Kam Goes to: Grand Teton National Park
Remember analogies in grade school? Grand Teton NP is to Yellowstone NP as Kings Canyon NP is to Sequoia NP. Both Grand Teton and Kings Canyon are fantastic national parks, but their proximity to their world famous neighbors means they get overshadowed a bit.
If you’re a rock climber, mountaineer, or skier, you are probably familiar with Grand Teton National Park. I know Alex was super excited to get a couple of days in the park to scope out a future trip for us! He’s very interested in coming back to the park to head up the Grand Teton in a couple of years.
It was great to get away from the crowds and head through the John D. Rockefeller Memorial Parkway, which spans 8 miles between the entrances of Yellowstone NP and Grand Teton NP.
Once we got into the park, you can tell it’s a special place. We pulled over at the Jackson Lake Lookout (with everybody else in the park) to get our first sweeping views of Jackson Lake and the tetons.
Staying in the park
We were able to find a campsite right away at the Signal Mountain campground. If you’re staying in the park, this campground a great option if you want to be close to amenities like a gas station, showers, convenience store (with coffee bar), and lodging options. There are other lodging options in the park, including the Grand Teton Climber’s Ranch, hosted by the American Alpine Club.
We did get stuck in a “bear jam” on our way to the campground, so keep in mind that park visitors get very excited about bear sightings and are not shy about not observing posted signs that instruct visitors to not stop in certain zones and to stay away from the bears.
Seriously, stay in your car and keep traffic flowing. Observe park rules and regulations at all times and don’t be a jerk.
Eating in the park
We kept dinner low key and went to the Trapper Grill at the Signal Mountain Lodge. If you’re up for the challenge, try the nachos! It’s a spectacle when a large order of nachos comes out of the kitchen…honestly, you need to see it to believe it. We ordered the fish and chips and the trapper sandwich with onion rings both nights…yes, both nights! We enjoyed them so much that we ordered the same thing twice. The beer selection is great, too! Staying in the Signal Mountain campground was smart, because we were able to walk back to camp after dinner and drinks.
Hiking in the park
I wasn’t feeling well by this point in the trip, so we slowed our trip down a bit and took things easy.
We pieced together a hike from the Taggart Lake to Bradley Lake late one afternoon to get out of the van and enjoy some time on the trail. What was nice about the trail is that you can create your own loops or do a nice out and back hike with your family. There is enough room on the trail that the different parties of hikers were able to spread out and find areas to rest that weren’t on top of other hikers. There are some stream crossings, plenty of beach space around the lakes, and ample shady spots along the entire trail system.
Keep in mind: you’re in bear country, so be cautious as you explore the park.
Kam goes to: Jackson, Wyoming
You can’t visit Grand Teton NP without heading just outside the park to spend time in Jackson (also known as Jackson Hole).
Our first stop was to the Jackson Hole Greater Yellowstone Visitor Center, which serves as an information and educational hub for the area. The center overlooks part of the National Elk Refuge and there is a viewing deck attached to the main building.
The weather was warm but we knew we needed to order the Imperial Bowl and Veggie Pho when we saw the menu for the Lotus Cafe. The menu includes gluten-free and vegan options as well as options for gluten-loving meat eaters (like me!).
We walked around the town to check out the shops and to enjoy the vibe of the town. I spent too much time (and a bit of money) in Made, the type of shop I like to call “real life Etsy!” because you’ll find beautiful handmade items and maybe some items from your favorite Etsy sellers are stocked there.
I bought a mountain peaks ring and copper and turquoise ring (maker) to stack together to make it look like Jackson Lake and the Tetons on my finger. We didn’t buy many souvenirs on our trip aside from postcards and stickers, so this purchase wasn’t expected, but I love them so much. I don’t wear very much jewelry, so these additions make me feel very grown up and more put together.
That adorable tea cup? Alex and I went to the charming Persephone Bakery for a pot of white wolf tea and a lemon tart. The outdoor patio was perfect for people watching. If we lived in Jackson, I could see us being regulars at this bakery.
I can’t wait to get back to this area to spend more time here! I want to go rafting down the Snake River, I want to climb Grand Teton, and I want to spend more time adventuring. Hopefully I’ll be feeling better the next time around.