Pack Your Bags and Experience Fall in the Tetons
There is something about the energy in the park this time of year that captivates Krista and me. The throngs of tourists, which occupy the park from Memorial Day to Labor Day, have largely all gone home, leaving the park roads (relatively) free of traffic jams and scenic turnout parking lots open. Although the locals who remain are getting the town and themselves ready for our long Wyoming winters, there are still plenty of shops and restaurants open to accommodate travelers. Here are my favorite things to do when visiting Grand Teton National Park and Jackson, Wyoming in the fall, other than wrapping myself in a blanket, sipping coffee, and enjoying the views from Glacier View Turnout!
I am a self-proclaimed fly fishing junky, so it is only natural that I include it as the first suggestion for things to do in and around the National Park. Originating inside Yellowstone National Park, near the Two Ocean Plateau, the Snake River cuts right through the Park, bisecting it from north to south, before heading south to Alpine, Wyoming and entering Idaho at Palisades Reservoir. The river is a popular destination for anglers of all skill levels as it is home to populations of rainbow, brown, and the coveted Snake River Finespotted Cutthroat. Unlike its sister to the north, Grand Teton National Park does not require it's own fishing license, so you'll want to pick up a Wyoming license from one of the retail shops in town. Be sure to check out Jack Dennis' Fishing Trips website for detailed information on where and how to fish this amazing river. Other than visiting one of the Jackson fly fishing shops, this is a great resource for planning your adventure.
Whether you are a seasoned professional landscape photographer or a novice who loves to take photographs, the Teton Range will not disappoint. It can be a bit overwhelming, at first, with so many things in the Photographer's Guide to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, so take a deep breath. Fall is a great time to participate in a guided photography excursion or even a week-long photography workshop. These can help you focus your photography, with guides and instructors providing pointers and feedback to help you improve your skills. I would recommend taking Big Red, the Jackson Hole ariel tram, to the top of Rendevous Peak. You will be rewarded with amazing vistas, from both the ride to the top and Corbet's Cabin.
I know, by the end of September things are getting rather cold in Jackson, but you have to trust me on this. Many of the river guides are running the river into early October. You will want to grab your GoPro, don a drysuit, and start paddling. I ran the river in late September, back in 2012, and had a blast. The low water flow produces different technical challenges than you would find floating in the summer, but still an amazing experience!
Grab your binoculars and camera and hop in the car because fall is a great time to see moose, black and brown bears, elk, and bison in the park. You will want to make your way down either the Moose-Wilson or River Roads, taking your time to look for wildlife. Moose-Wilson Road is great for seeing moose (funny how that works) and bear, while the River Road is great for bugling bull elk, river otter, and the occasional bald eagle. The best time to see wildlife is early in the morning and late in the afternoon, so plan on eating breakfast early and dinner late - trust me on this one! Even if we've been out all day, we make a point to drive one of these roads in the evening.
Although you will be tempted to stop in the middle of the road when you see wildlife, it is best practice to pull forward to the nearest parking turnout so that you can let those behind past.
There are several great places to stay in and around Grand Teton National Park. Nestled along the Gros Ventre River (English: /ˈɡroʊvɑːnt), the Gros Ventre Campground offers spacious tent and RV sites, the occasional moose sighting, and easy access to Jackson. You will want to stay here if you are interested in east side Park attractions like Schwabacher Landing and the Mormon Row Historic District.
If you are wanting to stay close to the action on the west side of the park, we recommend booking a room or rustic cabin at the Signal Mountain Lodge. Located on the shores of Jackson Lake, the Lodge offers inviting rooms and cabins with (incredibly) comfortable beds and awe-inspiring views of the lake and Mount Moran. You will want to stay here if you are interested in west-side Park attractions like hiking Signal Mountain, driving the River Road, or photographing Oxbow Bend.
|Signal Mountain Lodge's Lake-Front Views - Photo courtesy of Signal Mountain Lodge
Beau Johnston is an engineer, writer, and photographer who is dedicated to proving you can find a balance between work and life. He is the Co-Founder and Publisher of Living Overland and a member of the Rocky Mountain Automotive Press. When he isn't working, you can find him exploring National Parks, fly fishing, and camping with his wife (Krista) and their two dogs.
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