After our Yellowstone adventure we drove south to Grand Teton National park. As Grand Teton is much smaller than Yellowstone we only planned to stay 2 nights which turned out to be just perfect.
Grand Teton is known for the mountain views, great hikes, old barns and animal spotting and it delivered on all parameters. Grand Teton was also the first place we decided to take a chance and use a first-come-first-served campground. We had found three campgrounds with great ratings: Lizzard Creek, Colter Bay and Signal mountain. Colter Bay was our first choice as it had basic amenities as well as a beach and great location just a few kilometers north of the Grand Teton Loop. Most campgrounds fill up between 12 and 3 pm in high season and arriving at 11.30 we had no trouble finding a place. At the visitors center we noted that Signal Mountain had filled up already at 10 am the previous day so if you want to stay there you might want to get up early.
After setting up the tent we decided to drive the Grand Teton loop to see the main attractions and find a great hiking trail for the following day. The loop follows the Teton road and then the highway back to the starting point.
We did a short stop at Jenny lake
and enjoyed the beautiful views of the mountain range.
As we were doing the trip in early afternoon the chance of seeing wildlife was slim so we drove on to the Visitors Center to get some advice for the next day. The Visitors Center in Moose (a town) turned out to be an attraction on its own with lots of interactive things on display and the boys got a junior ranger book with lots of small assignments to complete. We also followed a ranger program on wildlife safety and learned that to use bear-spray correctly you need to aim at the front paws – not the head.
From all the great hikes around Grand Teton we chose the Death Canyon Trailhead and the hike to Phelps Lake and part of Death Canyon.
Going back to Colter Bay along the highway we checked out the famous Barns dated back to the first Mormon settlers in the area.
And took some pictures of the beautiful river
We ended the day with an Ice Cream at the Colter Bay general store (surprisingly good ice cream for such a remote place) and a walk to the Colter Bay marina
Heading for the Death Canyon trailhead the next day was a smooth drive until the very last section (be aware that RV’s and trailers are prohibited almost all the way from the main road) at first it was a bit scary with the huge potholes in the road but as we started to believe more in the off-road capabilities of our Nissan Amada it actually became a fun ride.
From the trailhead it was a gradual assent to the beautiful Phelps Lake lookout.
It did however surprise us how far down we would need to walk to get to the actual lake but having promised the kids a swim there was no way around it.
We had lunch right next to the lake and went for a nice but quick swim (not exactly warm water) and Line and Noah did some training on the beach.
Just as we were about to leave some other hikers pointed at the opposite bank where a Moose was making its way across a small section of wetland. FINALLY our first moose!!
After lunch we did part of the Death Canyon Trail, which provided some nice lookouts and a great workout.
We raced each other back to the parking lot and Jesper came in last. His bad excuse was carrying the largest bag, but that was not recognized as a valid reason and Line’s gloating lasted most of the evening.
On the way back we saw another Moose right next to the road.
Back at Colter Bay we went for a swim in Jackson lake and while cooking dinner a Grizzly walked right by (unfortunately we did not have the camera ready).
A bit scary as it must have walked right through the campground. Back at the campsite the boys spent the time solving the exercises in their Junior ranger book. Amazing how well Noah now reads and writes in English.
We left Grand Teton the following day but not before stopping by the visitors center so the boys could show their junior ranger book and take the ranger pledge.
Then they got their badges and they were very proud.