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I hereby take the risk of repeating some of my prior musing on the intrinsic benefits of cruising around this area I call home. This past week I indeed looked at this glorious Teton basin area (and beyond) through a different viewfinder. Fresh eyes this time belonged to two out-of-state visitors. It’s my best friend Julie, who can only recall one other winter excursion over 20 years ago, and my sister Mare, who also pleads guilty to the too-few-visits charge. Guess I just need to stop indulging my family and friends with my frequent visits to Pennsylvania and New Jersey. If they’re dying to see me it will just have to happen more often, on my turf, here in "paradise" (their word not mine).
Have you ever noticed how much you really don’t notice as you meander through your daily life? Living in the shadow of the Tetons you tend to take the staggering beauty for granted; the way sun glistens off the peaks early in the morning or the foreboding shadows on the foothills as you bid farewell to another day. Watching the Big Dipper come to life, seemingly directly over the neighboring Big Hole Mountains, was a nightly ritual and the eerie quiet of the night was consistently broken with lots of oohs and aahs tinted with charming Philly accents. It was indeed a wake-up call having guests visit our delightful corner of the world. I write often about the beauty and the intrinsic benefits of simply being here in the Yellowstone-Teton region and this chance to observe the magic, thru others, was truly a reminder to appreciate the splendor of our great planet.
Jackson Hole, Wyoming – Fun for Everyone
First of all, the sense of arrival can set the stage for all that follows. When you’re a destination visitor to this region you have the option of flying into Idaho Falls or Jackson Hole. Driving from either airport to Teton Valley provides plenty of eye candy. However, soaring past the Tetons as you circle the Jackson Airport, located in the Grand Teton National Park (the only airport in the USA situated in a national park), your senses are alert and you know instantly that this promises to be a special trip. This was a post Labor Day trip for Mare and Julie but you’d never know it by the steady stream of excited passengers coming off their plane. The word’s out – this is an optimum time of year to visit the Tetons and all the wonders of our national parks.
We head straight over Teton Pass to Victor, Idaho, with a brief stop at the top of Teton Pass to take in the lights of Jackson Hole sparkling in our rearview mirror. It will be an early night for my east coast guests. Travel plans to check out the Henry’s Fork of the Snake River means an early wake-up call.
With my husband, a former fishing guide as our leader, we head out on the first leg of our adventure. We eventually take some liberty with the official Yellowstone Grand Teton Loop Road, designated one of the Top Ten Scenic Roads in the Northern Rockies but for now we follow this scenic route thru Teton Valley, and north into Ashton. We’re treated to Teton views with every twist and turn of the road and more oohs and aahs that seem to pepper every conversation. We camp on the banks of the Henry’s Fork of the Snake, a river famous world-wide for its trophy load of rainbow and brown trout. The swift Snake churning thru the canyon lulls us to sleep and the wind quietly whistling thru the aspens wake us early. We watch the osprey eyeing their breakfast as we enjoy ours. We share the quiet, beauty and solitude of the River Side Campground (just south of Island Park) with only a few fly fishermen. Where is everyone on this stellar morning? Even the pesky bugs have called it a day for the season.
Mesa Falls, The Madison River, Teton Springs Lodge – It Doesn’t Get Any Better
We head out to Mesa Falls, a mandatory stop on anyone’s itinerary, unless you’re a people watcher. We only share this attraction with 7 or so fellow gawkers (ah, off season). You hear the ominous thunder of the falls before you ever see them. It’s not easy finding the right superlatives to describe the Upper and Lower Mesa Falls so I won’t even try. Seeing is believing. It’s easy access here for all visitors, boasting interpretive trails, viewing platforms, plentiful parking and clean restrooms. Way to go Idaho!
We take a slight detour off of the scenic tour road and head into Montana’s Madison River Valley where big browns lurk behind every river rock. With the spring run-off amazingly still in effect, the Madison is swollen and running wild. We float the more mellow Quake Lake and talk in hushed tones about the horrific earthquake that tragically took lives and demolished this valley back in the 1950′s. The mountainous backdrops are breathtaking and the girls now understand why this state is indeed called Big Sky Country!
Back to Teton Springs to Be Pampered
Back in Idaho, we treat ourselves to a stay at Teton Springs Lodge & Spa. This would prove to be the highlight for my guests. They have heard me for years go on and on about how incredible this resort is, now they’re officially counted among the true believers. Our one-bedroom suite was elegant, yet so homey. We relaxed in the Stillwaters Spa Zen Room and played golf on the Headwaters Course as the sun was setting over the mountains. The bald eagle that takes up residence on the 7th fairway didn’t show this time but was a good excuse for a re-round. The Headwaters Grille provided delicious breaks from our hectic days which included a fishing/sight seeing expedition on our very own Teton River. As much as I love fishing the Teton, my concentration was delightfully broken by wildlife roaming the banks. We shared the river with a Great Grey Owl who was also looking to bag that illusive rainbow. And did I mention those Tetons, strutting their stuff for the entire float. Folks, trust me when I say, the Teton River is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful waterways in North America!
Wyoming – A Trip Down the Snake, the Tetons…
Next stop Wyoming! We capped off our whirlwind tour with a scenic trip down the mighty Snake River in Jackson Hole. The nice folks at Teton Springs will book this (and all your activities) for you. It’s only a 25 minute drive to pick up the raft and a three hour float thru the Snake River Canyon. Our guide was delightful and informative and what fun to watch our fellow boaters faces light up with each Bald Eagle spotting (seven was the official count!). Lunch was at Dornans in Teton National Park, certainly the exclamation point on this visit. And did I mention those Tetons?
I think it’s safe to presume that after our recent week together, more American Airlines Frequent Flyer miles will be added to Mare & Julie’s pot, sans any pleading from me. They’ll be back willingly, for a repeat performance to this land of wide open vistas, rising rainbows, soaring mountains, lush farmland and river adventures – all capped off daily with a healthy dose of star gazing. Teton Valley has grown since Julie’s winter visit many moons ago; we now play host to terrific restaurants, eclectic retail stores, Teton Springs Resort, music festivals, a fabulous wine shop and the list goes on and on. And some things didn’t change at all, the sheer splendor of the area that filled their senses and lifted their hearts.
On the way to the airport, with only minutes to spare, a moose (on Julie’s wish list to see) jumped out of the riverbed and strolled boldly across the road in front of our car. You got it, more oohs and aahs, and did I mention those Tetons?
Call 877.787.8757 to book your visit to Teton Springs Resort and a Teton filled adventure.
Looking at the long-term forecast, there is no “off” to this off-season!
We grudgingly give up our summers here in the Tetons where the days are endless and inevitably turn into star filled crisp evenings. This is a place where air conditioning simply means cranking open your window a tad wider. Basically, the summer weather is glorious, just about all the time, and even the news worthy natural disasters are dreadful occurrences that only seem to happen somewhere else. It’s easy to understand why so many people call this Yellowstone-Teton area their favorite summer destination. After Labor Day, things tend to quiet down, families have wandered home and the optimum September weather and wide-open & uncluttered roads lure those fortunate enough to embrace the adventures that beckon. I spoke of one such journey in the past but it’s definitely worth another look.
Yellowstone Park – The Nation’s Finest
Yellowstone National Park is especially enchanting this time of year. The sun glistens on the mountain peaks and it’s prime wildlife viewing season. Wolves are busy teaching their young to hunt while the bears fill their bellies in anticipation of their upcoming hibernation. The elk are in rut and if you’ve never heard an elk bugle, well, it’s a sound truly found only in nature. It’s eerie and surreal and something you won’t soon forget. There are a few ways to reach our first national park from Teton Valley but I’m going to recommend you take your time getting there and enjoy the sights and sounds along the way. After all, isn’t that the reason for visiting this land of towering mountains, wild and scenic rivers, rolling sand dunes and fertile open space that seemingly stretches into forever. This is the "off-season," right, so stop, look and listen along the way. You may be amazed at what you’ll find.
The Yellowstone-Grand Teton Loop Road is one of America’s most spectacular scenic driving experiences and it’s a worthy journey.
Staying at Teton Springs Resort – Fun for Everyone
You’ll begin your road trip in Victor, with a delightful stay at Teton Springs Lodge & Spa where the pool is heated, the golf magnificent, the food scrumptious and the fish hungry in one of this resort’s many private lakes and ponds.
And the Spa, well; you may just want to consider hanging around for a few days at this property before rushing off anywhere.
I personally recommend the hydraquench body wrap, a signature treatment at the resort’s Stillwaters Spa & Salon. You’ll leave Teton Springs feeling relaxed and rejuvenated and more than ready to begin your journey into wild and scenic Idaho, Montana and Wyoming.
The Grand Teton Loop Tour takes you north through Teton Valley, an area famous for its potatoes, but also its rich history of explorers, trappers, fur traders, mountain men and Mormon pioneers. Modern day "explorers" take delight in the incredible recreation afforded them here, in just about any season. As you head into Ashton, Idaho, take a break at the Trails Inn for some of Idaho’s best open-faced chicken fried steak. Upper and Lower Mesa Falls, next on the agenda, are two of the last undisturbed waterfalls of consequence in the West and both are easily accessed from the Mesa Falls Scenic Byway.
Fishing, Sightseeing, Bears and Wolves
Hope you have your fly rods packed and ready to cast, the famous Henry’s Fork of the Snake River is just steps away and September fishing is on fire!
The town of West Yellowstone is a major gateway into Yellowstone and deserves a look. It’s home to a cool museum, unique and funky shops and the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery center. Give yourself plenty of time in Yellowstone National Park with its 2 million acres to explore, 300 geysers and 10,000 geothermal features. Hope you packed your hiking boots!
It’s a seamless journey from Yellowstone into Teton National Park and the sage filled landscape of this national treasure is a startling contract to the jagged peaks of the Teton Mountain Range. Over fifty miles of Snake River winds through the park and hiking and walking trails are plentiful and all afford staggering views of the Teton Mountains. Dotted with numerous sparkling lakes and incredible wildlife viewing, this could easily be your favorite stop and for that extra "wow factor," stop at the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor center.
Jackson Has Something for Everyone
The town of Jackson, Wyoming, is an optimum place to end your official driving tour. This gateway-to-the-parks iconic western town certainly sees its share of summer visitors but gives post Labor Day stragglers all the room they need. There’s a staggering array of shops (more than just cowboy hats & boots!), great dining and entertainment, world-class museums and art galleries and a dizzying array of outdoor activities. And, if you happen to be in town during the 27th Annual Fall Arts Festival September 8-18, that’s even more reason to extend your stay at Teton Springs. You’ll want more than one taste of this internationally acclaimed event and it’s only a 25 mile commute to Jackson from your accommodations at the Lodge at Teton Springs Resort.
You’ll be pleasantly exhausted after your Grand Teton Loop Tour. The nice folks at Teton Springs will tuck you in.
Call 208-787-7888 for fall Lodge specials and upgrades to one and two bedroom suites. Or, sample one of the resort’s deluxe log mountain homes and check out all our amazing fall get-away packages!
The news is filled these days with horror stories of the record heat index and soaring temps all across the nation. Many of you are probably wondering, what exactly is a "heat index" anyway. Well, join the club. It appears it’s a combination of the actual temperature outside but not before you factor in the relative humidity. Simply put, the heat index is how hot we humans actually perceive it to be based on how lousy our bodies feel. I can tell you, most people in this country of late are certainly are not feeling the love when it comes to the heat index! Newscasters have literally been warning people to stay indoors for weeks now. Foul air in some of the bigger cities, coupled with these soaring temps, has created the perfect storm for a dismal July and most likely August. In these conditions, guess it’s better to watch daytime TV with the air conditioner at full throttle.
It Doesn’t Get Any Better for a Get-a-way or Family Vacation at Teton Springs
Except in the Northern Rockies! Gosh, in so many ways, it truly does come down to location, location, location. Here in Teton Valley, Idaho, we’ve been enjoying mid-70′s to the low 80′s range of temps for the past month and more of the same predicted for the foreseeable future. I truly emphasize with the suffering of so many of our fellow Americans. One could almost feel guilty about living here in this Yellowstone-Teton region as we enjoy such pristine and picture-perfect days (all spent outside by the way). The setting of the western sun is delayed and we’re able to recreate well into the evening. When darkness finally does fall, we climb into our beds (or sleeping bags) and pull the down comforter up around our shoulders as we bid farewell to another perfect summer day.
However, you don’t have to live here to enjoy this land filled with monster rainbow trout, cowboys and sage brush, magnificent waterfalls, whitewater rafting, hot-air ballooning, extraordinary wildlife, world-class golf, mountains that soar to 14,000 feet and national parks. Oh, and did I mention, you only have to stay at Teton Springs Lodge & Spa for two nights (you’ll want more I promise!) before this resort foots the bill for a 7-day Yellowstone & Teton National Park Pass?! This is Teton Springs most popular summer vacation package and definitely the most affordable way to enjoy all the goodies of Teton Springs and visit both of these spectacular parks.
Yellowstone and Teton National Parks are a Hop Skip and Jump Away
The parks are close so day trips are easy. You couldn’t write a script for a better summer vacation than the one that awaits you at Teton Springs Resort. Check out all the details, and be sure to include the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone on this tour. With the record snowfall this past winter in Montana, Idaho & Wyoming, the canyon waterfalls are more dramatic than ever. Wildlife viewing at Yellowstone has been at its best and chances are good that you’ll see your first grizzly bear and wolf. The fastest route to the parks is thru Jackson Hole and into the parks, but for my money, there’s another way, one that allows you to truly experience this entire region. Take some extra time and discover a region rich in American history by taking the "#1 Rated Top Scenic Drive in America." Need I say more?!
Fishing, Hiking, Biking, and Much More all at Teton Springs
While taking a break from sight-seeing in our nation’s first national park, there’s plenty to do at Teton Springs or in the neighborhood. Enjoy a swim, hike, bike, round of golf or a serious day of pampering at the Stillwaters Spa. There is something for everyone to enjoy at Teton Springs, we have some of the best outdoor adventurous activities in the area!
The private lakes and ponds on property have been seeing lots of action and the fish are rising! It’s terrific practice for the fly fisherman whose casting may be a tad rusty or for the kids itching to learn. When you’re ready to hit the area’s big rivers, talk to our friends in Guest Service at the Lodge. They’ll set you up with the experts at WorldCast Anglers where its’ practically guaranteed you’ll take home bragging rights and you’ll have a blast fishing in the Teton and Snake River!
Escape the heat this summer at Teton Springs. See you in paradise!