Rough and rocky trails, alpine glaciers, star-scattered skies, views that take your imagination hostage and run for miles—that’s Grand Teton National Park.
As the day draws to a close, savvy animal spotters gather by the waterside and wait for elk, wolves, moose and bear to venture near and quench their thirst. Critters abound in this 484-square-mile park–herds of bison graze on the prairie, pronghorn antelope leap through the brush. Study the sky for soaring eagles and osprey, admire jagged peaks mirrored in still water and watch the sinking sun set snow-clad peaks ablaze.
The Grand Teton range is just south of Yellowstone, and suffers a bit from Yellowstone’s metaphorical shadow. Unjustly so—Grand Teton’s landscape has a rugged vertical drama that stands on its own. Peaks nearly 14,000 feet in altitude rise abruptly, improbably, astonishingly, from a wooded plain 7,000 feet below.
The wide Snake River runs calmly through, carrying rafts full of visitors, cameras blazing. Fly fishing is a religion in these parts. Jackson Lake, dotted with islands, extends for 15 miles. The smaller Jenny Lake has a shuttle across, making a hike into the mountains both shorter and sweeter.
Wind the day down at Jackson Lake Lodge, where you can enjoy the view from the deck with a buffalo burger and a local microbrew.