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.
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.
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!