Utah disappeared behind us as we headed North and into Idaho (very briefly) and then into Wyoming, on our way to the town of Jackson and the Grand Teton National Park. Like many of the settlements in and around the Rockies, Jackson’s settlement history goes back to the beaver fur trade that began in the early 1800’s. Over a period of about 40 years or so, trappers travelled up the beaver rich canyons and valleys of the Pacific Northwest, battling the harsh environment, the Native American Indians and each other, supplying fur for the beaver hat market. Unfortunately, the beaver hat was a victim of fashion and in or around 1840, no one wanted beaver hats and the trappers were out of a job and left the Teton area. White fellas returned some 40 years later and have been here ever since. Given that the Teton Range adjoins Yellowstone, it wasn’t long before people realized the significance and beauty of this place, which is as spectacular, but different from Yellowstone.
The town of Jackson, which sits t the southern entrance to Grand Teton National Park, is a tourist town – about as touristy as you can get! However, it’s high class touristy, which does make it much more bearable than ‘cheap and nasty’ touristy! The elk antler arches at either corner of the main park are pretty amazing and the restaurants and bars, cowboy gear shops, outdoor action shops, ice cream parlors etc are worth a look, not to mention the ‘Gunfight’ at the main intersection of town at 6.00 o’clock each night!
In case you’re wondering where the elk antlers come from, no elk were harmed in the making of the arches. Elk shed their antlers every year. Scouts and Rotary collect the antlers from the Elk Refuge Park which sits adjacent to the town of Jackson and Grand Teton NP. The refuge provides a safe food source for thousands of elk during the winter months. After collection, the antlers are auctioned for fundraising. Antlers are used for all sorts of things – including jewellery, belt buckles and arches – just to name a few things.
After a night in the forest on the outskirts of Jackson, we drove via the ski resort of Teton Village on our way into the Grand Teton National Park.
As with all US National Parks, the roads are superb, the sign posting excellent and the volume of information available is astounding. We spent the afternoon winding our way north along the main route north to a campground at Lizard Creek.
Having secured our digs for the night, we backtracked and visited all the highlights, completing a big loop of the park.
Along the way, we saw a moose enjoying himself in the middle of a lily pond,
a black bear frolicking in the water on the edge of a lake
and a herd of bison doing what bison do best – eating!
It was a wonderful day, topped off with a very nice sunset over the lake back at camp.
Some days are tough!