Grand Tetons National Park
We took the scenic road south through the majority of the Tetons. We took our time and made sure to take all the little side roads so we could see as much as possible from the Jeep and via short walks. It was a beautiful day with no smoke or haze. We saw some gorgeous lakes and streams and mountains with arctic glaciers.
Although we were near decent highways, we had no signal in nearly all of the area. We drove up to (and took the very short hike) to the top of Signal Mountain. Atop it is a cell phone tower. I still had no bars, (ahem, Verizon). Even our campground is signal-less and Wifi-less. Luckily, E had the forethought to sign us up for Starlink. This trip is our first real test of it, and so far, it’s working pretty good. We get spotty coverage here, in Moran, but we are an hour from the nearest real town, Jackson. Jackson is a special kind of tourist town in that it’s a town for 10,000, but grows to a daily 30,000. Without any infrastructure, this is already a terrible mix for traffic, social distancing, etc. No way it can handle signal for that many, too.
The overlook for Jackson Lake was stunning. Nearby Jenny Lake is smaller, but just as beautiful.
When we got tired of the crowd in Jackson, we sat in a lot of traffic to get out….but we made it back to our campground’s bar in time to hang out there for a bit.
[Today was our first day we didn’t see another Miami Hurricane. Can you believe it?]
This trip was originally supposed to center around Yellowstone. We were super excited about seeing it, but after the big flood knocked out some of their roads, we decided not to stress the park or us by trying. We reconfigured the front half of the trip and traded Yellowstone for Shoshone. But, after seeing nearly all of the small Tetons park in one day, we had time to kill.
We planned Day Five of the trip with a loose agenda: see the upper part of the Tetons and then see if we could maybe get into Yellowstone. We took the northern road through the Tetons and saw the odd little marina. The docs were only for un/loading. All the boats had their own mooring balls. It made for a pretty scene of a harbor nearly filled with evenly-spaced boats of all kinds.
When we got to the south entrance of Yellowstone There. Was. No. Line! We couldn’t believe our luck. We spent the day seeing all we could on the south circle of the figure 8. At each point, we hardly met crowds or traffic. In that way, it was 100% the opposite of what I expected from our Yellowstone experience.
At our lunch stop, we met a guy from Czech Republic. He saw the name of our Jeep and sought out the owners. So that was fun!
We went counterclockwise, so we saw: both lakes, beautiful river rapids, east geysers, an enormous herd of buffalo (Some were technically too close, but they got in the road, so scootching past them was all we could do.), lush and vibrant meadows, a huge waterfall and a smaller twin falls, the “Grand Canyon” of Yellowstone, more roadside geysers, and the prismatic geysers (including the Grand Prismatic that is this year’s 150th Anniversary focus). We ended the journey with a late display against a stormy sky from none other than Old Faithful.
ETA: It turns out that Yellowstone’s visitors are down 30-45% (depending on what you compare to) this year. The damaging flood and higher gas prices led many to cancel their plans. That clearly worked in our favor. Oh and the spot where they found the foot in a shoe that was in the geyser; yeah, we were totally there. Because there are so many, we missed at least half of the geysers, but of course we saw that set. ::sigh::
We drove home by the light of a rising supermoon, the last one of the year.
It was a very big day and we couldn’t feel luckier we got to squeeze in the bigger half of the park.
There is one road in the Tetons that is under construction and only open on the weekends, so we drove through Jackson (taking any back roads we could find) first thing so we could follow the park road back in our direction. Along the way, we happened upon resort’s sister property, so we gave it a little tour. It’s nice, but not as nice as the one we picked. We were able to recycle there, though. (Local recycling laws are varied.)
Our first stop was the Jackson Hole ski area. They were having a festival, so there were a lot of people. It was great until it wasn’t. The day wasn’t all that hot, but it was muggy and the barometric pressure was giving me a headache. Also, like most ski resorts—or anything else built on the side of a mountain—it’s all stairs up and down. After wandering through and watching the very scary gondola to the 10,000’ peak, we decided to head back for lunch. We got lost in a hotel lobby and had to get directions back out. By this time I was over the humidity and getting hangry. That’s when I realized I didn’t have my phone with me. We retraced our steps and asked a couple of clerks. I had just about given up…and was buying sympathy beer and ice cream, when the store clerk asked me if I had checked with the saloon upstairs. It’s like my phone knows me or something. Someone rescued it from where I left it and the bartender was holding it. She was so happy to make sure it went back to the owner. E offered to buy her a drink, she she summarily declined. I tipped her $20 for the rescue.
On the pretty little drive and then on the road back to our campground, we found: 2 more herds of buffalo and purple bonnets.
Not long after we got back to the campground, a big storm blew in, waking E from a nap. We took the Starlink down from the roof, secured it under a slide out, and headed to the RV store where I nursed my headache. We “closed down the bar” (at the wee hour of 9pm! LOL!) with the regulars and staff.
Next Stop: Arco, ID
Our drive to Arco included the Targhee & Bridager-Teton National Forests. Along the Snake River, near Alpine ID, we counted six eagle nests and four eagles. The rest of the drive was really pretty rolling hills of hay, grains, RV parks, wind farms, and volcanic rock (but we didn’t find the mountain that could have been the volcano).
We settled in, had dinner, and relaxed (i.e. E napped while I worked on this content). Later, we found the local biker bar, Melo-dee. It was a little smoky and one guy was a jerk, but the rest of the whopping eight people there were nice.