Sundog, Lake Marie Oregon 2018

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Near the Grand Tetons National Park

We stayed for several days at the Teton Valley RV park in the little town of Victor, Idaho. It is just west of the Teton Pass which leads to Jackson Hole and the park itself. Because our next stop is also on the Idaho side of the parks, Yellowstone and Grand Tetons, we chose to drive the Jeep into Jackson rather than take the Alfa up the series of 10% grades and sharp curves of the pass. I'm sure she would have done fine with our clean radiator and all, but no sense in tempting fate!  Besides, I was too late to get an RV spot in Grand Tetons when I was making reservations a few months ago.

One of our favorite things to do is to have a meal at the premier dining room of the main lodge in each National Park we visit. Although quite expensive, it has always proven to be some of the best dining we have experienced anywhere. So, Sunday I made lunch reservations at the Mural Room of Jackson Lake Lodge in Grand Tetons NP. We left about 10 AM, drove the pass, stopped at the Jackson visitors center and then drove the main highway through the park, stopping at all the marvelous view points.

Originally the Grand Tetons were called les trois t├ętons (the three breasts) by the French Voyageurs. They had good imaginations, and must have needed more women in their lives!

The lodge itself was more modern than the ones in other National Parks we've visited, but was elegant in its own way.

The glaciers on Mt. Moran and the other Tetons were softened by a bit of haze, but the view was still exceptional from our window table in the Mural Room.

Anyone can see the view. This day was all about the food!

Craig had the Chef's Special Seared Ahi Tuna,

and I had trout. The roasted tomatoes were unlike any I have had before. I wish I had asked what they were seasoned with, but one can never really duplicate a master chef at home.

We rarely eat desserts, but Craig could not resist this warm Huckleberry Crisp with fresh homemade vanilla ice cream. We did get two spoons.  Yummy!

The drive back was also very scenic and on the way we saw a turn off for Death Canyon and wondered if there were any easy hikes up that way.

The next day, after doing a little reading, we decided the hikes to Death Canyon might be too much of a challenge for Craig's knee, and planned to take the 3 mile hike from the Laurance Rockefeller Preserve in the Southwest part of the park instead. We have not hiked for some time, and Craig is favoring a strain in his knee, so we wanted to keep it "easy." The weather played a part in our decision as well. Although a bit cooler than in the valley, the afternoon temperature ended up near 90°.

We never have been, and probably never will be, early risers. We both know the best time to see wildlife, catch cooler temperatures,  and avoid crowds is early morning. But knowing and doing is not the same thing. We arrived at the Laurance Rockefeller parking lot just before noon, and were greeted by park employees who told us the lot was full, but we could stand in a car queue and wait for a space. There were six cars ahead of us. We decided to wait. At Arches we played the "circle the lot slowly and watch for someone who looked like they were about to leave game". At one lot I got out and followed some people to their spot on foot, so we could claim their parking place. Standing in a car queue, with the engine off is somewhat better. People either waited their turn, or left. The park staff was there to see to it no one pushed ahead. 

We waited about 45 minutes to park. 

Would it have been better early in the day? Who knows? As it turned out there was plenty of empty spaces at 3 PM when we returned from our hike, and still hours of good daylight left. 

Something to think about next month in Yellowstone. If we can't park early, we might try going in late.

Once we were parked, on the trail there were no crowds. Close to the Visitor Center, we encountered a few families and other hiking couples, but the further up the path we went, the more alone we were. I have a book about hiking in Yellowstone that suggests if you want to get away from the crowds, take a hike. But there were a few, which was good because the more people, the less likely it is to run into a bear on the path.

Some of way was along a roaring creek fed by the glacier snows on the mountains above.

The trail was a loop, with the farthest point being an overlook of Phelps Lake. There was a nice bench and stone landing that provided a comfortable place for our picnic lunch. After lunch we walked along the edge of the lake and saw one family wading and swimming in the (presumably) icy water. There were no boats on the lake, and as far as we can tell from the maps, there is no road access. Fishing is by permit and catch and release only.

No sign of man!
As we walked, I was delighted by the many hues of columbine flowers along the path. There were white ones, pink ones, yellow ones, blue ones, red ones, and my favorite these purple ones. So delicate, and no two plants the same. 

I don't like to end this post with a negative feeling, but as we walked in this beautifully peaceful Alpine forest, surrounded by these dainty flowers, my thoughts went back to the tragedy of that school day in Columbine Colorado, when two boys with their rifles killed so many of their classmates. 

I will write no more, just that I remember.


  1. Looks like a 'must do' park! I often get up early to walk the dogs, but by the time we have our coffee and breakfast, and putz around it is almost noon before we get going. One of us is slower than the other ;-)

    I love your idea of lunching at the National Park hotels - very posh and fun to experience as those in the past have done.

    Keep up your great posts - I love reading every one of them.

  2. Loved reading his blog.... BUT.... I want a closeup of those fantastic socks!!!!

    1. See the third image in

  3. We are firmly in your corner on the early rising thing. We KNOW all of the benefits, but we just do not seem to be able to get up and out of the house in a timely fashion.
    As to your last post, thank you for calling the sheriff about those dogs. There is a special place in Hades for people who are mean to animals.

  4. That food sure looked interesting. I've never had Ahi Tuna. The scenery in the Tetons is fantastic, but the columbines would have made my day.

  5. I love your socks, too! Plus the beautiful beautiful photos, of course! Your socks make me think about my Vermont merino wool socks (Darn Tough Socks) that I bought in Bar Harbor. Best investment ever for wearing with hiking sandals or Keens. Terrific hiking socks for your feet, lightweight, wicks away moisture yet provides warmth if you need it. Love the photos of the meals, too...me being a foodaholic. :-) If the food is beautifully presented and tastes wonderful, to me it's well worth the cost.

  6. Although George is an early riser, I like to lounge around for a few hours before doing anything. It has to be pretty spectacular to make me get up early enough. Good idea to eat at the lodge. Yellowstone's is beautiful and had great food as well.

  7. Harry and I don't consider ourselves early risers, but compared to you and Craig we are. :) It does help sometime with getting parking spaces before a place fills up.

    That meal looks SO yummy.

  8. We're kinda like that with our traveling and home life getting around hours too, but we do make exception to it when we are around Yellowstone so that we can have positioning and see the wildlife better. However, we always wait to visit until after school has started such as the end of August or beginning to middle of September.

    There's a scenic drive in the Island Park area, I think on Idaho 47, that goes by upper and lower Mesa Falls. We have enjoyed it and several other bloggers have mentioned it in their blogs. And also, YNP has a Facebook page if you want to follow it. Today's topic was the crowds. :(

  9. Just really beautiful there. Ahi tuna is my favorite and Craig's sure looked great, now I'm hungry. Enjoy your beautiful travels.


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