Jenny Lake and Cascade Canyon

Jenny Lake from Inspiration Point

At our 8:30 breakfast we got blueberry pancakes. The bed and breakfast thing works out well because you can talk to other people who maybe have been in the area before and are happy to talk about their vacation. We met a couple who talked about a mother grizzly bear that had been sighted in the northern part of the park with 3 cubs.

Close up look at the Tetons. We started seeing snow at this point.

The weather forecast was getting worse and worse, with 70% chance of rain and temperatures in the 50's. Yellowstone was looking even worse, with highs in the 40's and a chance of snow and rain. Due to the colder weather and probably lack of sunshine we decided against the Snake River rafting trip we'd been thinking about and instead went up to Jenny Lake in Grand Teton National Park. On the way up we saw some pronghorn antelope in the sagebrush, but not close enough for a picture. There is a shuttle boat that crosses the lake every 10-15 minutes, cutting a couple of miles of walking around the edge of the lake. Then you can hike up the lower part of the Tetons to Hidden Falls waterfall, up to Inspiration Point lookout, and then through Cascade Canyon for as far as you want.

A chipmunk at Jenny Lake

We kept an eye out for wildlife and saw a couple of yellow-bellied marmots in the rocks near the waterfall. Also as we rested a brave and greedy chipmunk came out and would almost walk up your arm, probably hoping for a handout, which is prohibited. We totally missed Hidden Falls (living up to its name) on the way up, but we made it up to Inspiration Point (a good view, but not great due to the overcast skies and low clouds), and walked a little into Cascade Canyon before deciding we should head back down before it really started to rain and so we could get some lunch. It was past 1:00 by the time we got down to the boat dock.

A log along the trail

We continued North to the Signal Mountain area and had lunch at the dining room there. It looks out over Lake Jackson and the Tetons, but we didn't get a window seat and had to share a table with another couple who were almost done. They also had a couple of gift shops, including one where Susan bought a pretty silver and blue bracelet and I bought a t-shirt. There were a lot of pictures of the Tetons with the Mormon barn we had seen the day before.

Visitor Centers and Lodges

Some yellow ball flowers (not the actual name, may be mahonia repens)

After lunch we went back down to the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center before it would close and to visit the gift shop. The park visitor centers aren't as much into t-shirts and more into books, pictures, and educational stuff. In the parking lot of the visitor center we saw a fox walk out of the sagebrush and across the parking lot on its way someplace. It was probably a red fox, but was still pretty blonde from the winter maybe.

Hidden Falls lived up to its name
A fox at the Craig Thomas Visitor Center

At the center we also watched a movie about the park which pointed out that part of what makes the Grand Tetons so striking is they don't have foothills. Instead you see them from across the sagebrush flats or even from the lakes at their base, so they seem taller and more spectacular. At the end of the movie, the screen lifts out of the way and you are facing a giant window looking out at the mountins. Pretty dramatic, like they're saying "Enough movies, go outside!" At the park I told one of the rangers about the porcupine we had seen the day before chewing up their restroom and he said he would notify someone. He also said they had problems with porcupines at the visitor center in that area which is made of the same type of wood. They were able to control the problem there by putting a bad-tasting chemical on the wood.

A moose, of the Moose Junction moose

We then headed back up the park to maybe hike at Taggart Lake, but it started to rain, so we pulled off at a Jenny Lake overlook and took a nap in the car as the rain fell. Afterwards we continued up towards Jackson Lake Lodge, stopping at the dam. Although the lake is natural, the dam increases the depth by 30 feet, which is used for irrigation in Idaho. We saw some pelicans there and some sandhill cranes in a field nearby. The Willow Flats area is supposed to have some pretty good wildlife and we were there at dusk, but we didn't see much else, certainly not any bears or moose. We got to the Jackson Lake Lodge just after 8 PM, which is when the gift shops close. They actually had pretty good gift shops, so that was too bad. The mezzanine of the hotel has a huge picture window that looks out at the mountains, lake, and some of the flats, and there were a couple of elk just outside.

A man was playing piano and people sat around just looking out at the view. It seems like a great place to stay. They have a good dining room, but it was about to close, so instead we opted for the diner, which boasts of having the longest, oldest counter in the world. There are not tables, just bays along the winding counter. By the time we finished dinner, it was dark and it was a pretty long drive back to Jackson. We took US 89 instead of the park road, careful of possible wildlife in the road, but did not see anything.