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3. Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

Schwabacher Landing in Grand Teton National Park at dawn.
Schwabacher Landing reflects the central Teton Range framed by spruce and cottonwood trees. It is popular for wildlife viewing.

Inspired by mountains

About 450 miles north of RMNP lies the Grand Tetons. Thinking about their sawtooth ridgeline and vertical relief might make you want to take a roadtrip to the park no matter where you happen to be at the time. It’s a bit like the effect of climbing in the Bugaboos or Patagonia.

As one of our local skier friends says, “ask anyone who’s visited Jackson Hole and chances are they remember the moment they turned the corner on Highway 191 to catch their first glimpse of the striking silhouette… Awestruck by the jagged scenery, it’s a common tale for skiers to decide on the spot to call it home.”

You’ve been warned.

From rangeland to a protected range

There’s only about 6 miles separating Grand Teton NP from Yellowstone, but while the latter was established in 1872, it took another 57 years for the Tetons to be equally protected. One of the concessions, among many, was catered to Idaho ranchers who used the surrounding land for summer pasture. As a result, the park became localized, essentially, to the Teton Range.

In other words, this park is all about the mountains (fitting because the area is one of the most formative for the development of climbing and mountaineering in America—starting around 1898 for Euro-Americans, and most likely much earlier by Indigenous people).

Today, the Tetons are part of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, the largest intact ecosystem in the Lower 48. Below the summits lie glacial cirques, forest-covered mountainsides, a sagebrush-dominated valley floor, and wildflower meadows, a vast landscape that is home to the same animals that inhabited the territory long before Lewis and Clarke’s expedition.

Hiking in Grand Teton National Park

Taggart Lake Loop: A great introduction to the area, this 3.3 mile path starts off with stunning views of Grand Teton before passing through forests of spruce and pine, and stretches of aspen groves.

Paintbrush Canyon and Cascade Canyon Loop: This celebrated trail is no walk in the park. In fact, many people choose to backpack this 20-mile route over two, or even three, days. Considering you’ll see a “best of” compilation of the Tetons along the way, you may very well want to take your time.

Table Mountain Trail: The next best thing to climbing the Grand Teton is seeing it from Table Mountain. In fact, you’ll be close enough to watch climbers without binoculars.

Just down the road

For our next stop, we take a quick drive up the street.

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