Ever since we visited Grand Teton and Yellowstone three years ago, we’ve wanted to come back, so here we are, sneaking in a 2-½ week trip in between my work and our next dive trip. Visiting Grand Teton in October is risky and not for the faint of heart – the weather can be cold and sometimes wet. In fact, as I write this, we’re in the midst of rain, sleet and snow!
Here’s what we drove through three years ago to get to Jackson, Wyoming. Glad we didn’t face that on the drive from LA this year.
One of the best things about coming here in early October is the lack of crowds. Another great thing is the glorious views of the Teton Range set against fall colors.
But the very best thing about Grand Teton National Park (we think) in the fall is the wildlife. In 2016, when we camped at Signal Mountain, we saw large herds and harems of elk. This year, camping at Gros Ventre (pronounced “Grow Vaunt”) in the southern part of the park, we’re in the midst of moose habitat. They have love on their minds, so they really don’t care much about the camera stalkers around them.
You may remember that on our New England/Eastern Canada trip in Spring/Summer 2019, we bemoaned the fact that we saw only one juvenile moose along the freeway, in spite of camping in several national parks known for their moose habitat. Well, Grand Teton National Park has more than made up for the lack of moose on that previous trip.
Every single day we’ve gone out, either walking around our campground, or driving through Antelope Flats, we’ve seen moose. Here are a couple of our favorite moose pictures from the last few days.
But it’s not just moose here in GTNP. This is also a great place for pronghorn. Remember that folk song, “Oh, give me a home where the buffalo roam, where the deer and the antelope play…Home, home on the range”? Well, the song gets it wrong on at least two counts. Buffalo are really bison, and we’ll see plenty of them when we move over to Yellowstone in a couple of days. And antelope are found only in Africa. What the song was referencing were pronghorn, which are beautiful and graceful to watch (but not members of the antelope family). Pronghorn are the fastest land animals in North America, and second only to cheetahs in the world. Pronghorn can run 60 miles per hour, but when they’re grazing in Antelope Flats, they’re a little easier to photograph.
Elk and deer rounded out our ungulate experience this week. Though we didn’t see as many elk as in previous visits to Grand Teton, we have no doubt that we will see them when we head into Yellowstone.
What else did we do in Grand Teton? It’s a great place for scenic driving. Here is the famous John Moulton Barn and other historic buildings within Mormon Row Historic District.
Here are scenes from Oxbow Bend and Willow Flats, which are remarkable locations to take in the fall colors with the Teton Range in the background.
And of course, the drive near Jenny Lake provides more beautiful vistas of the Teton Range and other sites.
We decided it was too cold for biking, though there is a great bike path through much of the national park and surrounding area. We did, however, use our warmest, sunniest day (a whopping 57 degrees) to do a lovely 5-mile hike past Taggart and Bradley Lakes, with stunning views of Grand Teton and her sisters.
When we first arrived at Gros Ventre Campground four days ago, we were thrilled to meet up with Dave and Kathy, friends who stayed an extra couple of days just so we could overlap. We had a lovely dinner together in Jackson (another great reason to stay in Gros Ventre—close to town!) before they headed out the next morning to warmer climes. Dave and Kathy are full-time RVers and you can check out their travel blog at madsenjourneys.com.
We also enjoyed sharing tea and a warm motorhome with our tent-camping neighbors Jeremy and Suzanne. We remember what it was like to camp in a tent in really cold weather not so many years ago, and being able to share our RV to get them out of the rain and snow, even for an hour, was very fun.
As we wait out the mini-storm and anticipate moving over to Yellowstone, we’re thankful for the clothing stores in Jackson, where we could buy better gloves, hats, boots, and headbands. We freely admit we’re Southern California weather wimps, and you can’t buy this stuff in a place that only drops to 64 degrees in the winter. These new items have already served us well, and we know they’ll come in handy as we move on to Yellowstone (next post).