The Gems of Grand Teton National Park

It is not the position you stand but the direction in which you look that counts

One of the parks I’ve visited in the United States is Grand Teton National Park.

It left a big impression on me.

Sometimes this park gets less attention because of its famous neighbour, Yellowstone but it definitely deserves a couple days from your precious time.

Here are my (current) top 5 highlights of this park.

5. Jenny Lake Scenic Drive

This one way drive gives you a great view over Jenny Lake on your right. Put on a good tune and let your eyes take it all in. Not you, driver, you keep your eyes on the road and you can enjoy the music and the road ahead.

4. Blacktail Pond Overlook 

Visit this place at the end of the day to get more chances to see the beavers. You can also bring a visit to this place to make some stunning reflection pictures of the Teton mountains during the day.

3. Snake River Overlook 

Another overlook, another great view of the mountains and the snake river. My friend once gave me a motivational poster of this shot. That poster hanged up in my room for years so I HAD to make a stop at this beautiful place.

So worth it.

2. Phelps Lake 

Not the most famous lake of all but it’s a great spot where you can jump of a huge rock. Just make sure you push yourself off the rock when you jump off. As my friend already jumped threes times I felt the pressure rising. My heart was starting to beat even faster when a joyful family joined us to have a picnic on the rock and started cheering for me.

I felt like there wasn’t a way back.

I had to jump off or I would regret this all my life. So I went a couple steps back, breathed in and out a couple times and started running. Instead of pushing myself of the rock I stepped off the rock and made my descent and finished gracefully with a nasty face plant in the incredibly refreshing water.

Classic.

Still glad I did it.

1. Surprise Lake and Amphitheatre Lake

Two lakes fairly close to each other high up in the mountains. This is a day trip hike that starts off with a bunch of switchbacks but once you conquered those you will soon be rewarded with great views over the park and Jackson Hole.

We did this hike begin of October and lucked out with the weather because we traveled during the few last warm and sunny days of the season.

During the hike you will be stunned with great views over the park and beautiful lakes.

Make sure you bring enough water on this hike as it took us nearly 7 hours to complete the hike from beginning to end.

Discovering Wyoming : All over the Place

And then there was this time I made a road trip through Alberta, Montana and Wyoming with Gordon.

After driving through Alberta and Montana we finally made it to Wyoming after passing the Roosevelt Arch. This arch marks the North Entrance of the park and is named after President Roosevelt after he placed one of the corner stones of this arch over a century ago.

We lucked out with the fantastic weather as it is October and the area is at the verge of winter. If we would have arrived 10 days later a lot of the roads would have been closed off already. So make sure you always check the road conditions on the website of the National Park you will visit.

Also, if you visit a couple National Parks on your road trip through the USA and you arrive at your first park, make sure to consider buying an annual pass if you are planning on visiting more than 4 National Parks. It will be cheaper in the long run.

The first big stop we made in the park was Mammoth Hot Springs followed by the Midway Geyser Basin and Old Faithful. Three very impressive stops where every photographer among us can take a million pictures.

Unfortunately the sun was already setting once we made it to the Old Faithful. We were able to still witness an eruption before it went completely dark. Don’t forget to bring a visit to the Old Faithful Inn when you are there.

We exited the park and drive all the way down to Jackson Hole where we had accommodations booked for the next two nights so we could explore Grand Teton National Park and Jackson for a bit.

We stayed at Miller Park Lodge and had a very enjoyable stay. Nice rooms, free parking and located in the center of the touristy town of Jackson Hole. We arrived very late but had no problem checking in.

The next day we got ourselves a good breakfast burrito before we hit the road again. Today would be the highlight of our trip as we were about to go hiking in Grand Teton National Park.

Once we entered the park we made a quick stop at the visitor center for some recommendations about the park. The ranger was awesome and gave us some fun places to do and see. I will share my top 5 of things to see and do in the park in my next post.

At night we grabbed a bite at McPhail’s Burgers where they use fresh ground beef to make their delicious burgers.

Afterwards we visited the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar near the Jackson Town Square. If you want the Western Cowboy Bar you’ve seen in the movies, than this one is your go to place. It even has saddle bar stools inside and the place to have a good time in Jackson.

Discovering Wyoming : Race Against Time

Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.

Sunday morning,

I woke up and tried to open my eyes.

I felt the exhaustion in my body.

The intense road trip was slowly catching up on all of us but we didn’t let that get us down.

We packed our stuff and left the historical Lake Yellowstone Hotel early in the morning. We had the whole park to discover plus a flight to catch in Salt Lake City in the evening.

Our first stop was at the Old Faithful, one of the main attractions of this park. This is an active geyser that erupts every half an hour to two hours. For time estimations when the next eruption will be, go check in the lobby of the Old Faithful Inn, the largest log hotel in the world that was built over a century ago. Worth a peek !

We continued to our next stop, Mid Geyser Basin. Here you can behold the Grand Prismatic Spring, a pool with very special colours caused by the bacterials mats and the extreme pure water caused by the constant heat of the pool.

On our way north we passed some bisons who were not giving a damn about the tourists in the park while strolling over the roads.

The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone was our next place to explore. Unbelievable how much diversity and beauty this one National Park has. Here you hike down a little path to get to the giant waterfall.

After a few snaps we decided to squeeze Mammoth Hot Springs in to our visit to this park and had a glance of the lower and upper terrace. Then we evaluated our time frame and it was not looking good.

We exited the park through the West Entrance (or West Exit if you want to call it that) and started our race to the airport of Salt Lake City.

After a few hours of driving I handed over the wheel to one of my German friends.

She stepped on the wheel.

And then she got pulled over by the cops.

We were four foreigners racing through Idaho to catch a plane to Los Angeles. My friend explained the situation to the highway patroller and told him we had a plane to catch in a few hours in Salt Lake City.

He gave us a well deserved ‘you guys are poor planners’ look and let us go with a warning.

Twenty minutes lost on our clock – We already had a whole game plan figured out. Two of us would go check us in while the other two would return the rental car and catch up with them.

With less than an hour before departure we entered Salt Lake City and two of us rushed inside the airport while the remaining two were dealing with the drop off of our rental car. After some rude customer service we finally could start our chase to the gate.

We made it right on time.

With our hearts beating fast and our minds full of great memories we flew back to Los Angeles.

This weekend was too short but if I only would have a weekend to do it, I would do it all over again.

Discovering Wyoming : Western Pleasures

I have visited the State of Wyoming twice in my life.

Both times were time bound.

In this blog I will share you the first part of my first time

The first time I visited “the Equality State” was back in 2012 with three lively ladies. We flew from Los Angeles and landed in Salt Lake City on a Friday night. From there we picked up the rental car and started the long drive to Jackson Hole which was 4.30 hours away.

A long night ahead but we were all filled with excitement. If we would drive at a constant speed and make short and calculated stops we would made it by midnight.

That plan fell apart on our first stop of the night.

We managed to waste an hour of our time to eat and get gas. But it was all worth it.

We continued our drive and had to get off the Interstate 15 at one point and that’s where the exciting part started with only an empty road and complete darkness ahead of us. And very occasionally a little village.

We passed by one of those villages and there was a bar that was still open. We looked at each other and realized our precious night sleep would be crap anyways so decided to get a shot at a real cowboy bar. The parking lot was pretty full so we expected that the place would be busy until we walked in and saw nothing but a loving couple at the bar and a drunken waitress.

We had a couple shots (DD not included) and decided to continue our drive until an cowboy walked towards us from the back of the bar and told us to join the fun upstairs… So that’s where the party was happening. We got upstairs and couldn’t believe our eyes when we walked into a western brothel.

We turned around and got back to the car.

Welcome to Wyoming.

And that was only the beginning.

We arrived in Jackson Hole around 2 AM and tried to look for our hotel. We came to realize that our hotel wasn’t located in the historic downtown area of Jackson Hole but its nearby village, Teton Village.

We slept for 3 hours, got ready, had breakfast and hit the road again.

We started in Teton Village where we took the aerial tram up to the top of Rendez Vous Mountain. From the top you have awesome views and great hiking trails. Or you can just be crazy and paraglide down the mountain.

Around noon we had a reservation with Dave Hansen Whitewater and Scenic River Trips. They are located Downtown Jackson Hole. The staff was fantastic and the experience unforgettable ! We had a blast whitewater rafting and I would recommend this activity to anyone. Fun guaranteed !

Late in the afternoon we got back to the car and had another long drive ahead of us direction Yellowstone.

We were blessed to drive along US highway 89 with a marvelous view of the Tetons of Grand Teton National Park to our left. A place I was able to explore last year and now belongs to one of my favourite National Parks.

To be continued