Monday, September 15, 2014
After setting up camp we headed out to check out the park, since we figured we would be driving we loaded up the dogs and headed South on the park road. First stop – the Visitor Center to get maps and ask the Rangers good places to go in the park. They gave us a driving tour and recommended a couple of hikes, they also told us places to see wildlife and where there were closings because of Grizzly activity. We were hoping to see some wildlife – we are hoping to spy wolves, bear and moose on this trip – some animals that we haven’t really gotten to see or had good unobstructed views on previous trips.
The Mountains of Grand Teton National Park were created due to a massive earth quake millions of years ago, there is a fault line that runs along the base of the mountain range. That is why when you look at the mountains, they appear to have been ripped out of the earth. They are jagged and shoot straight out of the valley floor, there is no gradual hill that grows into the mountains here – it is flat and then straight up mountains. Mt Moran, is the highest peak in GTNP and is the “signature” mountain that you see on many of the Grand Teton souvenirs, it has snow on the face of it year round.
The Grand Teton National Park was established in 1929 from lands that had originally been the Maurie Ranch, owned by Olaus Maurie a biologist who came to Jackson in 1927 to study the elk herd. John D Rockefeller Jr. donated additional lands in 1950 to expand the park to it’s present boundries.
We did the driving tour that the Ranger had given us – it was a good drive and I recommend it. We stopped a various pull outs for pictures – the mountains are so different than the Rockies – so jagged, there was a haze on the mountains so we weren’t able to get good clear shots – that didn’t stop us from snapping as many as we could though, nor did it change the sheer beauty of the mountains.
We took a drive up to Signal Mountain the road is two lanes barely, driving a big Dodge 1 Ton dually truck was interesting. Kelly would be driving sometimes with one wheel of the dually hanging off the edge of the road because some – shall we say lessor driver to keep it nice – would be driving their little compact car in the middle of the road! When we got to the top to see the overlook – we were well rewarded for our troubles getting there, it overlooks the a huge valley with a river running through it, and with fall in full swing the color of the entire meadow was golden – I know I keep saying beautiful – but it was. It was truly breathtaking! The views are so amazing that you want to just stay, but there is more to see.
After Signal Mountain we continued south to see Jenny Lake, we had heard so much about how pretty it was so we had to make it there. We stopped at the pull out to take pictures at North Jenny Lake, it was as lovely as we were told with trees surrounding it. We didn’t stay too long because we plan to do a trip tomorrow to South Jenny Lake and a hike up to Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point (another Ranger recommendation).
We drove a little further south to Lupine Meadow where there was a dirt road, we took the road and found a couple of guys from Utah that looked like they had spotted something. We asked and they said that there were elk bugling on the mountain. Cool – a chance for us to try out our new spotting scope! We pulled over, jumped out of the truck and pulled out the scope and tripod – we trekked out to the middle of the meadow and searched and searched the mountain side, we could hear them but couldn’t find them. We did see a beautiful water fall, but no elk. So we trekked further across the thick meadow and wet lands and across a small river that led into the brush (where I reminded Kelly that this is exactly where Bear like to roam) – still no elk. We had fun; felt like we were real animal spotters and Kelly looked like a pro with his hat turned around and carrying the scope over his shoulder. We decided to call it a night it was getting dark and the dogs were hungry so we headed back to the campsite.
Home for the night …
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