Posts filed under ‘National Parks’

Wake Surfing in Jackson Hole

I was born and raised in a tiny coastal town just north of Boston, Massachusetts. When I was 12 years old 10542806_739654564315_2566956536650069290_omy parents bought a 13 foot Boston Whaler. After that, my summers changed. Sure, we would still go to the beach, but we also had the option to drop the boat in the water and motor out to a tiny island, or go waterskiing or wading for sand dollars. In high school my parents let me take my boat out with my friends. We would jet around for hours, exploring the coast line and keeping out trouble. Well, for the most part. There was that one time when I hit a sand bar and busted up the propeller. Oh and that other time when I put the boat in and forgot to put the plug in and it started to fill with water as I drove it over to the dock. Either way, I had a blast putting around in that little Boston Whaler, so I was disappointed when I moved to Jackson and didn’t know anyone with a boat. As much as I love the mountains, I love spending time on the water as well.

When my husband told me that one of his co-workers owned a boat I made it my mission to get invited onto his boat. The next time I saw him I walked up to him and asked “So when am I going to be invited to go out on your boat?” I hardly knew the guy, but that’s how desperate I was. The next week I found myself gliding across Jackson Lake, radio blaring, Tetons unfolded in front of me like a pop-up picture book, lake water spraying my face and a huge grin on my face. I was back, baby.

However, I was disappointed to find out that my new friend didn’t even own a water ski. 10506871_739654414615_3225558501693917807_oI grew up water skiing and dabbled a little in wake boarding. He told me that we were going to wake surf. I had the faintest idea what wake surfing entailed. Apparently, when wake surfing you want to intentionally sink part of your boat in order to create a bigger wave. We piled everyone in the back corner, filled a ballast bag with 400 pounds of water, tossed our friend a small surf board and a rope and took off at a blistering 12 miles per hour. It was really cool to see a wave that you can surf in Wyoming.

10397290_744516146665_3743789248589722853_oWhen it got to be my turn I hopped into the water and hoped for the best. Surprisingly, it only took a few tries for me to be able to get up.. and then fall back down. I had never surfed before in my life, so it was a new concept for me. But I am happy to say that over the past year I have gotten the hang of it and now I can let go of the rope and surf the wave. It’s a strange feeling, surfing a wave in the middle of the mountains. Obviously we have a lot of fun doing water sports on the lake, but everyone once in awhile you have to stop and take in the scenery. Jackson Lake is breathtaking. Being out of the water provides a different vista of the Tetons.

Are you planning on bringing your boat to Jackson?

There are two boat launches on the lake – Colter Bay and Signal Mountain Lodge. We typically launch at Signal Mountain Lodge and then head over to Spaulding Bay, Moran Bay or Half Moon Bay. Depending on the wind direction these bays tend to be the calmest on the lake. Moran and Half Moon Bay are by far the most scenic. If you bring your own boat in be aware that you may need to go through boat inspection where Wyoming Fish and Game inspect your boat for invasive species. The boat check is typically right before the Moose entrance to Grand Teton National Park. You can get gas on the water at Colter Bay, but I would recommend fueling up before you get on the water since it is cheaper.

Want to get out on the water but don’t have your own boat?

You can rent boats at Signal Mountain Lodge. They offer pontoon boat, deck cruiser, runabout and fishing boat rentals. As well as non-motorized boats, such as kayaks and canoes. Unfortunately, they don’t offer any ski boat rentals. You can also do a tour of the lake with Grand Teton Lodge Company, based out of Colter Bay. For information about their scenic tours visit their website.

If you are considering trailering your boat to Jackson Hole, be sure to check out Jackson Lake. Or, if the water in Jackson Lake is too cold, head down to the Palisades Reservoir in Alpine, Wyoming. The water tends to be warmer there, making it the prime choice for early season and late season water sports. Either way, there are no bad days spent boating on the lakes in the Jackson Hole area. Be sure to enjoy the scenery as well as the sunshine. Because like all good things, summertime in Jackson doesn’t last.


August 4, 2015 at 5:48 pm Leave a comment

Jalene’s Ideal 5 Day Trip to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Park

We asked our front desk to tell us where they would go in Yellowstone and Jackson Hole if they had 5 days to take a trip. Jalene has explains how she would spend her 5 days below:

Day One

For The first day of my vacation I would go to Mormon Row which is near Kelly just before you go into the Moulton Barnpark entrance for Grand Teton. There are two barns on Mormon Row that are extremely photogenic. Then I would then travel to Jenny Lake and take the ferry to the other side of the lake in order to take the trail to Inspiration Point and then to the Hidden Falls. In regards to where I would stay I would either travel a little farther and got to Colter Bay campground or I would come back to Jackson to spend the night.

Day 2

On the second day I would head up to Jackson Lake and Jackson Lakego to Jackson Lake Lodge. My grandfather loved the fishing at Jackson Lake and it would be great to see it. I would also suggest doing a guided tour of Yellowstone with Bushbuck Guide Services. They have a dawn or dusk tour that is interesting.

Day 3

For day threeYellowstone Falls I would strike out on my own to explore Yellowstone. I have gone to Yellowstone several time when I was younger so I would first stop at the Mud Volcano. I would then go to the upper and lower falls at the Yellowstone River, also known as the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. At the Falls there is a lot to do so I would spend a good amount of time there. I would take Uncle Tom’s Trail which has 328 step each way so after doing that I would be done for the day. For accommodations I would go just outside the west entrance and camp at the campground for the night. This would afford me a great location to start day four.

Day 4Mammoth Hot Springs

For this day I would travel to Mammoth Hot Springs.    Then I would also go see the North Geyser Basin and then back out to the camping outside the west entrance for the last night of my vacation.

Day 5

I would travel from the west entrance to theOld Faithful Fountain Paint Pots and then Midway Geyser Basin. I would save the coolest place for last. I would go to Old Faithful and spend a good part of the day there. At this point I would get souvenirs for the trip. I would then travel out of the parks and head for home. This would be my ideal vacation.

June 30, 2015 at 4:07 pm Leave a comment

Kelly’s Ideal 5 Day Yellowstone Trip

Our front desk has created an itinerary for their ideal 5 day trip to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Park. First up, we have our new front desk manager, Kelly’s 5 day trip.

Day 1: Arrive in the town of Jackson, WY

  • Arrive at the Jackson Hole Airport
  • Eat at Jedediah’s at the Airport
  • Depart Jackson Hole Airport and head into the town of Jackson – Flying T Taxi $35.00+ (307-690-4141)
  • Check in to the Painted Buffalo Inn
  • Stroll through the Town Square & browse local shopping, watch “Old West Shootout” at 6pm
  • Dinner reservations at Nani’s

Day 2: Jackson Hole Area/Grand Teton National Park

Day 3: Grand Teton National Park      

  • Check out of Painted Buffalo Inn
  • Depart Jackson for Grand Teton National Park
  • Stop at Snake River Overlook for 6:09am sunrise; Photo Op!467709_630876396635_197025192_o
  • Breakfast at the Trapper Grill at Signal Mountain Lodge
  • Visit Jenny Lake Visitor’s Center
  • Take the Jenny lake ‘shuttle’ across
  • Hike Cascade Canyon trail
  • Stop for picnic lunch @ Hidden Falls
  • Take return Shuttle across the lake
  • Visit Jackson Lake & dam – small hike with potential for wildlife activity
  • Check in to the Jackson Lake Lodge
  • Have dinner at the historic Jackson Lake Lodge Mural Room

Day 4: Yellowstone National Park (South/West Sections)

  • Check out of Jackson Lake Lodge (early morning)
  • Depart for Yellowstone National Park333767_575487212005_241537584_o
  • Visit Duck Lake Trail at the West Thumb Geyser Basin – easy, 1mi hike
  • Visit Old Faithful Geyser – photo ops
  • Have breakfast at the Old Faithful Snow Lodge Geyser Grill
  • Purchase picnic lunch items from Old faithful Inn Bear Paw Deli
  • Visit the Geyser Basin area; including Grand Prismatic Spring, Great Fountain Geyser and Fountain Paint Pot – easy walks w. photo ops
  • Visit Harlequin Lake Trail & have picnic lunch – easy, 1mi hike
  • Check in to the Alpine Motel in West Yellowstone
  • Have dinner at Madison Crossing Lounge

Day 5: Yellowstone National Park (North/East Sections)

  • Check out of the Alpine MotelYellowstone Falls
  • Scenic drive to Mammoth Hot Springs Terrace
  • Check in to the Mammoth Campground (1st come, 1st serve, $20/nt)
  • Visit Wraith Falls – easy, family friendly hike
  • Visit the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone National Park – photo ops
  • Visit the Upper and Lower Falls – light walking, photo ops
  • Visit Artists Point – photo ops, potential wildlife viewing
  • Have dinner at the Roosevelt Lodge Dining Room
  • Visit Lamar Valley towards dusk for best chance at wildlife viewing
  • Return to campsite for s’mores and family bonding

For more resources on hiking in Yellowstone visit this website.

For more information on Grand Teton National Park click here. For more information on Yellowstone National Park click here. Do you have any additions that you would make to Kelly’s itinerary? Suggest them in the comments! Next week we will here from another front desk representative on what their ideal Yellowstone trip is.

April 16, 2015 at 5:28 pm 1 comment

Climbing the Grand Teton

The day was a Saturday in early July of last year when our friend Charles came over to pick up some climbing gear for his trip up the Grand Teton. After discussing his trip, who he was taking with him and the route he was going to take he said “you guys should come with us!” My soon to be husband and I looked at each other for a moment. We had been talking about crossing the Grand Teton off of our bucket list before getting married. We had already crossed almost all of the surrounding peaks off of our list – South Teton, Middle Teton and Teewinot. After a quick exchange of glances I said “that sounds like fun, count us in!” It was 4PM and we agreed to meet him on the lower saddle of the Grand Teton at 7AM the next day, less than 24 hours later. 4 hours later we were packed and in bed. It was difficult to fall asleep when the sun was still up, but knowing that we were to be getting up and hiking in 5 hours kept me in bed. At 1AM the alarm sounded. Our dog looked at us like we were crazy as I prepared some oatmeal and we packed up the car with our packs.

1025620_673665501925_1407061574_o(1)An hour later we were on trail. It was a pitch black and a beautiful clear night as we made our way up the mountain from the Lupin Meadows Trailhead. By dawn we were in Garnet Canyon, watching the first light hit the high peaks. We refilled our water and had a quick snack break before the last push up to the Lower Saddle of the Grand Teton.

As we neared the saddle we had to cross a snow field. A hard, icy boot pack stood between us and our friends on the saddle. As we neared the top I heard a shout from Charles 1072073_673665626675_1072323988_o(1)welcoming us to the Lower Saddle. But I was so focused on not slipping on the steep boot pack that I couldn’t even acknowledge his cry until I was on dry ground, away from icy peril. I gave him a big hug and followed him up to the camp that they had made the night before. I downed a granola bar, some beef jerky and a snickers. I have to say, a Snickers at 7AM never fails to hit the spot.

After a some brief introductions, our crew of 6 started up the 1072418_673665926075_1323549653_osaddle to the Owen-Spaulding route and the Upper Saddle. The OS is primarily on the west and north side of the Grand Teton, which means it rarely sees the sun. I stayed in my puffy jacket for most of the ascent, despite it being early July. As we reached the first climbing pitch we stashed our shoes by a boulder and put on our harnesses and climbing shoes. The first pitch is called the Belly Crawl, and it is more of a traverse than a vertical pitch. Charles started off by leading the climb, scaling a large rock out cropping and then dropping out of sight. Then he paused so that the next climber, me, could tie in. We tied 8s on a bite so we were all connected on one rope.

I thought that I was well prepared for the exposure of the belly crawl, but nothing can prepare you for the 18″ ledge with an overhanging rock above you and sheer 2,000 foot drop off on the other side that you experience in the middle of the pitch. As I was shuffling my way onto the belly crawl all of a sudden movement stopped.1071372_673666210505_512007922_o(1) They were tying another climber onto the line. So there I sat, in purgatory, not in danger but not quite safe either, exposed on the belly crawl. I decided to sit on top the ledge as opposed to crawling through the small shelf on my belly. The view down to Vallahala Canyon and up Cascade Canyon was stunning, so of course, I whipped out my camera and gave the view a thumbs up. As long as you didn’t acknowledge the fact that there was thousands of feet of open area directly below you, you were fine! Finally, we started moving again and I scrambled to the safety of Owen’s Chimney. One of Charles’ friends rounded the corner with a sour look on his face. I thought the he was just shaken up by the belly crawl, but when he reached us he told me that he had mounted a Go Pro to his climbing helmet and as he started the Belly Crawl he bumped his head on a ledge and it sent the Go Pro sailing into thin air. He watched it disappear out of sight to the bottom of Vallahala Canyon. The Go Pro was still filming. I always thought that it would be really cool footage if the camera survived the fall.

After everyone made it across the Belly Crawl 1074833_673666993935_1785190304_owe eased our way up Owen’s Chimney to Sergeant’s Chimney. It was a very easy climb to the top of the chimney (though we stayed roped up). At the top we ditched the rope and scrambled up to the summit. It was a gorgeous blue bird day when we summitted around 11AM, 9 hours after we had left our car. We only had to share the summit with two other climbers. We stayed on the large summit block for about half an hour, fueling up and taking in the breathtaking view. After taking the mandatory photos, touching the USGS summit marker, we reluctantly left the summit and started the long trudge back to the car.

1065148_673667682555_1971452067_oWe did two rappels – the first was an easy rappel, the second was easy in technicality but included a terrifying 120 foot free fall over a ledge. Some of the people in our party were more comfortable with the rappel than others. Slowly one of the members of our party made his way down to the ground, collapsing on it when he finally was off of the rappel. You could tell that he wasn’t a fan of heights. We found out boots stashed by a nearby boulder. After 3 hours in our climbing shoes, everyone was very excited to change back into our hiking boots.

We made our way down from the upper saddle to the lower saddle, scrambling between loose rocks and scree. At one point I kicked off a big rock, right above Charles. “ROCK, CHARLES, ROCK!!” I screamed. I will never forget seeing him look up at me and the rock and duck, as it coasted 4″ away from his head. In that moment, I remembered that what we were doing was very dangerous and we were not out of the woods yet. I could have killed one of my good friends in an instant. That thought was sobering. When we reached the Lower Saddle Jared and I bid goodbye to our friends, who still had to pack up their camp. We scrambled down the rocky pitch that defines the Lower Saddle and coasted to Garnet Canyon. Surprisingly, both of us had a lot of energy even though we were going on hour 12 of hiking. We finally reached the car after 14 hours of hiking. Exhausted but happy we talked about our trip and schemed about what our dinner would be. I find that a juicy burger always hits the spot after a long hike in the park. Finally, with the Grand Teton crossed off of our bucket list we could get married with no regrets!

If you are interested in climbing the Grand Teton I would suggest that you do it in two days, unless you are in incredible shape and adjusted to the altitude. There are two guiding companies that I would recommend you go up the Grand with – either Exum Mountain Guides or Jackson Hole Mountain Guides. Both provide stellar service and have high camps set up on or near the Upper Saddle. None of the guiding services do the Grand Teton in one day. A two day ascent is recommended. If you are an experienced climber or mountaineer and want to do it on your own I would highly recommend purchasing “A Climber’s Guide to the Teton Range” by Ortenburger & Jackson, which can be found locally at Teton Mountaineering just off the town square. Either way, no feeling compares to standing on top of the Grand Teton and seeing the world laid out below you. It’s worth the effort, I promise you that.

September 11, 2014 at 6:11 pm Leave a comment

Bear Safety Tips for Your Jackson Hole Adventure

You’re hiking along with your family, deep into some family bonding when you round a corner and see a bear about 20 feet down the trail. What do you do??

The first tip starts in town, way before you even hit the trail. If you are thinking about hiking or mountain biking in the bear-spray-collageTeton area it is imperative that you purchase bear spray. There are a variety of different sprays ranging from a small size and a larger size but they all do the same thing – deter bears. The larger size is good if you are only planning on buying one can of spray. However, it is suggested that you have more than one person with bear spray in a group of 3 or more. For this, the smaller size will do the trick.

Now, you have the spray, you are in the woods and spot a bear. What do you do with the darn thing? First, make sure that the spray is accessible. Wear it on your hip belt of your backpack or on your belt. The spray doesn’t do you any good if it’s in your backpack. By the time that you take off your pack, unzip it and get out the spray you could already be charged by a bear. Next, remove the safety, which is a wedge between where your thumb should be located and the canister. Do not spray until the bear comes within 40 feet of you. Do not make eye contact with the bear and try to back away slowly while talking in a soothing voice to the bear. Say things like “Hi, Mr. Bear. I’m not here to hurt you. I am backing up slowly.. etc.”

If the bear starts pawing the ground on all fours and puts its head down like it is going to charge, prepare to spray the bear. Be aware of the wind. If the wind is coming toward you, you will most likely get sprayed a little too. In this case, wait until the last possible moment to spray the bear. Hold the canister out away from your body and spray at the feet of the bear when it is far away. Since the spray will rise, the bear will have to run through the mist of pepper spray in order to get to you. If it is within 10 feet of you, aim for its head. Deploy the spray in 2 to 3 second bursts in a sweeping motion. This will prolong the amount of time that you can spray the bear. If you hold down the trigger the whole time the spray may be out in as little as 8 seconds. Try not to use the whole amount of spray in the first attack since more than one application may be needed.

If for some reason the bear remains undeterred by the spray and continues to charge you, get on the ground and lie with your stomach on the ground. Spread your legs so it is difficult for the bear to flip you over. Cover your head with your hands. Maintain this stance until the bear becomes disinterested and leaves the area. Do not stand up until the bear has left the area.

After any attack be sure to retrace your steps and clear the area. Also, warn others about the bears presence, including the National Park or National Forest staff.

How do you avoid a bear encounter all together? Noise. The primary reason that a bear attacks is that it was surprised by the people – it is scared and views you as a threat. If you carry on a conversation while hiking or biking it will help prevent you from sneaking up on a bear and surprising it. It is debatable whether bear bells have any effect. Overall, conversation or singing works best. Just remember, the bear is more afraid of you than you are of it. It attacks because it feels threatened, not because it is naturally viscous. Hopefully you will not run into any bears when you are on a hike or bike ride in Jackson Hole, but if you do, remember these tips –

1. Always carry pepper spray
2. Avoid eye contact with the bear
3. If charged use a sweeping motion and spray in 2 to 3 second bursts
4. If attacked, drop to the ground, cover your head and spread your legs. Do not drop to the ground unless the bear actually hits you.

With these tips in mind you should be able to survive a bear attack.

July 14, 2014 at 3:37 pm 7 comments

Popular Day Hikes in Grand Teton National Park – Inspiration Point & Jenny Lake

By far one of the most popular day hikes in Jenny Lake Boat RideGrand Teton National Park is the hike to Inspiration Point. The view from the rock outcropping provides a spectacular vista of the lake and the valley below. It is mellow enough for the novice hiker and family friendly. In fact, if you are looking for a short hike, you can take the Jenny Lake Ferry across the lake and save yourself 5 miles of hiking. The ferry costs $15 round trip for adults and $8 for children. It departs every 15 minutes from the Jenny Lake Boat Dock.

Make sure that you bring bear spray on your hike, or any hike for that matter, in Grand Teton National Park. Bear Spray can be bought in Hike to Inspiration Pointtown at the grocery store or at any of the sports shops in town – Skinny Skis, Teton Mountaineering, Sports Authority or Hoback Sports.

The hike begins at the Jenny Lake parking lot by the boat dock. For a map of the hike, follow this link. If you plan on hiking to Inspiration Point and Hidden Falls you should park on the boat dock side of the parking lot, not the parking lot by the visitor’s center. The hike around the lake is relatively flat. You will hike 2.4 miles to the junction where you can hike 400 feet up to Inspiration Point and Hidden Falls.

After a moderate hike of .6 milesHidden Falls you will see a path to Hidden Falls on your left. Walk about a hundred feet and you will come across an 80 foot cascade. After visiting Hidden Falls the trail gets steeper. Continue .4 miles along the trail to reach Inspiration Point. This is a great place to hang out and have a snack while soaking in the view. From Inspiration Point you can continue up Cascade Canyon on a relatively flat trail. There are good opportunities for spotting wildlife in this canyon, moose in particular. The hike is an out and back, so turn around whenever you feel ready to head back to your car.

You can make it into a loop if you want to hike around the entire lake. The loop will add 4 miles to your hike, whereas if you retrace your steps to your car it is 2.4 miles from the junction with the lake trail. In order to turn it into a loop, take a left at the Jenny Lake trail junction and head towards String Lake. Once you reach String Lake, take a right and then follow the trail around the lake until you reach the Jenny Lake Visitor’s Center where you parked.Inspiration Point

There are great opportunities to spot wildlife on this hike and it isn’t a very challenging hike. It’s a great way to get out of your car and stretch your legs. If you are short on time, take the ferry across. It will turn the 7 mile hike into a 2 mile hike. I promise you won’t regret visiting Inspiration Point and Jenny Lake!

June 12, 2014 at 9:58 pm 7 comments

Popular Day Hikes in Grand Teton National Park – Bradley & Taggart Lakes

If you have ever driven through Grand Teton National Park during the summer you1014672_669432295305_1510437216_o have probably noticed the overflowing parking lot just off the road on the left hand side a mile or two after you have entered the park. Thousands of people hike to the Taggart and Bradley Lakes throughout the summer season. It is hands down one of the most popular hikes in Grand Teton National Park, and for good reason! It is a relatively flat hike, family friendly, it has beautiful scenery and there are many different mileage options.

The easiest option is an 3 mile round trip out and back hike to Taggart Lake. To reach Taggart Lake park at the Bradley/Taggart trail head and then pick up the trail by the out house. Take a right when the trail forks and then take another right when the trail forks again shortly afterwards (the trail on the left goes uphill and should be marked by some branches stacked across the trail). You will cross a creek and slowly climb 350 feet to the next trail junction. To reach Taggart Lake take a left at this fork. To reach Bradley Lake and hike the loop that goes by both lakes head right.

The Bradley/Taggart Lake loop is 5.9 miles round trip with 800 feet of vertical gain. Another option is to hike to Taggart Lake and then create a loop by hiking back to the car by Beaver Creek. This loop is 3.9 miles with 500 feet of vertical gain. It is a very pretty hike and you will walk next to a creek for most of the hike. Just as a reminder – always bring at least one can of bear spray with you when hiking in Grand Teton National Park (bring more than one canister if you are hiking in a big group). Bear spray can be bought at the local grocery store or any of the sports shops in town (Teton Mountaineering, Skinny Skis, Sports Authority, etc.).

Both lakes are beautiful and provide distinctly different views. 1039973_669432125645_562337074_oFrom Bradley Lake you will be able to see the Grand Teton reflected in glassy water. It also tends to be slightly less visited than its neighbor, Taggart Lake. Taggart provides a sweeping view of Avalanche Canyon and its surrounding peaks as well as views of the Tetons if you take a left once you reach the lake and hike along the trail for a few minutes. You are allowed to swim in the lakes, but if you decide to take the plunge be prepared for a chill. These glacial lakes never really get warm during the summer because they are fed by snow melt and glacial melt. If you decide to do the loop which takes you by both lakes note the glacial moraine that separates the lakes. It is quite spectacular to see how glaciers shaped the mountains and lakes in Grand Teton National Park.

This hike is so popular because it is a good hike for all ages and abilities. It’s a great way to get out of the car and stretch your legs, even if you aren’t much of a hiker. I highly suggest getting out of your car and exploring Grand Teton National Park. While the Tetons are specular for your car they are even more stunning once you step into the woods and get up close and personal with them. Trust me, you won’t regret taking a walk in our backyard!


May 20, 2014 at 9:39 pm Leave a comment

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