“I felt my lungs inflate with the onrush of scenery — air, mountains, trees, people. I thought, ‘This is what it is to be happy.’” Sylvia Path
I'm not one for resolutions - but I love goal setting. One of my goals this year is to read 52 books. Not necessarily sticking to one a week but 52 in total. So far I am ahead of my goal (woo!) and reading a lot of books that I wouldn't have normally chosen. One of those books is Astoria by Peter Stark. It was book number 26 and chronicles John Jacob Astor's Astorian's trek to the West Coast to establish a fur trading post.
What does this have to do with the Grand Tetons I'm sure you are asking yourself. Well, the Overland party of Astorians decided to take a route through North America that was south of Lewis and Clark's between 1810 and 1812 and in the process became some of the first non-native people to cross the Teton range.
"There the landmark stood, clearly visible even at sixty miles' distance - three jagged, snowcapped peaks rising in a cluster like shark's teeth, nearly a mile above the surrounding landscape... '[the three mountains] were hailed by the travelers,' wrote Washington Irving, in his account of Astor's enterprise. 'with that joy with which a beacon on a seashore is hailed by the mariners after a long and dangerous voyage..." (Stark 131)
After reading I immediately booked my first night in Driggs, Idaho, in the Teton Valley - over the Teton pass that the Overland party traveled over 200 years ago. What can I say, books inspire me. And I'm so glad that they do - because I wasn't prepared for the beauty I was about to find.
I stayed in Driggs the first night in part because the Jackson Hole valley is super duper expensive (especially in the summer) but also because I wanted to see the range from a different view. I stayed at a beautiful log home in the valley (on a yak farm!) and enjoyed an evening watching the sunset and a beautiful morning watching the sun rise over the peaks.
After watching the yaks for longer than I care to admit, I started on the (breathtaking) road to the park. Grand Teton is north of Jackson, Wyoming and 10 miles south of Yellowstone National Park - connected by the Rockefeller Parkway. It was established in 1929 and encompasses 310,000 acres of land. It is in the top ten visited National Parks with over 2.5 million visitors per year.
Grand Teton is the tallest mountain in the Teton range at 13,775 feet above sea level but what makes the landscape so dramatic is that it towers over 7,000 feet above the valley.
There are over 200 miles of trails, 1,000 campsites, lodges, visitors centers, lakes famous for trout fishing and two that allow motorized boating - Jackson and Jenny Lake (below).
I spent quite a bit of time in the Colter Bay area of Jackson Lake, named after the first white man to see the Tetons and the original mountain man - John Colter. There is a marina with rentals, swimming beach, picnic areas, general store, restaurants, lodging, a gift shop, and an alright view :)
Fun fact about the parks name: "The buoyant French-Canadian voyageurs called them as they saw them, the Trois Tetons - 'the three breasts.' It's the voyagers' name that has stuck for these grand mountains that tower above today's Jackson Hole, Wyoming." (Stark 131)
Now that I hope these pictures and stories of fur traders have convinced you to visit - here's how to do it:
Fly: The Jackson Hole Airport is the only airport within a National Park!
Drive: I drove from Denver through Jackson to Driggs via 191 which was so beautiful but a more direct route is via US - 287.
Stay: There are lodges and campsites in the park, hotels in Jackson just outside, or a little farther in the Teton Valley - over the Teton pass to Driggs (where my airbnb was located) and Victor.
Pay: I (of course) used my $80 America the Beautiful Pass to get in fee free but if you don't have one, the fee for Grand Teton is $30 for a vehicle 7-day pass ($50 for a Grand Teton and Yellowstone pass)
Now plan your trip! (and bring an extra memory card for your camera - you're going to need it) :)