Paragliders, Jackson, Wyoming

Our campsite happened to be a paraglider launch point, so we enjoyed this view:

Disappointment Peak, Grand Teton National Park

It’s a steep hike up to a picturesque alpine cirque, then a 4th class chimney climbs above tree line. At the top, Disappointment Peak yields a close up view of the Grand Teton. It’s only disappointing if you think you’re climbing Grand Teton. Otherwise, it’s a challenging hike and an exhilarating view.

On the hike down, Katherine tripped, fell on her butt, and looked up to see 3 stunned black bears staring at her. We also saw pika, pheasant, and marmot that day.

Driggs, Idaho

Enjoy breakfast at Pendl’s Bakery. Pick up some shabby chic decor ideas, including upcycling a vintage drawer as a picture frame, or hanging old cross country skis as wall art. The back garden is sunny and inviting.

Stroll downtown. Check out the bison sculpture over the bank, stock up on groceries at Barrels and Bins, and sample crisp dragon’s tongue green beans at the farmer’s market.

Then head uphill to Grand Targhee Ski Resort, strap on some body armor, and mountain bike down the ski runs.

Meet “Steamy The Fumarole”

Over Labor Day weekend, we did a tour of Yellowstone National Park.  While the view isn’t as spectacular as the Grand Tetons, Yellowstone is beautiful with fantastic thermal features.  When we found geysers (the ones that shoot water) or fumaroles (the ones that shoot steam) without visible names, we generically called them Gushy or Steamy.  Of course, we visited plenty of named features, including the well-known Old Faithful geyser.  We also hiked around Yellowstone Canyon with multiple massive waterfalls and a mule deer that seemed to wonder why we dared use its trail.  We kayaked Yellowstone Lake and saw several elk, including one bugling, and many thermal features along the shore.

Overall, our visit to Yellowstone was too short.  The facilities in the park and the nearby town of West Yellowstone have the tacky “tourist fake western” theme, and we left those places as quickly as possible.  Outdoors, we only saw the easily accessible tourist destinations.  I suspect the best places are in the backcountry, and I look forward to returning.


Jackson, Wyoming Logistics

Many people come to this beautiful town to visit for a week or two. Here’s how to stay a little longer, on a budget.

Dispersed (Free) Camping: Fall Creek Rd between Hoback Junction and Wilson, Granite Creek and Little Granite Creek Rds southeast of Hoback Junction, Curtis Canyon east of the Elk Reserve, Shadow Mountain and Slide Lake near Kelly, and Grassy Lake Rd at the northern boundary of Grand Teton.

Projects: Rally’s Pet Garage is our pick for dog boarding and self-service dog wash tubs. Gloria at Jackson Hole Girl Friday was a big help with getting our bikes cleaned up, tuned, and covered. If you need help with projects, she’s a great resource. Stitch N Time sells fabric, can refer you to a tailor, and has a sewing machine and ironing board in the shop for customer use. Bill Dillon at Jackson Hole Boot and Shoe has creative solutions for sewing projects.

Water: Shevrin’s Oil and most of the campgrounds have water taps. If you use the tap at Shevrin’s, please buy gas and thank them. Water taps are hard to find at gas stations in Jackson. (Hint to the gas stations: water is a really cheap way to market to RVers, who typically spend $100 on a fill up.)

Laundry: We recommend the Missing Sock over Broadway Laundry.

Grocery: Smith’s (next to the Missing Sock) has moderate prices yet stocks some organic produce and has bulk bins. The weekday farmer’s market is a good place to get produce, as well.

Work and Wifi: The Teton County Library offers a visitor library card for $10, and gives away shipping labels so you can mail back books from the road. The library and Cafe Boheme are good places to get work done.

Moose Falls, Yellowstone National Park

A fine swimming hole with waters warmed by upstream hot springs. An easy 5 minute hike leads to the base of the falls. While you’ll likely share this popular spot with others, there’s plenty of room in the swimming hole below the falls. Logs downstream create sun-warmed pools, and spots where you can lay in the rushing waters.

Grassy Lake Road Camping, Grand Teton National Park

There are few places for dispersed camping near Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Park. This is one of the better ones.

From the junction between highway 89 and Flagg Ranch, drive towards Flagg Ranch and then turn northwest onto Grassy Lake Road. The road is open in the summer only.

Photo gallery shows the “ghost forest” created by the 1988 Yellowstone fire. The bare poles are the remainders of trees burned in the fire, with new trees growing up underneath. The other two photos are views of a Grassy Lake NPS campsite.

The first 8 miles of Grassy Lake Road are managed by Grand Teton National Park, and the remainder via the National Forest Service. The NPS-managed land allows free camping in 8 designated camping spots, which vary in size from 1 to 4 campsites. You can stay up to 14 days, and the sites have a picnic table, graded tent pad, fire pit, bear box, trash receptacle, and a pit toilet. Pretty fancy for free camping! NFS-managed land offers dispersed camping with services.

The road starts out as graded gravel, and sites 1 through 3 can be accessed by any car. The road gets rougher is it continues west, with ruts en route to sites 4 and 5, and deep gouges en route to sites 6 and beyond. Recommend a high clearance vehicle to go beyond site 5.

Alpine, Wyoming

Alpine forms the northern end of the grassy Star Valley. It’s a commuter town for folks working in Jackson, and also a ranching area.

A class III section of the Snake River is just up the hill in Alpine Canyon. Recommend putting in at East Table and taking out at Sheep Gulch. Rent a boat at Rent-a-Raft in Hoback Junction if needed. While there are guided whitewater trips available, the river is certainly easy enough (for someone with class II to III skills and moderate river flow rate) to float independently.

The Alpine library is small but well-stocked. It has reliable wifi, workstations with power plugs, and helpful staff. Good dispersed camping 2 miles from town along Grays River Road. Many of the campsites on the north side of the road have river views. Fill up on water and propane at the Texaco, eat pizza at Tootsie’s North, and get local grass fed meat at the natural foods store. There’s a dingy laundromat in town also.

If we had a water ski boat, we’d have stayed longer. The Palisades Reservoir looks like a great place to ski!