Friday, August 16, 2019

Grand Teton NP...POIs

Colter Bay RV Park
July 9-22, 2019
Grand Teton NP

It is believed John Colter was the first Anglo-American to see the craggy Teton peaks that we call Grand Teton NP in the early 1800s.  The valley below those peaks became known as Jackson Hole when Davey Jackson claimed it was his favorite trapping ground in the late 1820s.  The word "hole" was a term used in that day to describe a high mountain valley.  When other trappers referred to this gorgeous valley along the Snake River as Jackson's Hole, the name stuck. 

 For decades following, trappers, outlaws, traders, and Indians passed through Jackson Hole, but it was not until 1887 that settlers established the first permanent settlement for grazing cattle.  Ranches sprang up in the area and tourists (from the east) came wanting to experience a  little slice of the Old West.  These very tourists began to raise the first concerns about preserving the natural beauty of the region.   

1. Jackson or Jackson Hole? (July11) 
There are just under 3 million acres in Teton County.  97% of that land is either federal or state owned land (including two national parks) leaving 3% for private land.  Jackson was named in 1894 and incorporated as a municipality in 1914.  
The first elk arch was built in 1953. Each arch is torn down and rebuilt periodically. 

So I had to ask when we visited the town,  " Are we in Jackson Hole or Jackson?"  The answer was both.  Jackson Hole refers to the entire valley (about 80 miles long and 15 miles wide) and Jackson refers to the town which sits on the southern end of the valley.  

Some of the original buildings can be found on Town Square. 
Resaurants, art galleries, and retail shops are housed in those buildings today.

Walking the square on wooded planks (with lots of other folks) is kindda neat. And besides, I did want to t-shirt ! 

2. Mormon Row (July 13)

Leaders of the The Church of the Later Day Saints sent parties to establish new communities and support their expanding population.  Mormon settlers arrived in the valley in the 1890s.  Homesteaders established 27 homesteads in Grovont (named by the U.S. Post Office).  Clustered farm houses and barns were built enabling the settlers to share labor and community.  

There are several structures that highlight Mormon Row today. 
John and Bartha Moulton's barn was built by the Moulton brothers. 

After 30 years of working the land,John and Bartha replaced their log home with a new pink stucco frame house.  People lived here seasonally until the 1980s.  
T.A. and Lucille Moulton's barn...

Settlers dug miles of ditches to bring water from the Gros Ventre River to their fields.  The summer growing season was short.  Hay and oats were were grown in large fields.  The hay and oats, along with cream from the cows and eggs were taken to the market in Jackson and traded for groceries.

In 1997, Mormon Row was added to the National Register of Historic Places.  

3. Gros Ventre Rd. (July 13)
Gros Ventre Rd. (pronounced Grow Vaunt) is an "off the beaten path" road that follows the Gros Ventre River for most of the way.  

The road starts out paved and changes to a well-maintained gravel road.  

When you leave the NP and enter the Bridger-Teton National Forest, there is an interpretive area that explains a slide that happened in 1925 that dammed the river and formed Slide Lake.  

This picture shows the slide area today. 

Lower Slide Lake

Aside from the river and lake, the red mountains make this a very scenic drive.  

The Red Hills Ranch is a gorgeous piece of property along the way.  A little research found that this ranch breeds and raises horses to sell. 

Joe and I went as far a Crystal Creek Campground. 
A beautiful lunch spot.

3. Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve (July 22)

If it had not been for our change of plans and adding the Phelps Lake hike, we would have missed the Preserve.  This should definitely be on a "to do" list when in the Tetons.

Formerly known as the YJ Ranch, Laurance Rockefeller announced his intent to donated the last of his family's acres to the National Park and in 2001.  He had a plan and was very specific on restoring the land so between 2004 and 2007, thirty buildings, roads, utilities, and other structures were removed opening the way for the construction of the new center.  The center was dedicated on June 21, 2008 and opened to the public on the next day. 

The structure has received several awards of excellence, achievement and is gorgeous ! 
 Vertical wood slats reminiscent of old barns with gaps between boards, bring narrow slits of light inside.
Once stepping inside, it is more like a chapel than a center.  Laurance Rockefeller wanted a "quiet" building designed to fit gently into the landscape.   The 7,000 square foot building is self-guiding with the goal of awakening the senses so that visitors may gain a heightened appreciation of the surrounding landscape.
This picture was huge and filled most of the back wall where the slithers of light shine from the outside vertical wood slats.

A close up of the picture shows it really is a gazillion small photos.

The sound-scape room...four videos playing with nature recordings and depicting all seasons in the park...beautiful and mesmerizing.

There are recordings of Rockefeller speaking about conservation as well as displays showing him as a young boy with his father on the ranch. 

The resource room has comfortable seating and was the perfect place to explore books on wildflowers we had questions about.  There are rangers on hand as well to answer any questions.

Parking for the Preserve (and any hikes there) is limited to about 50 spots to intentionally keep the center and grounds uncrowded so arrive early. 
 4. Menor's Ferry Historic District (July 16)

Menor settled along the Snake River in 1894.  He was the only homesteader on the west side of the valley until 1911.  Observing that the Snake River was a natural barrier that divided the valley, he built a "reaction ferry" boat.  The design dates back to ancient times using the river current to propel the boat. 

The ferry we see today is a replica.

 The ferry soon became the main crossing in the central part of Jackson Hole.  He charged 50 cents for a wagon and team and 25 cents for a rider and horse.  Pedestrians rode free if a wagon was crossing.

The buildings still standing today include a smoke house,
 an ice house,
 and his home and general store.

The General Store serves as a museum and is still open for business today.

The Menor's Ferry Historic District was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1969.

5. Signal Mountain Summit (July 17)

Signal Mt. Summit Road is a narrow paved road (5 miles) that winds its was through a Lodgepine Forest as it climbs (1,000 feet) to the summit guessed it...Signal Mt.

The short drive is well worth the effort for breathtaking views of the Teton's towering peaks, the Snake River, Jackson Lake and flat glacial plains.
Jackson Lake with Mt. Moran in the background...

Glacial plains with Grand Teton peak...

The Snake River...

I have one more post on our visit to The Tetons so say tuned.  I'll close with a few more pictures...

Wildlife on Morman Row...

Front porch at Laurence S. Rockefeller Center...

Crystal Creek Campground

Elk Arch in Jackson

Simplicity and beauty...

Front porch at Menor's General Store

Scenery along Gros Ventre Rd.

The first pull-out on the Signal Mountain Summit Rd.

Laurence S. Rockefeller Center...

Signal Mt. Survey dated 1931...

Morman Row...

Until next time...



  1. You found so many new and interesting places to see in this spectacular area. Your photos definitely show the beauty of the Tetons and surrounding area. Thanks for sharing new ideas for us to explore.

  2. Great pics of all my favorite places,Hope you got some huckleberry's up on Signal Mtn.

  3. Such a beautiful area. I enjoyed your tour!

  4. Yesterday we changed our route south to include five days in the Tetons! This post has so much to see and do - thanks for sharing all the beauty. I agree the preserve is a must-do and is definitely on the list. I think I need that cute little pink house. Thanks for the info on the town vs the valley names and the proper Grow Vaunt pronunciation (we'll sound so smart).

  5. Your post is the first i've heard of the Preserve, WOW it's a secret gem to be explored