Grand Teton National Park - June 2008

Jackson Hole to Colter Bay - June 4

The mountains are calling and I must go. ~ John Muir ~

Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves. ~ John Muir ~

Note: Click on any thumbnail for a larger photo.

It was not our first trip to the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone National parks. We were there first in 1984 when Jim introduced me to the West and the majestic Rocky mountains. We were there two years after the fires in 1988, again in the nineties and in 2002. These are two of our favorite parks. This trip would be our last to these great parks. At 94 it was getting harder for Jim to travel. We started planning in August when we requested our frequent flyer tickets. We made reservations for a cabin in Colter Bay in the Grand Tetons and the Old Faithful cabins in Yellowstone.

As the time to leave approached, we started watching the weather on the Internet and the Old Faithful webcam --- cold with rain and snow EVERY DAY. We packed our winter coats, hats and gloves and Jim threw in his “longies.” We would spend the night with Jim's daughter in Richmond and fly out the next morning. Jim took a tumble that night so started out a little bruised and battered. We raided the car first aid kit for supplies and dumped them in my carry on.

We were flying from Richmond to Atlanta then Salt Lake City and the final leg into Jackson Hole, WY,  where we would pick up our rental car and spend the night. We arrived in Jackson Hole about 9 pm. The Thrifty Rental car place was SUPPOSED to be right next to the baggage claim area. I looked but nary a sign of it so I asked the Delta agent, "Budget bought them out," he says. So over we went to the Budget place. They tell us to catch the shuttle outside, that Thrifty has moved into town. We hiked our luggage outside in POURING rain, and picked up the shuttle with a driver who barely spoke English. He drove into Jackson Hole and deposited us in a motel parking lot with NO sign of Thrifty.  "What have I gotten us into," I wondered.  He said yes, the office is over there. I left Jim in the van with the luggage to make sure neither the van nor our luggage disappeared. Yes indeed this was the place. OK, we let the van driver go and picked up our little red PT Cruiser and headed for the motel a few blocks away. We locate our room and head upstairs with our heavy luggage, tired and weary but glad to be settled for the night.

We were up early the next morning, and headed over to the restaurant where breakfast is included in the room rate. Cold, but it had stopped raining at least. Back to the room, we packed up the car and headed out to our first stop, Grand Teton National Park and Colter Bay Village. There we would spend the next two nights. We drove past the National Elk Refuge, which was empty of the wintering elk herd. While the distance from Jackson Hole, which is actually just outside the park, to Colter Bay is not far, you have to figure on lots of photo stops. We had decided to take the Jenny Lake Loop road, which is even more scenic than the main highway.

Always before we had visited Grand Tetons in the Fall when there was snow on the top, but this time the mountains were covered with a mantle of snow. We understand this winter had the most snow in a decade and it was still around. It made the mountains even more beautiful with the black of the rocks and dark green of the evergreens against the white snow.  But it was COLD, with temperatures in the 40's.

Picture of Jim at entrance to Grand Teton National Park.

Picture of Pat and our rental car.

Picture of Grand Teton National Park.

Our first stop was the Visitor Center at Moose Junction , which is brand new. We would spend some time looking at the exhibits and picking up materials for our time in the park. We stopped at the South Jenny Lake area for a short walk down to the lake. We considered taking the boat across and doing one of the short hikes. But  it was starting to rain, mixed with snow, and the temperature was dropping, so we settled for just looking around and taking pictures.

Picture of view of Jenny Lake. Picture of the Aspens around Jenny Lake.
Above: Views from trail to edge of Jenny Lake

We headed North to the Jenny Lake Scenic Drive which is a narrow one-way road into the Jenny Lake area and the Lodge. It was getting close to lunch time so we checked out the Lodge and the menu in the dining room but decided to keep going. We stopped at the Signal Mountain Lodge for lunch, sitting next to the window and looking out over Jackson Lake to a grand panorama of the Grand Tetons. Beautiful! And a hot lunch was just what we needed on this cold day.  

Picture of Grand Tetons National Park.

Picture of the view from Signal Mountain Lodge Dining Room.
View from Signal Mountain Lodge Dining Room.

We decided to backtrack and take the Signal Mountain Summit Road, which winds to the top of Signal Mountain, 800 feet above the valley. The summit overlooks provide panoramic views of the entire Teton Range, Jackson Lake, and most of Jackson Hole. Alas, when we turned into the parking lot, the road was barricaded because of the snow. With the rain still falling, we decided to bypass the Jackson Lake Lodge area and head directly for Colter Bay Village, our home for the next two nights. As we were driving, a coyote crossed the road in front of us. No time for the camera so we just enjoyed the site.

Picture of Grand Teton National Park.
On our way to Colter Bay Village

We checked in and located our cabin, unloaded the car, unpacked and organized, and took  brief naps. The cabin is actually quite nice inside with a double bed, two night stands, small dresser, desk, and a couple of chairs. Nice heater but the bathroom was cold. After our naps, we drove down to the General store to get some oj, and to the Visitor Center where we watched a National Geographic film on the Wolves of Yellowstone.. Back to our room we went for screwdrivers, and then off to dinner.

Picture of Jim in front of our cabin at Colter Bay Village.
Jim in front of our Colter Bay cabin.

Only two choices of eating places for dinner, a kind of fast-food place and the Chuck Wagon restaurant, which we opted for. Wine and lasagna are good but way too much in the way of serving size. On the way to dinner, we saw a scroungy small coyote - or so we thought - sitting on the edge of the parking lot. We later found out it was a molting mother red fox who had set up her den by the side of the parking lot. She had four kits. We took a walk around the marina area, but were tired, so were in bed by 10 pm or so. Tomorrow would be another day.

Next - Colter Bay Village