We at Grand Teton Lodge Company know how rewarding a vacation can be. It offers an escape to the hustle and bustle of everyday life. It allows us to take a deep breath and let our stresses float up and away.
We live in scheduled chaos, where between appointments, meetings, and conferences, we have to pick up the kids, cook dinner, walk the dog, pay the bills, and clean the house. Where is that moment to ourselves? When can we put our feet up and relax?
Traveling is a way to remove ourselves from the hectic environments that surround us. As U.S. travel warnings have recently changed, exploring America’s backyard is a feasible alternative. Grand Teton National Park offers the serenity and beauty of a resort, with the ability to explore mountains, lakes, and rivers, and view several species of plant and wildlife.
There are many options to get away from the crowds. From a scenic lake cruise with a cowboy breakfast on Elk Island to participating in a Junior Ranger program, Jackson Lake Lodge provides guests of all ages with a variety of activities to customize a vacation experience in the spectacular setting of Grand Teton National Park.
May 18 through June 21 GTLC is offering a “Change In Plans” package, which includes a $179 room rate for a classic cottage and a buffet breakfast for two in the Mural Room Restaurant at Jackson Lake Lodge each morning. The offer is for new bookings, based on availability, and is not valid with groups. A change in plans shouldn’t have to cost more change.
How have your travel plans changed in recent months? Please leave a comment and let us know in addition to activities that interest you on a vacation!
To learn more about the “Change In Plans” package call reservations at 800-628-9988.
For kids, Grand Teton National Park can be a pretty exciting place to explore. From their first Snake River float trip to seeing a 2400 pound bison, there are endless experiences to be shared.
Wildwalk Field Guide is a program that GTLC developed for families to discover the unique nature that surrounds us in the Park.
Illustrated and written by our employees, the guide features activities to educate kids on Park etiquette, adventures, the Junior Ranger Program, and much more. Kids follow Ranger Pat and Butterfly as they color, word search, check off, and photo hunt their way through the Park.
The guide provides a strong emphasis on Leave No Trace principles, an education program that teaches outdoor enthusiasts how to protect the places they love. Kids learn about the Leave No Trace principles including:
Plan ahead and prepare
Dispose of waste properly
Travel and camp on durable surfaces
Minimize campfire impacts
Be considerate of other visitors
When the guide is completed, kids can sign a Certificate of Achievement for learning and practicing these principles. The guide creates a fun and interactive way for kids to learn about and explore the Park.
Other great activities for families to enjoy:
Wagon Ride: Seasonal based on Jackson Lake Lodge to Colter Bay Village Wagon Road accessibility; interactive ride with wagon driver.
Snake River Wild & Scenic Float Trip: Participants must be large enough to fit the life vests properly (typically 6 yrs or older); interactive float – guide may allow assistance with oars as river safety allows.
Guided fishing on Jackson Lake: Originating at Colter Bay Marina – a great activity for the whole family; guided fly fishing excursions on the Snake River are also available.
Horseback Rides and Pony Rides: Horseback rides originate at Jackson Lake Lodge and Colter Bay Village – riders must be 8 years old to participate in the guided trail rides; riders under 8 yrs old can take a pony ride around the corral area instead. Riding helmets are available.
Jackson Lake Cruise: Get your Jr. Boat Captain License by driving the Rendevous or Teewinot Cruisers; breakfast and dinner cruises include a meal on Elk Island with lots of areas to explore; activity originates at Colter Bay Marina.
Interpretive Bus Tour: Guided tours of Grand Teton and/or Yellowstone National Parks.
Jackson Lake Lodge Swimming Pool: Open early June to early September – weather permitting. The complex includes a full size outdoor pool, wading pool and playground.
Pool BBQ: A Western-style BBQ dinner designed for the family is held at the Jackson Lake Lodge pool complex from late June through mid-August. Enjoy live music and eating outside while taking advantage of lots of opportunities to make new friends.
Hiking: Over 250 miles to explore by foot.
National Park Service Interpretive Talk: Located on the west terrace at Jackson Lake Lodge, as well as other ranger programs at the Visitor Centers and the Laurance S. Rockefeller (LSR) Reserve.
History Walks: Join our company historian at Colter Bay Village.
Junior Park Ranger: Offered by the National Park Service at the Visitor Centers.
Grand Teton National Park is the ultimate playground. For first time visitors of all ages, it is a breath-taking place. You feel an overwhelming sense of awe when you walk up the stairs of Jackson Lake Lodge and look through the 60 foot windows. They unveil the magnificent peaks that appear as if you can just reach out and touch them. You have to pinch yourself and ask am I really here? When kids experience this at a young age it instills an appreciation for our environment and national parks that they will carry and share with their own families. We invite you to come play and stay awhile. All those “Are we there yets?” are worth every moment here.
Grand Teton National Park offers ample opportunities for fishing. Guides can help visitors find places to fish in Jackson Lake or in one of our many streams or rivers. There are several great spots to fish in the Park, including Leigh Lake, Jenny Lake, Jackson Lake, String Lake, Snake River, and many of the backcountry areas.
Locals enjoy fishing this time of year because of the quiet atmosphere. There are several native species in the Park, including Longnose Dace, Redside Shiner, and Mottled Sculpin. Some non-native species include Utah Chub, Arctic Grayling, and Rainbow Trout.
Matt, a GTLC employee, caught a hefty Lake Trout (non-native) on the evening of May 4th just below the Jackson Lake Dam using a Crawdad Jig. The fish weighed in at seven pounds and was 30 inches long. Interestingly, it also had a 12 inch trout in its belly.
“It took me 10 minutes to bring this ‘bad boy’ in on six pounds of test line (how strong the fishing line is),” said Matt.
Matt, who recalls learning to fish since he could walk, finds the pastime relaxing and rewarding. “Fishing tests your patience, brings your awareness to your environment, and warps your mind into a fishing trance.”
GTLC provides guides at Colter Bay Marina and the Snake River. A fishing license is required and can be purchased at the Marina along with tackle, bait, and boat rentals.
Although Matt claims Trout are hungry in the spring and will eat most everything thrown in, he also offers these words of wisdom:
“Don’t try and catch fish; try only to enjoy the experience. For most times, you will walk back empty handed.”
For further information regarding fishing in Grand Teton National Park, please visit our website at www.gtlc.com or the National Park website at www.nps.gov/grte.
Springtime in Grand Teton National Park brings a sense of rejuvenation to Jackson Hole. Wildlife are coming out of hibernation and raising their young. The snow is beginning to melt, revealing silvery-green big leaf sagebrush growing on the valley floor. Narrow leaf cottonwood and willows thrive along the Snake River and in marshes. Wildflowers, such as the bright yellow glacier lily and the deep purple sky pilot, paint the alpine zone with color. The world is alive and active once again.
As temperatures start to rise in the valley, flora begins to grow near the roads first, bringing wildlife to feed closer to cars and other vehicles.
On a late Sunday afternoon, I am driving from Signal Mountain to Jackson Lake Lodge. A couple is standing alongside the road photographing in the direction of the Tetons. Thinking they are just capturing the mountains on a cloudless day, I continue to drive past. It isn’t until I glance at the roadside that I realize why the couple stopped. At Jackson Lake Junction, a cow moose (female) and her calf are grazing on the shoulder of the road. A perfect moment for a family photo.
The National Park Service (NPS) “Mammal-Finding Guide” offers a few precautions for wildlife viewing and photography:
“Maintain a safe distance of at least 300 feet from large animals such as bears, bison, moose and elk. Do not position yourself between an adult and its offspring. Females with young are especially defensive. Repeated encounters with people have cumulative effects including stress and behavior changes, such as an avoidance of an essential feeding area after frequent approach by people.”
Not wanting my subjects to flee the scene, the photo opportunity calls for a 75-300mm lens. This allows me to witness the behavior of the moose without the influence of my immediate presence. I snap a few (well, maybe 30) shots as the pair munch on their dinner of willows, a moose diet staple.
Following NPS advice brings me to this conclusion: better photos and happy moose.
From socks to bottles to ball point pens, Grand Teton National Park’s Annual Park Clean-up Day strives to remove discarded “treasures” from the roadside. Service and Grand Teton Association (GTA) employees participate, as well as many of the Park concessioners, including Grand Teton Lodge Company (GTLC), Signal Mountain Lodge, Triangle X Ranch, and Flagg Ranch Resort.
A beautiful Thursday morning greets Grand Teton Lodge Company volunteers. Walking along Highway 26/89/19, we head north toward Colter Bay Village and the south entrance of Yellowstone National Park. It’s 8:30 am and the sun is shining, as our crew gets to work. With pick sticks as our tools, the hunt is on for the most interesting, the most useful, and the heaviest piece of trash, as well as the most recyclables.
“Car parts are always interesting,” said Bob O’Neil, GTLC Director of Human Resources. “You wonder how people were able to continue their trip.”
The clean-up has been in existence for several decades and while the weather can be unpredictable, especially this time of year, there are always employees willing to volunteer.
“If you have the privilege of living in one of the most unique ecosystems in the world, a place noted worldwide for its beauty, and an area set aside for the American people, you also have a responsibility to have it ready and in pristine condition prior to the visitors arriving,” said O’Neil.
Grand Teton National Park is not only our home, but it’s home to an immense amount of wildlife. Litter like tin cans and plastic wrappers are potentially harmful to area wildlife, some which are endangered and protected animals. We want to keep our environment clean for everyone to enjoy.
“While park employees and the staffs of GTA and park concessioners collectively pick up trash each spring, anyone can contribute to keeping the park’s roadsides tidy by properly disposing of litter,” said Grand Teton National Park Superintendent Mary Gibson Scott. “This responsible act also reduces the chance of bears getting unintended food rewards.”
One of this year’s tasks included the removal of a two-mile section of old buck and rail fence from the Airport Junction to the south end of Blacktail Butte. The project will improve wildlife migration across the Park and reduce maintenance costs.
Approximately 100 volunteers joined together for the clean-up day. “It was great to see so many people in orange safety vests scouring the roadsides for trash and removing old decadent fencing,” said Scott.
“One of the unique aspects of Grand Teton National Park is that it has an unspoiled natural beauty,” said O’Neil. “Even though we encourage people to visit, recreate and enjoy their National Park, we should ensure that we leave it as beautiful for the next person as it was when we first encountered it. In fact, where possible we should improve it. Cleaning up basic trash is an important step in keeping the park beautiful.”
With this in mind, the Annual Park Clean-up Day will be around for many years to come.
I have seen a Grizzly before. Animal Planet and PBS have shown me the 350-1500 pound omnivores roaming along rivers, coastal areas, mountain meadows and in the tundra on my television screen. PBS warned me that if I encounter the bear, one of North America’s largest land mammals, to keep in mind some of the following tips:
If you encounter a grizzly, do not run.
Avoid direct eye contact.
If the animal makes contact, curl up into a ball on your side, or lie flat on your stomach.
Try not to panic; remain as quiet as possible.
I begin my first day with Grand Teton Lodge Company with this advice in my mind, as the Grand Teton National Park is home to several Grizzlies. One female in particular, known by her tag number “399,” gave birth to triplet cubs in late winter of 2007 that now wander the Park.
Pat Hattaway, Grand Teton National Park’s North District Ranger, explained, “399 raised her cubs near humans. While other bears tend to go high, she remained low, so the bears are seen near the road.”
It isn’t long into my first day at the office before one of 399’s cubs meanders near the road at Oxbow Bend. A few hours as Digital Media Manager and I am already on a bear escapade.
Camera in hand, a co-worker and I hop in a car and cruise the road in search of the cub. A few miles away, we encounter the flashing lights of a National Park Ranger’s vehicle. He has set a perimeter for the bear’s safety.
Sure enough, the Grizzly is hanging out about five yards from the road. The tips of his fur glow with a frosty silver hue, providing a “grizzled” look (which is how the bear gets its name). His long, curled claws dig into the snow patched ground in search of food beneath the surface. At one moment he turns his head towards the car as if to say, “I know I’m a good looking guy, but enough already.”
Rain begins to drop from a dark gray sky and we decide it’s best to head back to Jackson Lake Lodge. I have seen a Grizzly and now one’s seen me.