Grand Teton National Park is located just south of Yellowstone National Park, and you can drive between the two without leaving the National Park System on the John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway. Grand Teton is a well-known park, but sometimes gets overshadowed by its sibling to the north. We, however, fell in love with the park, and it quickly became one of our favorites.
After spending most of the day at Yellowstone, we journeyed south to Flagg Ranch, a campsite located within the John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway. The campsite was unexpectedly a bit empty and quiet considering the time of year (early August), and we thought it was the perfect base camp, both in its location and in what it offered. It was pleasant with fine amenities without being pretentious. It also has a gas station and a convenience store.
After setting up our campsite, we drove further down the parkway and into Grand Teton National Park. Since it was already late, we only stopped along the different pull-offs, but we were treated with a spectacular show. There were few people on the road, so we felt like we had the whole park to ourselves. The first stop overlooked a lake in front of tall, jagged peaks. There was a rather cute bird that began following us around, which was fun to see wildlife up close, but it wasn’t worth the cost–the bird was clearly used to being fed and wanted us to give it food. Please, don’t feed the animals–it makes it difficult for them to find food on their own, eventually killing them, and can be dangerous for humans as the animals become bolder.
Back on the road, we came within sight of the Tetons, and it took our breath away. We drove up right as the sun was setting, so we got to see plains full of sage, leading up to the craggy, sublime peaks made vivid by the fading red sun. While many of the views along the park road were similar, none were the same, and the changing sunlight made each stop along the road made us speechless. Perhaps the most beautiful view we saw was staring straight at the Tetons, while a single ray of sunlight peaked out of the clouds and shone across the face of the mountains. As the sun went down and it became darker, the mountains loomed overhead, reminding us of how large they really were.
We returned to our campsite, making sure to drive slowly because there is so much wildlife around (we actually had an elk run in front of us on the road; be very careful when driving in national parks, especially at dawn and dusk). On the way we did stop at Colter Bay, a visitor center with several cafes and stores, to grab a snack, which was pleasant.
The next morning, we re-traced our route from the day before. We stopped at Colter Bay to do a bit of shopping before driving up to Signal Mountain, which offers spectacular panoramic views. There were also some beautiful wildflowers still blooming, which grabbed our attention for more than a couple minutes. While the views with the setting sun were astounding, the views in daylight were also stunning, showcasing the rawness and sublimity of the Tetons. We very much wanted to stay and have more time at the Tetons, but we, unfortunately, had to leave in order to make our move to New York.
The Grand Tetons are truly spectacular; we felt as though we could stay there and just enjoy the view for days. Words and pictures can’t do the park justice, so we suggest visiting the park for yourself!