We don’t think you ever get used to the view of The Tetons. We spent almost two weeks here, the longest we have spent anywhere, and still find ourselves staring in awe of them. The contrast of the flat landscape and the dramatic, snow covered peaks are unlike anything we’ve ever seen. Truly majestic! If you enjoy nature and experiencing the beauty planet earth has to offer–you need to come check this place out.
Although we have absolutely loved our time here, that doesn’t mean we didn’t have any challenges along the way. Our time here actually began with one of our scariest, most stressful RV situations yet. We decided to try to boondock (camp without hook ups to electricity, water, and sewage) up on Shadow Mountain. We had read several reviews about the sites and although they mentioned an “interesting, washed out road” we thought our rig would be fine. The drive up the mountain was one of the bumpiest and scariest we have experienced, and we’ve been on some rough roads!
Matt did an excellent job of safely driving us even though the road was not what we expected. We continued to bounce along like we were on the Jurassic Park ride at Universal Studios until we found an area that seemed like it would be a good spot for us. We drove into the spot and quickly realized that it was not going to be a good spot. We began the hour long process of trying to turn our rig around. This was incredibly difficult due to trees, uneven ground, tight space, and a drop off nearby. Again, Matt handled this situation like a champ, TBH Meaghan hasn’t taken a turn driving our rig YET. She will one day. This was not the time for her to get behind the wheel though. There were a few moments where we thought we might have to be towed out- we’re not even sure how that would work, but the thought definitely crossed our minds. Gizmo also handled this situation like a champ and maintained composure.
With some teamwork, walkie talkies, lots of deep breaths, and a few tears, we were able to get turned around and get out of the site. The ride down was equally as rough as going up, but we had a sense of relief that we had already done it and after turning around in that spot we felt like we could do anything. Fortunately, we found an open spot at the base of Shadow Mountain with a fantastic view of the Tetons and we’ve stayed here our entire time. Moral of the story: Don’t rely on the reviews of others. Everyone’s rigs are different and it is super important to scout out a boondocking spot before hauling your home up a rocky, bouncy, mountain road. Another moral: In challenging times remain patient and calm. It will make things easier for everyone involved. (We did a surprisingly good job staying calm during this scary experience, Go Nomadic Turtles! Even if we were freaking out on the inside.)
We enjoyed hiking, kayaking, biking, boating, and driving through the park. Grand Teton National Park was way less crowded than Rocky Mountain National Park, which made it easier to get around and enjoy everything it has to offer.
Meaghan did a couple solo hikes because Matt had to work. Taggart Lake Trail was a short 3 mile out and back that leads to a beautiful lake. String Lake was another great hike! While hiking and enjoying the scenery of the beautiful glacial lakes, Meaghan heard a lot of screaming and commotion up ahead. It turned out a bear was swimming across the lake! A little further down the trail she saw a deer with her fawn!
The trail was an easy 3.7 mile loop without much elevation gain. The trail had beautiful lake views and lots of shady forest sections. We enjoyed a short portion of the hike to Leigh Lake and did some swimming. We wanted to hike Hidden Falls and Cascade Canyon, but Hidden Falls was closed due to rock falls and you have to access Cascade Canyon through this trail. Next time!
We drove up Signal Mountain, the highest peak in the park. On our drive we saw several elk and a black bear! From the look out point you can see for miles. It was beautiful. We also enjoyed the Jenny Lake Scenic Drive. We hopped out of the car and walked down to the water. The water in the lakes at Grand Teton is crystal clear! We recommend these drives if you’re in the park and wanting to enjoy it from your car.
We also spent a few mornings biking through the park. We decided to park at the Taggart Lake Trailhead parking lot (to avoid a few difficult hills while biking). We enjoyed a bike ride to Jenny Lake. While biking we saw a pronghorn deer! Jenny Lake is a must see!
We took our inflatable kayak out on our last day. For some reason we thought we were required to pay for a permit and an aquatic inspection daily so we had been putting it off because we didn’t want to spend money. We found out the permit is good for the whole year and only costs $12! We also didn’t even have to pay for the inspection because our kayak is on the smaller side. We parked at the String Lake canoe launch and kayaked around String Lake. We got out and walked about .1 miles to the Leigh Lake Portage to do some kayaking and swimming there. We highly recommend enjoying the lakes from a kayak, canoe, or stand-up paddle board. It was so fun and refreshing to take a dip in the lake!
Jenny Lake Boating offers shuttle rides and scenic tours. We opted for the scenic tour. It lasted about an hour and provided us with lots of valuable information about the park, animals in the park, and the geological formation of the Tetons. The tour is offered at 11 a.m., 2 p.m., and 5 p.m. We took the 5 p.m. trip because it worked with our schedule, but we think it might be better to do one of the earlier ones because you would have better day light for views and photographs. The shuttle runs about every 5 minutes and takes you across the lake to do some hiking and you can choose to hike back or take a round trip shuttle whenever you’re ready.
Jackson, Wyoming was about 45 minutes from our spot at Shadow Mountain. We ventured into town when we needed more fresh water and groceries and to check out a couple local farmer’s markets, but it was a pretty crowded and touristy area. We were able to do laundry at The Missing Sock for $2.75 a load. It was clean and not busy (and has the best laundromat name we’ve seen yet.) We were able to get in and out in under an hour. Jackson Whole Grocer reminded us of our favorite grocery store back in Austin, Wheatsville. They had a lot of vegetarian options, organic produce, bulk bins, and made us feel at home. We also visited the Jackson Hole Farmer’s Market. They had a lot of great vendors selling everything from grilled cheese to jam to squash blossoms. The only downfall for us was dogs weren’t allowed! Being from Austin this shocked us, you can bring your dog almost everywhere in Austin, especially a farmer’s market at a park! Not this one. Meaghan and Gizmo walked around the outside of the market while Matt shopped for fresh ingredients. We also visited the Slow Food People’s Market. This market encourages shoppers to bring their own bags, cups, and containers in an effort to be zero-waste! Yay! We found some delicious cheese, bread, and… tamales! Our first taste of Mexican food in a whole month (that’s a long time for us).
We loved The Tetons. We both felt sad leaving because we began to feel at home here. We know we will continue to see and experience beautiful places, but we’re going to miss this beautiful view.