Posts filed under ‘Photography’

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!

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October 1, 2013 at 5:11 pm 12 comments

Photographing Fall Foliage in Jackson Hole

You know that fall has arrived when the leaves fade from a bright green to brilliant reds, oranges and yellows. I have to say, being a New England native, I am a little underwhelmed by the fall foliage in Jackson, but combining the colorful leaves with Tetons and their stunning beauty cause the whole valley to appear on fire. We don’t get the pop of red and deep orange that the maple trees of New England provide, but the Aspen groves make for a beautiful scene, all painted in yellow. The trees have really started to turn in the past few days and I believe that they will be peak from now until the end of next week before dropping their leaves for the winter.

As you may know, I enjoy photographing landscapes. For those who want to take some stunning photos of foliage I recommend a few locations. First is Oxbow Bend just south of Moran, about a 30 minute drive from downtown Jackson. Oxbow Bend is lined with Aspen trees and the slow moving Snake River makes for beautiful reflections of the trees as well as Mt. Moran, looming above. This is a great place to capture sunrise, when the Snake River is steaming and the early morning light hits the trees and the mountains. Just be sure to bring some warm layers and a mug or coffee or tea! We have been having some 30 degree mornings lately. There is no denying that winter is coming soon.

A second location includes the physical element of a barn in the foreground. The Moulton Barn has some beautiful yellow foliage in the background which compliments the western scene of the barn and the mountains. You may reach the barn by heading North out of Jackson Hole on 89 and then driving past the entrance to Grand Teton National Park in Moose. Take a right on Antelope Flats road and then about 2 miles down the road you will see a barn on your left, take Mormon Row, the road to your right and drive about a quarter of a mile down it to one of the Moulton Barns on the right hand side.

A third location is about 3 miles past Antelope Flats road on the left hand side. Schwabacker’s Landing is a favorite among photographers because it provides a perfect view of the Tetons reflected in a slow moving inlet of the Snake River. There are plenty of trees in the area that provide great foliage to compliment the view of the Tetons. This locations is especially popular for taking sunsets.

Last, but not least, is walking along the Snake River dike. The dike is located off of Highway 22 between Jackson and Wilson. For the best views, park and walk on the east side of the dike. The dike is my favorite place to visit for an afternoon run or a walk with the dog and a friend. It is a great place to go for a walk and be sure to bring your camera along because photo opportunities abound.

Be sure to share your fall photos with us on Facebook or Twitter, even if they weren’t taken in Jackson. I find fall to be on of the most visually stimulating season in Jackson Hole. I hope that you have a chance to see the valley on fire with a series of yellows, oranges and reds.

September 27, 2012 at 7:09 pm Leave a comment

Spying on Reindeer

My favorite time to spy on reindeer look a likes, aka. elk, is during Christmas time. Reindeer are technically Caribou, but elk are a great substitute. During this time it seems as though the elk know that somewhere, 8 of their cousins prepare for an epic journey around the world in one night. The males proudly showcase their antlers and even spar with each other, attempting to win over a blushing female.

One way to view such a spectacle is to take a drive in the elk refuge, but most of the time the elk are far off the road, requiring a telephoto lens to get a good glimpse of them. However, if you would like to get up close an personal with the elk and get some great wildlife photographs, I would highly recommend taking a sleigh ride through the refuge. Sleigh ride tickets may be purchased at the Jackson Hole and Greater Yellowstone Visitor Center in town: $18 for adults, $14 for children ages 5 to 12 and under 5 are free. The sleigh rides run from 10am to 4pm daily. A bus picks you up outside of the visitor center and brings you up into the refuge where you climb aboard a sleigh hitched to a draft horse. There are blankets on the sleigh that you may use, but I would recommend that you dress warmly for this excursion. All in all the sleigh ride takes a little under an hour. Your guide will give you a brief history of the elk herd and their migration pattern, as well as point out some geographical features in the area. If you stay two nights at the Painted Buffalo Inn you will receive for 2 sleigh ride tickets. Just be sure to mention the Sleigh and Stay package on booking.

The elk migrate from Yellowstone and the surrounding areas. Some come from as far as Montana, up to 100 miles away. The elk start arriving in the refuge in October, but the majority of the herd make it to the refuge when the snow starts to fly and it becomes difficult for the elk to find food at higher elevations. Visitors to Jackson may think that we have trained the elk to come to the refuge because we feed them and that they are fenced in. However, the fences are not in place to keep the elk in the refuge, rather to keep them off of the highway that runs next to the refuge. If you fly into Jackson, look on the left hand side as you approach the town and you will be looking right into the refuge. Odds are that you will spot quite a few elk. As for their migration pattern, when Jackson was first settled it was only occupied during the summers. Residents left during the harsh winters, fearing that they would not have enough food to make it through the winter. But when the first settlers decided to stay for the winter they got quite a surprise. One day they awoke to 200 elk grazing throughout the village. Little did the summer settlers know, but their land became a winter destination for countless herds of elk spread throughout the Yellowstone area. Back then the Jackson elk herd was as big as 25,000 elk and they competed with the settlers livestock for food. The elk herd slowly diminished as settlers pushed them out of their natural winter range, but in 1912, in an effort to preserve the herd, the National Elk Refuge was created.

Today the refuge is 25,000 acres and during the snowiest months: January through March, the elk are fed pelletized alfalfa in order to prevent them from starving. Starvation used to occur during the harshest winters when the elk couldn’t break through the snow to feed off of the grass below. The elk return to the summer range in May, but before then the bull elk drop their antlers in March or April. The local boy scouts collect the antlers in the spring and sell them in an auction in May on the town square.

I would highly encourage a trip to the refuge if you plan on visiting Jackson this winter. Not only will you be able to get a up-close look at the elk (and a wolf or two if you are lucky), but you will learn about the history of the area and the wildlife that we are surrounded by on a daily basis. Last week, I was driving over to a friends house in East Jackson when I witnessed a bull moose just hanging out in someone’s front lawn. After driving down the street a little bit further I encountered 5 deer running wild through the neighborhood. I guess that’s just part of the fun living in the wild west!

December 27, 2010 at 4:44 pm 3 comments

Photography in Grand Teton National Park

One of my passions is photography. The Tetons are one of the most photographed mountains in the world. It started with Ansel Adams photograph of “The Tetons and The Snake River” taken in 1942 in the early ages of photography. This photograph was taken at the Snake River Overlook off of Route 26 near Moran, Wyoming. Today, the trees have grown up so you can no longer get a perfect view of the river like the one portrayed in Ansel Adam’s photograph. Although photographers can no longer emulate Adam’s photograph, there are many other opportunities in Teton National Park for gorgeous photo ops.

One of the most popular spots to photograph is the Ox Bow Bend up in Moran, Wyoming. Ox Bow bend is located off route 89 in Grand Teton National Park, just after the park entrance on the left. It provides a sweeping vista of Mount Moran and the rest of the range north of the Tetons.

Another favorite spot of mine is Schwabacker’s Landing, located off of Route 26 in between Moose, Wyoming and Moran Junction. When heading north from Jackson on route 26 look for a dirt road on the left after the Teton Glacier Overlook. This photo spot allows you to catch the reflection of the Tetons in the water, creating a gorgeous composition (see photos below).

The most iconic photo spot without a doubt is the John Moulton Barn (see photos below). This barn is located on Morman Row just off of Antelope Flats Road on Route 26. Symbolic of the old west, the Teton backdrop and the rustic barn, more than a century old, make a great photo spot. Do not be surprised if you see a buffalo or two hanging out in the background.

If you are looking for some wildlife, there are two spots I would recommend. The bridge just before the entrance to Teton National Park in Moose, Wyoming tends to have a plethora of cars parked on the side of the road. Due to the Snake River below, many animals hang out in this area. This summer a mother and baby moose made this location their home. If you are looking for some buffalo try Gros Ventre Road off of Route 26. They tend to hang out in the grass about a quarter mile from the highway on your left. If you visit during the winter months, starting in November, you can spot a plethora of elk in the National Elk Refuge located in Jackson, Wyoming. To get to the refuge take East Broadway from downtown Jackson to the very end of the road. If you want to get an up close and personal look at the elk I recommend going on a sleigh ride through the refuge. Information and tickets are available at the Jackson Visitor’s Center, located on North Cache Drive.

There are many more places to view wildlife so if you are on a mission to see a particular animal just let me know and I will do my best to provide a location where you may find them hanging out. Best of luck in your photography efforts! There is plenty of beauty in the area, now go take advantage of it!

October 15, 2010 at 5:11 pm 1 comment


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