Day 4 (Wednesday) Road trip: Jackson – Grand Teton – Dubois – Casper

As mentioned at the end of my Day 3 post, we ended our day in Jackson. Everything we did on day 3 was on or near Teton Park Rd headed into Jackson so it made sense to end with stops along the 191 from Jackson on our way out of town.

I took some photos along the way to our first stop. Always beautiful scenery!

We began with a stop at Mormon Row to take a couple of pictures of the historic barns/buildings that still stand. Such a beautiful area and with the Tetons behind them. It really can make your mind wander, and wonder what it must have been like to have settled there back in the day!

After Mormon Row, we made a stop by Schwabacher Landing for some reflective photos of the Tetons. Unfortunately there was a breeze that morning so the water did have some movement to it, making the reflection less than stellar, but sometimes you take what you can get. Moving water or not, it was still a surreal way to spend the morning.

When we got to the 191 junction, we went ahead and went back into Teton Park (I have an annual pass so entry fee for a couple of photos wasn’t an issue) and headed up a few miles to Oxbow Bend. Unfortunately, it was a little later by the time we got there, so aside from the breeze causing movement, there were already folks out on kayaks moving the water around as well. So no reflections here (you definitely need to get here earlier in the morning to catch those beautiful reflective shots), but as with Schwabacher, it is still a beautiful site to enjoy.

Some of the variety of scenery along the way to our next stop.

Knowing we had a long ride at this point to Casper, I had done some quick research and learned that Dubois is jackalope country so we made a stop there to be complete tourists, take some pictures with the jackalope creatures they had, and grab a t-shirt or two.

Sadly there was road construction right at the entrance so we didn’t realize what was there until we were jammed up. But something I missed in my quick search, was further outside of the town of Dubois. If you have interest in military vehicles, this stop might be right up your alley. There is a National Museum of Military Vehicles on the right side of the road, as you head from Dubois to Casper. My husband was disappointed I hadn’t found this in my research, so we’ll try to catch this if we go back through the area.

Keep an eye out as you drive along the roads – not only does the scenery change from green fields to trees, to rocks, but if you look carefully, particularly in areas with a lot of sagebrush, you might catch a glimpse of these little lovelies – antelope! Not nearly as easy to spot I found. Keep an eye out for the white patches, particularly on their necks and “back side” – that’s what would catch my eye when passing! Beautiful animals!

Some more scenic variety….

Then came a long drive, with no planned stops until we arrived in Casper for the night. We got checked into our hotel, asked the clerk for a good place for dinner and she suggested we try The Fort which was nearby. So we headed over, had a drink and a nice dinner. This place is lively with music and a large bar. The food was good. I ordered a wrap with sweet potato fries and to my surprise, the fries were like dessert – they were SO yummy, sprinkled in cinnamon/sugar and they had a cinnamon/sugar butter for dipping. Oh my!

Day 5 – Casper – Mt Rushmore – Wind Cave – Hot Springs SD post coming soon

Day 3 Road trip: Gardiner – Yellowstone – Grand Teton – Jackson

Day 3 (Tuesday)

We started the day early from our hotel in Gardiner. The view wasn’t too bad, especially when we saw a lady elk across the street! We drove back towards Yellowstone, which was a little slow going as we got behind some large construction trucks. But we weren’t in that big of a hurry, so we just enjoyed the scenery.

As with the afternoon before, we passed back by Mammoth Hot Springs and Lewis Falls. Since we did the geysers the day before, day 3 we were focusing on Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone and driving through Hayden Valley on our way to Grand Teton.

As we drove the Grand Loop, we took many of the side roads for views of the Grand Canyon, and various views of the falls.

As we were driving along, I spotted a bison on the opposite side of the road, but based on his stance, my gut said STOP he’s going to cross ….. and he did! So I immediately checked for safety and pulled over and waited, while taking a ton of photos. What an opportunity to see this amazing creature so close up. I was driving, so it pleased me to have to stop so I could catch some shots myself. My husband was equally amazed how close he was!

We took another road to Artist Point, and had opportunity for additional views of the falls, including Upper Falls which puts you at the top of it. Each view of the falls were equally awe inspiring and beautiful!

From here, we continued on the loop through Hayden Valley towards Yellowstone Lake. I will note again, that people will randomly stop to take pictures and many will be part way in the road which obviously is a pain and not safe, so use caution! But more opportunities to see bison and elk. At one point, we saw some folks stopped and my husband looked carefully out the window and thought he saw a bear’s behind in the trees. Other than that, no bear sightings for us but that’s ok. We had another opportunity for traffic to stop as not one, but two bison crossed the road – ah the excitement!

Beautiful scenery everywhere as we continued to drive. We continued on to Colter Bay Village, where we stopped for lunch and some photos of the Tetons from the Marina.

We headed down the road towards Jenny Lake, but our first stop was the long drive up Signal Mountain with a stop near the top for the Jackson Lake Overlook. Phew it was windy up top!! The Jackson Lake Overlook is not far from the top and there is a small parking lot, with a sign to take a trail 200 yards. If you continue a little further on the dirt trail, you’ll get an even better view! Then we continued up to the top for the amazing views of the valley below. The web looking picture is a caterpillar cocoon. They were in several of the bushes, we had never seen anything like this before. No judgement on the picture of me – the wind was howling on top of Signal Mountain so there was no controlling the hair lol.

Back on the road, we made a quick stop at Jenny Lake. I had read many wonderful things about it. We didn’t have time to hike, and it was getting late in the day so we took the quickest route to the water and again snapped a couple of pictures. Then it was back on the road again.

Last stop in Teton for the day was the Teton Glacier Outlook which is just a pull out with some parking spots. It’s not labeled, but it’s just a few miles from Jenny Lake, on the right side (as you’re headed for Jackson).

We ended our day in Jackson where we had our hotel booked. Grabbed a bite to eat at a nearby Mexican food restaurant that was within walking distance to our hotel. Then we called it a night to get an early start back into Teton.

Day 4 coming soon – Jackson to Grand Teton to Casper

Day 2 Road trip: Idaho Falls to Yellowstone and Gardiner, MT

I almost had this posted last night, but the hotel stopped me from uploading my pictures. So here is our Day 2 (Monday).
Spent the morning with our friends continuing to reminisce over coffee. We hit the road around 11:30 for the West Gate of Yellowstone. Traffic was not bad on the way, or at the gates which was a pleasant surprise.

It has been SO many years since my family went to Yellowstone when I was a child that I had forgotten how truly beautiful this place is. Ever changing landscape, beautiful views and wildlife can pop up anywhere!

Because we were entering through the West Gate, and based on our overnight accommodations for Day 2, we decided to focus on the geysers, springs, and whatever we could squeeze in before heading “home” for the day.

As you drive down through the area, you start to see steam coming out of the ground which means you know you’re on the right path! We made a couple of quick stops for photos at some smaller areas, then jockeyed for position along the side of the road (the parking lot was a madhouse) at Grand Prismatic Spring. Once parked, we walked down and along the river until we got to the bridge. It happened to be a VERY windy day, so as you crossed the bridge and started walking on the boardwalk around the springs here, the wind would shift and it would be all you could do to see. The smoke made you warm and humid and glad when the wind shifted again and you’d catch a small, cooler breeze! The boardwalk goes one way, in a loop to help with foot traffic congestion.

Once we completed the loop, it was back along the river to the car and on our way again. We made a couple more quick stops at some smaller areas, like Flood Geyser. Driving along the river, you can see some steam.

Then it was on to Old Faithful. We found the crowd! The parking lot was a madhouse, people dodging cars left and right. We did get lucky and got a spot right away without alot of driving up and down aisles. Once parked, we headed over to the geyser. Unfortunately we had just missed it, so it took about an hour of waiting in the warm sun (it was about 84 the day we were there) for it to go off. People were chatting, laughing, and at one point, as eruption neared, one end of the crowd started the wave! And at 4:43PM, there she went! The picture here is right as it started. I also have a video of some of it.

Some of my pictures are out of order, so I’ll post based on the order they’re in. As we drove around in between geysers/springs, please note to be very aware that as you get to a meadow, if there is wildlife, people will slam on their brakes, pull part way off the road and jump out right in front of you to see it, so use extreme caution!! But as we drove, we were fortunately to encounter some Bison and Elk close enough to get some decent photos. What an amazing thing to see such beautiful creatures in their natural habitat! We saw a bear butt, once, but that was all for bear, and unfortunately we did not see any moose. But the Bison and Elk made up for it in my opinion!

Once we were done at Old Faithful, we headed north. Note that if you plan to go to any major national parks, you should book your lodging as early as possible, and also note that prices will be much higher than a same named hotel in most other locations. Based on availability and price, we went North to Gardiner, Montana. The drive was a little slow as the road does wind, but the scenery is nice.

As we drove, we came across a turnout for Gibbon Falls so we stopped and admired the view and the falls for a few minutes before continuing on. Passing more lovely scenery on the winding road, we also came across Lewis Falls which were also lovely. We did not stop here though. Continuing on, you can see that the landscape changes to become rocky, and a few more miles up the road you will come to Mammoth Hot Springs. Due to time constraints, we did not stop here this trip, but I took a picture or two from the road. And right at the parking lot we came across more elk – we had to wait as one crossed the road.

Some of the drive to Gardiner, MT

Finally, we arrived in Gardiner and got checked into our hotel. We were quite hungry, and found a little place practically right across the street called The Corral. You walk up to the window and place your order then you wait for your food. Seating is all outdoors. I decided to be slightly adventurous and I tried the elk burger with bacon and cheese and all I can say is YUM! I was pleasantly surprised and would definitely have one again.

After dinner, we went for a walk as we had spotted the Yellowstone sign for the North entrance, and I also knew The Roosevelt arch was here. More pleasant surprises, a male and a female buck – right in town which made for excellent photo ops! It should not have to be said, but DO NOT get too close!!!

While walking back to our hotel, we crossed the river as the sun was setting and I was able to catch the last photo. All in all, a long, but very enjoyable day. Back to the hotel for a good night’s sleep.

Day 3 will be posted soon which was Gardiner to Yellowstone to Grand Teton to Jackson