The peaks of Grand Teton National Park, standing nearly 7,000 feet above the valley floor, make one of the most beautiful and boldest geologic statements in the Rocky Mountains.

Let’s just go to Grand Teton National Park. I mean it. After so many weeks of economic hardships, pandemic worries and political chaos, I need to shut down for a while and get away. I bet you do, too. I’m sorry to say, though, that again—as with so much in the past 12 months—it will have to be virtual.

This particular virtual visit I have for you, however, is nothing short of spectacular. Without a doubt, the 485-square-mile Grand Teton National Park holds some of the nation’s most dramatic scenery: glacier-carved, 13,000-foot-plus, snowcapped peaks; reflective, fjord-like, alpine lakes; and a slowly flowing, sinuous Snake River.

At sunset, that river attracts a multitude of thirsty animals that emerge from fragrant forests filled with bears, grouse, marmots, moose and more. In fact, concerns over conserving the area’s elk habitat sparked the very first conversations about establishing a national park near Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

The Snake River winds its way throughout Grand Teton National Park in front of the jagged, adolescent peaks of the Teton Range. ©From the video “Grand Teton 8K,” More Than Just Parks

As the park’s name predicts, the peaks, of course, are prime. The crowning glory of this wild terrain is the dagger-edged Grand Teton at 13,770 feet above sea level. Being the youngest mountain range in the Rocky Mountains, the Tetons have had very little erosion. For flatlanders, like me, here a look upward alone invites vertigo.

Vitality and video

The video below, titled Grand Teton 8K, is the culmination of nearly a month spent filming in the Jackson Hole Valley and the park’s Teton Mountain Range. You’ll want to watch it in full-screen mode. The producers say that of all the More Than Just Parks films they’ve created, this one features the most wildlife. Their cameras captured bears, beavers, bison, elk, foxes and moose, among other animals. While Grand Teton National Park is often overshadowed by its larger neighbor, Yellowstone National Park, it can be said that Grand Teton offers visitors a more intimate experience with the landscape and its residents.

For example, if you head toward Antelope Flats Road, Oxbow Bend or Willow Flats, you’re likely to catch sight of bears, bison, coyotes, eagles, elk, ospreys, pronghorn and river otters. Moose are regularly found along the Snake River in search of food and refuge. If you’re really fortunate, you’ll spot a lone wolf or a pack of wolves loping across Elk Ranch Flats, just south of Moran Junction. These scenes call to mind the authentic Old West. In Grand Teton National Park, photographing wildlife is second only to trying to capture the first golden rays of sunlight as they kiss the Grand Tetons or a fiery sunset behind the jagged peaks.

The fragrant forests and reflective, fjord-like, alpine lakes that you find in Grand Teton National Park are the prescription that I’m guessing most of us need right now.

Regality and rivers

We all know that virtual visits are no substitute for actually being there, but they do offer us the next best way to explore the national parks. If regal mountains and braided rivers are what you need this week, you can get there from here—wherever your “here” is.

Here’s to finding your true places and natural habitats,