One of my favorite parts of our road trip was the time we spent exploring the national parks in this part of the country.
Grand Teton National Park is about 15 miles north of the town of Jackson, WY, and driving the Teton Park Road was one of the recommended activities I read about in one of the brochures I picked up in town.
So let me just pause here for a minute to share that whenever we travel somewhere, my first order of business is to find the visitor center and pick up ALL. THE. BROCHURES. I like to learn as much as I can about the places we visit – the history, the sights, etc. Which leads me to my next point…and I am really embarrassed to admit this…I had no idea that there was a Grand Teton National Park. So this little excursion, which was not originally on our itinerary, came as a complete surprise to me.
And for the record, coming around the corner and being surprised by this view and the two of us exclaiming, “OH MY GOD” at the exact same time…well, it’s one of my very favorite moments of our entire trip.
Stunning. Magnificent. Majestic. I’m all out of superlatives. It doesn’t matter though because there aren’t really enough words to describe this iconic mountain range anyway.
The Tetons are the youngest of the Rocky Mountain ranges, and this range is home to many species of flora and fauna that have existed since prehistoric times.
As promised, the scenic drive along the park road gave us a closer look at the extraordinary landscape. The view of the crystal clear waters of Jenny Lake was worth the short hike to get there.
As was the drive to the north end of the park to capture this view of Jackson Lake.
While the Tetons weren’t part of our original itinerary, Yellowstone National Park was. And so the next morning Tripp drove north out of Jackson along the John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway which connects these two national parks.
Yellowstone was the first national park in the US and spans an area of over 2 million acres (almost 3500 square miles).
We entered the park through the south entrance, and driving along the highway that snakes its way north through the chain of basins and geysers we got a deeper understanding of one of the things that makes this park so special.
Fun fact: half of the world’s geysers and hydrothermal features are located here in Yellowstone park and fueled by the Yellowstone Caldera, the largest ‘supervolcano’ on the planet.
Let me just pause here again to say that I hit the google REAL HARD (where there was service, but that’s another story for another day) on this trip.The truth is that I spent a lot of time on this trip wondering if I learned any of this in school, and if I did, wishing I had paid more attention.
The other thing that makes Yellowstone so special is the abundant wildlife that roams freely throughout the park.
A few days later, as we made our way home through the east side of the park, we got caught up in a ‘bear jam’. Which in the local vernacular is a traffic jam created by tourists who park their cars alongside the highway so that they can get out to get a good picture of bear.
I don’t know who would ever do such a thing. <<wink>>
Going into this vacation, I did not realize what a national treasure these two parks are.
But as beautiful and scenic as they are, the overwhelming feeling I came home with, the thing that has stayed with me, is realizing how small and insignificant I am.
And I mean that in the VERY BEST WAY POSSIBLE.