Posts filed under ‘Flying’

Government Shutdown 2013: What to do in Jackson Hole

So you’ve planned your trip to Jackson Hole. You are excited to go play in the Tetons and then you find out that Grand Teton National Park is closed due to the government shut down. What do you do? Do you cancel your trip? No! There are still plenty of amazing things to do in Jackson Hole besides visiting the national park. Thankfully, our mountains are so magnificent that you can still see them clearly from the public highway and be wowed.

Here are some alternatives to visiting Grand Teton National Park:

Take a scenic drive

I suggest that you take my favorite Sunday drive. This drive is not only scenic 18176_530810948595_6161501_nbut can provide glimpses of wildlife as well. Start by taking Highway 89 North out of Jackson towards Moran. Then take a right on Gros Ventre Road and drive out to Kelly. Keep your eyes peeled here because sometime there will be wildlife by the road you may spot bison in the fields or a moose by the river. There is an adorable coffee shop in Kelly that you should stop at for a cup of java.

From Kelly continue straight on the road and then take a left ontoMoulton Barn Antelope Flats Drive. About a mile down this road you’ll reach Mormon Row. There are two historic barns located on Mormon Row. These barns are almost all that was left from the Mormon’s settlement. The Mormons were one of the first settlers in the Jackson Hole area. One of the barns is right on the road and the other is a minute down the dirt road on the left. These scenic barns compete with a spectacular backdrop of the Tetons and make for great photographs.

Once done there continue in the same direction towards the Tetons and the road will hook back up with Highway 89. Take a right onto the highway and drive about 10 minutes north to the Snake River Overlook – here is where Ansel Adams took the famous photo of the467709_630876396635_197025192_o Tetons. You can keep driving on Highway 89 until you hit Moran Junction if you’d like after that. Sometimes there is wildlife in the fields north of the Snake River Overlook.

Update 10/7/13 – Apparently Antelope Flats Road and Mormon Row are closed and the rangers are out there and writing tickets. So sorry!

Another nice Sunday afternoon drive is to take a drive out on the Elk Refuge. Follow East Broadway from downtown Jackson to the end. You will see a dirt road on your left. Take this road into the National Elk Refuge. You aren’t allowed off the road, so I don’t suggest hiking, but it is a good road for a scenic drive and who knows, you may get lucky and see some wildlife!

Update 10/12/13 – Allegedly the Elk Refuge Road is now closed as well.

Visit a Museum – There are three amazing museums in the Jackson Hole area. The first is the Jackson Hole Historical Museum located in downtown Jackson. This museum provides an in depth look at the history of Jackson Hole and its founders.

The second great museum to visit is the National Museum of Wildlife Art. This museum is located just North of Jackson off of Highway 89, across from the National Elk Refuge. The museum is quite large and boasts a serious collection of wildlife art. For more information about their collection click here.

Lastly, if you have kids, visit the Jackson Hole Children’s Museum. There are plenty of fun things for you and your little ones to learn and do there.

Go For a Hike – Not all of the best hikes in Jackson Hole are located in Grand Teton National Park. Depending on what type of hiker you are there are great options for shorter hikes (Snow King or Josie’s Ridge) or longer hikes (Jackson Peak).

Scenic Flight in Jackson WyomingTake a Scenic Flight – Can’t see Grand Teton National Park from the ground? See it from the air! A scenic flight is a great way to see the park and you get an exhilarating ride to boot!

Soak in a Hot Spring – Located an hour south of Jackson, Granite Hot Springs is a man made pool filled with natural hot spring water. And it’s currently open despite the government shut down! The drive down to the hot springs is scenic in its own right. An added bonus is that you get to spend the day in an oversize, naturally fed hot tub!

Update 10/12/13 – Rumor has it that they have drained the Hot Spring Pool and it is closed now due to the government shut down. However, there are some small natural hot spring pools by Granite Falls. If you poke around a bit you will find them!

Shop in Downtown Jackson – There are plenty of galleries and shops in downtown Jackson. You can spend a full day trying on cowboy hats or searching for that perfect souvenir t-shirt. There are also a lot of great coffee shops and restaurants to relax in. Spend the day walking around the town square – you may be surprised about what you find.

So there are a few different ideas for you. Hopefully the national parks will reopen shortly, but in the meantime, think twice before cancelling your trip!


October 1, 2013 at 5:11 pm 12 comments

Scenic Flights in Jackson Hole

Jackson Hole is naturally scenic. However, seeing the mountains from 14,000 feet in the air brings new perspective to the Tetons. Sure, they are beautiful from the ground, but get above them, right up next to them, and suddenly the mountains you thought that you knew become vastly different. Lakes in places that you didn’t even know existed. Smaller peaks that typically seem dwarfed by the giant Tetons command their own presence. Flying along Cascade Canyon, following the path of the Teton Crest Trail, looking down the vast Death Canyon, lake layered Avalanche Canyon and the open Cascade Canyon as the engine rumbles and the plane soars high above the ground. You feel weightless and miniscule in comparison to the vast Tetons.

I first got the idea when I was hiking up Static Peak this summer. I had an early morning start and was deep into Death Canyon, ascending to Static Peak Divide when I saw a white speck moving rapidly through the canyon. A glider, how cool! I started imagining what kind of new perspective you would gain from a glider ride – and how much fun it must be! After doing some online research, I discovered Teton Aviation. They operate out of a small airport in Driggs, Wyoming. On their website it described that they did glider flights, scenic flights, aerobatic thrill rides and scenic bi-plane rides. There aren’t any companies on the Jackson side that do scenic aerial tours.

My fiance’s birthday was coming up so I decided that it would be a fun thing to do (his birthday is in October). I was worried that the tours were seasonal so I called and asked if they would still be operating in mid-October. Sue told me that they operated year round and doing a scenic flight on his birthday would not be a problem. I asked if I needed to make reservations in advance and she said that I could make them whenever I liked. It seems to me that they get busy but never get booked up way in advance. Regardless, I didn’t want to take that chance so I booked our flight for October 15th. I kept the flight a surprise and could hardly sleep the night before, I was so excited!

The morning of his birthday I hopped out of bed and ran to the window. I was hoping that the weatherman, who had predicted clouds and rain, was wrong. Nope, turns out that he was right. I called Sue at Teton Aviation and asked if our flight was still on. She told me that we could still fly in the weather but that we may want to reschedule for a nicer day. I had to tell my fiance the plan in order to get his opinion. He agreed that we should try for a nicer day, so we rescheduled for Thursday.

Thursday finally came and we headed over to Victor for our 9:30am flight. The earlier it is in the morning the less turbulence there is. We met our pilot, Sam, and after a brief description of the plane he asked who wanted to fly. Since it was Jared’s birthday I let him have the honors. As we taxied up the runway I sat in the tiny backseat with a cheesy grin plastered on my face. I was a little nervous for take off, but in the capable hands of Sam everything went smoothly. Once we reached cruising altitude he let Jared take over the controls, guiding the plane through the Big Hole Mountains and up Teton Pass to Glory Mountain. It was a spectacular morning, not a cloud in the sky.

We turned at the top of Teton Pass and headed straight for the Tetons. We flew over Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, which was dusted with snow from our first snowfall two days ago. We continued to the Death Canyon Shelf and back into Alaska Basin. Having hiked the Teton Crest Trail this summer it was incredible to look down and see the entire trail laid out below me. We circled around Lake Solitude at the top of Cascade Canyon and then doubled back to see the Tetons again.

The flight restriction in Grand Teton National Park is that you must be 2,000 feet above the ground. The scenic flights only takes you on the back (west) side of the Tetons, you don’t fly to the Jackson side. In the mornings the Tetons are back lit from this view, but they were still stunning. I asked Sam if we could open one of the windows so that I could take an unobstructed photo of the Tetons. As he opened the window he banked the plane around so I had a straight shot. I held my camera outside of the airplane, holding down the shutter as I watched the lens try to focus through the strong headwind. I wrapped the camera strap around my arm – like that would save it if it dropped. I gripped the camera as though my life depended on it, knowing that I would end up with a few good photos – not knowing exactly what it was shooting. After 15 seconds my hand was going numb so I brought my camera into the safety of the cabin. I was satisfied with the two photos I managed to snap off.

We headed down Darby Canyon back towards the air strip. The one hour trip was over. I hardly had time to adjust to the altitude! Though I had captured about 200 photos on my memory card, so I guess that I was ready to land. The landing looked rather technical, but Sam coasted in and brought the Cessna 172XP to a gliding stop. It was the end of our ride. We exited the aircraft and Sam offered to take our photo in front of the plane. Jared and I struck our “I own this plane” pose, snapped a few photos and then we were on our way.

I highly recommend taking a scenic ride with Teton Aviation. Their customer service is great, their pilots (or at least Sam) are very personable and are perfect tour guides, pointing out different mountains and lakes as we flew by them. It is also surprisingly affordable. A scenic flight is the perfect way to see get into the mountains without having to do an overnight backpacking trip or summit any of them. They also do scenic flights year round, so if you are planning a winter ski trip and want to see Grand Teton National Park definitely look them up. You won’t regret it!

October 19, 2012 at 3:42 pm 4 comments

Flying During the Holidays

I only fly about twice a year. Once in the fall and once in the spring. This year I decided to go back home to Massachusetts to celebrate Thanksgiving with my family. Now needless to say, I am not happy with all the news that I have been reading about increased security at the airports. It’s not that I don’t value my safety, it’s that I value my time. The day when I must arrive 3 hours before my flight’s departure is the day I stop flying. I have spent countless hours in airports due to missed connections or delayed flights, the last thing I want is to be 3 hours early for a flight that is delayed.

I have to say though, I am not concerned about flying out of Jackson, it is flying out of Logan (Boston) that I feel will give me the most trouble. In Jackson they have just remodeled the airport and updated their security scanners for luggage. They have some of the most advanced technology in the country, yes, I am still talking about Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Part of the advantage of flying out of such a small airport is that there are fewer flights, fewer gates, one terminal, and fewer people in the security line. There is, however, plenty of snow in the forecast. Most likely by the time I will be flying out there will be 6 inches of fresh snow on the ground, but that does not concern me. Here in Jackson de-icing and plowing the runaway is practically second nature.

At this time tomorrow morning I will hopefully be in the air, bound for Boston. But before then I have to do some preparing. I always love a challenge, and the game of trying to cram a weeks worth of clothing into a carry on bag always gets the best of me. I roll all my clothes to conserve space and then stack them like bricks inside my backpack. By the end I am stuffing left over items in the outside pockets and testing the breaking point of my zippers (I have been known to break one or two zippers in my past). But it’s all worth it in the end. Flying is always a faster and more convenient alternative to driving across the country. So I wish you luck, whether you be driving or flying in the coming week, that you get there safe and have a relatively hassle free flight or drive. Oh, and of course, Happy Thanksgiving!

November 19, 2010 at 4:20 pm Leave a comment

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