Wednesday, December 9, 2009

From Tetons to Yellowstone

Day two of the trip dawned clear and bright. We didn't have any definite plans except to get to West Yellowstone by dark, so we had some time to explore. We got back on Moose Wilson Road and saw the cow moose again, pretty much were we'd left her the day before.

From there we took a side road toward the Death Canyon trail head (I just love the names of some of theses places). I don't recall if we intended to hike there at all, but on the way in we spotted some movement off in the woods. Lisa slowed and from out of the firs trotted three elk, the first I'd ever seen! I managed to get a few quick shots off before they disappeared across the road.

We were still on a mission for moose, something that would stay with us the whole trip, so we drove back down Teton Park Road toward Jenny Lake and parked in the boat launch parking lot. There was a short trail around Moose Pond, which seemed like a good place to find moose, and we set off with camera gear at the ready.

As we descended the steep trail down to the pond it became clear we weren't going to see much. The pond was edged with thick, 8 foot tall willows, and as we moved farther down the trail, the other side grew thick as well. I was not comfortable hiking where I couldn't see more than 10 feet down the trail in front of us, or to either side. This is grizzly country, much less moose country, and not having clear sight lines made me very uneasy. We turned around and found a comfy place to sit near the creek flowing out of the pond.

While no moose were spotted, we did find another fritillary butterfly...

...and this little fellow who refused to give up on his pine cone even though he was clearly unnerved by us, not that he looks all that unnerved in this photo. Must not get as many visitors down here as they do on Inspiration Point!

We got back in the car and decided to take the drive up Signal Mountain. There are a few ridges and bumps between Jackson and Jenny Lakes and the Snake River that offer spectacular views of the surrounding landscape. We dutifully climbed out and took a few pictures.

Here a survey marker for Signal Mountain, 7593 feet...

...and here a look at the Teton range across the Potholes area of Jackson Hole.

Near where Teton Park Road joins US 89 the Snake River emerges from Jackson Lake and forms the Oxbow Bend, another popular moose viewing area. But by now it was mid-day and any animal in its right mind had made for the shade in the mid-80's temperatures. So, a few more photos of Grand Teton Mountain.

From there we stopped at Colter Bay Village and had lunch looking out over Jackson Lake, and then we left Teton National Park.

Somewhere along US 89, near the Yellowstone border, the Snake River passes under the highway. We pulled off and stripped to our bare feet and waded in.

A bit of advice to anyone interested in wading in to a rocky, cold river--bring water shoes. The rocks were not particularly slippery, but they are quite painful to walk on.

Oh those big fluffy summertime clouds! What a treat to see them again when it's 30 degrees (and falling) with 40 mph wind gusts and snow outside.

We spent some time cooling off and looking at the pretty rocks, then continued on to Yellowstone.

We knew there wasn't a whole lot we were dying to see on the south end of the park, so we pretty much made a bee line to West Yellowstone, a Montana town on the west edge of the park. We stopped to take a few photos, and this, dear reader, is the first picture I took in Yellowstone National Park, somewhere along the West Entrance Road:

See, they aren't all majestic animals or panoramic scenes! This is a burned out stump of a long dead tree with woodpecker holes. Notice the ridge in the background, littered with dead trees. The fires of 1988 burned about 70% of the park, and it was amazing, 20 years later, how much of that was still apparent. These skeletal trees made for some interesting subjects, as we'll see down the road a piece.

Next: sunrise in Yellowstone National Park


  1. i forgot how gorgeous the snake river was, and how rocky! this is great fun to relive this vacation. can't wait to go back!

  2. Keep in mind that there are fires in Yellowstone every year. Most of what you see scorched today burned after 1988. Glad you had a good time; what time of year was it?

  3. This was mid-July, 2007. There were massive fires in Idaho at that time that blanketed the entire area with smoke.