Grand Teton National Park
VISITED: APRIL 2017
Grand Teton National Park is made famous by the Teton Range, which I contest are the gem of the U.S. Rocky Mountains. The Tetons tower high above a valley that is covered in trees, fields, and the Snake River that intersects the park. They are a small but what they lack in stature they make up for in their dramatic presence and splendor. Every season shows a different side to the park, with the budding flowers of spring, lush green valleys of summer, fall foliage during autumn, and the snow covered landscape of winter; however, seasonal road closures may limit auto access to certain parts of the park during the winter months. Despite these road closures, certain companies in the area provide snowmobile tours or access to the park in their specialized snowmobile van.
J.P. Cunningham Cabin – The Cunningham Cabin is a famous double-pen log cabin that rests in the valley of Grand Teton National Park. What makes this cabin special is the ability to frame a photograph so that the cabin sits in isolation amongst the foliage with the Tetons dominating the skyline. To get to the cabin there is a parking lot that can be found 12.5-miles north of Moose Junction on Highway 191. From the parking lot, a short and easy .5-mile round-trip hike will guide you to another vantage point with some of the most outstanding panoramic shots of the Grand Tetons.
Mormon Row Historic District – The Mormon Row Historic District is found in the Antelope Flats and is an area that consists of clusters of rural pioneer homesteads. Such homesteads include the T.A. Moulton Barn, which is a weathered, wooden barn set in a grass valley with the Grand Tetons as its backdrop. Like the Cunningham Cabin, the T.A. Moulton Barn is one of a few structures that reside in the valley. It is not uncommon to see a herd of buffalo or the occasional moose along the flats during certain times of year. The T.A. Moulton Barn is considered to be the most photographed barn in America and is perfect for sunrise or sunset.
Cascade Canyon – The Cascade Canyon Turnout is located approximately 8.5-miles north of Moose Junction off of Teton Point Road. This awe-inspiring turnout gets onlookers up close and personal with the Teton mountain range. During the late afternoon and sunset hours, the sun illuminates and reflects off of the canyon and surrounding marsh flats.
Signal Mountain Summit – Signal Mountain Overlook is touted as being the best site for watching sunset. To get to the observation area at the summit, you can either drive 5-miles up Signal Mountain Road or undertake the 6.8-mile trail that begins at the Signal Mountain Lodge. Once at the observation deck, the sweeping panoramic view of the Grand Tetons and Jackson Lake is reminiscent of a Bob Ross oil painting.
There are a series of turnouts, overlooks, and viewpoints along Highway 89 that should not be overlooked. Each one offers a unique perspective of the Grand Teton Mountain Range and is worth checking out. Here is a list of the various vista points going in order from south to north on Highway 89:
- Blacktail Ponds Overlook
- Glacier View Turnout
- Schwabacher’s Landing
- Teton Point Turnout
- Snake River Overlook
- Elk Ranch Flats Turnout
- Oxbow Bend
Blacktail Ponds Overlook – Blacktail Ponds Overlook is about 1.3-miles north of Moose Junctions and is the ideal spot for viewing wildlife like moose, elk, and osprey. The view from this overlook frames the Tetons to the west with the valley grass, willows, and Snake River bottom dominating the foreground. The Blacktail Ponds Overlook is a magnificent location to watch the sun set and spend the last moments of daylight listening to the trickling sounds of the surrounding water.
Glacier View Turnout – Located about 3-miles north of Moose Junction, the Glacier View Turnout provides visitors with a spectacular view of the middle section of the Grand Teton mountain range. Despite being a distant view of the Tetons, this turnout an unobstructed panorama that leaves visitors overwhelmed by the stunning natural beauty laid out before them.
Schwabacher’s Landing– Schwabacher’s Landing is a boat landing area along the Snake River that provides a great setting of the Grand Tetons and their reflection in the water. It is located north of Moose and has a designated parking area that can be accessed via a modest gravel road. Once at the parking lot, there is an easy 10-15 minute hike that will take you along the water, past a beaver dam, and eventually lead you to an opening where the prominent view can be seen. During the dawn and dusk hours it is not uncommon to see local wildlife around the area eating the vegetation and traversing the waters. Schwabacher’s Landing is an ideal spot to photograph sunrise, as the color effects of the clouds are reflected in the glassy water below.
Teton Point Turnout – The Teton Point Turnout is located 6-miles north of Moose Junction on Highway 191. The view from this turnout puts the Grand Tetons as the focal point amongst the heavily wooded foreground of the Snake River Valley. The sheer magnitude of the height and scale of the Tetons are fully impressed upon visitors who spend time marveling at the mountains from this turnout. The Teton Point Turnout is best photographed during sunrise and early morning hours, but is also a favorite spot to watch the sun set behind the mountain range.
Snake River Overlook – The Snake River Overlook is the location made famous by Ansel Adams and his composition of the Grand Tetons overlooking the Snake River. Although there has been considerable vegetation growth since he photographed the location, it still acts as one of the most iconic views of the park. This overlooks is great for sunrise or sunset, but be prepared for large crowds due to its popularity with other tourists.
Elk Ranch Flats Overlook – The Elk Ranch Flats Overlook is found off of Highway 89 about 3 miles south from the Moran Junction. The overlook offers a vista of the Tetons towering above a thicket of trees that encompasses a valley of lush green grass and a picturesque wooden fence. This spot is another alternative for sunrise and early morning photography as a thin layer of fog rolls in over the trees and valley below. Another reason this is a great photography location is because of how the early morning light creates a golden filter across the landscape and entire Grand Teton Mountain Range, which is especially radiant.
Oxbow Bend – Oxbow Bend is a location of the Snake River that curves in the shape of an oxbow with Mt. Moran framed majestically in the background. The banks along the river are heavily forested and provide onlookers with an opportunity to view some of the parks local wildlife. Oxbow Bend is particularly busy with tourists and photographers during the fall months as the leaves begin to transform through their various stages of vivid color displays. The best time to photograph the Tetons from this location is during sunrise when the sun highlights the mountain range and casts an illuminating reflection in the placid river water.
Restaurants around Jackson Hole, Wyoming:
* MacPhail’s Burgers (Seasonal) – Open Wednesday thru Saturday, this rustic tavern atmosphere that serves all the traditional eats including burgers, hot dogs, and milkshakes. All of their ingredients are local, the fries are freshly cut from Idaho potatoes, and they make specialty burger buns that are baked fresh daily.
* The Bird – A laid back restaurant serving sizzling meats and great burgers that go well with any of their selections of beer. They offer 21 varieties of burgers, in 4 ounce or 9 ounce sizes, with vegetarian and vegan options as well. The burgers are made with freshly grounded brisket that comes off the grill still cooking, so it’s recommended to wait a minute or two before digging in.
* Liberty Burger – Originally a Texas-based restaurant, Liberty Burger is a high-quality burger establishment that touts an extensive selection of burgers for any personality. Along with their burgers, Liberty Burger offers an assortment of salads, sides, and adult shakes that are the perfect complement to each burger. Liberty Burger takes pride in being able to boast that they only use the freshest and highest quality ingredients that are grown responsibly.
* Café Genevieve – This neighborhood gem is set out of a historic log cabin in downtown Jackson Hole. The café offers a warm and welcoming indoor ambiance with a pet-friendly patio that is furnished with umbrellas, wooden tables, and chairs. They serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner, with a happy hour that lasts from 3-5:30pm every day. Café Genevieve is most well known for making Pig Candy, which is applewood smoked bacon that has been coated in sugars and spices.
* The Bunnery Bakery and Restaurant – This is one of Jackson Hole’s favorite cozy and casual bakery turned restaurant. While offering baked goods such as cinnamon rolls, coffee cakes, and pastries, the Bunnery also serves sandwiches and other brunch and lunch combinations. They are renowned for baking all of their creations from scratch with fresh, local ingredients and without the use of preservatives or processed ingredients. The Bunnery Bakery is ranked as one of the top 10 dessert locations by Bon Appetite Magazine, so relax on their patio and enjoy one or more of their sweet indulgences.
* Spur – Spur is a restaurant found inside the Teton Mountain Lodge and Spa. The restaurant uses a fire lit atmosphere to generate a warm and inviting ambiance, which is complimented by their friendly staff. My favorite item were the Spur Nachos, found on their lunch menu, which are coated in a pepperjack cheese sauce and then piled high with ranch beans, pico de gallo, sour cream, green onions, and jalapeños. Nachos that are made the right way! The moment that they are set down in front of you, they make your mouth water.
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