Grand Teton National Park

It seems we picked the wrong time to visit Grand Teton National Park. Allison and I had been planning to stay for 2-3 days to do some serious hiking and climb a mountain or two, but that wasn’t really possible. Apparently snow levels are 200% normal this year throughout the entire region (where’s global warming when you need it?) – so there are only two or three trails in the park that are even partially accessible.

Park Entrance

We ended up spending only one full day in the park hiking around Phelps Lake (6.8 miles) and up to Taggart Lake (3.9 miles). At least half of the hiking was on top of several feet of packed snow, which made for slow, cold, tedious going.

Hiking on snow

We started the morning with Phelps Lake, which was supposed to be a 7 mile loop. It was very scenic, so I was able to get some nice pictures. Unfortunately, much of the trail was buried under snow and difficult to follow. At one point, we lost the trail completely and spent an hour or so wandering around in a marsh before finally backtracking and trying a different route.

Phelps Lake

Allison + Phelps Lake

Since it was a warm day, snow runoff from the mountains made everything wet and soggy. As we were searching for the trail, I slipped on a wet log and smashed up a finger:

Bear bait

Eventually, we gave up on circling the lake and just returned the way we’d come. After lunch, we decided to try the hike up to Taggart Lake, which was supposedly the least snow-covered trail in the park (it ended up being about 40% snow and 60% dirt). It was considerably easier to follow, and offered some good views of the Teton Range and the partially-frozen lake.

Taggart Lake

Teton Range

The highlight of the park was definitely the wildlife. During our short time in Grant Teton, we saw numerous moose and buffalo, some deer, a wolf, a bald eagle, and some fresh bear tracks (I tried following them, but no luck). We saw an adolescent moose and its mother from just a few yards away after nearly running into them on a trail, which was pretty cool.

Buffalo crossing

Adolescent moose

Bear print

We spent two nights camping in the Gros Ventre campground, and actually had a large bull moose walk right past our tent on the second night.

Campsite

Bull moose behind tent

Since it was cold and rainy for much of the time, we constructed a shelter to cook under using a giant blue tarp:

Tarp shelter

“Grand Teton National Park strives to provide its visitors with an aesthetically pleasing camping experience. We regret to inform you that your hobo tent fails to meet these standards and has been the cause of numerous complaints. Please remove it immediately, or face a fine in the amount of –“

“Real funny Matt.”

Taggart Lake trail

Our next stop is Yellowstone National Park, much of which is also buried under several feet of snow. According to a man I met at our campsite, parts of the park near the hot springs are relatively snow-free…so we’ll see how things go. Right now we’re leaning towards skipping out on Glacier National Park (another several hundred miles north) and doubling back to Rocky Mountain National Park down in Colorado. I guess the other option would be to invest in some snow shoes and/or a dogsled.

Approximate Total Distance: 10.7 miles

Published in: on May 26, 2011 at 11:33 pm  Comments (2)  

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Too bad about the snow cover but the pictures show a pretty place to visit and some cool wildlife. Maybe Yellowstone will turn out a little better!

    (I told Allison you would find something witty to say. Nice job with the hobo tent remark – you didn’t let me down!)

  2. Beautiful scenery…sorry about your finger.


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