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Journeys Through America is a nonprofit organization providing educational material for all school-aged children across the country. The program will form partnerships with local school districts to provide children with a new, interactive, educational experience integrating the history of America and its National Parks. Journeys Through America's goal is to foster a fun and adventurous learning environment that will promote altruistic growth within our children and our greater community.

Grand Teton National Park

By Aug 10th 2010 No Comments »

On Friday evening we arrived at Grand Teton National Park, the 300,000+ acre park showcasing the imperial Teton Mountain Range.

Our late arrival into the park meant availability at campgrounds was minimal and filling quickly. Our first stop at Colter Bay proved unsuccessful, so we headed north to Flagg Ranch campground where we lucked out (but just barely). Note to travelers: If you know your itinerary roughly enough, book in advance. Parks west of the Rockies fill extremely fast, and our luck is purely due to last-minute cancellations.

We set up camp and turned in early for the night. I had a long day ahead starting with a photo tour of the Tetons at sunrise.  I awoke at 4:30AM to much cooler temperatures than what we experienced in the south.  I headed 20 miles south towards the intersection of 89/191/287 to Oxbow Bend, which provides classic views of the Tetons and Mt. Moran that you see often times online today.  I was there by 5:00AM and only joined by one other photographer, so we had first dibs on shooting locations.

I set up the tripod, got back in the car, cranked up the heat, and waited…and waited, some more.

The stars that were brightly lit and easily visible by the campsite had quickly faded as the sky turned different shades of grey and blue. Mist worked its way off the surface of Snake River, which, like its name, snakes around the meadows that lie beneath the Tetons.

At ten of six I worked my way back to the tripod, set up my camera and waited patiently for the sky to turn the beautiful colors of a desolate sunrise.

As the sky was slowly painted different hues of blue and pink, I snapped away – taking close to 200 photos.

And finally, as the clouds that clung to the mountainside soaked up the colors of the sun, I was joined by an otter diving playfully in the river, fishing for breakfast.  It was as if he was the welcoming committee to the park, setting the tone for the next few days to come.

And really, that’s how I can try to summarize my experience at Grand Teton National Park.  It was beautiful, serene and peaceful in every way.  Walk fifteen feet off a trail to join the water’s edge and be in your own outdoor sanctuary; your own personal piece of heaven away from the hustle and bustle of the park.

Over the course of two days I felt as though we had scoured every inch of the park – I feel as though I know the park inside and out.  That’s mostly due to its smaller size in comparison to the Grand Canyons out there, but that’s something I found extremely enjoyable.

Jenny Lake was beautiful and buzzing with foot traffic from visitors looking to hop on the ferry boat to Cascade Canyon and Inspiration Point.  Colter Bay Marina was equally as busy with those adventurous tourists looking to shove off from the main land for a few hours and experience the park via kayak.  Leeks Marina was surprisingly quiet; a perfect place to bring a book (or two) and a picnic lunch and just enjoy the scenery and the casual comings and goings of boaters enjoying the lake which is surrounded by the majestic Tetons.

After a long day of exploring the park, Karianne and I headed to Jackson Hole – a small town with a lot of western flare. The Million Dollar Cowboy Bar seems as though it’s the heart of the village, and during the summer months it’s hard to believe it’s a ski town at heart, not a biker town.

We later met up with my cousin Chris, one of the newest residents of Jackson Hole, and soon to be big-time director/producer/editor/etc of a just-as-big snow sport production company (did I get that right?).  Chris was kind enough to show us around town some more and even brought us to a local hot spot in the Tetons on Sunday: Hike about 1.5 miles to Phelps Lake where you can experience a thrilling 20 foot jump into the icy-cool lake – all while enjoying picturesque views of the Teton Range as you free fall (not sure that can be beat).

I know this is only a blog post, not a 20-pager for midterms, so I need to wrap this up.  However, I do think I can rave on and on about the perfection of Grand Teton National Park…yeah, it was that good.  The park was wonderful.  The sunrise was perfect. The wildlife was abundant, and our experience all-around was something to beat.  Next stop, Yellowstone…

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