12 min read

Wild Wyoming, Part 2: Grand Teton National Park

Wild Wyoming, Part 2: Grand Teton National Park

This blog might be more pictures than words, which is a good thing. Grand Teton was spectacular and deserves to be shown in photos.

If you're ever visiting Yellowstone or Jackson Hole, definitely take the time to visit Grand Teton National Park too, even if you just drive through it. At one of our campgrounds right by the park, we met some people who were staying there only to visit Yellowstone! DON'T DO THIS!

Anyway, can you tell we loved Grand Teton? Here's what we did during our two weeks in and around the park in early August (forever ago).

Quick side notes:

1) If you're ever curious about where we are currently, check out the "Where's Waldo" page! We're pretty good about updating the map, and you can see the whole route we've taken.

2) I'm trying to post more photos and videos on our Instagram @ajvanfam, so you can follow us there too if ya want!

3) Check out Joey's portfolio for more awesome photos!!

Our Grand Tour of Grand Teton


Since Grand Teton is very popular and we planned last-minute, we had to move campsites a few times. Gros Ventre Campground is one of the campgrounds actually in the park. It's expensive for dry camping (no hookups) but you're paying for the location. And overall we liked the campground; it was big and busy, but still quiet and not too tightly packed, which was nice. And we could get cell service for working, which can be rare inside national parks.

We stayed at Gros Ventre (pronounced Grow Vont if you're wondering) for a few nights our first week there, Tuesday to Friday. It rained almost the entire time. After a perfectly sunny day driving through the Tetons a few days earlier, now we couldn't see the mountains at all.

So by the end of the week, since we couldn't charge our batteries with solar, we needed to move somewhere with hookups. The few RV parks around Jackson were crazy expensive / hard to book / didn't look that great anyway, so we drove over an hour to stay at Rim Station RV Park in Pinedale. They had full hookups, so we recharged and hung out there for the weekend. Rim Station's owners were super friendly, and they also made barbecue sandwiches, which were delicious.

I kept an eye on Gros Ventre's availability and was able to book for almost the entire next week (we had to move sites halfway through, but that's no big deal) so we drove back there on Monday. The second week we had better luck with the weather.

Originally we'd planned to do some dispersed camping, since there are a lot of options around Grand Teton. But the weather, terrain, and overall busy-ness of the park made that difficult. A lot of the dispersed camping spots are only accessible by a truck or much smaller rig, and the sites for bigger RVs were hard to get. All the rain made the dirt roads super muddy and rutted too, and we didn't want to get stuck. Maybe next time!

Scenic Drives & Overlooks

Outer & Inner Park Roads

There are a few main roads that go through Grand Teton. The outer park road / Highway 191 goes from the southern Yellowstone entrance down to the town of Jackson, and passes right by the Tetons. There are a lot of overlooks you can pull off along this road and get great views of the mountains from a bit of a distance.

Then there's the inner Teton Park Road, which goes through the park gates and closer to the mountains. You get to most of the trailheads and popular areas like Jenny Lake from here. There are some other scenic drives from here as well, like Jenny Lake Road, Signal Mountain, and Moose Wilson Road (which we'll talk more about later for its wildlife viewing!)

It's really cool driving close to the mountains – they rise up huge and jagged from out of nowhere; the land around them is totally flat and covered in sagebrush. It's a really unique sight.


Sunrise is the best time of day to see the Tetons – the mountains are lit up by the sun in the east, and they glow bright pink and orange for just a few brief minutes during the sunrise. We got up early multiple times to watch the sunrise and try to get some good shots.

The most popular sunrise spot (that photographers all swarm to) is Schwabacher's Landing, which is a short trail off the main highway that descends down into the valley along a creek/pond, with great mountain views. The first day we tried to get a shot there, it was too foggy down low, and we couldn't see anything.

The mountains are back there...

We waited a while for the fog to lift, but it didn't, so we left and drove to another overlook. About ten minutes down the road, the fog was gone and the sun was bright, which is where Joey got this timelapse:

But later that week, we got an amazing sunrise at Schwabacher's Landing. A bunch of other photographers and spectators were there watching it with us, but it was so beautiful. (It's the top photo on this blog and the one below).

Other Places

On Joey's birthday, we had a picnic at Jackson Lake. We found a quiet spot on the beach, brought our chairs and food and drinks, and sat watching the sun's rays shine through the clouds over the mountains.

Mormon Row, a group of old barns and houses, is another popular photo spot (for the iconic barn photo with the Tetons looming in the background). It's crazy to imagine settlers living here with that view and the wild weather of this area, especially in the winter.

Joey rented a telephoto lens towards the end of our trip here to take wildlife photos with. Between here and Yellowstone, we had a lot of good opportunities. :)

Hidden Falls / Inspiration Point / Cascade Canyon Trail

It's hiking time!

Because of the weather, we didn't do as much hiking as I would've liked in Grand Teton (although I guess I shouldn't let that stop me lol), but we did do the Cascade Canyon Trail. And I have to imagine that's hard to beat. It was the most beautiful hike we've ever done.

This trail is one of the most popular in the park, so we got up super early on a Saturday to get to Jenny Lake by 7am. Most people start this trail by taking a shuttle boat across the lake, which saves a few miles, but you can also hike around. There were already a good amount of people in line for the boat when we got there. It was a chilly ride across the lake, with fog/low clouds still mostly covering the mountains at first.

The first part of the trail is easy, meandering through the forest until you reach Hidden Falls, only about a half mile in. It was gorgeous with the cascading river, the waterfall, the pine trees, and the rocky Tetons rising above.

Next, you climb for another half mile or so on a narrow, rocky trail to Inspiration Point. This is the steepest part of the trail, but it doesn't last long. Most people just hike to this point and then turn around. At the top, you're overlooking Jenny Lake.

Then the trail continues into Cascade Canyon, a mostly flat walk in the valley between the mountains. We had to stop so often to take photos; it was unbelievably scenic at every point! The pines, the wildflowers, the ponds and river, the clouds lifting to reveal the rocky peaks – I couldn't stop staring.

We hiked 4-ish miles until we got to the junction with another couple trails. We wanted to keep going to Lake Solitude, but didn't want to leave Hollie that long – it would add another 5 miles to the hike. And we didn't want to wear ourselves out completely. So we ate lunch overlooking the river (a bunch of hikers were also taking a break there) before hiking back.

On the way back, we met a group of horseback riders on the trail, who told us about a moose mother and calf further down. So we got to see our first moose!! (Didn't get a good enough pic to add here, but there will be more moose pics later).

Cascade Canyon was incredibly beautiful. I haven't done a lot of other hikes in the park to compare it, but would 100% do this one again and recommend it to everyone. The downside is that by the time we got back to the shuttle boat, it was a LOT busier and we had to wait for 45 minutes. We could have hiked back instead, but we were tired after hiking almost 10 miles. Totally worth it.

Taggart Lake Trail

On one of our last evenings in the park, we hiked the shorter Taggart Lake Trail, which is a 4-mile loop. It wasn't as stunning as Cascade Canyon, but still very beautiful, especially once we got to the lake. The highlight was seeing a black bear up on a hill next to the trail! We didn't get a good pic, but he was fun to watch for a bit. We had bear spray just in case, but he was far away enough and minding his own business, I wasn't worried.

The girl who pointed the bear out to us was hiking by herself, and hiked with us the rest of the trail. She was from Salt Lake City, visiting for the weekend and car camping with her dog, and was really fun to talk to on the hike.

Wildlife Watching

Grand Teton is a great place to see bears, moose, elk, and other wildlife. We only saw one bear, but we saw lots of moose and elk!

Apparently, the place to go is Moose Wilson Road. One side of the road starts near the park visitor center on the way to Jenny Lake, and probably less than a mile in, there's a parking lot on the left overlooking a pond. That's where all the moose hang out.

Every time we went to the pond, we saw moose. We sadly never saw a bull with antlers, but we saw female moose alone or with their calves, who were super cute and shy. One time, there were two separate moose minding their own business, until one got too close to the other and they had a fight! They reared up like horses in the water and attacked each other for just a second until one backed off. It was so cool to watch.

We also saw elk on the hill on the other side of the road, and elk and pronghorn herds in the sagebrush flats by the mountains. One day, a bald eagle was chilling in a tree by the pond too. Wildlife tour groups came by the pond often, and photographers just hung out there waiting. It was our first glimpse of real wildlife enthusiasts at a park (which would be more extreme later in Yellowstone).

Jackson Hole / Pinedale

Exploring Pinedale

Our brief weekend stay in Pinedale, while we recharged our batteries, was pretty uneventful. We drove into the Tetons that Saturday to hike Cascade Canyon, but other than that we just hung around the area. It was super pretty, right outside the national forest, a mix of rocky, forested mountains and wide-open plains and ranches. It felt very western. We started realizing that everyone has ATVs and other off-road vehicles out here. Why wouldn't you?

One day, we drove to a lake near the town of Pinedale and took a walk at this odd but pretty place called the CCC Ponds. There was almost no one there except for a couple people fishing, but there were a few trails circling these ponds. It was nice and quiet. We saw stormclouds rolling in and left just as it started raining. On the drive back, it started hailing for a few minutes.

Downtown Jackson

Okay, Jackson the town was CRAZY. I was excited to walk around it, but we barely did because it was jam-packed all the time. The traffic and people were insane. So we mostly just drove through it when we had to. It's too bad, because it seems like an awesome little town (even if it's touristy).

But we did go there one morning before it got too crazy. We walked around the main square a bit and took the obligatory antler arch photo (I was very excited about seeing those). Then we worked from a coffee shop for a while, which was fun – we sat outside and it was a beautiful morning. I also did laundry in Jackson one day, and saw a few other nomad-looking people living out of vans there too.

Jackson Hole Resort

Finally, one evening we took a gondola ride at Jackson Hole Ski Resort up to a restaurant that stays open during the summer. The ride up was gorgeous – we ended up at 9,000+ feet elevation, it was chilly up there! It was expensive (as expected) but a lot of fun. The restaurant had live music, and we sat drinking beer, eating pizza, and overlooking the beautiful Jackson Hole valley below.

Okay, I did write a lot more than I expected... but it was hard not to say a lot about Grand Teton. This was one of our favorite stops on the trip so far, and (like most of the places we've been) we're already planning on visiting again.

I can't believe it's almost October. Soon we'll make our way back to North Carolina for the holidays, but I still have a lot to catch up on from the past couple months. So stay tuned – Yellowstone is next, hopefully soon! Thanks for reading. ❤️