We entered Grand Teton National Park from the North entrance which meant we had to do a quick drive through Yellowstone first. Woof…. both these parks are poppin with thousands of people. Luckily, this helped remind us to get back into our good system; early evening activities, sleep a little, and get back at it around sunrise. Best way to avoid the crowds!
When we arrived, we stopped at Flagg Ranch first for information. From there, Mike biked to Colter Bay while I did overlooks with puppers and hiked Lakeshore Trail by myself. This area is by the marina and it was freaking bananas with the number of people here. Once out on the actual trail, there were a lot less people though and it was pretty relaxing. It’s an easy trail with great views that would be perfect for people with kids or anyone that has a harder time with elevation!
Once I picked up Mike, we drove the east side of the Park road and acted like dotwatchers and chased down some Tour Divide bikers (Mike did this race in 2015!). Along the way we stopped at some more overlooks, visited the historical Cunningham cabin and ranch and looked at horses. Fun fact! 97 ranchers all sold their land to make this park a reality.
That evening, we continued driving south and wend to the Gros Ventre campground to listen to a Ranger talk about migration and pronghorn! Turns out, pronghorn are badass. Did you know that they are the fastest land mammal in North America? They can run up to 60mph! The only mammal faster than them in the world is a cheetah. They also can see 4 miles away, and have 270 degrees of sight. Their closest relative is the giraffe!
We then tried to disperse camp on the public land that surrounds the National Park. The park even has all the BLM areas listed in their Park newspaper. Sadly, we found that all spots were taken at Shadow Mountain. So we drove back during the beautiful sunset and camped back at Gros Ventre.
After a quick snooze, we woke up early and hiked to Taggart Lake around 7am. While there, we enjoyed the solitude and I worked on my junior ranger booklet. We were only ones up there, and on our way back down, we passed about 50 or so people.
On the way back up, we took the west portion of the road back up and saw all the pretty things! We were lucky enough to see a pasture of about 100 elk, a moose, and a grizzly bear pooping!
Back at Flagg Ranch, I got sworn in as junior ranger by Volunteer Ranger Elizabeth. She and her husband are in their first year volunteering. They have been retired for 4 years and have been working towards this goal of volunteering. They get to hook up their RV for free and work 4 days a week and have 3 days off. She was wonderful and so passionate about the park. The likely path for NPS is more volunteers since funding keeps getting cut; Ranger positions are down by 20%, but visitation keeps increasing.
- This is another park to utilize our park system; start between sunrise and 8am, take a break from 11-3, and then get back out there until sunset!
- Get your campsite early, no matter if you’re going to use a campground or BLM land. If it’s BLM land, put up your tents, hammocks, etc… anything to show that you have that spot. If it’s in a campground, just make sure to put your slip on the post and pay!
- Wildlife is most active around dusk and dawn. Also, anytime you see a traffic jam, that most likely means there is an animal spotted. Try not to park in the road and be a jerk, stay 25-100 yards away (dependent on the type of animal), and take your picture and keep going so others can see her.
- Follow the damn rules! I can’t believe how many patrons I saw blatantly disregard signs and rules about pets on trails, staying on the trail, and leave no trace. It was super sad and infuriating.