July 6, 2009
Today we decided to take the 43-mile Scenic Loop Drive in Teton National Park. The Teton Mountain Range is not only spectacular but it is mesmerizing as well. The beauty of the Tetons cannot be captured in a video clip or picture. The Tetons must be seen to be believed. When looking at the Tetons they do not look real, more like a beautiful painting against the sky. Everyone tells us that Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks are more beautiful but we cannot imagine how they could be.
The Tetons are the result of Earth’s crust breaking into two rectangular blocks along the 40-mile Teton fault about 9 million years ago. The western block hinged upward to form the Teton Range while the eastern block titled downward to form the valley called Jackson Hole. The dynamic Earth’s crust continues to move the Tetons upward and another huge earthquake is expected in this area again.
Our first stop on the loop was the Chapel of Transfiguration, a rustic Episcopal Chapel built in the summer of 1925. In 1920 Dr. George Woodward, Of Chestnut Hill, Pennsylvania, having made a tiring trip that day from his camp near Leigh Lake to the nearest place of worship in Jackson, expressed a wish to have a chapel built in the area. Mrs. Woodward discussed the idea with her friend, Miss Maude Nobel, who owned and later donated the land where the chapel stands. Services are still held at the chapel from May to September. The chapel is quite pretty with beautiful stained glass windows on both sides of the entrance. Above the alter is a plate glass reredos window framing the Grand Tetons which gives both the alter and Tetons an ethereal feel.
Menor’s Ferry, located near the chapel, was built by Bill Menor as the first commercial ferry across Snake River. The ferry built just before the 20th century allowed traveler’s on foot or horseback safe passage across its dangerous currents. The replica of the ferry can be ridden during peak season beginning the middle of July.
Nearby is the Maude Noble Cabin ( a very nice cabin) where in 1923 a group of citizens met with Yellowstone National Park Superintendant Horace Albright to lay out the plans for the creation of Grand Teton National Park.
As we traversed the loop we noticed private residences within the park proper. Thinking that was unusual we found out that these private homes are called inholders, permanent residents who established property rights before the national park was created. Many of the private properties have been bought by the park service but there are several that still remain under private ownership within the park boundaries.
At one stop we met a very nice couple from Switzerland driving a very small camper with foreign plates on it. They told us they were here on a six-month VISA and they had their camper shipped by boat to the U.S. They love the U.S. and have been here many times. They are on their way to Alaska then will return across country to Maryland and will have their camper shipped back. They would like to sell the camper before returning to their country but it is against the law. They would love to live in the U.S. but all of their family is in Switzerland. We were so busy talking to them we forgot to get a picture.
Snake River Overlook, Oxbow Bend, and Mount Moran were all wonderful stops with incredible views of the Tetons. We’ve taken so many pictures of different angles of the Tetons but it still does not seem enough. If we tried to share all the pictures we have taken you will all think we are nuts.
We stopped at Signal Mountain Lodge to enjoy a light lunch and views out the lodge windows of the mountain range. Jackson Lodge a little further down the road had a similar view from its huge expanse of windows facing the mountains. To stay at either lodge the rates are from $319.00- $650.00 per night. OUCH!!
We stopped at the Jenny Lake Overlook where Ron put his feet up and took his usual picture of what he views as a great way to live life. Enjoying the beautiful scenery.
Then it was into Colter Bay, our second choice of campgrounds if we had been unable to secure a site at Gros Ventre. Although nice, that area of the park was very congested and the campground too crowded. We were happy with our choice of campgrounds.
Later that evening we attended the Ranger Program on the Mysteries of Moose. Moose in this area are on the decline since the introduction of wolfs by Yellowstone in 1975. Wolves are natural predators of Moose and despite their size (up to 8- feet tall weighing 1000 pounds) the Moose have not been able to survive against their predators. The Moose’s habitant has also changed since the forest fires in Yellowstone and the Tetons in the 80’s. Moose like temperatures to be 60 or below otherwise they develop heat stress and die. During those fires huge numbers of trees were destroyed leaving the Moose little coverage from the heat of the sun. Another factor in the decline of Moose is that the willow thickets, their main source of food, is being eaten by other animals. Because the adult female Moose is unable to get adequate nutrients she is either no longer able to conceive and give birth or if she does instead of twin births (normal for Moose to have twins) she will have one baby. It is estimated that in 1975 there were 5000 Moose in the Tetons and today only 500 or less.
The lecture concluded our very busy day. We are undecided on what to do tomorrow, our last day in the Tetons. Ron wants to do a whitewater rafting trip and I a scenic water rafting trip. What to do??????????????? We’ll decide tomorrow.