Time for Tetons (Part 1)
Sanctuary! Sanctuary! Those words ring as the peaks of the Grand Tetons appear. The National Park Service turns 100 today! In celebration, seems fitting to share what I love about my #1 favorite park. Tetons is the first national park both my boys experienced at only months old. It is the location that my wife sought refuge to overcome postpartum depression. Refusing medication from doctors, she knew the Tetons would be the prescription to lift her spirits. This is where I go to clear my mind and find peace. The family phrase we use when live gets tough, "Time for Tetons."
Wildlife encounters is what makes Tetons amazing. Just returning from a trip last month, here is what I saw: 4 moose, 1 black bear, 1 marmot, 5 elk, 6 antelope, 1 fox, 1 coyote, 1 weasel, 2 sage grouse, 3 bald eagles, 3 pelicans, 1 great blue heron, 1 toad, 4 deer, and a herd of buffalo. In the 90 degree July sun, this outcome is significantly less than what I normally see at the Tetons.
My favorite time of year is fall and spring. The animals are foraging, weather is cooler, no crowds, and if lucky there are mass wildlife migrations. This is the first of a 3 part blog where I'll share what I love about the Tetons. I included a labeled map of family favorite spots and where I frequently see wildlife. In part 2 and 3, I will add to the map.
Remember, what's listed below is not magical. Animals do not appear on cue. But if you are out around dawn and dusk in these areas, you will certainly increase your odds for potential amazing wildlife encounters.
#1: Moose-Wilson Road
Look to the left in the marshy areas for moose. Look to the right in the hawthorne berry trees for bears. This is the first bear our oldest son ever saw. Just two-years-old in a chilly October.
#2: Moose Junction
Look near the river edge when crossing the bridge. 10 years ago, my wife and I saw our first moose in the park at this spot. They don't call it Moose Junction for nothing.
#3: Gros Ventre
This is a great spot to photograph elk, buffalo, and moose with the Tetons as a backdrop. Continue up the road towards Slide Lake for great panoramic views of the entire range.
#4: Antelope Flats Road
This is the place to get shots of the Tetons filled with yellow wildflowers from June to July. One evening in April this field was covered in 16 moose. Not typical, but a rare treat!
#5: Schwabacher Road
This is a family favorite. We have picnics, enjoy the Tetons reflection, and laugh at the busy beavers. On a clear night star gazing over the water is amazing. Make sure to pack repellent.
#6: Moran Junction
Before the junction, look for moose in the brush on the right. After paying, take a left at the raft launch, let the kids throw rocks in the river. Take a right on Pacific Creek Rd for possible moose too.
I recently learned about a new hike from the locals. Being the only family on the trail at 6pm, our adrenaline was pumping during this bear encounter as he crossed our path multiple times. In respect to the locals trying to preserve the traffic in this area, I am happy to privately share the details to this great location. Please contact me directly.
I hope these tips inspire you to take a trip to my favorite haven. Get out and give yourself a Teton break. Watch for Part 2 and 3 as I add to the map. If you are heading to the Tetons sooner just reach out and I'm happy to help. One note, besides #6, locations #1-#5 are outside of the pay booths in the Grand Tetons. There is so much to enjoy for free, you have no excuse but to get outside. Find your park!