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“There are no foothills to the Tetons. They rise suddenly in rugged majesty from the rock strewn plain…”

— Gustavus Cheney Doane

Our family recently returned from a 10 day road trip out to Idaho to see my grandparents. We didn’t stop much on our way westward, but extended our vacation on the way back, visiting 4 National Parks! This post picks back up on Day 7 of our trip, check out Part 1 !

Grand Teton National Park

July 18, 2021
Grand Teton or Teewinot is a park that visitors can spend just one day or enjoy indefinitely. Its expansive landscape offers hiking, biking, climbing, water sports/boating, backpacking, camping, resort accommodations, and the list goes on…

People first ventured into this valley as glaciers receded. The earliest evidence of humans in this area dates back at least 11,000 years. By the time Europeans arrived, tribes such as the Shoshone, Bannock, Gros Ventre, Blackfoot, Crow, Flathead, and Nez Perce were harvesting the valley’s seasonal riches. Native people came to hunt animals, gather plants and collect rocks and minerals. These mountains also held spiritual meaning for American Indians, a connection that endures today.

The National Park Service

On The Road Again…

It’s always hard to say goodbye. We enjoyed 4 restful days on the ranch with Grandma and Grandpa, but it was time to continue our adventure and start making our way back home. We drove back through Idaho, to the Wyoming border and I painted my daily journal in the car while my husband drove and all three grown kids jammed in the back seat. Here, we would get our first view of the magnificent Grand Tetons and start to comprehend how enormous they actually were.

The Tetons have loomed up grandly against the sky. From this point it is perhaps the finest pictorial range in the United States or even North America.

Thomas Moran, while painting the Tetons from the Idaho side in 1879

Like many outdoor spaces this year, the park was packed. If you can plan your trip for a week day, it’s probably better. We spent some time in the Craig Thomas Discovery and visitor center, learning a little about the park and the people who lived in it.

We stamped our National Parks Passport Book and headed off to buy a park pass at the gate and visit Jenny Lake. No hiking planned on this trip, as I was still healing from a sprained knee from our Isle Royale National Park Adventure , but there’s still plenty to see and do!

Jenny Lake

Don’t be fooled by the rocks that I got
I’m still, I’m still Jenny from the block

Jennifer Lopez, Jenny from the Block

MAIN FEATURES Jenny Lake is named after Jenny Leigh, a Shoshone woman and expert guide who assisted in the 1872 Hayden US Geological Survey. There are 7 trails in the Jenny Lake area ranging in length from 1.2-24.5 miles long. Along with hiking, visitors can enjoy a cool swim in the lake and a boat tour.

Be aware, this is a very popular park, and finding a parking spot can take a while. We were starting to think that this was why we saw so many cyclists.

We swam, sat on the warm rocks, dried off in the sunshine, and I painted with my feet resting in the water (which is kind of my new favorite thing). Watercolor painting in crashing waves is also an interesting challenge-paint paint paint LIFT! I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. I was glad I kept my shoes on…the bottom is covered in slippery rocks, but as I was swimming, I found a BIG orange fishing lure! Yikes!

We took our time, reading all of the signs and watching the tour boat ferry people across the lake.

I don’t know how long we spent at Jenny Lake. Time kind of slowed while we were there, looking up over the clear water into the mountains…and it felt fantastic.

After our time on the shore, we headed down the paved trail to the Jenny Lake visitor center to stamp our passport book again and grab a couple of souvenirs.

There was a small art exhibit about the Tetons in one of the buildings when we were there and it was cool to see the importance of visual expedition records before cameras, well as modern renditions side by side.

Driving Through

One of the things that struck me about this park, was the number of cyclists and boaters. Compared to other National Parks I have visited, these activities seems a lot more popular here- which was cool!

From Jenny Lake, we drove up to the Colter Bay Visitor Center for another passport stamp, a double scoop of Huckleberry Ice Cream and a view of Jackson Lake. This end of the park was buzzing with families staying at the resort and had a store, restaurant and laundry facilities.

We didn’t stay long, but appreciated how much of the park we could see by car since we were just passing through today. In this aspect, the park reminded me a little of Yellowstone..and I have a personal policy of never turning down a scoop of huckleberry ice cream.


Blurry sunroof photo

On the way to our final stop for the night, we drove through the Bridger Teton National Forest and saw the picturesque North Breccia Cliffs.

Dubois, WY (Dew-boys) is an old cowboy town, on the Wind River, tucked in between the Wind River Range and Shoshone National Forest. We didn’t stay here long, but I’d love to explore the Wind River area more someday, I hear it’s beautiful. My buddy Hiking Dude, was there shortly after our visit and wrote about it here if you would like to know more.

Be sure to check back for more paintings from the car, and the conclusion of our road trip through 3 more National Parks and the Crazy Horse Memorial in South Dakota!

Have you been to Grand Teton National Park? Got any great tips for a day trip or multi day trip? I’d love to hear them in the comments below!

I’m currently up to my eyeballs in garden tomatoes and cucumbers, re-certifying my Wilderness Remote First Aid (for the 5th time) this weekend and working on a special post about discovering the beauty of the Gunflint Trail in Northern MN. On the back burner, I’m cooking up some content about my outdoor art practice and might even have an easy backpacking recipe or two to share. Since I’ve been playing outside more than writing lately, feel free to check back or hit subscribe if you’d like to have the latest posts delivered straight to your inbox. Thank you for reading!

Happy Trails!



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