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.
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.
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,