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This Wildlife Safari is All About The Animals

I was excited when invited along with staff at Teton Springs Lodge & Spa to take a Wildlife Safari with Brushbuck Guide Services. This Jackson Hole based company has been guiding our guests through Teton National Park and Yellowstone for years, and always to rave reviews. It’s not difficult to understand why our guests, from both this country and those from across the pond, are fanatical about seeing wildlife in their natural habitat. It’s a thrill and not something most folks have easy access to in their own backyard. However, it’s easy to get a tad snobby about wildlife viewing when you live and play in Teton Valley. It’s practically a national past time here, and boy, do we love our critters. The thrill of seeing beautiful creatures stirs something in our imagination like nothing else can.

Teton Springs Resort sits adjacent to the Caribou-Targhee National Forest and the furry forest inhabitants tend to drift onto our Headwaters Golf Course with some regularity. It’s not at all unusual to be teeing off on the 9th hole and have to hold up play while the resident moose strolls through. It’s a delay of game no one ever complains about. Both Bald Eagles and Golden Eagles are also playing companions, and I never tire of watching them perched on one of the cabins lining the golf course, or soaking up the sun on a fairway rock.

So our guests have their own version of a wildlife safari right here at Teton Springs. However, to almost guarantee you’ll get to see abundant wildlife in the most staggering of settings, the Brushbuck Wildlife Safari is highly recommended. With the Teton Mountains as your backdrop on this particular tour, you’ll often find yourself mesmerized by the peaks when you should be looking for moose, bear and wolves. The largest Peak, the Grand Teton, reaches into the sky over a mile high and you’re in its shadow for this entire excursion.

Yes, there are plenty of ooh’s and ahh’s on this tour bus starting with your first step into Brushbuck’s van. It’s deluxe, comfortable, well equipped with spotting scopes, binoculars, raingear and a terrific variety of snacks and drinks. And, the van is definitely custom built for wildlife viewing with its expanse of windows and easy on and off access when it’s time to hop off to check out the animals.

Two Naturalists, Duane & Patrick, were our Brushbuck hosts and what extraordinary wildlife guides they are. Both were gracious, accommodating and boy did they ever know their stuff. While capturing wildlife in their natural surroundings is the top priority on this trip, you’re also treated to an extensive lesson on the entire Yellowstone-Teton ecosystem. They enrich the tour by giving us a history of the area, its rich western culture filled with trappers, explorers and early Mormon settlers, the geology, every bird, bug and mammal that coexists here, what they eat, and how they survive this challenging winter climate. It’s all on the information menu
provided by the guides. Each question asked by a one of our group was answered eloquently by either Duane or Patrick; you simply couldn’t stump these guys. My head was spinning, in a good way.

 

The tour starts on Spring Gulch, a back road I’ve travelled a thousand times, a turn one makes right before you hit the main drag and hustle and bustle of Jackson Hole Wyoming. The van stopped quickly and our guides swiftly went into operation wildlife viewing mode, quickly pulling out powerful spotting scopes that made the animals come to life right before our eyes. On the hillside were the biggest elk I have ever seen, with racks swaddled in velvet. Guess I simply never looked up before when driving this back way to the Jackson Hole Airport and other off-the-beaten-path Wyoming destinations.

Next stop was the Gros Ventre River which flows into the mighty Snake River. We were looking for a bear feeding on a carcass that was spotted earlier that week by our guides. The bear had apparently moved on to greener pastures but the most spectacular Bald Eagle accommodated us with his presence on the river bank. He even hung around for pictures.

We drove deeper into the main attraction, Grand Teton National Park, home to a whopping 61 specifies of mammals, big and small. We watched a herd of buffalo make their way across the sage brush, a huge Pronghorn Antelope standing majestically on the horizon, more elk, white tailed deer, mule deer and a fox taking his leisure early evening stroll. We made a stop to check out a massive beaver lodge and one its inhabitants even popped out to say hello.

As dusk was settling in, I was afraid I wouldn’t fulfill my top priority of the trip, and that was seeing a grizzly bear up close and personal. The later it got, I was resigned and not a bit disappointed; it has been a glorious tour. As we drove along the Jenny and Jackson Lake Loop Road, multiple cars were stopped and that only means one thing in this area, WILDLIFE ALERT! Sure enough, a bear cub was in a tree a few hundred yards away and with our spotting scopes we were able to watch as the cub figured out how to safely reach ground. It was exciting, and a tad daunting, knowing mom was close by. It was also a tad eerie as the sound of the cub crying ferociously was the only sound filling the night sky.

We left without seeing momma bear but Duane and Patrick were not about to give up quite yet; we simply loaded up and parked about an eighth of a mile up the road. We were barely out of the van and mom showed her face. With the spotting scope drawing her in, the sight of her gave goose bumps to everyone on our tour. She was huge, fabulous, gorgeous and wild, and within minutes, she was out of our sight and as it turns out, too close for comfort. In an instant, there was a look on our guides’ faces that said, "back in the van now," which we all gladly complied with. This grizzly mom was virtually within steps of us, apparently curious about us too. It was the highlight of the trip and now almost dark. I didn’t get to see my most favorite mammal, the moose, but it was time to call it a day.

As Duane & Patrick dropped me off, I told them I’d be back with friends and family. I think next time I’ll take the early morning tour that Brushbuck offers, when the light is truly magnificent and the animals are just beginning to stir. I drove slowly over Teton Pass on my way home to Victor, knowing that deer and elk also travel this road at night, and lo and behold, near the top of the pass a monster Bull Moose was casually strolling in the drainage ditch. I swear he returned my gaze as I crept by ever so slowly.

Ah, my checklist was complete; it was truly a great day – thanks Brushbuck!

Call Guest Services at Teton Springs Lodge & Spa, BY NATURAL RETREATS, to book your next vacation and don’t forget to schedule your wildlife tour, fly fishing expedition and more!

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Spring is Here and There’s Plenty to Celebrate

Spring is Here and There’s Plenty to Celebrate at Teton Springs Resort & Club

Yes, it’s that time of year when our thoughts stray from sliding on snow to swinging a club and casting a line. For some, this may seem a tad premature given that terrific skiing and snowboarding remains a viable option in the Teton Mountains well into April. However, even for those of us who embrace Teton Valley winters with every ounce of our being, there’s something magical that comes with the arrival of spring and the promise of warm weather pursuits. So now Grand Targhee’s current base depth of 145 inches takes on new significance, and that’s plenty of run-off this spring. We can expect big water flowing into our local rivers and we all know what that means – long hours at the fly-tying bench. It also means lush fairways and perfectly manicured greens on the Headwaters course at Teton Springs.

This is all great news for our guests, who will begin their journey to Teton Springs Lodge & Spa and Yellowstone-Teton country, starting May 1st, when the “Suite Knots” Summer get-away package makes its 2014 debut.

You don’t have to be a diehard fisherman to know that the early bird does indeed catch the worm, especially if that worm is a trophy size brown trout on the Henry’s Fork River. The lodge offers up one of the deluxe one-bedroom suites as bait in this early-season package, but the three, four and five bedroom luxury mountain log cabins should always be considered. These homes are elegant, yet homey, and surprisingly affordable. Guys with nothing but golf on their mind, families, corporate groups, ladies on their annual hiking getaway, you name it – these units are grabbed early.

Teton Springs once again joins forces with our region’s expert fly fishing guides; there’s practically a guarantee that you’ll fill your quota of trout with these pros behind the oars. And, it never hurts to arrive a day or two early. Take some time to get acclimated, savor a massage at the Stillwaters Spa, visit the local fishing shops to see what’s working, and spend some time on the resort’s private ponds.

There’s no better place to shake winter kinks from that fly casting technique so you’re battle ready to conquer the Northern Rockies most acclaimed rivers.

Another sign that winter is definitely in our rear-view mirror comes with the opening of the Headwaters Golf Club.  Depending on snow melt, we’ve teed it up on this extraordinary course as early as mid to late April. We can only hope. This summer they’ll be excitement buzzing; as Headwaters celebrates its 10th birthday! As with any milestone, it’s always impossible to believe so much time has passed. However, when one plays this world-class course, with its mature trees and thick lush grass, you get the sense Headwaters has been here forever.

It was the late 90′s when Byron Nelson, golf’s most legendary player, and definitely golf’s most revered ambassador, graced a local resident’s property, a large swath of farmland that was destined to become both the Headwaters 18-hole course, and the par-3 course. There was a groundbreaking event, quite the celebration, the golf course just the beginning of the full-service resort that Teton Springs would become, and thus a new era for the charming, sleepy town of Victor Idaho. I was lucky enough to attend this party and actually spent a few minutes talking to my all-time personal hero Byron Nelson. He was everything I imagined and more; sweet, genuine, humble, generous of heart and thrilled to be bringing his course design & such a dynamic project to eastern Idaho. Turns out,
Headwaters was sadly Bryon’s last course design. PGA touring professional Steve Jones and one of the top golf architects, Gary Stephenson, were also there. I’ll never forget it.

Sandwiched between the Teton and Big Hole Mountains, and with spectacular vistas in every direction, players are easily distracted by the views. There’s also the occasional moose or deer cruising through and it’s better to hold up play when the resident Bald Eagle decides to takes a break in the middle of the fairway. Headwaters is a championship level course for sure, and through the years has hosted its share of prestigious professional and amateur events. But the mark of a truly great course is how welcoming it is, user friendly for all ability levels. Headwaters personifies that. The set of five tee boxes on each hole insures that the high handicapper and scratch player will easily coexist here.

Both the 18-hole and part-3 Headwaters courses are private, but, guests staying in the Lodge or in one of the luxury mountain log homes that dot the resort are entitled to all of the club privileges typically afforded to the members only. Families often gravitate to the par-3, which is a total blast to play and forgiving for the beginner and the low handicapper looking to perfect their iron play. It’s relaxed and the perfect venue for setting up that corporate tournament. There are Spring vacation packages to suit everyone early season, particularly the ultra affordable spring Stay & Play Packages.

In between rounds, lodging guests can take a well-deserved dip in the 25 meter pool, or, soak up the rays on the sunning decks, where lunch service is also served by the new culinary team at Teton Springs. If you live in the area or, simply planning on spending part of your summer in the Tetons, membership to the Headwaters & Sports Club makes the most sense. Contact Headwaters general manager Sean to talk about living the dream at Teton Springs (208.787.8008). Check out all of our wonderful Spring and Summer activities in the Teton Valley.

Happy Anniversary Headwaters and hats off to you Mr. Byron Nelson. We’ll be sure to enjoy many more glorious years enjoying your brilliant creation at Teton Springs…

www.TetonSpringsLodge.com – email: guestservices@tetonspringslodge.com

 

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Seasons Colliding in the Teton Valley

SEASONS COLLIDE IN TETON VALLEY THIS TIME OF YEAR!

This is a very conflicting time of year for many people. We mourn the end of summer but when the time comes, we can’t wait for the magnificent fall season we’re typically treated to in Teton Valley. It’s definitely been a tad strange this year. It almost felt like the foliage around Teton Valley was also resisting the transition into a new season. I was starting to think the trees would never change colors. We waited, and waited, and suddenly overnight there they were, the magnificent gold, orange and yellow leaves replacing summer’s green. A man and woman driving along Highway 31 into Victor stopped me today as I walked and asked, “Do you live here; this valley is the most beautiful place!” Sometimes it takes a stranger’s view of our world to remind us how lucky we are to live here.

Beautiful Scenery in Idaho and the Northern Rockies

ROAD TRIP – Speaking of strangers. If you’re a stranger to the scenic byway that takes you from Teton Valley to Island Park and into West Yellowstone, rectify that as soon as possible. This is undoubtedly one of the most breathtaking drives in North America and a key reason why guests visit Teton Springs Lodge & Spa this time of year. To feel the full impact of this drive, it’s important that you start your engines in Victor. The views and points of interest officially start here. Most of us “locals” have taken this route, long before tourism gurus officially designated it as one the “Top 10 Scenic Drives in the Northern Rockies.”

The temporary closure of Yellowstone shouldn’t discourage. Between Teton Valley and West Yellowstone there’s plenty to see and do. It’s worth the trip just to sample the gem of eastern Idaho, the Mesa Falls Scenic ByWay. You’ll hear the Upper and Lower Mesa Falls long before you see them. The Falls are so spectacular, a real treasure. And, to experience the full assault of fall colors that border the Falls, I would get going. This loop also claims Harriman State park and the famous Henry’s Fork of the Snake River. Wouldn’t hurt to pack the fly rod.

The Headwaters Club at Teton Springs – Pristine Beauty

There are also quite a few of us hanging onto the golf season with every morsel of our being. Watching the course maintenance crew at the Headwaters Club at Teton Springs preparing this baby for its winter hibernation is like saying good-bye to a good friend you won’t see for the next 5 months or so. It’s not a good feeling. It wouldn’t hurt nearly as much if Headwaters wasn’t in such pristine shape. Really, the only hint that things are indeed winding down are the brilliant hues that enclose the resort, colors that easily mirror the most blazing sunset. This time of year the camera is the most important accessory in your bag. The fairways are pristine and the putting surfaces smooth & true. Good bye old friend, for now.

Thanks goodness the Stillwaters Spa & Salon is always there to take care of us! Right now there are a lot of happy guests at Teton Springs enjoying a little pampering, both in their sweet lodge room and with a much needed massage or facial. This fall get-away package is definitely a reason to drop everything and take care of you!

From the hotel at Teton Springs you can see the snow-capped mountains so our thoughts and obsessions quickly turn to the next great thing – snowsports. With our October storms this year it’s not a stretch to get our hopes up and envision hitting the slopes, or perhaps strapping on our backcountry gear, a tad earlier this season. We’ve seen it too many times here in Yellowstone-Teton country.

Relax in Luxury at Teton Springs

Besides the obvious, which are the incredible facilities at Teton Springs Lodge & Spa, visitors often choose this boutique hotel because of its brilliant location.

The founding fathers of Teton Springs sure knew what they were doing when they placed this first rate resort in the heart of Victor. It’s exquisitely positioned just about equal distance to the two best ski resorts in the Cowboy State, Grand Targhee and Jackson Hole Mountain Resort.

Targhee, a true neighbor in Teton Valley, is easily accessible with literally three turns from Teton Springs. It’s such a pretty drive as you wind up the Targhee Road you almost wish it would last longer. The Jackson Hole Ski area is also just three turns away in the other direction, with a hop, skip and jump over Teton Pass. It’s never too early to book those ski vacation packages at Teton Springs. Idaho skiing looms on the horizon.

We have so much to look forward to.

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