Grand Teton National Park – An American Treasure!

August 2022 – Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming is one of our favorite National Parks because of its absolutely breathtaking mountain views. Since we’d been camping in Sun Valley, Idaho, we were more or less in the neighborhood, so we couldn’t resist stopping by the Tetons once again!

We’d gone to Sun Valley in an effort to escape the summer heat, but temps had been hitting the low 90s every afternoon and there wasn’t even a hint of rain. In contrast, the Tetons had been getting wonderful summer afternoon thunderstorms, so we hightailed it over there with hopes for spectacular vistas and cooler air. We got both!

Oxbow Bend Overlook Grand Teton National Park Wyoming Snake River

A full moon sets right before sunrise at Oxbow Bend in Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

Grand Teton National Park and the greater Jackson Hole Valley area are located just below Yellowstone National Park, and they encompass a long skinny region that extends for about 50 miles from the north entrance of the Park to Teton Village in the south. Both the highway on the eastern edge of the Park (US-26) and the Teton Park Road, which runs parallel to the highway down the middle of the Park, have numerous named pullouts and overlooks where you can stop for a while to take in the extraordinary scenery.

The Snake River Overlook was made famous by Ansel Adams when he parked his station wagon in that spot in 1942, set up his tripod on the roof of his car, and took a photo of a bend in the Snake River backed by the mountains, an image that he called “The Tetons and the Snake River.” His photo sold for $988,000 in 2020! (Mark says he’d take half as much for any of his, and they’re in color!).

Unfortunately, the National Park Service has allowed lots of tall trees to grow to great heights at that overlook, totally obscuring the view that Ansel Adams captured. However, a similar view can be found nearby at the Oxbow Bend Overlook, and this pullout is a favorite among Park visitors today.

Oxbow Bend Overlook in Grand Teton National Park Wyoming

Day dawns at the Oxbow Bend overlook.

Grand Teton National Park is beloved by photographers, and as we drove to different stunning overlooks before dawn each morning in hopes of catching a glorious sunrise, we saw lots of headlights zooming here and there on the roads. We also had plenty of company as we stood shivering near other crazy photography buffs that had climbed out of their warm beds in the dark so they could stand outside in the cold and wait for the sun to do its magic.

900 Grand Teton National Park Wyoming sunrise

Crazy photographers climb out of their warm beds and drive all over Grand Teton National Park to catch the mountains waking up!

Bobtail Ponds Grand Teton National Park Wyoming 2

The pink hue slowly creeps down from the mountain peaks at Bobtail Ponds overlook.

Teton Point sunrise Grand Teton National Park Wyoming pink mountain peaks

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Schwabacker Landing is a popular gathering place for photographers before dawn because it offers not only a majestic view of the mountains as their tips turn pink, but a glimpse of their reflections in the glassy water below.

Schwabacker Landing Grand Teton National Park Wyoming

Schwabacker Landing is twice as much (mirrored) fun as all the other overlooks!

After sunrise, the sun and clouds played shadow games along the face of the mountains, creating wonderful stripes.

Schwabacker Landing Grand Teton National Park Wyoming Sun and Shadow

Sun and shadow games at Schwabacker Landing.

This is a great spot to take selfies, and we saw a young couple taking photos of themselves in romantic poses before the exquisite mountain backdrop.

Lovers at Schwabacker Landing Grand Teton National Park Wyoming

Romance in the Tetons!

We couldn’t resist getting some selfies ourselves during our stay either, and we found some fun spots to say “cheese” and memorialize our visit.

Happy Campers Schwabacker Landing Grand Teton National Park Wyoming

Trying to look our best at 6:30 in the morning!

Happy Campers at Grand Teton National Park Wyoming

Everyone gets Christmas card photos at these overlooks…what a perfect spot for it!

Grand Teton National Park is very spread out, and lots of people wander from one overlook to another all day long, enjoying a picnic lunch by the side of the road here and a late afternoon snack in a pullout over there. Most overlooks have parking spaces large enough for a few RVs to pull in along with the cars.

We met a German family enjoying a breakfast of meats and cheeses next to their rental RV. Suddenly, the son ran inside and hung out the RV window giving a thumbs up with a huge grin while the dad took a photo of him and the RV in front of the spectacular mountains.

On another morning, as we returned to our truck from where we’d been taking photos, we could swear we smelled a yummy egg breakfast cooking. Sure enough, a young couple had set up a camp stove kitchen on the trunk of their Honda, and they were making a tasty breakfast right there in the parking lot!

Breakfast cooking on the back of a car atGrand Teton National Park Wyoming

We smelled breakfast cooking on the trunk of this car long before we saw it!

Every pre-dawn outing was an adventure, but one adventure went slightly awry…

At the Cunningham Cabin historical site, Mark chose a spot with a great view of the very simple log cabin that had been owned by the homesteading rancher J. Pierce Cunningham in the 1880s while I looked for a spot that would incorporate the wonderful log fence with the mountains rising out of the morning mist.

Unsatisfied with my first composition near where Mark was standing, I decided to take the narrow dirt trail along the fence line a little further. Gawking at the mountains and carrying my tripod over my shoulder, camera attached, my foot suddenly sank into water up to my knees! I toppled over and crashed to the ground, camera first.

In shock, I realized my favorite “go to” lens, the Nikon 28-300, was now broken. It could no longer zoom in and out, and it was covered in mud.

Wiping myself off as best I could, tears stinging my eyes, I gathered my shattered wits together and noticed that the entire field alongside the trail I’d been following was full of irrigation ditches that were about a foot wide and knee deep, and they criss-crossed the trail every few yards.

Fortunately, Mark was happily shooting away, far from shouting distance, so his morning was still intact! After feeling very sorry for myself for a few minutes, I remembered that I’d brought another lens, the Nikon 18-35. Luckily, it was wrapped in a clean microfiber towel, so I was able to wipe down my muddy camera and replace the big broken lens with the smaller wide angle lens.

Throughout all this, the sky was silently turning pink in the distance. With a tear or two still staining my cheek, I reminded myself that even if I couldn’t get the variety of close-in and faraway images I’d wanted, I was still here in this incredible spot witnessing the magnificent awakening of the mountains. Muddy pants, broken lens and all, I was fortunate to be here, and this was a moment to remember for its beauty as much as for my mishap!

Sunrise at Grand Teton National Park Wyoming

I thought the beautiful pink show would go on without me but a second lens in my bag let me participate!

* * * * *

As a side note, a young newlywed couple in our extended family nearly lost their lives in a horrific house fire three weeks ago. I thought of them as I stood there. No amount of mud or broken gear could have taken away my gratitude for the blessing of witnessing this sunrise in this sensational setting.

The young woman has been fighting for her life in an induced coma since her husband courageously carried her unconscious body out of the house through the flames. She was just awoken the other day and she managed a smile. She will be in the ICU for another 6 or 7 weeks undergoing many skin graft surgeries. They lost everything in the fire, including their pets.

I know how much it meant to us when readers of this blog reached out to help us after Buddy’s extraordinary ordeal. This young couple has set up a GoFundMe to cover medical bills that aren’t covered by insurance and to try to piece their lives back together again.

* * * * *

Dirty Little Orphan Annie finally came up off the muddy trail to where Mark was standing by the cabin. He was still nice and clean and dry

“Oh my, what happened to you?!” He asked as he rubbed a muddy smudge off my cheek and stared at my sodden shoes.

What could I say? My bedraggled looks were worth more than a thousand words. And so it goes in the wild world of outdoor photography!

Before dawn in the mountains

This was the pre-sunrise composition I didn’t like… But it probably would have been the better choice once the sky lit up and definitely would have saved me a bunch of dirty clothes and a beloved lens!

A while later, our friend and phenomenal wildlife photographer Steve Perry consoled me with stories of dunking his Sony A1 camera in the ocean while photographing baby turtles and dropping his Nikon 300 f/2.8 lens on the pavement at the airport. If you haven’t seen Steve’s channel or read his books or read his web page, they are all truly outstanding and inspiring. He has all the secrets! His latest video enumerates the skills, talents and techniques that the best photographers share.

It’s funny that I don’t recall him mentioning anything about accidents!!

Cunningham Cabin Grand Teton National Park Wyoming3

This tiny “double” cabin is the first building Mr. Cunningham erected on his 160 acres of Homestead land and is what Mark was busy photographing while I stumbled around in the irrigation ditches.

A while later we got another pic of a historic building when we stopped by the old barns and cabins that make up Mormon Row, yet another treasured spot for visitors to Grand Teton National Park.

Mormon Row Barn at Grand Teton National Park Wyoming

The barns and cabins on Mormon Row make classic pics!

One of the most astonishing things about Grand Teton National Park is the dramatic juxtaposition of the towering mountains and the many ponds, lakes and streams that dot the landscape. In a way, this National Park is as much a place of waterways as it is a place of mountains. Boating is a surprisingly popular activity and there are mooring fields and a marina available for people to keep their boats on Jackson Lake!

Jackscon Lake Grand Teton National Park Wyoming boats

Ponds, lakes and rivers are a huge part of Grand Teton National Park, and boating is a popular activity!

Powerboat on Jackson Lake Grand Teton National Park Wyoming

Not a bad spot for an outing on the water!

Boats on Jackson Lake at Grand Teton National Park Wyoming

There were lots of boats waiting to be taken out.

There are a few places where you can swim, or at least enjoy a pebbly beach setting, and we found one of these on Jackson Lake one morning. The lake was perfectly still and puffy clouds made a pretty pattern in the sky.

Jackson Lake mirror reflections Grand Teton National Park Wyoming

What a beautiful little rocky beach!

When I got to the water’s edge, I noticed that the rounded beach stones were submerged just below the surface of the water, and the glassy water was bringing out their vibrant colors.

Submerged rocks Jackson Lake Grand Teton National Park Wyoming

The vivid colors of the beach stones came to life under the placid water.

Mark threw a large stone in the water, and we watched the ripples fan out across the lake.

Ripples at Jackson Lake Grand Teton National Park Wyoming

Making waves.

A group of people came down to the water with a slew of kayaks, and it appeared they were getting a lesson on how to paddle around. In no time they were all on the water in their kayaks and then, after paddling off across the lake, they landed on a distant shore. What a thrilling way to immerse yourself in the Tetons!

Kayak at Jackson Lake Grand Teton National Park Wyoming

A group of people got a lesson in kayaking while we were there!

A power boat suddenly appeared, zooming across the lake at top speed, and we noticed there was someone water skiing behind it. What a blast!

Waterskier at Jackson Lake Grand Teton National Park Wyoming

What a place to waterski!!

Glancing at the map one evening, we noticed there was a mountain summit you could reach by car, so the next day up we went. It is called Signal Mountain, although it’s not named for the huge cell tower that blasts a powerful signal at the top!

Wifi tower at Signal Mountain Grand Teton National Park Wyoming

Cell tower at Signal Mountain

Signal Mountain was actually the site where a special smoke signal was sent out long ago by a search-and-rescue person to notify his team that he’d found the body of a man who’d fallen into the Snake River.

The view at the summit goes out across a valley, but the view just before the top looks back at the mountains across various inlets of Jackson Lake.

View from Signal Mountain Summit Grand Teton National Park Wyoming

View from just below the summit at Signal Mountain.

There are a million things to do in the Tetons, and one the best is cycling.

The paved bike path which had been only partially completed when we last visited now runs for miles and miles all through the Park, down to the town of Jackson and over the mountains from there to the town of Victor. Some of it is a rails-to-trails route and some has been purpose-built as a walking/biking trail. All of it is an outstanding way to see the Tetons.

Lots of people ride their bikes on the roads too.

RV and bicycle at Grand Teton National Park Wyoming

The Tetons are beloved by cyclists and hikers as well as photographers and boaters!

One theme in our summer travels this year has been the discovery of free outdoor summer concerts, and when we arrived in Grand Teton National Park we saw a notice for an upcoming free chamber music concert at the Murie Ranch in the Park. Score!

Back in the day, Olauf and Maddy Murie hosted many a long summer afternoon “conversation” with various illustrious visitors on the front porch of their cabin, and it had been the site of several concerts this summer already. All of the concerts were part of the Grand Teton Music Festival which presents performances by small groups and a big orchestra all around the town of Jackson and the Jackson Hole Resort and Grand Teton National Park all summer long!

Like Sun Valley, Jackson is a land of the ultra-wealthy, and like the Sun Valley Summer Symphony, the Grand Teton Music Festival is extremely well funded. After all, rumor has it that the billionaires pushed the millionaires out of Jackson a few decades ago! As something of a playground-while-working for the 0.2 percenters, the Federal Reserve holds an annual summer meeting in Jackson Hole, and it was about to get underway during our stay!

When we arrived at the surprisingly packed lawn in front of the Murie Cabin, it was no surprise to discover that the free concert included free wine and snacks! And this wasn’t just “Everything tastes better on a Ritz” types of snacks. This was stuffed grape leaves, a tray of exotic cheeses, and grapes served inside a pineapple!! The French couple sitting next to me was impressed by the Chardonnay too.

Free snacks at Grand Teton Music Festival in Grand Teton National Park Wyoming

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The quartet played Dvorak’s “American Quartet” beautifully, but the highlight of the afternoon was the Q&A afterward.

The Music Festival hostess took questions from the audience that ranged from, “How did you learn to play so fast?” (by practicing syncopated rhythms) to “Where was your instrument made, and when?” (several were French and some dated to the 1800s) to “How many hours a day do you practice?” (8 to 10 when they were studying but less now that they are professionals and perform so much) to “How do you take your instrument on an airplane?” (the cello gets its own seat!) and more.

The musicians were delightful, and it gave the whole experience a very intimate feeling as the audience, hostess and musicians bantered back and forth.

Definitely check out the Grand Teton Music Festival schedule for a performance that suits your fancy when you visit the Park!

Grand Teton Music Festival Quartet Q&A Muries Cabin Grand Teton National Park Wyoming

The musicians in the quartet fielded all kinds of questions from the audience after their performance.

As with our previous visits to Grand Teton National Park, we absolutely loved our stay.

Happy campers at Grand Teton National Park Wyoming boats

We have a blast here every time we visit.

And we know we’ll be back again because, in truth, we’ve barely scratched the surface!!

Teton Road Grand Teton National Park Wyoming

Teton Park Road at dawn.

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Grand Teton National Park Wyoming – Rare Sightings!

Fifth wheel RV with bikes and a rainbow

A rainbow appeared off in the distance…

September, 2014 – We had a lot of dark rainy days during our stay at Wyoming’s Grand Teton National Park, and one afternoon we looked out the window to see a very bright rainbow dramatically piercing through the black sky in the distance.

We were waiting for sunset at that particular moment, kind of resting up a bit and relaxing.

We’d been taking so many photos and running around so much that when we saw this stunning rainbow, we greeted it with a shrug.

“It’ll never last,” I said.

Vivid rainbow at Mormon Row Grand Teton National Park Wyoming

This rainbow was so much more intense than most!

“Yeah. It’s way over there, and there’s nothing in the foreground but grass,” Mark added.

If it had been in the opposite direction, over the mountains, we would have leaped into action. But it wasn’t. So why bother?

Talk about blasé!! Our stay in this gorgeous park had totally spoiled us!

“It would look great with the Mormon barns,” I suggested after a while, wishing we were closer to those classic buildings.

 

rainbow on the Mormon barns at Grand Teton National Park Wyoming

It touched down right between the historic cabins at Mormon Row

But Mormon Row was a good ten minute drive away, and rainbows last just a few minutes, at best.

We went back to doing whatever we were doing — nothing really — while we each secretly kept an eye on this incredibly vivid arc that was flooding the land with light from the heavens.

Finally, we couldn’t take it any longer. We jumped up, grabbed all the camera gear we could find, and dashed out to the truck.

Mark floored it, and we zoomed onto the highway in hot pursuit. Unbelievably, the rainbow just got brighter.

Happy photographer with rainbow at Mormon Row

The rainbow crossed the sky, showing first one side and then the other.

We stopped at the most famous Mormon barn, along a dirt road of century old buildings, but the crowd of swarming photographers was thick. No way!

We raced back to the truck. I was running so fast over the uneven ground that I tripped and fell flat on my face — but I saved the camera!

I got up, brushed myself off, and saw that the rainbow was still there. So I kept running!

A bit further down the road we found some less picturesque but still very cool log cabins, and in this quiet spot we instantly busied ourselves taking a zillion photos.

Rainblow into an outhouse at Grand Teton Wyoming

Right to the pot of gold…in the pot!

We worked frantically at first, and then a little more calmly and with a little more thoughtfulness once we realized that our special rainbow was here to stay.

The sun fell lower in the sky, and the rainbow shifted, showing first one side and then the other, while the sun played with its shadow on the buildings and the land.

Mark cracked a wry smile and lined up the perfect shot, making the rainbow come right down onto an old outhouse.

The Milky Way and stars in the night sky at the Tetons

Starry starry night…

He’d found the true pot of gold at the end of the rainbow — in the pot!

Now that the rain had scrubbed the air clean, the nights became brilliantly clear, and Mark got another stunning shot, this time of stars.

While I snoozed and mumbled something unintelligible into my pillow at two in the morning, he snuck outside with his camera and aimed it at the sky.

A few minutes later he’d caught the Milky Way in its ethereal glow, rising out of a pair of silhouetted trees.

Next time I’ll make a point of joining him. That was much too good to miss!!

Mormon Row Grand Teton

One of the famous barns on Mormon Row

Church Bell Episcopal church in Grand Teton

Since 1925, this church bell has welcomed worshippers to this little log church that looks out at the mountains.

We did end up getting some photos of the classic Mormon barns at dawn, just as the peaks of the Teton Mountains were glowing pink.

The park has lots of other intriguing historical buildings, and one is an Episcopal log church that dates back to 1925.

Services are still held there, and what a heavenly view the congregation has through the windows behind the altar. It’s a wonder anyone ever hears a word of the sermon!

Badger at the Tetons

A badger waddles through the grass.

The Tetons are known for wildlife too, and in between our moments spent in enraptured communion with the landscape, we had quite a few wildlife sightings.

I saw my first badger, a little raccoon-like guy who waddled around in the grasses, perfectly camouflaged.

A red fox crosses the road in the Tetons Wyoming

A fox trots across the road

One day, out on a dirt road somewhere, we suddenly saw a bushy-tailed fox go by.

We weren’t the only car on the road, but the fox didn’t seem to mind.

He trotted right down alongside all the slow-moving cars for quite a distance before he darted into the woods.

We often saw bison grazing in the distance, and a few times we got hung up in traffic jams when the herd decided to cross the highway.

Bison jumping over fence Grand Teton Wyoming

Can he make it?

The leader of the pack was a huge brute of a beast, and one day Mark saw him take aim and jump over a fence.

Buffalo in Grand Teton National Park

…I think so…

This big guy eyed up that fence for quite some time, pacing back and forth, which gave Mark just enough time to get ready for the shot.

Bison jumping in the Tetons Wyoming

…Yup, he cleared it!!

And then he went for it — and cleared it like an expert high jumper!

 

Happy campers at Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming

What a beautiful place to spend a little time…

We really wanted to see a moose, and we got word that there was a big one with huge antlers that hung out by the bridge at Moose Junction (how fitting!).

Sure enough, one morning we saw him, just fifty yards from his bridge. He was with another moose friend — perfect!

But we had set our alarm clock so we could wake up before dawn to go take photos of the little log cabin church at sunrise.  Moose weren’t on our agenda!

 

Teton Mountains in Wyoming at sunset

Sunset at the Tetons

In our sleepy state, somehow we didn’t grasp the gift of the moment, and we kept on driving to the church, totally intent on our mission.

Silly us. The church was there every morning, but the moose in the Tetons play hide-and-seek. Unfortunately, we never saw them again.

Oh well. In the long run, it didn’t really matter. Wyoming’s Grand Teton National Park is a place we’ll return to again and again, and now we have a great reason to go back — to see moose!

 

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Grand Teton National Park – 101 Ways to Enjoy The Tetons!

Horseback riders at Grand Teton National Park Wyoming

What a great way to see the Tetons — on horseback!

September, 2014 – The National Park Service has posted some surprising statistics over the years about just how many hours the average visitor spends in each park.

Crazy as it sounds, it is really common for folks to do a quick drive-by, hanging out the car window for some photos to take home, and then checking the park off their bucket list.

Grand Teton National Park often suffers that fate, largely because it is laid out on a north-south highway that runs from Yellowstone National Park to the town of Jackson, Wyoming.

 

Grand Teton's new paved bike path

A new paved bike path goes nearly 20 miles along the base of the mountains.

A USA Today article from July, 2012, stated that the average time spent in the Tetons is just 6.5 hours!!

While it’s easy to drive through the Tetons really fast, during our two week stay on this visit we discovered there are all kinds of wonderful ways to get to know this park in a much more intimate way.

A fantastic addition to the park that was built since our last visit in 2007 is a nearly 20 mile long paved bike path that runs from the southern entrance of the park to the far north end of Jenny Lake.

 

Riding a bicycle with a view of the Tetons

The only problem with riding by views like this is keeping your eyes on the road!

We rode portions of it several times, and it took us to quite a few off-the-beaten-path locations within the park that we never would have stopped at if we’d been touring in our truck.

Every mile of this path was filled with families and cyclists of all ages. They were all enjoying a day of riding in the fresh air, with a stunning view the whole way.

We met cyclists from Jackson doing their daily workout ride (lucky them!!), clubs from out of town that had arranged a group ride of the area, and the Backroads Adventure Tour company with paying customers.

 

A motorcycle rides into Grand Teton NP Wyoming

Seeing the Tetons by motorcycle would be awesome,
especially on the curvy roads.

 

The roads throughout the park are ideal for scenic driving in a car, but they are probably a whole lot more fun on a motorcycle.

There’s a series of sweeping turns in the northern portion of Teton Park Road that are just too stunning for words, and doing them on a motorcycle would be quite a thrill!

Boating is another great way to go.

One day as we walked along the pebble beach at Jenny Lake, we rounded a point and our jaws dropped when we saw a beautiful sailboat anchored on crystal clear water set against a spectacular mountain backdrop.

A sailboat anchored in Jenny Lake Wyoming

Ahhh… maybe the nicest way to experience the Tetons would be by sailboat.

Kayaks and ferry boats on Jenny Lake in Wyoming

Kayaks and canoes are available for rent.

At the south end of Jenny Lake a small boathouse is home to the ferry boats and rental kayaks and canoes.

Getting out on the water is always a pleasure, especially in a watercraft you can power yourself.

Kayaks on Jenny Lake Grand Teton National Park

These two gals said they were loving their kayak ride as they floated past me.

We saw lots of folks kayaking on the lake, some of whom had brought there own and some of whom were renting them from Jenny Lake Boating.

This company also rents canoes and offers ferry boat rides and scenic boat rides on Jenny lake.

Jenny Lake ferry boat in the Tetons

A quickie ferry boat ride gets you out on the water and across the lake.

Even though we missed the summertime bargain boat fare for this ferry, I ended up scoring a free ride later that morning with some rock climbers who were headed across the lake for a day of climbing.

A kayak at Jenny Lake Wyoming

Now that looks like fun!

Mark had already hiked halfway down the two mile trail that goes from the boathouse to the dock on the far side of the lake, so we chatted on our trusty two-way radios about my good luck and his scenic hike, and later caught up with each other!

If flying across the lake at breakneck speed while hanging onto your hat with both hands isn’t the way you dream of way of seeing the Tetons from the water, a canoe trip is a much more peaceful way to go, and you can share the ride too!

Rafting trip down the Snake River in Wyoming

There are loads of rafting trips, from little rafts like this one to huge ones with 10 people aboard.

Powerboats in Jenny Lake Marina Grand Teton National Park

We were astonished by the size of some of the powerboats. What a spot to keep a boat!

River rafting trips are also extremely popular, and we saw several huge rafts filled with ten or so people. A guide stood up in the middle and used an enormous oar to steer the boat.

There were also smaller rafts of all kinds, each flying down the Snake River at a very fast clip

Fishing on the beach at Jenny Lake

Fishing is a nice quiet way to take in the serenity of the Tetons.

There were powerboats of all shapes and sizes at the marina too.

Artist painting at Phelps Lake Grand Teton National Park WY

This is a place that will get your creative juices flowing!

Of course, nothing says you have to be on some kind of moving vehicle to enjoy the Tetons.

The more stationary pursuits of fishing and artwork are other great ways to soak in the beauty of this magical place.

When we hiked to Phelps Lake, we were delighted to come across an artist working at an easel by the water’s edge.

Riding a driftwood see-saw_

Aw heck, when you find a see-saw on the beach you’ve gotta try it out!

Sometimes it’s fun just to be a kid in the presence of these special mountains.

On the shores of Jenny Lake we found a huge driftwood log see-saw, and we promptly jumped on it to give each other a ride.

A motorhome drives in Grand Teton National Park Wyoming

RVs are almost as common as cars in this park.

Of course, the Tetons are RV heaven, with lots of camping options both inside and outside the park.

Every other vehicle on the road was an RV of some sort, and a good percentage of them were rental RVs.

Laurence Rockefeller's audio-visual meditation room at Grand Teton

The Rockefellers built audio-visual (and audio-only) meditation rooms where you can experience nature without the dirt and dust.

For those who don’t want to deal with the grit and effort of hiking and being outdoors, the Rockefeller family (who were responsible for the Park Service’s acquisition of most of the lands in the area), have created a unique “green” building that has several audio-visual meditation rooms.

This might seem goofy, but watching the baby bears climbing trees, the moose lapping water from the lakes and the birds flitting between the trees in larger-than-life scale was actually really cool, especially since we didn’t see those things at close range on any of our hikes.

Reading a book on the beach

What a place to relax and unwind for a while!

Perhaps the best way to enjoy the Tetons, though, is just to pull up a chair and kick back in the presence of these magnificent mountains. After taking in the incredible views, it is even permissible to look away from the dramatic landscapes for a while and settle in with a book!

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Well, that’s not exactly 101 ways to enjoy the Tetons, but it’s a whole bunch!

Grand Teton Lodge Company is the National Park’s concessionaire for the campgrounds, (Colter Bay and Gros Ventre are RV campground options at different ends of the park).  They also offer scenic lunch/dinner cruises on Jackson Lake and river rafting trips.  Jenny Lake Boating offers ferry rides, private boat rentals and kayak and canoe rentals on Jenny Lake. 

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Grand Teton National Park WY – Mirrored Waters

Sunrise at Shwabacher's Landing Grand Teton Wyoming-2

Sunrise at Shwabacher’s Landing.

September, 2014 – The wild skies in Wyoming’s Grand Teton National Park settled down after a while, and clear blue skies began to rein.

We continued our morning ritual of hopping out of bed before dawn to run down to the scenic viewpoints to catch the sunrise.

As the sun rose, pastel shades would silently creep across the sky and then spread across the water below in beautiful mirrored reflections.

The sunrise was different every day, and each one was lovely in its own way.

Teton Mountains at Shwabacher Landing Wyoming

Just before sunrise, mist floats along the base of the Tetons.

Perfect reflections of the Teton Mountains at Shwabacher Landing

At the same place on another day, the mountains blush and check their reflections in the water.

Still water and mountains Shwabacher's Landing Teton Mountains Wyoming

Mirrored reflections of sky and mountains at Shwabacher’s Landing

This business of running around before dawn turned out to be surprisingly popular in the Tetons.

Every morning, headlights pierced the cold black air heading in both directions on the highway, and brake lights lined up at the turn-offs to the viewpoints.

At first we thought the Tetons were full of crazy photographers.

Water reflections Shwabacher Landing in the Teton Mountains-3

Serenity.

But we soon figured out that lots of these people were fishermen, wildlife stalkers and folks getting an early start for their day’s hike.

So much for R&R when you take a vacation to Grand Teton National Park!

What we loved, though, was the stillness of the water and the way its glassy surface mirrored the sawtooth mountain peaks as they changed shades in the morning light.

Placid water at Shwabacher's Landing at the Tetons

Prefect stillness… for a split second!

We returned to Shawbacher’s Landing several times to capture these special moments, and every single time we were teased by the dam-building beavers.

A tree felled by a beaver

Beavers are great lumberjacks. How do they
know when it’s time to bite and run?

Each morning, it was guaranteed that until the sun crested the horizon to the east, the beavers would sit on the tops of their dams, silhouetted perfectly.

They looked so cute and stood so incredibly still as they posed for us, little hunched figures on top of their world.

However, in such hopelessly dim light there wasn’t a chance in heck of getting that dreamed of beaver-sitting-on-his-dam portrait.

Beaver Dam at Shwabacher Landing Grand Teton Wyoming

A dam built by a beaver, nature’s engineer.

Of course, just as the colorful magic in the sky would begin, the beavers would all jump in the water and swim around, totally messing up the reflections.

They’d drag branches to and fro between their dams, true to their reputation as nature’s industrious little engineers, but they’d leave the water completely rippled, shattering the pink mirrored mountains into a zig-zag pattern of fractured images.

Mirrored reflection across Jenny Lake in Wyoming

The mirrored reflection of the mountains stretched clear across Jenny Lake.

The photographers that were lined up on the shore would moan and grumble to each other about those damn beavers, throwing up their hands in total frustration.

They’d call out to the beavers, telling them to get out of the way, and pleading with them to hold off on construction until the work day actually started in another hour or two.

Sometimes the water would settle for a split second, and then a flurry of shutter clicks would fly.

 

Jenny Lake evergreen trees in morning mist Wyoming

Pines mirrored in the mist at Jenny Lake.

Triumphant grins would flash between us all, only to be followed by another series of loud groans when a fish would snag a bug on the water’s surface, sending out a ring of ripples.

Once the light show was over, of course, and the sun rose high enough to bathe the scene in stark, bright light, the beavers would vanish into thin air, nowhere to be found, and the water would resume its glassy state, a little late.

So it goes with nature photography.

 

Mirrored mountains Jenny Lake Grand Teton National Park Wyoming

We were captivated by the beauty around us.

Jenny Lake sits in the middle of Grand Teton National Park, and there is a 10 minute ferry ride that shuttles people to the far side where there are several wonderful hikes.

Wandering down to the boathouse one afternoon, we discovered that this ferry ride is $15 per person all day long, but the very first boat ride at 7:00 a.m. is just $5.

Misty morning on Jenny Lake Wyoming

Every way we turned the images were
awe-inspiring.

What a deal! We were there!

So, on yet another ice cold morning, we dashed off in the truck, only to arrive at Jenny Lake and discover that now that Labor Day was behind us, the ferries were on a Fall schedule.

There was no early morning discount deal.

Rising mist on Jenny Lake Teton Mountains

The water was like glass.

In fact, there were no ferries at all until 10:00 a.m.

Argh!!

But this turned out to be a blessing in disguise, as we were now on the shores of Jenny Lake at dawn, a time and place where the Tetons quietly radiate their greatest majesty.

Foggy shores of Jenny Lake Grand Teton Wyoming

Mist rises from Jenny Lake.

The mist was rising off the surface of the water, and we suddenly had nothing to do but wander along the edge of the lake and take in the beautiful scene.

Talk about mirrored reflections on the water!

The whole lake was crystal clear and utterly ripple free!

We picked our way between the rocks on the shoreline, totally captivated by the steaming water and glowing mountains across the lake

 

Morning mist on the water Jenny Lake Grand Teton National Park

Jenny Lake is a magical spot at dawn.

There was less than a handful of other people down at the lake, and we were all walking around with dreamy smiles on our faces.

Granted, we all needed coffee, and we all had red, runny noses, but we all knew this was life at its finest.

The world was asleep, snug in their sleeping bags or rustic cabins or plush hotels in Jackson Hole, but a breathtaking dawn was silently unfolding around us lucky ones right here.

 

Mountain reflections in Jenny Lake

The mountains glowed orange.

Time stood still as the mountains gradually glowed fiery orange.

The light intensified for a few moments, stealing over the scene and over us noiselessly, without any kind of announcement or tap on the shoulder saying, “Hey, look at me!”

All this bravado and show was just nature’s way of stretching and shaking off the cold stiffness of the night air before getting up.

 

 

Dinghies on the beach at Jenny Lake in Grand Teton National Park

Dinghies and trees on the beach made beautiful patterns.

It was a magic moment that swept us up in its glory, so singular and so special for us that it would stay in our memories forever.

But it happens every day, day after day.

How lucky we felt to have witnessed it. How fortunate we were to be in this spot on this morning to watch the vibrant light grow and fade, to see the mist rise and dissipate from the water.

At the same time, how reassuring it was to know that it is always there for everyone, every morning… Jenny Lake at dawn.

 

Visit these links for the Official Grand Teton National Park website and Wikipedia’s Grand Teton National Park entry.

Here is a little more about Jenny Lake  and the Jenny Lake ferry.

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Grand Teton National Park WY – Wild Skies

Rainbow over our fifth wheel in Alpine Wyoming

At the end of the flood…a rainbow!

 

August, 2014 – After our four days of Noah’s Flood in Alpine, Wyoming, finally ended, we were blessed with a beautiful rainbow right over our little buggy.

The mud around us dried just enough so we could make our way back to the highway and continue our journey north towards Grand Teton National Park.

The deluge wasn’t entirely over, however, and dark gloomy skies filled our views for a few days.

 

 

Mist rises at dawn in Grand Teton National Park Wyoming

The Tetons are wreathed in a mysterious mist.

 

We arrived at the Tetons to find them wrapped in a mysterious mist that rose and fell and enveloped their faces as a cold wind whipped ours.

The clouds moved quickly, coagulating into otherworldly shapes and then dispersing into nothing, as if a magician were shrouding them under a gossamer veil and then laughing with a twinkle in his eye as he pulled it away.

 

 

Mountain mist explosion at Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming

The mountains seemed at times to be exploding.

 

We drove along the highway that runs through this park, awe-struck by the majestic scenery surrounding us.

Wisps of fog reached out along the base of the Teton Mountains and stole up their craggy flanks, giving the regal peaks a mystical air.

Sunlight came and went, teasing us as it lit the jagged faces and then withdrew and left them dark.

 

RV fifth wheel in Grand Teton National Park Wyoming

Dawn’s light played amid the mountain peaks

 

 

We roamed all around, enchanted by this unusual light, until some huge black clouds gathered overhead and gave us a frightening glare.

When they finally burst wide open, we huddled inside the buggy.  Rain pelted our roof, thunder echoed off the jagged peaks and lightning flashed all around us.

At last the rain stopped, and we ran along the Blacktail Pond overlook with vague hope in our hearts that there might be a good sunset.

 

 

Storm clouds over our fifth wheel RV

Storm clouds threatened and then burst with fury

 

We claimed our spots with our tripods and cameras on opposite promontontories, just in case.

I noticed another photographer setting up near me.

“Do you think there’s a chance of a sunset?” I asked him, making a face as I glanced at the grey skies.

“You never know.” He replied. “I’ve been coming here for years, and I’ve seen some incredible sunsets.”

 

Wild skies in Grand Teton National Park Wyoming

Wild skies at sunset

Just then, we both noticed a faint hint of pink in the sky.

As we stared at it, willing it to grow, the most stunning sunset I have ever seen unfolded.

In moments, the entire sky was on fire, flaming in waves of brilliant pink and orange.

The colors intensified, as if the flames were licking the mountaintops.

A pink glow began to radiate between the peaks.

 

Sunset in Grand Teton National Park Wyoming

Waves of color formed as the sunset drama played out

I could hear the shutter clicks of my companion and the “oohs” and “aahs” he was muttering.

I was doing the same thing, and hoping feverishly that Mark was as spellbound watching this magical drama over on his precipice as we were on ours.

I turned away from the valley for a moment and was shocked to see the sides of the storm clouds above us had suddenly begun glowing magenta.

 

 

Storm clouds and sunset in Wyoming

I turned around and saw the storm clouds glowing, as if from a fire within.

Two trees on the flat plain were silhouetted against this delicious, lugubrious sky.

And then, without a hint of warning, it was over.

Mark and I ran towards each other, bursting with excitement.

“Did you see that?”

“Yes. Did you get it?”

“I think so… Look at this one…”

Pink glow between the Teton Mountain Peaks Wyoming

Vibrant shafts of light radiate between the peaks.

Fire in the sky at Grand Teton National Monument in Wyoming

The gods play with fire in the sky over the Tetons.

Shwabacher Landing Grand Teton National Park before dawn

Before dawn, the misty peaks were reflected in the water.

We traded cameras to see each other’s pics, dashed into the rig and drove off in a flurry, totally flushed with excitement.

The next morning we set the alarm for oh-dark-thirty and snuck down to Shwabacher Landing to see if we might get lucky with a sunrise.

The mountains were shrouded in blue-gray mist.

Only the peaks were visible, but the reflections from the mirror-like water gave the scene an ethereal air.

 

Sunrise at Shawbacker Landing Grand Teton National Park

But all the sunrise drama was happening behind us!

We set up our tripods for our sunrise shot, totally focused on the mountains and reflecting water in front of us.

Then we turned around and our jaws dropped in astonishment as we watched the most vivid display of pink and orange developing behind us.

We were in total awe. But the cameras were facing in the complete opposite direction!

After a few minutes I finally regained my senses, yanked the camera off the tripod and fired off a few quick handheld shots of this glorious sunrise.

Sunrise lights the peaks in Grand Teton National Park Wyoming

Sunrise lights the tips of the mountains as fog rolls in

No sooner had the color faded in the eastern sky than the rising sun began to light the peaks of the Tetons to the west.

The mist was rising rapidly, leaving just the points of each jagged peak to poke its head above and glow pink for a few seconds.

We caught our images, but our hearts were pounding.

How crazy that a silent sunrise could steal over an entire valley and send us into paroxysms of frustration and thrills: “I’m missing it…No, wait, I’m getting it! I got it I got it!!”

Blushing mountain peaks at Grand Teton Naitonal Park Wyoming

The tips of the mountains catch the sunrise above the mist.

For the next few days we rose with the alarm clock to catch the sunrises over the water.

There were other photographers at every viewpoint, all jumping up and down to keep warm, and blowing into their hands to bring some life back to their fingertips.

We shared stories of missed shots, wrong camera settings, and the ecstasy of catching it just right.

Some photographers had caught The Big Fiery Sunset at Ox Bow and Shwabacher Landing where the theatrics in the sky were doubled by reflections in the water.

Stormy sunrise over an RV

Another stormy sunset fills the sky

Such good fortune!

The stormy skies continued to enchant us, and we were blessed with one stunning sunrise and sunset after another.

After nearly a week of this nonsense of getting out of our warm bed in the ice cold dark and not crawling back into that warm bed until many hours after sunset, we were bleary eyed and tripping over our own two feet.

But the Tetons had gifted us with their magic and we were grateful for every stunning moment.

 

Glowing with happiness at Grand Teton National Park Wyoming

Glowing with happiness in a truly spectacular place.

Prior to this visit, our RV travels in Wyoming had brought us to this magnificent valley twice. The first time, in our first year of traveling, we had naively rushed through way too fast, and the second, just two years ago, had been devoid of mountain views due to thick wildfire smoke in the air.

This visit, however, was taking us by storm, in the best and most literal sense.

We quickly decided to stick around a while to see what else these mysterious mountains would share with us.

For more information about Grand Teton National Park, click here.

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Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming – Stunning!

Grand Tetons

Grand Tetons

The Tetons stand watch over Lake Jackson

The mountains seem to rise up out of the lake.

Pronghorn antelope.

Lake Jackson.

Jenny Lake reflects the mountains in her depths.

Grand Teton National Park, WY

September 10-12, 2007 - We drove from Yellowstone south to

Grand Teton National Park.  We were there on magically beautiful

days.  The sky was bright and clear and everywhere we turned

was like a picture postcard.  Apparently the mountains are often

obscured by clouds, so we felt fortunate to see them on days that

were crystal clear.

We drove the Scenic Loop

through the park, and on

our way back we saw a

pronghorn antelope peering

at us through the grass.

Just after we got his picture

he bounded away.

We were starting to feel the press of the coming cold weather, and

we still had a lot we wanted to see before we headed south, so we

made our way eastwards in Wyoming to Devils Tower National

Monument.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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