Established in 1929, expanded in 1950 and situated in north west Wyoming, The Grand Teton National Park is a 50 mile long valley known as Jackson Hole surrounded by the Teton range, a 40 mile long mountain range. Grand Teton is 13,770 feet high and the range has 12 pinnacles over 12000 feet. The Snake River runs through the park giving advantage for water activities such as Fly Fishing, Kayaking and White Water Rafting.
We entered at Moose Junction, paid our $20 entrance fee (valid for both Grand Teton and Yellowstone for 7 consecutive days) and made our way to Jenny Lake where our first and only full day in the park commenced with the boat trip on the lake. We bought our tickets, boarded the boat, grabbed a blanket each and sat down to wait for the boat to depart.
Immediately it left the dock, we realised how rough the strong wind was making the lake. Spray, it was more like buckets of water, was wetting us through as the boat was tossing about on the water. We were shielding our faces from the water with the blanket and had no idea where we were going as we couldn’t see a thing when after about 5 minutes the boat stopped. When we looked up we realised we had gone back, the journey having been abandoned as being too rough. We all got a refund and vowed to try again the next day.
After this we had to rely on the car and made our way to Signal Mountain which is reached via Signal Mountain Road an offshoot road from Teton Park Road, which climbs for 5 miles to 800 feet. The road is very narrow and winding, but at the top there is a small car park and a short walk to an overlook giving views of Jackson Hole Valley and Jackson Lake and the Teton Range. Due to the wintry day there was a lot of fog about, but we got some beautiful views through the breaks.
Descending back to Teton Park Road we saw a group of people with telescopes, spotting scopes and binoculars at the side of the road and, having read what to do in this case, stopped and asked what they could see. We had binoculars thrust at us and told there was a golden eagle in a tree about a half mile away. We were thrilled when we actually saw it and took photos (although it is hard to spot on camera).
This got us in wildlife mode and with eyes darting everywhere, our next stop was Oxbow Bend where we joined a group of people all waiting hopefully for moose, as they are known to graze in the shallows of the Snake River, but they didn’t appear.
The park is teeming with wildlife and during our first day we saw the golden eagle, a bald eagle, pronghorn and a mule deer.
We didn’t have much luck with food and drinks in the park. Our first try for a coffee was at Jackson Lake Lodge, but there was a power cut so they had no electricity. Later in the day, we managed to find a sandwich at one of the visitor centres, but the coffee had run out.
We made our way back to Jackson, through Teton Village, dominated by the ski slope and aerial tramway (this tramway climbs 4,000 feet in 12 minutes), stopping at turnouts on the way for the scenic views available at every turn in this beautiful park.