We’ve reemerged after five amazing days in Grand Teton National Park. This was the first leg of our National Parks Adventure this month, where we’ll be spending four to five days in national parks as we drive North.
First stop was Jackson Hole, WY where we spent some time in town before settling in for the night at a campsite just inside the park, Gros Venture campground. Note: highly recommend this to folks trying to get a campsite at the popular Jenny Lake, as you can camp here to get in range and be bright eyed for a 6:30am wake up call to stand in line for a spot at the first come, first serve Jenny Lake!
That being said, we got a spot at the beautiful Jenny Lake campground for the rest of our stay! It was so nice to be in such a great, central location since many of our hikes started nearby and we spent many of our evenings relaxing by the lake.
Nick and I were able to see much of the park in just five days while also hiking a ton and getting my fill of spotting wildlife!
We were lucky enough on our first day to be driving in next to the normal hangout spot for the park’s buffalo, which in turn is where we spent the first half hour of our time!
Although there are many suggested “wildlife viewing” areas throughout the park, which Nick and I also visited, we had the best luck finding a place just off the road near Oxbow Bend. We decided to find a relaxing spot near the Snake River to sit and have lunch on Friday and this spot ended up being a gold mine for wildlife! Black bear, otters, ospreys, bald eagles…I was going nuts as we sat in our chairs by the river for lunch!
The funniest event though occured when two kayakers came floating by and waved us down to tell us a black bear had swam across the river in front of them just 100 yds behind us, and was now heading our way. We got so excited, and of course, picked up the bear spray just to be cautious. We saw a glimpse of the bear as it jumped and ran towards us behind some bushes but then when a few cars came driving by, it ran sideways and disappeared into the woods.
As much as I wanted to see a bear I also was a little on edge from the day before. We had been walking back to camp from the lake when we evidently just had missed a black bear slashing two tents at our campground just a few spots down from ours. That night, I of course couldn’t sleep after I woke up to what my head believed to be a giant bear outside our tent. Nick reassured me multiple times as I trembled in the tent “it was probably a deer.” And sure enough the next day, the local campground deer Joe Buck and his three fawns seem to have made a habit of coming to our spot for their meals! So let’s just say I slept soundly the last few nights after seeing this adorable family behind our tent instead of a bear!
We lucked out all five days with amazing weather which was a great backdrop to our daily hikes. We were able to hike through Granite Canyon to Phelps Lake in the southeast section of the park. We also took a day to explore near our campground and walk beside Jenny Lake, down to String Lake and even farther to Leigh Lake. That day went from a “relaxing stroll” to 10 miles of hiking!
But my all time favorite moment in this park was our hike to Lake Solitude. It was roughly 14 miles and about 2,600 ft of elevation to climb to the amazing views of this lake on the backside of the Teton range. We started very early to catch the boat across Jenny Lake and started our hike through Cascade Canyon which opened up to valleys of wildflowers.
Once we reached the top, it was a beautiful sight to see this alpine lake with a glacier filled mountain as the backdrop. We took our time soaking our feet in the icy water and enjoying lunch before slowly making our way back to camp.
We thoroughly enjoyed the first leg of our National Parks Adventure and can only guess the amazing views and hikes will continue as we head north. But no matter what, the Grand Tetons stunned me with it’s amazing sights and allowing us to get in nearly 40 miles of hiking in our first stop!
And one last amusing ancedote for you. There are those funny times in life when a true coincidence can emerge and make an already amazing adventure turn into a beyond grateful situation. The first day in the park, I had posted a picture on the good ol’ Instagram account which got a comment from my cousin, Isaac, who I haven’t seen in quite awhile. He was going to be driving through the Grand Tetons this weekend and wondered about my schedule. He was on his way to a backcountry camping trip and was able to stay at our Jenny Lake campsite the night before our hike to Lake Solitude. And best yet, his backcountry hiking trip allowed us to cross paths with him one last time on our return from Lake Solitude as he made his way up Cascade Canyon. I mean what are the chances of two cousins being in the same park and on the same hike at the same time, pretty rare if you ask me!
Next up is Glacier National Park, can’t wait!