Grand Teton National Park – September 13 to 16, 2016

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In mid-September, we left the incredible sights of Yellowstone and traveled to the National Park that was right next door: the beautiful Grand Teton.  We had an interesting time getting there though. During our short stint at Yellowstone there had been road closures due to snow and maintenance, but this time the road we needed was closed because of a forest fire.

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The Map is from http://www.WomenRidersNow.com

We were planning on getting to our next campground in Moran by traveling from West Yellowstone, through Yellowstone Park, and then exiting out the south entrance on US-287. Instead, we had to drive into Idaho and go way south, to Jackson and then up to Moran. We were actually on Highway 26 which can be seen towards the bottom of the map above. We had to cut that far west to be sure the roads would be friendly for our 44 foot motor home towing a jeep. What would have been a couple hours of travel time ended up taking us about four and a half. The scenery was absolutely gorgeous however, so there is a silver lining in every cloud! We drove past the Palisades Reservoir and through the Swan Valley area – beautiful!

While we were at  West Yellowstone, we stayed at Yellowstone Grizzly RV Park .  It was top notch and I highly recommend it. When we found out about the road closing, we asked if we could stay an extra day but they were sold out and couldn’t accommodate us. Even in September, Yellowstone is crowded and RV sites are in demand. Which explains why the run down park we stayed at in Moran can stay open. It has a handful of names such as Fireside RV Resort, Moran RV Resort, Yellowstone RV Resort, Buffalo Valley RV Resort but one website where all the names are directed. Because it has a great location, close to both the south entrance of Yellowstone and the Moran entrance of Teton, it can charge a high rate for just a grass site and the standard hook ups of water and electricity. Although there are no amenities except the ruins of a decrepit swimming pool, the views are breathtaking. It didn’t really matter that it wasn’t a great campground, because we spent all our time at either the park or the town of Jackson.

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Teton National Park was established in 1929, but much of the Jackson Hole Valley remained in private ownership well into the late 1930’s. This cabin belonged to cattle rancher J. Pierce Cunningham.

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Cunningham sure had an amazing view!

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Amidst a lot of controversy, ranchers such a Cunningham began selling their land to John D. Rockefeller, Jr. who then donated it to the existing park.

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The Snake River meanders through the park. In 1941 the famous photographer, Ansel Adams, was hired by the National Park Service to take photographs of the pristine beauty of Jackson Hole. His epic shots of this river, taken from the roof of his car, were used to promote conservation of the American West.

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The first full peak seen on the left is Middle Teton and the dip to the right of it is Middle Teton Glacier. The high mountain is Grand Teton and the clouds are hiding its glacier, but the moraine below it is visible.

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In the 1800’s French fur trappers named the mountains Les Trois Tetons which translates as The Three Teats which became shortened to the Tetons. The glaciers have lost 25% of their surface area in the past 40 years but are still visible even from a distance.

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Map is from PDF on park website, https://www.nps.gov/grte/index.htm

There are several lodges and visitor centers within the park. We tried to take a look at all of them, even if it was just a quick drive by in the Jeep. We enjoyed seeing the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center with its displays of artifacts and explanation of the land formations. The Jackson Lake Lodge Pioneer Grill serves a surprisingly upscale lunch which is cooked in view on the patio behind large glass windows.

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The stone walkways and the views of the lake behind the Jenny Lake Visitor Center are charming. Jenny was the Shoshone wife of fur trapper Richard “Beaver Dick” Leigh who served as an expedition guide in 1872.

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We took a park ranger guided hike to Taggart Lake. The internet says the trail is “easy”, but I think I remember the park pamphlet listing it as moderate.

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The sights along the trail were really beautiful but the trail itself was loaded with rocks and roots to climb over. A few people gave up and turned back – I am speculating that they just got so fearful that they would trip and fall, that they were unable to enjoy themselves. It honestly wasn’t that bad. The photo above is a creek we crossed over, using a small bridge.

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We got a glimpse of these beauties along the way.

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The Aspens were showing their color. When the wind blows the leaves “quake” and they look like shimmering golden coins.  The ranger explained that the groups of trees are all connected underground by one big root system.

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The hike’s big pay off was Taggart Lake. I was able to snap a few photos just before it started to rain.

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Jackson Lake Dam and Reservoir were interesting to see; although they are located inside the park which is in Wyoming, the water is used for irrigation purposes in Idaho.

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So, the town is Jackson and the surrounding valley is Jackson Hole – but everyone calls the town Jackson Hole!

Each side of the town square has an archway made of elk antlers. They come from the National Elk Refuge which is just outside of town and was established in 1912 to protect the huge herd of elk which lived where Jackson is now. There is a $750 fine for removing an antler from one of the arches.

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The Million Dollar Cowboy Bar has plenty of old pictures on the wall and at showcases cowboy music type bands. It opened in 1937 and was the first establishment in the state of Wyoming to get a liquor license after prohibition.  Go for the memorabilia and something to drink, but don’t rely on it for food. Although they have a menu which offers buffalo sliders and elk burgers, they were “out” of them.

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Besides having a lot of history, the town of Jackson is touristy and trendy. There are modern looking buildings right next to old western style architecture. With plenty of shops and art galleries, there is something for everyone. A few of the restaurants reminded me of the ones I’ve seen in southern California and we even found a tapas bar, Bin22, that served absolutely delicious food.

Then we were on our way, Pueblo and Denver Colorado bound, to see some old friends and attend our first Newmar rally…

Just for fun, here are some links to some other Yates social media sites:

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