Conventional wisdom says you need to be controversial to get noticed on social media. So, here’s my stab at it. Grand Teton National Park is overrated.
I don’t know. Maybe it was unfair sandwiching it between Yellowstone and Glacier? That’s some hefty competition, after all. Like standing me between Brad Pitt and Chris Helmsworth and wondering why I’m not getting bids at the bachelor auction.
But I was already suspicious of Grand Teton’s reputation while camping there, long before we got to Glacier. And what a reputation it has. An over-romanticized one not unlike Niagara Falls. Hell, my parents have had a framed painting of the Tetons hanging above their living room sofa for 54 years. Such were wedding gifts in the 60s.
I think the biggest let down upon first seeing the Grand Tetons was their size. They’re kind of short in length. I suppose I’m spoiled living so close to the Canadian Rockies and just assumed all storied mountain ranges are seemingly endless in length. But the Teton Range is rather compact by comparison. Not necessarily a bad thing, but it sure caught me off guard.
The jagged peaks are certainly impressive and beautiful. I’m still a geologist at heart and these mountains are cool to look at. They’re exactly what a kid draws when imagining mountains. I just thought they’d be, well, longer (“That’s what she said.” – Michael Scott).
In fact, early on in our two-night stay at Grand Tetons National Park my attention and affection wandered to the lovely valley immediately east. Known as Jackson Hole, this flat valley holding the Snake River is quite beautiful in its own right and a stark contrast to the angular Teton Range.
I guess what I’m saying is, Grand Teton National Park is very pretty but doesn’t quite live up to the hype I’d come to associate with it over my half century of life. Frankly, if it was just a southern extension to Yellowstone National Park, none of this would be an issue and I’d be gushing over the Tetons in a section of my Yellowstone post.
Alright then, here are the highlights of our short stay in Grand Teton National Park. Our schedule was tight, so we didn’t have the opportunity to take in everything the park has to offer. Fans will know all the gems I’ve missed but the rest of you will still get a decent taste of this famed park in Wyoming.
Signal Mountain Summit
We camped at Signal Mountain Campground, so it made sense to check out the summit of the campground’s namesake mountain. There is a 5.5 km (3.4 mile) hiking trail to the summit or, if lazy like us, a winding road that gets you there by car. At the summit you’ll get a gorgeous view of Jackson Hole. With a little effort you can also see the Teton Range and Jackson Lake as well.
Jenny Lake is one of the most popular spots in Grand Teton National Park. It’s a cute little lake at the foot of the mountains and, yeah, it gets busy. There are trails, veiwpoints, boat tours, you name it. We popped in and looked around for a few minutes before venturing onwards.
Horseback Riding in Grand Teton National Park
With so many of our summer travels skewing to geological interests, my daughter often gets the short end of the adventure stick. She’s not into rocks like the rest of us, so I absolutely had to find at least one outing especially for her on this trip. A two-hour horseback ride in Grand Teton was just the ticket.
There are multiple ride options available from multiple outfitters. I chose Grand Teton Lodge Company. My daughter, familiar with horses, and her mother, not so much, had a terrific time with plenty of gorgeous views.
All of the Rest
All these shots are from pullouts along Teton Park Road, between Signal Mountain Campground and Moose, Wyoming.