May 26, 2010 Day 36 Will This be the Day We See the Tetons???

Elk Near Grant Village

Last night was not as cold as the others. In fact there was NO SNOW on the ground or cars. So today we are going to do our best to get to the Tetons. First we are stopping at Fishing Bridge for my park stamps since the visitor center opens today and then we are going up to West Thumb and Grant Village for more park stamps. On the way to Grant Village we see some elk out grazing next to the road. We then get on the road going south and pass another Continental Divide sign elev. 7988. We keep going until we get to Lewis Lake which has a waterfall you can see from the road. So we stop and take photos of it and then continue on to Moose Falls on the Lewis River. This one was very nice because it was a short fall about 30 ft high with the path right next to it leading down. It also had a rock bridge spanning the river. There was a nice path down to the falls, not too hard to walk and not too many steps.

We continue driving and soon come to the park boundary. We were so happy this morning when we called to see if there were any road closures and found out everything except the road construction area was open finally. We get to Flagg Ranch and find out this area will be closed until tomorrow, so we continue on to Colter Bay. We run into the road construction here. They are scrapping the roads and adding new asphalt so we have to wait about 10 minutes. The holds can be up to 30 minutes at a time here. It is a large area they are working on. We notice the temperature is rising as we drop in elevation, it is 52 degrees here. Almost balmy to us. In fact no one wore a jacket all day because we thought it was so warm. We make it out of the mess and get moving to Colter Bay.

We see lots of people stopped up ahead and ask what they are looking at and find out there is a black bear feeding in the woods. So we get out and look. You could see him clearly with the binoculars but not so much with the camera. It looked like he was eating a moose or elk from the size of the carcass. We keep driving and are seeing beautiful views of the Grand Tetons. Today is very nice with clear skies that are bright blue as a backdrop for them.

We stop at the visitor center so PTCC can work on her Jr Ranger badge. They don’t have any ranger programs right now so they give her a scavenger hunt to do in the Indian museum here. And the auditorium doesn’t have the movie right now since they are training their summer hires in there. So we wander around the museum looking at displays and answering questions and she finishes and gets her badge. We look around the gift shop for CC’s pin and a stuffed moose for LCC.

Right after we leave the visitor center we see more cars and the people tell us a moose is in the woods. So we look and right in a stand of aspen trees near the water is a lone moose eating. So we try to get some pictures and then move on. We are now heading towards Moran Junction where the road turns south. We stop at one of the pullouts with the mountain range behind us and get someone to take our family picture.

We tried to see the Cunningham Cabin but there was more construction in the area so we passed it by. We did stop at the Craig Thomas Discovery Visitor Center to look around. It looked like it was just built and very nice inside. It had lines on the floor that you could stand on and look to see which mountain it coordinated with outside the large windows so you knew which one you were taking pictures of. We then left to go up to the Jenny Lake Visitor Center and before we got to it we saw another moose eating near the river. This one we were able to get really good pictures of as well as video. It was only about 20 feet away but on the other side of a sandbar in the river.

After looking around the visitor area and getting our stamps we continued on. The Grand Tetons are so different from Yellowstone because they are so flat on the interior. There are mountains ringing the area but on the inside it is very level with not much change in elevation. So it is easy to see wildlife if it is out here. In the grassy area we saw some pronghorn sheep eating in the fields. We of course stopped to get their picture. I think this is the first sighting we’ve had of them. Meanwhile we are still in awe of the Tetons and are taking lots of pictures of them as well.

We now get moving north as it is getting late so we pass Signal Mountain, but find out the road was closed anyway. We get to Jackson Lake Dam and find out there is construction here too. So we wait awhile till they let us pass. We take some pictures of the work they are doing and some of the dam as well. We get going only to stop in the same place as we did on arriving where they are working on the road. CC gets out to stretch since the signal lady told him it was about 20 minutes to go. He strikes up a conversation with her but I and PTCC just lay on the seats and try to nap. It has been a long day of driving. In Yellowstone you drive about 20 minutes and then get out to view something or walk a trail. Here in Grand Tetons there is much more driving and not as much to see or do right now because of the season. Also there is a lot more road work going on with longer waits.

Finally we are allowed to precede and we are now heading back to Yellowstone. As we climb it starts getting colder again. Our high in the Tetons was 62 degrees, when we got back the car read 53 degrees. This was our longest day out yet. We left this morning at 9 am and didn’t get back until 5:30 pm. We usually stop by 3 pm but didn’t have a choice today since we decided to leave early tomorrow so we will have more time in South Dakota.

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