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Grand Teton National Park

Yes, those are some Big Tetons! I love this place so much I made a second trip within a year after visiting in the Fall of 2011. This classic western mountain range was probably captured best in black and white by the late master photographer Ansel Adams. The Snake River Overlook affords one of the best views of this rugged landscape just north of Jackson, Wyoming.

The Grand Tetons can be enjoyed from many viewpoints. Along Highway 89 there are several turnouts to pause at its beauty and snap great photos. If you are into photography, be sure to see the barn on Mormon Row. It's another popular subject for shutterbugs and it's also where the buffalo roam. Take Antelope Flats Road about 2 miles east from the main highway to get there. From the Mormon barn it's only a five minute drive back to Moose Junction where you can enjoy an awesome bison burger on a sourdough bun. Dornans serves them in the afternoon at the picnic area next to the teepee.

On my 2011 visit, I chose to hike about 3 hours each way to Amphitheater and Surprise Lakes. The hike began from the Lupine Meadows trailhead and climbed to about 10,000 feet. These alpine lakes provide a quiet and peaceful setting for lunch. Along the trail there are great views overlooking the vast valley below, including Bradley and Taggert Lakes. For less strenuous trekking, I recommend the mostly level trails around Jenny Lake.

The Tetons is a great place to do some biking. There must be over 50 miles of new bike paths. Unfortunately most run parallel to the highway and there isn't much shade except for the paths near Jenny Lake and Teton Village. But the bike paths are in excellent condition and you probably won't end up roadkill since you don't share them with vehicles. Be sure to watch out for wildlife when driving. The speed limit on the highway is only 45 mph at night, and I did actually see a moose on the road after he "bought the farm".

I was pleasantly surprised to see as much wildlife at Grand Teton as in nearby Yellowstone National Park. At the Tetons I saw moose, coyote, fox, buffalo, and even a grizzly bear near Moose Junction.

If your looking for something fun to do, in the summer months you can take a gondola ride up to 9,095' to Couloir Restaurant. The gondola ride was free and only took about 10 minutes to ascend to the restaurant. While the dining there is a bit expensive, if you arrive early for happy hour you can enjoy cheap beers and panoramic views from the patio just below the restaurant. Trails branch upward also from there, if you are feeling adventurous. Just keep in mind you won't reach the summit of Grand Teton after happy hour drinks.


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