"Could I have this dance for the rest of my life?" - Anne Murray

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Two Big Parks and We're on the Road Again - Part One

In just three days we visited two of the most dramatic parks in the US. We'd been to both a couple of times before, so we weren't really trying to see it all in an unrealistic amount of time, but were just touching base to see what they had to offer us today.

Grand Teton National Park: We drove from Idaho to Wyoming over the Flagg Ranch road, a new approach for both of us. The atmosphere has been kind of hazy due to fires in the area. We thought that getting right into the mountains, up close, might be better than looking for the grand views that the Tetons usually offer, but that we couldn't see now.

The Flagg Ranch Rd. is dirt and pretty rough all the way. It starts in the flat wheat fields of Idaho and rises very gradually into the foot hills and then the mountains of the Grand Targhee National Forest, which is between Yellowstone and the Tetons, and west of them both. The road winds its way through the forests, rising in elevation to 7,100 and passing through some beautiful valleys with streams or ponds in them.

We descended the east side into Grand Teton National Park, crossing over Pole Cat Creek, and stopped and watched three otters playing in the creek and drifting downstream.

The drive south along the Teton range was as magnificent as ever, even with reduced visibility. The Tetons are iconic mountains. They are everything you imagine mountains to be, like fairy tale mountains.  The east side is very flat so they rise up very abruptly, making for these dramatic scenes.

We took the drive up Signal Mountain for the views, and along Jenny Lake (below).

We splurged on an overnight in a hostel in Jackson Hole and got up early the next morning to ride the big new tram to the top of the ski mountain there. We barely missed a thunderstorm that was coming over the top, so we couldn't linger there. Got a few pictures going up, at the tops and going back down though.  Some of these pictures will be of interest to skiers.  The view down looks over the valley of Jackson and Jackson Hole.

Jackson is a very a che'che' tourist location, with many very rich people with homes in the surrounding hills. Our favorite places there are Thomas Mangelsen's home town gallery and the National Wildlife Museum.  (It makes you feel like you've seen a lot of wildlife even if you haven't.) Both create a change in your sense of vision so that the whole world looks like a work of art when you emerge. I'm sure my photos will be much improved as a result. We'll see in Part Two.

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