Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Road Trip: Grand Teton

If I had to use word association for this trip, I'd say Badlands = vast, lonely, fierce; Yellowstone = science, move, cool; Grand Teton = beautiful. Like so beautiful it hurts your soul a little bit. Grand Teton seemed to be less about the see and more about the be. It was for us at least.

By the time we left Yellowstone, I was ready to relax. Maybe it was because we didn't have as much on the agenda here, or because we spent the first day basically eating and lounging simply because we were too beat for anything else. Or maybe because I had it in my head after reading Trip Advisor that many people retreated to the Tetons to just be after tearing ass around Yellowstone.

Fall was much more apparent in the Tetons than it was in Yellowstone, and the atmosphere in general was very laid back. It was a nice coasting ride into the park. 
Fall splendor entering the Tetons, lunch at Jackson Lake Lodge, a stop at Chapel of the Sacred Heart
Our place to just be was Signal Mountain Lodge - I did a lot of research and am so glad I chose this one. We had lunch at Jackson Lake Lodge and were in the Jenny Lake Lodge area and none of them had better views than we had or proximity to the lake. Signal Mountain had a great down to earth vibe.

I really loved the staff at Signal Mountain Lodge, the rooms themselves, their commitment to sustainability, the food in the Trapper Grille (we ate there for two dinners, a lunch, and a breakfast), and the toiletries, believe it or not. I ended up hunting them down online and ordering them. The room was pricey for my standards ($374/night), but it was for our anniversary and it was worth it. I'd save up to stay there again in a heartbeat.
Thursday morning we took a scenic cruise ($70/PP) on the Snake River run by guides from Signal Mountain. Chris was informative and funny. We were on the cruise with a couple of ladies from Kentucky who were smart and witty and a retired guy from Long Island who was a freaking forensic scientist when he worked. I tried to keep the CSI/Criminal Minds questions to a minimum as he was out trying to enjoy nature and not discuss dead bodies, but I couldn't resist a few. He did say Patricia Cornwell has it pretty realistic. Anyway great group, lots of conversation, plenty of laughs, and phenomenal views.
After that, MFD suggested we do a little hike. We ended up taking the boat across from Jenny Lake and hiking up to Inspiration Point. We are novice hikers. I thought I'd die on the way there. But we did it, and we made the boat back by the skin of our teeth. It was exhilirating and really tiring. I took zero pictures the entire time but MFD snapped a few. At least the views were really beautiful when I had to pull over and rest every 50 yards. High altitude is no joke. I don't do well in it. I loved how I felt at the bottom though - loose and on a natural high.
Boat ride over / me at the top of Inspiration Point / Jenny Lake
We tooled around after that, stopping at overlooks to marvel at the grandeur of the Tetons from all angles.
We headed out of the park to get to Mormon row. The infamous barn roof is under construction as you can see in the first shot. Can you imagine settling in the backyard of the Tetons? Yeah this spot looks good.
We ended the day by driving up to the summit of Signal Mountain. Wonderful views of the valley and glimpses of the sun setting behind Grand Teton.
And saw this show back at our room:
On the way out we stopped at the Menor homestead and saw a moose! MFD almost crapped his pants he was so excited. I had tears as we were leaving. I was just so grateful for everything on the trip, and to end it in a place of stunning natural beauty was just the absolute icing on the cake.
Last photo bottom left - Moose! Directly next to that is the cabin where Grand Teton National Park was voted into conception, and the rest of the photos are Menor's Homestead

The Dirty Details: 
Days 7 & 8: Grand Teton
Hotel: Signal Mountain Lodge Upper Lakefront Cabin ($374/night tax included)

Day Nine: Teton checkout and day in Jackson
Hotel: Elk Refuge Inn ($207/night)

I definitely expected things in Teton and Jackson to be further apart based on how far things were in Yellowstone. That was not the case. We definitely could've stayed another night at Signal Mountain and made our way to the airport relatively easily, although it's a little less of a straight run than it was from Jackson. It is also definitely feasible to stay in Jackson and go to the park each day without missing much in terms of drive time.

All posts in the Road Trip series:
Badlands, The day we saw it all, Little Bighorn & Beartooth Highway, Yellowstone, Grand TetonJackson Hole

If you've read the road trip series all the way through, thanks for traveling along with me. If you're considering any portion of the trip and would like to discuss hotel or money particulars, let me know. I am going to do an overarching National Parks trip blog about things that were important for me to know or things I didn't know and wish I did sometime in the future, so look out for that.

MFD tagged me in a post with this quote on Facebook, and it can sum up this trip perfectly:

“The wish to travel seems to me characteristically human: the desire to move, to satisfy your curiosity or ease your fears, to change the circumstances of your life, to be a stranger, to make a friend, to experience an exotic landscape, to risk the unknown.” ― Paul Theroux 

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  1. Less about the see, and more about the be sounds like an absolutely perfect way to wrap up this trip of yours. The pictures are staggering how beautiful they are.

  2. There is just so much space out that way - I'm in awe of everything you guys were able to do on your trip! xo, Biana -BlovedBoston

  3. I'm ready to quit my job, buy an RV, homeschool my kid and drive around to all the National Parks for the rest of my life. I have LOVED reading about this trip.

  4. I've been waiting on you to review Grand Teton. This is where M and I want to go so badly. We are trying to make it happen for next year. How long did you guys plan/save for this trip?

  5. just amazing. totally blows my mind that such gorgeous places are closer than we think.

  6. Those photos from Mormon Row and the subsequent sunsets are incredible. I like the solitary contrast of the structures with the Grand Tetons. Sunsets are just beautiful. You have that down!

  7. These blogs have been just stunning and awesome. OMG about the forensic scientist. I love Patricia Cornwell. Oh the places you'll go and the people you meet! Can't wait for your next trip ! I hope you do the same type blogs. I think you got an intuitive signal to go to The Signal. A beautiful way to mark your 5 year anniversary. Love. Your. Momma.

  8. Beautiful! I have to say, I'm surprised that hotel was $374/night. I guess I just assumed that everything is cheaper out there! I love the pictures with just the lone cabin.

  9. Wow what beautiful pictures!!! I love love the picture of the lone cabin. So peaceful and beautiful.

  10. every. single. picture. looks like a post card!! seriously. blown away. i think your word sums it up perfectly.

  11. Love the quote at the bottom so much. The pictures are gorgeous. We've been through Jackson, but didn't spend as much time there as we would have liked. I'm with you on the elevation change - it's no joke, but I think it's awesome that you guys did that hike. The feeling afterwards is always worth the uphill battle - plus you can eat, drink and be merry with zero guilt.

  12. Such an absolutely gorgeous place! I remember going out the south entrance of Yellowstone to get a glimpse of the Tetons, and it's almost unreal - so beautiful! I wish I could have completely submerged myself in the area like you guys did. You guys had an incredible trip!

  13. Looking at these pictures makes me want to get mine out and revisit my trip there. Actually, you're entire trip makes me want to go back to all those places. I think I'd see them with fresh eyes since so much time has elapsed since I've been. Scott and I need to get to planning.

  14. I love that you spent some time here just being. What I wouldn't give to just hike there. Looks amazing.

  15. seriously though, definitely so beautiful it hurts. i mean all the photos look like postcards or backdrops. absolutely amazing. i want to go there.

  16. Your pictures in this post are just so amazing. I literally got goosebumps. I cannot imagine just landing somewhere like that and settling down, building a house or whatever. I am sure it wasn't an overly comfortable life but still. So beautiful!

  17. I love the quote. Looks like an amazing place to explore. So many beautiful photos and that sunset...just gorgeous! The lodge/cabin sounds nice and homey although a bit pricey but at least you can say you did something special for your anniversary.

  18. It's nice to have some just BE time on vacation! I usually end up so exhausted from vacation I wish I had another vacation to just BE.

  19. Gasp, that place is amazing!!!!
    Such beauty :)

  20. The cruise sounds so fun and those photos!!! Once again I am just amazed and stunned at the beauty!!! And I would have been excited to see a moose too! Haha! I love how you said this was the time to just be, so true.

  21. The colors.... Oh my god they're beautiful. This is on my bucket list now. Thank you my friend and thank you for sharing with all of us.

  22. I am so glad you didn't die on the hike! Hiking is not my jam either. Again, thank you for sharing the most amazing pictures and inspiring a vacation! Also I reallllly wanted to see a moose back east until I developed an irrational fear of hitting one on the highway.

  23. I've loved reading all of these and seeing all of the pictures....out west is the one area of the country I really have not been to, so it is definitely on the list of place to visit, along with about 20 others.

    The colors are gorgeous. I am jealous of fall, but heading to a wedding in Delaware this weekend and to Erie next weekend, so I am going to OD on all the fall things.

  24. Love that quote! And, I've loved all of your posts on your trip, so thank you!

  25. You weren't kidding about the sheer beauty of this place!

    And I agree about spending a little more for an anniversary. Sometimes it's hard to swallow the cost of a more expensive hotel room (or vacation in general), but it's generally worth it (especially if you get fantastic views, as you clearly did). Sometimes rooms are overpriced (at least in my opinion), but sometimes you wind up with something really special!

  26. "At least the views were really beautiful when I had to pull over and rest every 50 yards." Bahahahaha!

  27. The fact that your soul hurt a bit to me is a sign of being that close to perfection.


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