather well. Coming south towards Jackson
on route 26, the Triangle X ranch covers both sides of the road. We arrived right as
they were driving their horses across the road to a corral on the other side. With
the Tetons in the background it made for a nice picture.
Near Lake Jackson is Signal Mountain which has a road up to the top and a supposedly
fine view. We're morally opposed to hiking up mountains that have a road up them
already so we took an alternate hike to Grandview Point. This is in the Two Ocean
Lake area on the west side of the park. Heading north from the Lake Jackson Lodge
turnoff, there is a dirt road that runs off to the right. This leads off to a small
parking area and a trailhead. A little ways up the trail is a sign, left leads to
Grandview Point. Besides the occassional hiker, Grandview Point is popular with a
wide variety of annoying insects that were unfazed by our bugspray. Besides this
view of a storm coming over the northern Tetons, we took the nearly 360-degree panorama
at the bottom of this page. The left side of the panorama shows Two Ocean Lake and
the Gros Ventre rockslide in the distance, the right side has Jackson Lake and the
Another great view of the Tetons can be had from Shadow Mountain which is directly
across the valley from the highest peaks. This is accessible by a torturous forest
road that took us a while to find. It's on some maps of the park, but there are
about two dozen more roads up there that are not marked. Our belief that they
wouldn't put roads there if you weren't supposed to drive on them is extra-firm when
we have a rental car. So after a whole slew of deer and two suicidal mountain bikers,
we finally popped out on top the mountain which has this vantage point. There are
also some great campsites on the way down to the south. Incidentally, geological forces
are causing Jackson Hole to widen at the rate of 1 ft (0.3m) per 100 years so be sure
and check out this view while you can. Binoculars will be necessary in a couple hundred
thousand years or so.