Grand Teton National Park Day 1

After our adventure at Yellowstone, we trekked down to our cabin in Jackson, Wyoming. The scenery through Idaho was beautiful, filled with farmland, and we luckily hit the Teton Pass just before sunset. Not only did we get to see the valley bathed in the golden afterglow of a spring rainstorm, but we also didn’t have to take the curvy, snow-covered road after dark.

The next morning, we were up at sunrise and ready to see what could be better than Yellowstone National Park. If it tells you anything, the Other Half and I discussed the minute differences between ‘awesome’ and ‘majestic’ in describing the two parks for at least 30 minutes. We may also have had way too much coffee that morning…

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The drive from Jackson to Grand Teton National Park goes right by the National Elk Refuge. Though we missed the winter and early spring when elk congregate in the area (and sleigh rides are offered), we were just in time to see the annual elk and pronghorn migration.  Some pronghorn herds will travel almost 200 miles between their summer and winter ranges, one of the longest continuous mammalian migrations in North America.

At the first intersection, with two days of exploration ahead of us, one of us blindly picked between ‘left, straight, or right’. And so we wound up driving along Antelope Flats Road, with no one else to share the road with us. Except for, you know, all the wildlife.

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My experience with moose had been limited to mentions in a few classes and a one-day discussion of the animal with a professor who held his hands out wide, as if describing a large fish, to give a scale for the ‘average cow moose’ he had handled earlier that summer. Even so, I was not prepared for the gangly, matted animal that stood before us. Nor was I prepared for the hilarity of magpies hitching a ride on it as it slowly browsed its way along the line of telephone poles near the road.

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Like Yellowstone, bison (and elk) jams are possible along the roads of Grand Teton, especially early in the morning and later in the evening. You know, exactly when I’m most likely to be out driving to look for wildlife.

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However, Grand Teton is somewhat smaller than Yellowstone, which allowed us to see a greater portion of the park. As an added bonus, several of the paved roads that are closed during the winter are open to dog traffic, which allowed us to take the dog out for more than a quick jaunt in a parking lot. The Moose-Wilson Road still had a lot of snow on the sides of the road, which Eli thought made for great snow-cone breaks along the way.

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After getting back to the cabin for some hot cocoa and burnt Easy Mac (reminder: always add water before putting in the microwave), we couldn’t wait to get back out to the park. Well, ok, while the park drew us, the smell of burnt pasta permeating the cabin was just an added incentive to head back out ASAP.

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