Traveling south from the west side of Glacier National Park, we took as many non-interstate highways as possible – mostly US 93, with a little jog east on I-90, before hooking up with various combinations of US 287/20/191. Beautiful big sky, big mountain Montana! We entered Yellowstone National Park from the west entrance and meandered past the geysers, paint pots and buffalo, and over the Continental Divide three times before leaving Yellowstone and entering Grand Teton National Park.
We had taken the kids to Yellowstone several years before, but this was my first visit back to the Tetons since I was a very young girl. The Tetons are much more starkly jagged than other parts of the Rocky Mountains. They stand about 7000 feet above the valley below, with the highest peak being 13,770 above sea level, and are still being pushed up by the tectonic plates below. On our first evening in the GTNP, we stopped at Jackson Lake Lodge and had dinner in the Mural Room. Dress is casual, but the dining is fine; we were even treated to some splendid Champagne as we waited to be seated. In addition to the wonderful murals on the walls by Carl Roters, as the sun sets, the shades over the entire mountain side plate glass windows are raised to display a breathtaking view of the Grand Tetons. All the diners stopped for a moment to applaud as the shades were raised.
Day two in the Tetons, and we were ready to hike. The Craig Thomas Discovery & Visitor Center (Moose Visitor Center) at the south entrance of the Park has a wonderful natural history exhibit and a large table-top relief map of the park. While we were in the visitors’ center, one of the Rangers was giving and interactive presentation about the park’s wildlife and history. A Ranger at the information counter helped us plan a day hike in one of the lesser known but beautiful areas in Granite Canyon. (If you decide to take this hike or any other the other hikes along Moose-Wilson Road, be sure to get directions; the road is not well marked.) The beauty of the Granite Canyon hike is that it is beautify at every step, and although you can continue on a twelve mile hike that will take you on a loop to the Teton Village tram, you can’t go wrong no matter how far you go along the path before you head back.
The Grand Tetons viewed from across Jackson Lake