It’s decided. I’m a mountain goat through and through. I love the beach, the desert, canyons, prairies and rolling farmlands. But there’s some kind of other emotion I feel when I’m in the depths of the mountains. The canvas of greens and greys, the height, the depth, the tranquility, the feeling of being small… I don’t know what it is but I feel at home and completely satisfied being in the mountains.
Coming from Utah through Wyoming and up over the Route 22 Teton pass over the mountains was really pretty. We slowly came up the pass (closed in winter) passing beautiful vistas and vast valleys giving way to mountain rises. The downhill part of it was intense enough that vehicles were having to pull over with their brakes smoking. The pass landed in Jackson Hole, at the base of the Grand Tetons.
Jackson is a really pretty town! Touristy of course, with resorts, stores, restaurants and a lot of boutiques and souvenir stores. And then of course the whole area is basically an outdoor enthusiast’s paradise with hiking, biking, kayaking, and skiing in the mountains all around.
We were lucky enough (SOO FREAKING LUCKY) to have nabbed a cancellation at Jenny Lake campground 2 nights in a row or I have no idea where we would’ve stayed. I’m learning winging it doesn’t work swell for national parks in the northwest. Legally we could stay in national forests or BLM land, BUT with the legit grizzlies and other wild animals out there, it kind of is a freaky thought to set up camp in the middle of nowhere and have no bear box, place to store food etc. I’m doing a whole separate post with things I learned about bears on our trip.
There is of course tons of options for hiking, but coming recommended from my sister, we decided to do Cascade Canyon. We hiked through Cascade Canyon from Jenny Lake Campground and the views were beautiful. We didn’t do the whole trip as we got started late in the day but we went past Hidden Falls, Inspiration Point, and into the canyon quite a ways. We did about 11 miles roundtrip. Pictures and info on that below.
1. National parks are a bustling place. Book well in advance! We didn’t but got very lucky. Last minute hotels with openings were Motel 6 and Days Inn at $300/night! Crazy.
If you do end up winging it like we did, here’s a tip. Constantly monitor recreation.gov for openings due to cancellations. All cancellations go through recreation.gov now so things that were once booked might open up last minute when people call in 12-24 hours before their arrival.
OR, go to the campground you want to be in FIRST THING in the morning and ask them if they have had any cancellations. Sometimes the staff at registration have received phone calls for cancellations. But there’s no way to call campgrounds and find that out as far as we were aware. So you have to check online through recreation.gov or be at the camp in person and ask.
Jenny Lake was a really nice campground on the lake and had access to quite a few trailheads. Depending on what you’re hiking, this can be a huge advantage since you won’t have to fight for parking or end up parking miles from the trailhead. You can leave right from your site.
1. Moose Wilson Road —
We drove this road through the park right before sunset in hopes of finding moose. No moose, but the drive itself was really pretty! Highly recommend.
2. Jackson —
We spent a couple hours just meandering through town one evening which was a pleasant change from the hiking we’d been doing over the last week. Lots of shops and places to eat.
3. Cascade Canyon —
This was the only hike we got to do in Tetons. We took the trail from Jenny Lake campground. There is a boat that can bring you across the lake for $18 round trip that eliminates 4 miles off your hike. But we chose to walk it. So we walked past the visitor center, boat launch and around the lake. (It’s 2 miles each way. 4 miles roundtrip.)
The same trail for Cascade canyon passes Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point. Both are two major destinations for short hike seekers and we lost a lot of the traffic past those points and into the canyon. Further into the hike we saw Moose! Both a bull and and a cow. Super cool to see in the wild.
The hike was really beautiful. Personally the most stunning views were in the canyon surrounded by lush greenery giving rise to steep Rocky Mountain sides. Someday I’d love to go back and hike the entire thing.