Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Road Trip: Jackson, WY and the Grand Tetons

We left the Caribou-Targhee camground for Jackson, Wyoming in the early morning. There's nothing like swarms of mosquitoes to get you up and out of the campsite in record time! Justin recommended a great hike just outside of Jackson in the Gros Ventre Wilderness area, overlooking the jagged Teton range. One of the unique elements of this hike is that the trailhead begins at 8,000 ft, climbing steeply out of Jackson on rugged, winding, backcountry roads. Before taking the fork to the trail, we continued another two miles on Sheep Creek Road until it finally ended in snow at close to 9,000 ft.

This small detour brought us to a breathtaking view of the Grand Teton mountains and an exciting wildlife encounter. Before turning the van around, Jeff got out to stretch his legs and enjoy the landscape. Just before the dense treeline, he stopped dead in his tracks at the sound of loud rustling and scratching from behind a tree no more than 15 ft away. A shaft of morning light revealed the thick brown coat and bulk of a grizzly. I had never seen Jeff look so scared as he said, “It's a grizzly!” He hopped back in and maneuvered us through the muddy, deeply rutted road down to the start of the hike, with heartbeats elevated before we even hit the trail.

Parker rolled over to enjoy some cold snow on his bare belly.
In a typical July, we'd have no trouble summiting the rocky Jackson peak, a ten mile round trip hike. But with the late winter and incredible snowfall this year, the feat would have required winter mountaineering gear. We decided to go as far as Goodwin Lake and still found that the last half mile was entirely buried in many feet of snow. Even though Parker couldn't swim in the still frozen lake, the bountiful snow was a good tradeoff.

Following more of Justin's recommendations, we returned to Jackson to enjoy some of its Western charm. Jeff sipped a local brew at the Cowboy Bar, straddling one of the saddles they use in lieu of bar stools.

We'd worked up an appetite and grabbed a late lunch at the Snake River Brewing Company before venturing into Grand Teton National Park. By this point, the weather was turning foul and dark thunder clouds were quickly making their way from Jackson along the Teton range. With storms nearing, we cut the driving tour short and decided to forgo camping in the park. We instead put in another few hours of evening driving in order to have more time at our next destination, Boulder, Colorado.

Double rainbows arced across the horizon for much of the drive.


  1. Oh my GOD!!! A DOUBLE RAINBOW!!!!
    and a GRIZZLY!!! You guys are having a blast!

  2. Any suggestions on where to camp around there in the syncro...that isnt a campground per say?

    1. There were definitely people camping along the Sheep Creek Road ascent (to the sport where you see my van pictured above). We passed a tent or two (and vehicles) as we drove that rugged mountain road. The upper terrain got a little sketchy for my 2WD, but you'll have a blast with the syncro!