August 24, 2023
During our RV road trip across the West, we visited Grand Teton National Park in northwestern Wyoming, a majestic place where blue, snow-streaked mountains rake the sky above a scenic valley.
The Teton Range was formed along a fault line, where, 10 million years ago, colliding tectonic plates uplifted ancient sedimentary rock into the mountains we see today. In geologic time, the Tetons are among the youngest mountains in the world. During the Ice Age, glaciers scoured the valley floor and created picturesque lakes at the base of the mountains.
In mid-May, many of the trees at Grand Teton had not yet leafed out. Their white trunks and branches are pretty against the russets and tans of wet meadows.
We drove in from Yellowstone, where we stayed for 5 nights, meandering south through Grand Teton to the town of Jackson Hole and then heading back to Yellowstone that evening. Along the way we stopped often for wildlife watching…
…taking photographs, and hiking a few easy trails.
Mountains, lake, and sky
Water is abundant at Grand Teton, whose valley has many lakes and ponds as well as the Snake River.
We spotted what looked like a beaver lodge in one pond.
At another, I observed a Canada goose sitting on her nest, which was built in shallow water like a moated island.
She stood up to nudge her eggs and turn them.
Getting things arranged just so
And then she settled back on her eggs to incubate them.
Grizzly bears live in Grand Teton, and we carried bear spray on our belts every time we set out on a hike or stroll.
You never know when you may encounter a bear, so be prepared.
But mostly we saw birds.
Like this Audubon’s warbler, a subspecies of the yellow-rumped warbler
And these male and female common goldeneye ducks
Female common goldeneye
Grand Teton must be a terrific place to go birding.
We also saw a few elk grazing on a hillside.
Mormon settlers established 27 homesteads in Grand Teton in the 1890s, and some of their buildings remain today on what’s called Mormon Row. What a view they enjoyed, although conditions would have been harsh.
Even one outhouse still stands.
Mormon Row outhouse
Log cabin on Mormon Row
The John and Bartha Moulton barn
Corrals for their horses or dairy cows remain too.
The Mormons moved on, but a colony of ground squirrels still enjoys the place.
John and Bartha Moulton’s salmon-pink stucco house was inhabited seasonally until the late 1980s.
A roar filled the air, and I looked up to see a United airplane descending toward Jackson Hole’s airport, soaring alongside the craggy Teton Range. It must have been quite the view for passengers on the right side of the plane.
We drove to Jackson Hole, a western resort town just south of Grand Teton. Four massive arches made of cast-off elk antlers mark the entrances to a park in the town square.
Time was short since we had to get back to Yellowstone that evening, so we didn’t have time to really explore Jackson Hole, but I’m glad we stopped by.
And then we began the drive north through this breathtaking country again.
Up next: Our final stop on our national parks tour, Glacier National Park in Montana. For a look back at Part 3 of my visit to Yellowstone, click here. You’ll find links to Parts 1 and 2 at the end of each post in my Yellowstone series.
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