Don’t Overlook Grand Teton National Park

With America’s first (and some would argue best) National Park located directly north of it, Grand Teton National Park has a tendency to fly below the radar. I can’t recall how many people I’ve asked, upon hearing they visited Yellowstone, “Did you go to Grand Teton as well?”

Most say they did, but gave the park no more than a drive-through or a day trip from Yellowstone. It’s a great park in and of itself, and deserves more time than a one day trip.


The Teton Range

French fur traders, who had obviously spent quite a bit of time in the wilderness with only men as company, gave these mountains their name- “les Trois Tétons” or “the Three Breasts.”


Me with my friends Keath & Tone in 2001


Keath & I ready for our Snake River Float Trip

I’ve visited Grand Teton a few different times. Back in September 2001, I visited with friends and we did a float trip on the Snake River, still probably my favorite experience in the park.


Standing in the dry bed of Jackson Lake, 2001

Another of my memories from the September 2001 visit was hiking out into an almost completely dry Jackson Lake.


Jackson Lake Dam


Teton reflection

On all of my other visits, the lake, a natural one that had it’s level increased by the presence of the Jackson Lake Dam, was filled with water, providing some great reflective views of the mountains beyond.


USGS Marker on top of Signal Mountain


Looking into the valley from Signal Mountain

A few years later, in 2005, I returned to Grand Teton, and found another thing I love about the park- The drive up Signal Mountain. The view at the top of the mountain is not only one of the best of the Tetons, it also offers expansive views into the glacial valley and surrounding areas.


The Snake River as it winds through the park


Bear Warnings!

The park is also home to a vast ecosystem- including large numbers of animals and birds. There are signs and bear-proof containers all over the park reminding visitors that this is the heart of bear territory and precautions should be taken when it comes to food storage and garbage disposal.


The reconstructed Cunningham Cabin


The cabin’s plush interior

My favorite historical sight in the park is the Cunningham Cabin, a reconstructed two-room cabin, which illustrates how early farmers and ranchers attempted to adapt the methods used in the much smaller eastern mountains to this new life in the west.

Most of the park’s major sights certainly could be crammed into one day, but a better idea is to allot a few days to explore the wonders of this amazing national park.


2 Responses to “Don’t Overlook Grand Teton National Park”

  1. I would like to go hiking in the Tetons – and maybe before I’m too old climb the Grand …with a guide.

  2. Oh that’s funny – I have a post coming on Thursday on this exact subject in which I explain that I did indeed overlook Grand Teton. I did the typical thing – spent three hours there as an afterthought on the way out of Yellowstone. It’s only in retrospect that I came to appreciate how beautiful the place was.


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