Grand Teton N.P. WY (GRTE)

Way back in late June of 2002, long before we even had the Chinook RV, we vacationed to Yellowstone with plans to also take in a bit of Grand Teton. It was freezing cold for most of our time in Yellowstone, and a blizzard blew in toward the end of our stay, prompting us to leave a couple days on the table, cancel plans in the Tetons, and beat feet back home. Here is TBG on the only hike we had before the big chill, and me wearing almost all the clothes I had with me “enjoying” a geyser.

Needless to say, we had always planned to return to GRTE sometime, and almost 20 years later, we made it. We almost didn’t, though, due to a mechanical problem that took a few days to resolve — mercifully only a few days considering the difficulties with the national supply chain that easily could have sidelined us for months. In Montana. Exactly where everyone likes to winter in an RV. We had a couple different sets of friends who were intersecting with us at the park, and we were so thankful that, while having to cut the one visit short by a day, we were still able to salvage all the meet-ups.

We just barely fit in #27, with our friends directly across the street in #26. They had arrived the previous day, and before our arrival, Erik had suggested that we might want to pull nose-in to our site for the view. It was dry camping making rig orientation moot for hookups, and we really appreciated his heads-up, as you can see! We didn’t do much more that day than visit and take a long walk around the large campground.

I know most of you view and read this blog on your phones, and I do preview it in that format, but this post is going to be single-photo heavy, and I highly recommend that if you have a laptop, you read this one on it.

TBG had been watching the lunar calendar and was excited that the full moon was going to coincide with our stay. Our one-day delay in arrival meant that he was one day off of the ‘perfect’ opportunity he was anticipating, but he and Erik set off the following morning just before moonset in search of the shot he wanted. I bundled up and set off for the amphitheater area where the signs said a she-moose was appearing daily. The guys had better luck than I did.

That afternoon, our friends wanted to go fly fishing, and while we caravanned out to the pretty area they had in mind along a very bumpy dirt road,

we left them to it, and returned to the park for an unusual-for-us afternoon hike.

photo courtesy of T. Salisbury

Needing a hike that wasn’t a long drive nor a long distance, TBG plugged in the Phelps Lake trail, and with another mile of even more excruciatingly bumpy dirt road, we reached the trailhead area.

The Phelps Lake trail is an up and down in each direction, summiting at 7200′ before dropping to the lake. Several returning hikers advised us of a big bull moose near the trail by the lake and said to go right at the fork to avoid it. We went left.

His nose was just as velvety as it looks!

It was not our first moose sighting, but it was our first bull moose sighting, and he was very chill at the side of the trail. We, of course, weren’t foolish enough to continue past him, and we happily climbed back up to the overlook then down to the parking area.

A second pair of friends arrived the following morning to meet us all at another trailhead for a group outing.

Erik & Theresa, TBG (look closely!) Brad, me (shadow) and Brad’s son, Chris

Our chosen trail was a loop around Taggart and Bradley Lakes. It was a picture-perfect day.

Unfortunately, Brad and Chris only had the day with us, and E & T had to leave early the following morning. After waving so-long to everyone, TBG and I set off to take in one of the park’s most famous hikes at Jenny Lake.

As expected, the parking lot was filling rapidly even though we arrived early. The trail rings Jenny Lake, providing connections to other trails on the west side. It is also possible to hop on a shuttle boat that ferries visitors across the lake where they can continue on longer trails, hike back around half the lake, or take two short spur trails to a couple other famous sites and then shuttle boat back. We opted to stay on land and hike the whole loop around the lake.

At the halfway point, we reached the boat docking area, and had to make a decision whether or not we’d take the two short spurs to the famous sites of Inspiration Point and Hidden Falls. The crowds had condensed in this area becoming a single-file line of hikers in a few spots, so it was a no-brainer for us to scratch the two spur hikes off the list and continue around the lake.

The trail comes by its popularity honestly, providing beautiful views no matter where you are at any point in the loop. We took one reviewer’s advice to travel clockwise and save the very best views for last.

On the drive back, we passed the field near the trailhead for the group hike we took where the signs asked that visitors not feed the foxes, and I spotted a fox competently feeding itself. We were fortunate in that we saw it first, but it wasn’t long before other visitors followed our lead and a small crowd gathered. It’s sort of a running joke in Yellowstone and the Tetons that the best way to find wildlife is to drive around looking for traffic jams.

Our next couple of days didn’t include any real showstoppers, but when you’re hiking in GRTE, you’d be hard-pressed to come up with a true dud of a hike. The obvious advantage of “lesser” hikes is fewer people, and we knocked out a few of those in the northern part of the park.

Our friends had seen a badger near one of the buildings along the old, famous area known as Mormon Row, and we went out one morning and every remaining evening to see if another would lumber out of one of the numerous burrows that surrounded the structures. We never did spot one, but it’s always a pretty place to spend an evening.

For our last big hike we considered Cascade Canyon, which is very popular and also came highly recommended by our friends at Chapter3Travels. Not really wanting to share the canyon with a lot of other people, and the crowds still being a bit heavy for this time of year, we took our chances and chose Granite Canyon instead. As you’ll see, we missed nothing but the crowds, and it was the only place we saw no critters, though there were many signs like the one below all over the park.

TBG said he didn’t think the early-morning sign photo would be good, so he made me take another at the end of the hike. I like them both.

It offered a variety of captivating vistas along the way, but the best at the end (of our hike, the trails continue) when the canyon opened up and the autumn colors exploded and poured down the walls into the valley.

On our last day, it was chillier than it had been, and we hardly even left the RV while we organized, rested, and regrouped for the next adventure. No matter, the entertainment came to us!

The campground she-moo came a-callin’, and we had a cozy front-row seat while she took her time browsing and snacking. It was the quintessential capper to our Teton adventure!

20 thoughts on “Grand Teton N.P. WY (GRTE)

  1. Those fall colors are great. We’ve done the Taggert & Bradley lakes hike as well. It really was nice. I don’t think there are bad hikes in Grand Teton.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Incredible photos of an incredible place. You were there at the right season to see Fall at the Tetons in its full glory. And oh my, you have a moose bonanza plus the bull moose and friends and weather perfect. And the full moon was just framed right! That last photo of fall with just a glimpse of the blue hiker was the bomb.
    What area were those red hills? I don’t recall seeing them during our visits.

    Liked by 2 people

    • We were worried that the dryness out west would have muted the fall display, but those canyons guard their moisture, and WOW!

      The red hills were just east of the park along Gros Ventre Road. We had no idea it looked like that out there until we drove out to help our friends locate a fishin’ hole. We also saw bighorn sheep on that drive. It was a dusty, bumpy, long drive, but some of the views were lovely.


  3. We need to spend more time in GTNP. We made a long drive over from another area west of it. We did the Phelps Lake hike, too! We didn’t get to see a moose, though. Your guy was spectacular!! Wow! Three moose! Lucky you. We did drive around after the hike and saw a cow moose, but I wanted to see a bull. You had some lovely hikes. That fox was beautiful.

    Liked by 2 people

    • The bull moose was a definite highlight, and I have no doubt that if you have a return visit for more time there, you will see one. Late September is a great time for them since it’s just before the rut and they’re not too ornery yet πŸ˜† That fox had the prettiest tail I’ve ever seen on one — no doubt because it has such a good life in the park 🦊

      Liked by 1 person

  4. “We went left,” LOL!!! We would have, too. What a fabulous bull moose sighting! I’m so glad his nose was as velvety as it looks. πŸ™‚

    Your time in the Tetons looks idyllic, with beautiful hikes, fall colors, and wonderful wildlife sightings. And even time with good friends! The Tetons are still on our list. We planned to go there in 2013 and were foiled by a government shutdown (we were in Yellowstone at the time and got kicked out). Your photos are gorgeous, and make me determined that we will, indeed, get to the Tetons. So glad you had such a great time!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Of course you would have! I actually thought of you when I wrote that!

      I know you’ll make it to the Tetons, and I have no doubt you’ll have a similarly wonderful experience when you do. Like Shannon said, Yellowstone gets more glory, but the Tetons more than hold their own!


  5. Y’all have some incredible photos from beautiful places, but that one at the end in the canyon may be my favorite. The bright fall colors against perfect blue skies and a single hiker enjoying it all…. Wowzers! Love it!

    I’m glad things worked out mechanically and you were still able to make the most of your visit and spend time with your friends. Grand Teton is a gorgeous park and you hit it at just the right time. Speaking of which, I can feel the chill coming through those last pics. Time to start heading south!

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’m pretty sure that photo will find its way to a wall in our forever home. Even though we experienced it in person, sometimes we look at the pics and are amazed we were there.

      We are now heading into Nevada, where the cold will start hounding us again and maybe even push us further south more quickly than we want. Of course, if we’d stay out of the mountains…


  6. I love the full moon shots. I really, really love the spectacular fall colors. And I really, really, really love the great wildlife photos, especially the bull moose. GRTE really is a spectacular park and I am afraid it sometimes gets overshadowed by its larger neighbor to the north.

    We visited in late September 2018 and experienced some pretty chilly weather — it was our first time dry camping below 20 degrees! — but the clear sunny days made for great hiking. Looks like you had similar weather, and the bonus opportunity to share it with friends. We’re very happy were able to mark this one off the list after 20 years,

    Liked by 2 people

    • I don’t know why, but I wasn’t expecting much more than gold for the colors, so that was a beautiful surprise. I knew it was a wildlife-rich area, but nothing is a guarantee, so that was another delight. We did have very similar weather to your visit, and I always lament that it can’t be September forever in North America.


  7. Beautiful fall colors. Are you headed back to Arizona for the winter?

    Sent from my Verizon, Samsung Galaxy smartphone Get Outlook for Android ________________________________

    Liked by 2 people

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