Grand Teton Day 1

Trip Start Jun 12, 2012
Trip End Oct 18, 2012

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Flag of United States  , Wyoming
Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Grant Village is located at the southern end of Yellowstone National Park, so we drove straight down for an hour through the John D Rockefeller Jnr Parkway to Grand Teton National Park. We set up our tent nice and early at 10:30am at the Colter Bay Campground which is located at the top of the driving loop that encompasses the park. We were only planning on staying one night in Grand Teton and then return to Yellowstone, so we were keen to get driving. Our first stop on the loop was at the Jackson Lake dam which regulates the water levels and provided a wonderful view over the lake of the mountain range. Driving south we saw the Grand Teton located right next to Mt Moran with a glacier hanging in between. This part of the world gets just as much snow as Banff, so it was weird for the day to be so warm and only a sliver of snow on the mountain tops.

Our next stop was Jenny Lake which is by far the most popular place in Grand Teton. There is a campground here as well, but it fills up at 10am most days! The reason is the proximity to the mountains and there are many activities like hiking, canoeing, fishing and cycling. The popular Hidden Falls trail is here and there is an option for those not wanting to hike around the lake to take a shuttle boat to the end.

Just before Moose Junction, there is a tiny settlement town with the 80 year old Chapel of the Transfiguration. This is one of the most popular attractions in the park. The chapel is tiny, but if you go inside the Grand Teton Mountains are perfectly framed in the window. It is surprising how many people hold their words in such a place just to sit and meditate on life.

At Craig Thomas Discover and Visitor Centre at Moose, there was supposed to be free wifi, but sadly not. Instead there was a great video on the park and quite a few displays in the newly constructed building. It was time for lunch so we stopped at Dornans which is a well-established village for adventure: trail riding, camp cookouts and rafting. We stopped at the BBQ grill which was outside and I had a very delicious pulled pork sandwich. Having reached the bottom of the loop, there wasn't much else to do but drive back to the top. The only thing we stopped for was 150 bison lounging around in the Elk Ranch Flats. Before we drove back to the campground we decided to check out the Jackson Lake Lodge which had a wonderful upper viewing lobby with wifi so we chilled there for a few hours.

In the evening, Steffie was keen to do some wildlife viewing, so we decided to stop at Oxbow Bend lookout where there was a beaver sitting on the opposite bank and then drove up to Two Ocean Lake where there were supposed to be a family of bears living. We drove the entire crappy dirt road to the end and there were a lot of cars, dust and mosquitos, but no bears. As we were driving back, Steffie lamented that it was her last few days to see grizzly bears in the mountains and we had been unsuccessful. Just after she finished saying it, we drove around the corner to find half a dozen cars watching a meadow filled with a grizzly bear mama and 3 cubs! It was such a great sight in the evening sun and they hung around for 30 minutes totally uncaring about our presence. It was just a wonderful, serene way to see them in their natural habitat digging for roots and chewing on grass.

Unfortunately that meant that when we got back to the campground we were cooking in the dark!
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