On day three of our Yellowstone vacation we decided to head down south and see Grand Teton National Park. From West Yellowstone it was about a 2 hour drive down to the entrance of the park. Because of this we decided to take Cooper along with us so he didn’t have to be cooped (pun totally intended!) in his cage. This meant we weren’t going to be able to do any hikes since dogs aren’t allowed on any of the trails. The weather looked like it had the potential for rain so we weren’t too bummed out about the hiking.
The first thing we did when we arrived in the park was stop at the ranger station for a map, and a little advice on wildlife sightings. Jon was lucky enough to see his animal of choice early in the trip, while the animal I wanted to see had still managed to elude us! Jon likes to say I pick the hardest animals to find. I just wanted to see a Moose! So in preparation for the day Jon had researched the best places to find moose. Low and behold, all his research pointed to a place called Moose Junction and more specifically, Moose road. The ranger confirmed his research and told us that Moose Junction is prime moose habitat. So armed with a map and our moose sighting eyes we set out on our mission. A moosey mission as Jon called it, and if you recall from the buffalo sighting, there’s a song for this mission as well but I’ll spare you the boring details! Moose Junction is a straight shot down the park and is the last junction before the end of the park. We found Moose road and drove it back and forth with no wildlife sightings. At one point we got out of the car and picked some sage grass which was growing very plentiful in the area. It smells just like sage and reminded me of relaxing aromatherapy.
At the end of the road Jon let me take over the driving and I let him take over the navigating. This was mistake #1! While deciding what we would do next Jon mentioned that there was a road up ahead that would lead to the Snake River. He said, “I think it’s a back road, it may be paved at first and I think we have a really good chance of seeing some moose.” So, I follow my navigators orders and turn onto a non-paved, very bumpy dirt road. It doesn’t take long for me to realize that we are headed into the MIDDLE OF NOWHERE. Up ahead we notice an SUV stopped and the driver appeared to be scouting out the road ahead. He told us it looked steep but leveled out up ahead and we should be fine. So, we of course let him go first. He started to drive away then literately disappeared down the hill, at this point I’m asking Jon if he still thinks this is a good idea and he of course says yes. So we follow the SUV ahead until we get to the river. The SUV stops off at the entrance to an even rockier and dustier road. I’m starting to panic because there’s no way we are going to get back up this steep hill we came down and this road ahead looks uber sketchy. Jon of course is gung-ho for this adventure and as we switched drivers (because I was not going to be responsible for any truck damage we might occur on this treacherous road) he handed me the map. That’s when I notice the road he had led us down. The road is an obvious back road that says “ATV road, 4 wheel drive required”, to which Jon argues, “it says recommended, plus we have four wheels.” 4 wheels, 4-wheel drive…can’t be that big of a difference right?! HAHA
So, with no choice but to drive on, we started down the LONG dirt road. We were literately driving within feet of a very steep and high cliff on the banks of the Snake River. (Don’t worry mom, were still alive!) We stopped frequently for wildlife checks, convinced that we would see something with our great view of the woods below. We literately saw NO wildlife along the banks of the river or in the surrounding forest. It was so strange especially since it was such a deserted part of the park. The 12 mile road took us about 2 hours to drive. At the VERY end, I kid you not about 1/2 mile from the main road we came upon a heard of Bull Elk grazing on the surrounding Sage grass. They were beautiful creatures and made the long, bumpy and disappointing drive totally worth our time!
Next up was dinner. We went back into Moose Junction (With the hopes of seeing a moose of course) and went to an outdoor chuck-wagon cookout. The food was sub-par but the entertainment was great. They were having a live music session showcasing anyone who felt like stepping up on stage to play.
The entertainment was awesome but we had a mission to accomplish. We decided to drive Moose road one more time in hopes that the evening would bring about more wandering wildlife. No such luck! We saw a few dear but NO moose, or any other wildlife for that matter (I would have settled for a bear sighting as well!) After finishing our drive along Moose Road we aborted our mission and headed home. Hopefully we may have better luck moose hunting on our next trip in Banff National Park.
So, although I didn’t get to see any Moose, we thought The Grand Tetons were beautiful and are even talking about coming back to camp and hike in this area before we leave Montana. Our trip to Yellowstone and The Grand Tetons was short but it was definitely an awesome experience!
Thanks for following along! Until next time!
A few extra pictures from our day:
We stopped for lunch at Leek’s Marina a long Jackson lake and took these pictures!