Wow! wow! wow!
National Parks never disappoint in shocking me. I joked with my friend Liz that I am so thankful for President Rosevelt by starting the National Parks, but there really are true extraordinary things to see in every National Park that I’ve visited.
We landed at Jackson Hole airport at around 4pm Mountain time and as soon as you get off the plane the Mountains are right there! The airport is INSIDE the national park. It’s also very small, so super easy to navigate to the rental cars. We made our way to our hotel. We decided to stay at Jackson Lake Lodge. On our previous trip last year to Denver, we learned that you need to get to National Parks early because the parking lots at trail heads fill up and you can’t even hike! I just wouldn’t have expected how crowded the outdoors would be 🙂
Anyway, we head to the lodge, after stopping at Lucky’s market to pick up some food for the time in the parks. We’ve also learn, have lots of snacks because hikes take longer than you expect and food in general is far away. The lodge has amazing views, but it’s a little rustic for the price. The “lodge” is comprised of little bungalows all strung together. The furniture is a mix of 1950’s and 1980’s decor and there is clearly water damage from the tough winters. It was mostly clean but the location was the main event. They have a back patio that is the best views to watch the sun set. We were lucky enough to come on a day that it snowed in the mountains the day before so there was snow caps. We also were about to experience the fog that lake Jackson creates when the air temperature is below the lake temperature. It was beautiful.
We selected the Jenny Lake hike for first thing Friday morning. It did not disappoint. This is an 8 mile hike around Jenny lake with the most iconic views of the Grand Tetons. The pictures are just amazing that I was able to take on this walk. This hike has it all, waterfalls, mountains, water, and panoramic views. After getting back from the hike we ate our packed lunch at the Jenny Lake Visitor center. We stopped along route 191 on our way back to take pictures at all the instagram recommended spots and then nap time! Friday evening we sat on the back deck in the sun, had a drink and relaxed. We also had dinner and watched the sun set at the fancy restaurant. I ordered Bison, because when in Rome, but honestly, I recommend traveling into Jackson to get better food. We couldn’t get a better view.
Saturday started with a float tour down the snake river. We used Solitude Float Trips and it was just the right about of time on the river. Our guide had done the rafting tours for 18 years and you could tell. He knew a lot about the area. He was happy, and he recommended where to eat in Jackson, which was nice. We saw tons of bald eagles during the float and of course spectacular views of the mountains.
The second half of Saturday we decided to drive up to Yellowstone. Even though we didn’t plan to this originally because Yellowstone is so big and overwhelming to try to see, but we were about 2 hours away from Old Faithful so we gave it a whirl. We ate our packed lunches on the drive and arrived at Old Faithful as it was erupting. I saw it from the approach road. LOL! Old Faithful erupts every 90 minus +/- 10 minutes so we decided to go see the other Geysers in lower basin. Again, the park is just awe inspiring. We were able to see quite a few geysers erupt and thermal pools. We headed back to see Old Faithful, got parked and I missed it by 1 minute! I ran to see, but I saw the last little bit of the eruption. The amount of people waiting and watch was just crazy though. You can drive down the road to the lower basin and see multiple geysers erupting and Old Faithful has 5 rows deep of people surrounding it to watch. The other thing is, it’s not that big! I was just so shocked. It’s a lot like looking at the Mona Lisa in the Louvre. There’s a lot of other great things to see that you don’t have to fight a crowd. The parking lot was a mess now that the main show was over, so we decided to have a snack before leaving the park. We made the 2.5 hour drive back to Jackson and made it to our hotel for the night. By the time we made it to Jackson we were exhausted and just wanted some pizza for dinner. We walked less than a block from our hotel to Snake River Brewery for an excellent dinner and some craft beer. It was nice to stay in a normal hotel for the night. I will warn you also that there are a TON of tour buses staying at the lodge and in this hotel. You’ll want to stay slightly off the tour bus schedule to not get caught up in the masses.
Our last in Jackson we relaxed a bit. I did my long run utilizing the bike trail, which was so nice. We went for breakfast at Jackson Hole Roasters Coffee House. The breakfast was delicious and I tried nitro cold brew, which was also a new favorite of mine. We walked around the town to take the iconic pictures of the elk horn arches and then decided we should check out Teton Village. We took the Arial Tram to the top of the Grand Tetons and again just had another amazing view of the Jackson Hole valley. The Teton Village is like Breckenridge or other ski resorts in the US. It has shops and food, but it’s clearly for a captive audience. We had waffles at the top of the mountain and then made our way to the airport. Our flight was delayed, but only for a tiny bit, so I’m writing this review on the plane. I’m not even going to get into air travel these days, but I can tell you that the Jackson Hole airport checks all food items in your bags and asked to check my banana. I’m happy I have snacks for the ride home. I have a tight-ish connection in Chicago and I do not need to be hangry with people.