Early this summer we were invited by our adventurous and brilliant friend Melissa to celebrate the final culmination of her schooling experience, including graduating with a combined MBA/Law degree and taking, and obviously passing, the California Bar. Being the adventurous and Idaho loving girl that she is, Melissa wanted to celebrate in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Needless to say, we were in.
Like always, we were a bit crunched on time but managed to pack our days full of hiking, site seeing, shopping, eating and some more eating. Not only does Jackson Hole, along with the adjacent Teton Village, have amazing natural sites to see, but they have amazing cuisine. All of the delicious food we ate fueled our adventuresome days.
So with our vacation days maxed out and the car completely packed for four days we left town for our little vacation adventure. We are the first to admit that no one would describe either of us as “light packers.” We both prefer to have (all) the comforts of home with us and tend to overpack to the extreme. At least we are usually well prepared.
However, on this trip we both chose to foolishly ignore the weather forecast, which called for rain and daily thunderstorms. Although the wet weather did put a slight damper on our adventures, we dug back to our Oregon roots and didn’t waylay our plans due to the rain.
Fair Warning: Most of the trip involved rain jackets and embracing the rain, which resulted in us looking like drowned rats in a majority of the outdoor pictures.
Here is a look below at our outdoor escapades while in Jackson!
Teton Village — We stayed at Teton Village, which is a mere 12 miles from Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and located at the base of Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. We probably could have spent a majority of our time just exploring and hiking around Teton Village. They have wonderful eats and drinks and plenty of outdoor activities. Staying at Teton Village is a great alternative to staying in the heart of Jackson Hole.
Apparently Teton Village holds weekly Concerts on the Commons, which we stumbled upon after arriving in search of a drink. To our surprise and Krista’s delight (think kid on Christmas morning), Reckless Kelly happened to be on the lineup on the night we arrived. It was fate.
We spent our first night in the ‘Commons’ enjoying the lovely tunes of Reckless Kelly paired with excellent and cheap drinks from the Mangy Moose (more to come on this fine establishment). We were all asked to dance by the same gentleman, who definitely knew his way around the dance floor. The dances provided many good laughs and side stitches but it is still debatable if the request after a request was flattering?
The Hostel — Melissa booked us a room at The Hostel in Teton Village for our stay. We had a quaint little room with two bunks, a small bathroom and thankfully a large fan. As far as hostels go, it passed Melissa’s well traveled standards with a clean bathroom. For the price and how little time we actually spent in our room, it was the perfect place to stay.
On a side note, for any of you sleeping porch veterans, The Hostel provided equivalently deep sleep. We had one small window with a curtain and managed to sleep through our alarms two out of the three mornings. It was quite reminiscent of our sorority days when you didn’t received a wake up call on “the porch.”
Not only is ‘The Hostel’ ideal for young summer visitors seeking adventures, but also it is the perfect place to stay in the winter. They have a ginormous basement complete with a locker room for all your winter gear, a waxing station, a lounge area and a game room. The possibilities are endless.
Grand Teton National Park — We spent our first day exploring Grand Teton National Park. Melissa brought Lonely Planet – Yellowstone & Grand Teton National Parks and highlighted (literally) must see adventures and sites. Once a Grad student, always a Grad student. She was far superior to any tour guide with her handy book.
To get into the park, we purchased a 7 Day Permit for $25.00 that provided us access to both Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park. We thought we were getting a hell of a deal with the permit and access to both parks.
Conveniently the park ranger stapled our pass to a large map of the Grand Teton National Park. Not so conveniently, we managed to misplace this large map after our adventures in Grand Teton, forcing us to purchase another permit for Yellowstone the following day. Prime example of what not to do when traveling…
For good reason, Melissa was set on capturing the reflection of the Grand Tetons in Jenny Lake. The Grand Tetons are adequately described as “the mountains of the imagination.” They truly rise out of no where and are breathtaking. They are a must see for anyone in the area.
On a clear day, it is rumored you can see the tips of the Grand Tetons all the way from Yellowstone National Park. Unfortunately, every day we were there it was quite stormy and thus socked in (some mountain town weather slang for you). We had a much better chance of seeing our ‘grand tetons’ than the actual ones.
Jenny Lake — We set off to Jenny Lake first thing in the morning in hopes of capturing views of the Grand Tetons and taking a hike. On the drive through the national park we came around the corner to about 20 cars parked haphazardly on the narrow road. Obviously there was a site to be seen. Melissa jumped out of the car to inform us there was a female moose and her young nestled into the tall grass. The sight was a great start to our day.
When we arrived at Jenny Lake it was drizzling, so views of the ‘Tetons’ were nonexistent. We decided to don our rain jackets and positive attitudes and headed out around the lake to Cascade Canyon, the home of two very popular sites, Inspiration Point and Hidden Falls.
We went clockwise around the lake so it was only about 2 miles of fairly flat trail walking to get to the other side. We managed to beat the next ferry which held the crowds and work off a few of the liquid calories we consumed the night before. The hike around the lake is more of a meander and worth the views and potential wildlife. We came across a man and young boy kayaking that had just encountered a bear! Unfortunately we weren’t quite that lucky, or perhaps unlucky, but did find some wildlife further along the trail.
We scurried up the trail to Hidden Falls. The hoards of people exiting the ferry were fair warning of the crowd that would be enjoying the sites even on a rainy day. But on a positive note, there was always someone to take a picture of our group!
Hidden Falls was true to it’s name. You could hear the falls long before they came into view. The site was incredible and as Krista pointed out, waterfalls are not generally a common site in the west. At times it was difficult to determine if the water was coming from the sky or the mist of the falls.
Another half mile up the trail was Inspiration Point that looks out over Jenny Lake. The crowds dispersed the higher we got up the trail, as did the weather. After a damp morning, the peak of the sun through the clouds was just the inspiration we needed to continue back around the lake after taking in the views.
On our way back, we ran into this fellow. He was a sight to see and very content munching on the shrubbery. The hoards of tourists didn’t seem to bother him, so we took the opportunity to snap a few pictures.
Yellowstone National Park — Exploring Yellowstone National Park was on the agenda for our second day. It took us more than an hour to get into the Park from Jackson Hole. The heavy rain and pulling over to strip search the car for our lost permit slowed us down a bit. The drive to Yellowstone was equally as breathtaking as the sites of the previous day.
Old Faithful — Obviously we bee-lined for Old Faithful. We learned that Old Faithful is the most predictable geyser and erupts approximately every 91 minutes. Unfortunately, we arrived right after it had erupted so we enjoyed a picnic lunch (in the car due to the rain) and had the opportunity to explore a few of the other geysers while we waited.
We decided to get a bit of exercise and observe Old Faithful from a viewing point on a hill across from Old Faithful Inn. It was a bit less crowded on the hill as we waited for the eruption. The time prediction of 3:14 was spot on as the geyser erupted at 3:15. The eruption was truly incredible to see but was a bit scaled due to our high vantage point.
We all marveled at the force of the geyser. As annoying and slow as the crowds were, they demonstrated the draw and force of Yellowstone National Park. It was restorative to see how many people came from afar to just admire the natural beauty of the park.
We had big plans to enjoy a drink on the deck of the Old Faithful Inn; however, the rain didn’t provide for deck lounging conditions. The Inn is considered the largest log structure in the world and has a very gothic, old-world vibe. We did a quick walk through on our way back to the car and you could literally feel the history of the building. For anyone who is a serious planner, booking a room well in advance to stay here would be incredible, if not only slightly creepy.
Grand Prismatic — As incredible as the geysers were, we all really wanted to see the Grand Prismatic. The Grand Prismatic is the largest hot springs in the United States and the third largest in the world. Despite it’s standing and size, the brilliant rainbow dispersion of color is what makes it incredible.
Naturally we entrusted Melissa and the handy guide book to teach us why it is different colors. The colors come from pigmented bacteria in the mineral-rich water and range from red to green. Even with the science lesson/reasoning, the rainbow of colors is astonishing to see juxtaposed in such a natural setting.
To take in the hues, we climbed off the beaten trail (sorry, park rangers) up the hill across from the Grand Prismatic in flash flood type rain. The mud and slip-n-slide terrain were worth the view from above.
Fairy Falls. In the downpour of rain we set off on the 5-mile roundtrip journey to Fairy Falls. Perhaps it was the downpour of rain that dispersed the heavy crowds or the allusive name of the falls, but the flat and easy hike to Fairy Falls was one of those instances where there was no sense of time. We gave into being soaking wet and tromped through large puddles to get to the falls.
The view of the falls was just as, if not more, spectacular than Hidden Falls. We presumed that there had been a fire within the last decade or so in the area as there was evidence of a heavy burn and regrowth. The juxtaposition of the old, dead and black tree trunks without branches to the new green undergrowth heightened the illusion of the falls.
All in all, our outdoor escapades were fantastic. Even with the rain, we managed to see many spectacular sites and get in a bit of exercise each day to round out all of our eating. In true form, we concluded our outdoor adventures with listening to country music and enjoying the clearer views on the way back from Yellowstone of the Grand Tetons. The ride and views provided the perfect culmination for our trip.
The ride was a reflection, literally and physically, of the natural landscape and our modest part in such a vast and ancient arena.
Stay tuned for our indoor escapades, which includes (almost exclusively) eating and drinking!