June 8th, 2022:
The clouds lifted as I headed east from Old Faithful towards the West Thumb Basin. I blogged about this scenic stretch of Yellowstone road in my Yellowstone Discovery series.
The road from Old Faithful, heading east towards the West Thumb Junction scales Craig Pass over The Continental Divide.
This section of road is heavily wooded, with numerous roadside pullouts for hiking access. One of my favorite trails in this section of the park is Delacy Creek…it is approximately six miles roundtrip and leads hikers through bucolic wildflower clad meadows and deep forests to the shores of Shoshone Lake. Shoshone Lake is the largest backcountry lake in the continental US.
A must-stop on this section of byway is Isa Lake and The Continental Divide. Learn more about this unique Lake ( it is a lake, even it looks like a pond) by clicking here.
Isa Lake sits right on the Continental Divide…the Divide is like a backbone of the continent…it divides where the water flows – west to Pacific or east to the Atlantic…interestingly enough there is an Eastern Continental Divide (I cross it often in the NC Mountains) – this divide dictates if water flows to Atlantic or Gulf.
You can catch a glimpse of Shoshone Lake from a roadside turnout at Shoshone Point. Click here to learn more.
After crossing the Continental Divide, Yellowstone Lake comes into resplendent view in the distance. The road reaches the lake at the West Thumb Junction. If you head north at the junction it takes you on the Grand Loop Road to Lake Village and beyond.
Today we are heading south towards Teton Country.
The Grand Tetons tower is mountain glory just south of Yellowstone. I recommend tackling both parks if you have the time. The entrance to Grand Teton is twenty-seven miles from West Thumb. Yellowstone’s south entrance connects to Grand Teton via the John D. Rockefeller Highway.
The Tetons are America’s Alps – jagged shark tooth ridges of stone and ice that rise from the valley of sagebrush and amber plains before.The Tetons are magical and so vividly gorgeous that human eyesight cannot truly grasp the scale and reality of the beauty before it.
While many travelers quickly drive through Yellowstone’s southern road, I entreat you to give it a bit of time. The southern road offers some of the park’s most awe inspiring views, including my favorite waterfall (other thank Canyon) – Lewis Falls.
If you are looking to hike, I recommend the Riddle and Heart Lake Trails. Heart Lake takes you to a backcountry geyser basin (so tread carefully)
Just before leaving Yellowstone at the South Entrance – hikers love to take on the easy and scenic Moose Falls trail.
Leaving Yellowstone, The John D. Rockefeller Parkway winds alongside of the mighty Snake River as it esses through the terrain, as the 13,000 feet Tetons peak out through the trees.
I definitely recommend a stop at the historic Flagg Ranch. It is the perfect place for a hearty meal and to grab hiking gear at their gift shop. The Ranch also offers great lodging centrally between both parks.
The grandeur of Grand Teton fully revealed its glory at a series of Jackson Lake overlooks as you enter the park boundary.
Each turnout in Grand Teton demands a photo op.
Jackson Lake is a popular recreation spot in the park that is dammed from The Snake River. The Snake is the primary water source for neighboring farming communities.
You can enjoy the Tetons in one day, but the park offers endless wonder and opportunity for days on end. It is the type of place you keep coming back too.
With only a few hours in the Tetons I needed to prioritze my time. Studying the map, I decided to stop briefly at The Jackson Lake Lodge and then head up to Jenny Lake before heading into Jackson Hole.
The geology of the Tetons is fascinating – for a full run down click here.
- Jackson Lake Lodge – this rustic chic lodge offers guests amazing views of the Tetons.
After the Jackson Lake Lodge I took in the view of Mt. Moran (roadside turnout) and headed to Jenny Lake.
Jenny Lake is one of the most trafficked spots in the park. You need to get there early to find a parking spot. I searched for ten minutes and no parking (the parking was out on the main highway). Jenny Lake does offer a scenic driving loop so you can experience the view from your car.
In the past I’ve spent the day at Jenny Lake picnicking and hiking the Jenny Lake and String Lake loops. You can also take a ferry across the lake to scenic waterfalls.
While I didn’t have a ton of time in the Tetons this trip,if you are visiting the Tetons for the first time I recommend these must see spots:
- Colter Bay
- Museum at Colter Bay – excellent center diving into Native American history and the unique geology of the Tetons.
- Tons of recreational opportunities
- Cabins, campground and dining
- Oxbow Bend – especially at dusk (best for photos and wildlife viewing)
- Signal Mountain Lodge and scenic drive
- Chapel of the Sacred Heart
- Mormon row
- Cunningham Cabin
- Moose area (visitor center)
I will work to do a deep dive series on the Tetons but for now I hope you can imagine the thin, crisp mountain air and beauty that rivals the gates of heaven.
To plan your own trip to Grand Teton National Park click here for NPS site.
Stay tuned for my next leg in this adventure…down yonder is Jackson Hole and up around the bend is Idaho…