Day 4 of 2019 Western US Tour, July 15, to Jackson

After a rather fulfilling day in Salt Lake City, it’s Monday July 15 2019 as we set off from Salt Lake City to Jackson, Wyoming, a small town on the outskirts of Grand Teton National Park.

Grand Teton


Grand Teton

Journey to Jackson

So at 8:30 in the morning, we checked out of hotel and started this road trip to Jackson WY. The default Google route was I15-US30-US34-US89. However, since we were not in too much of a hurry, we took a detour(it’s actually 12 miles shorter) different route which was I15-(Brigham City)-US89. By adding 20 minutes to travel time, we stayed on the scenic US Route 89 for the majority of the trip, which to me was a more rewarding way to spend the day instead of rushing from A to B.

While the scenic part of US89 started outside Brigham City as it climbed through some mountain ranges, I was driving until Logan before taken over. After that, US89 was running along Logan River in a valley (Logan Canyon).

Highway 89

 Highway 89
Highway 89 Highway 89
Highway 89


Logan Cave


Logan Cave
The cave’s closed with iron bars to protect an endangered bat species known as the Townsend’s Big Eared Bat.


Highway 89

 Highway 89
Highway 89


Logan River


Logan River

Bear Lake Overlook

Just as we were approaching Bear Lake, we found a rest area / overlook by the road, with gorgeous views of bear lake. If not for the other sceneries along the road, such spectacular views alone would certainly make this detour worthwhile.

Wild Flowers

 Wild Flowers
Wild Flowers


Overlooking Bear Lake


Overlooking Bear Lake
Overlooking Bear Lake
Overlooking Bear Lake

The best part of it? As we made our descent down to Bear Lake along US89, there were houses along the road with similarly magnificent views. They certainly drew quite some envious eyes from travelers like us.

Mountain Ranges


Mountain Ranges
Mountain Ranges


Overlooking Bear Lake


Overlooking Bear Lake
Overlooking Bear Lake

After that, we headed North along US89 into Idaho. We made an attempt to drive to the shores of Dear Lake, only to arrive at a dead end among farmlands.

Trail to Lake

 Trail to Lake
Trail to Lake


Farmland

 Farmland
Farmland


Mountain Ranges beyond Bear Lake


Mountain Ranges beyond Bear Lake

After that, we found a tiny (paved) trail leading across the lake to North Beach State Park of Idaho. And by its name, it offered all the beach activities with calm waters. It’s not hard to infer the park’s popularity from its near-full parking lot. The park charged an admission fee, and by the time we arrived, it was starting to drizzle. So I took a few photos and went on the way.

North Beach State Park

Bear Lake

 Bear Lake
Bear Lake


Mud Lake

 Mud Lake
Mud Lake

After that, I took over driving. Unexpectedly, driving on the Eastern side of mud lake, there was a 4km section of Merkley Lake Road that’s unpaved, after which our rental car was literally covered in mud, not a very good sight against all the breathtaking sceneries around us.

And about 70 minutes later, we reached Afton, Wyoming where we switched drivers again, while making a brief stop in Mormon Church’s Star Valley Temple.

Star Valley Wyoming Temple

Church Of Jesus Christ Of Latter-Day Saints


Church Of Jesus Christ Of Latter-Day Saints


Star Valley Wyoming Temple

 Star Valley Wyoming Temple
Star Valley Wyoming Temple


Flowers


Flowers

It’s Monday and there weren’t many activities going around in the church. We did run into a nice lady that’s tending the flowers, who offered us her best hospitality and wishes before we were on our way again.

Hale Canyon


Hale Canyon


Downtown Afton


Downtown Afton
World’s Largest Elkhorn Arch


Mountains

 Mountains
Mountains


Farmland

 Farmland
Farmland


Cliff


Cliff


Farmland before Mountains

 Farmland before Mountains
Farmland before Mountains


Mountains

 Mountains
Mountains

After that, US89 left Star Valley and followed along Snake River, and landscape changed from stretches of farmland into rolling hills.
By the way, this segment of Snake River seemed to be open to tubing, with companies operating vintage school buses shuttling people and equipment up and down the river. With mild water flow and great weather, it’s the perfect outdoor leisure activity for the season, if we had more time.

Country Road

 Country Road
Country Road


Snake River

 Snake River
Snake River


Forest


Forest
Bradley Mountain


Rocky Terrain


Rocky Terrain

About an hour after we left Afton, we stopped at a boat launch site in Hoback, Wyoming (at least that’s what Google Maps says) for rest, along with some photos of the Snake River.

Hoback Boat Launch

Cabin along Snake River


Cabin along Snake River
Cabin along Snake River


Bridge over Snake River


Bridge over Snake River
W Johnny Counts Rd


Mountains by Snake River

 Mountains by Snake River
Mountains by Snake River

After that, it was a short 25-minute drive to our hotel in downtown Jackson, WY.

Country Road

 Country Road
Country Road


Mountains and Cabins

 Mountains and Cabins
Mountains and Cabins

And for the first time since we left Salt Lake City this morning, sights of distant mountains were crowned with snow.

View of Distant Snow-Crested Mountains


View of Distant Snow-Crested Mountains
Should be Rendezvous Peak.

Hotel in Jackson WY

With summer being the peak tourism season for Jackson Wyoming, starting price of hotel rooms was a staggering 200 dollars per night before taxes (that’s basically Manhattan level). Fortunately Marriott has a cat5 property (Springhill Suites) in town, and there goes my credit card certificate.

Hotel Room

 Hotel Room
Hotel Room
Two queens and sofa bed, this room in theory could house six adults.

By the way, Springhill Suites attempted to charge a 15-dollar parking fee per night, but just across the street from its entrance was a giant municipal parking garage that’s amazingly free. And in comparison, throughout our stay I never knew where the hotel’s tiny obscure garage entrance was located.

And after we had put down our luggage, it was 4:30pm. With sunset more than 4 hours away, we decided to visit the Western part (Teton Park Road) of Grand Teton National Park for the remainder of the day.

Grassland and Distant Mountains

 Grassland and Distant Mountains
Grassland and Distant Mountains Grassland and Distant Mountains
Grassland and Distant Mountains Grassland and Distant Mountains
Grassland and Distant Mountains

As usual, the drive into Grand Teton National Park was through some beautiful countryside (which was also an elk refuge, I didn’t catch any sights of elks though).

View of Grand Teton


View of Grand Teton


Plane Landing into Jackson Hole Airport before Grand Teton Peak


Plane Landing into Jackson Hole Airport before Grand Teton Peak

And there’s Jackson Hole Airport, the only commercial airport located in a US National Park. A convenient but costly way to visit Grand Teton and Yellowstone. For those on the plane, it must be a spectacular sight watching the snowy mountains during descent.

United A320 Landing


United A320 Landing

Grand Teton National Park

Buck Mountain

 Buck Mountain
Buck Mountain

After a 20-minute drive, we entered Grand Teton National Park via Moose entrance. Just next to it was Chapel of the Transfiguration, which served as a place of worship for ranchers a century ago and saving them the arduous trip to Jackson every week.

Chapel of the Transfiguration

Click for detail about Chapel

A Spiritual Heart in the Park
This rustic Episcopal chapel, constructed in 1925, held the first services on July 26 of that year. Prior to its construction, worshippers traveled 12 miles over rough roads to the town of Jackson. Today, that is just a short car ride away, but in the 1920’s roads were rough and automobiles rare. Once fully constructed, the Chapel of the Transfiguration served to provide spiritual refreshment to dude ranchers and tourists that flocked to the Chapel every Sunday to worship and gather as a community. Today, the Chapel continues to draw people, and services are held every Sunday during the summer.

The name “Transfiguration” is taken from the event in our Lord’s earthly life in which, during a time of prayer and meditation in the mountains, Jesus appeared to His disciples “transformed”. They saw Him no longer as a simple man, but in an intense light they perceived a glory beyond His ordinary appearance.
The name is apt because, in the presence of this magnificence and grandeur; some small hint of that eternal majesty is conveyed to us who pause and, in quiet, worship. Like the disciples on the mount 2,000 years ago, we would like to stay here. We cannot – we must return to our lives – but, like those disciples, please take away with you the vision of the power and beat of God’s presence in the world.
“And Jesus took Peter, James, John and He led them up a high mountain…and He was transfigured before them, and His garments became radiant and exceedingly white.” — St. MARK 9: 2&3
Source: information board near the chapel

Chapel Cross before Grand Teton Peak


Chapel Cross before Grand Teton Peak

Inside, worshippers would sit on wooden pews enjoying views of the imposing Grand Teton Peak beyond the altar window, being secluded from the world but God’s finest creations.

View of Grand Teton from Chapel Window


View of Grand Teton from Chapel Window
View of Grand Teton from Chapel Window


Chapel Interior


Chapel Interior


Chapel of the Transfiguration before Grand Teton Peak


Chapel of the Transfiguration before Grand Teton Peak
Chapel of the Transfiguration before Grand Teton Peak

After that, we headed for our next stop which was Teton Glacier Turnout.

Ranch


Ranch

Teton Glacier Turnout

Click for detail about Teton Glacier

The Teton Glacier lies sheltered on the northeast flank of the Grand Teton. More than any other erosional force, powerful glaciers sculpted the Teton Range peaks and carved the U-shaped canyons.
Beginning two million years ago, at least two periods of glaciation swept across this landscape. The ice retreated around 14000 years ago, unveiling an ornate tapestry of cirques, aretes and horns. Today’s glaciers are remnants of a cool period called ‘the Little Ice Age’ lasting from 1400 to 1850AD.
Glaciers in the Teton Range and across much of the world are retreating in response to changing climate. Since 1967, the Teton Glacier has lost 15 percent of its surface area. Meltwater helps support rich communities along valley streams, but today’s glaciers are producing up to ten percent less run-off. If current trends continue, the glaciers of the Teton Range will disappear. Their passing will be one of the many transformations this landscape will experience in the face of climate change.
Source: information board

Teton Glacier


Teton Glacier


Ranges of Mountains


Ranges of Mountains


Grand Teton


Grand Teton

After that, we were heading towards Jenny Lake (Visitor Center).

Park Road

 Park Road
Park Road


Grassland

 Grassland
Grassland

Jenny Lake

By the size of parking lot, Jenny Lake was the most famous tourist attraction of the park, with tour boats in the lake and hiking trails both around the lake and deep into the snowy wilderness of mountain ranges.

Pine Trees


Pine Trees


Cottonwood Creek


Cottonwood Creek

We didn’t plan to stay long here, so we took a short stroll by the lake admiring impressive summits on the opposite side.

Tour Boat on Jenny Lake

 Tour Boat on Jenny Lake before Forest Hills
Tour Boat on Jenny Lake before Forest Hills


Mt St John behind Jenny Lake


Mt St John across Jenny Lake
Mt St John across Jenny Lake


Grand Teton across Jenny Lake


Grand Teton across Jenny Lake


Mt St John across Jenny Lake


Mt St John across Jenny Lake


Shores of Jenny Lake


Shores of Jenny Lake
Didn’t know trees can survive so close to the lake shore before. Also, the lake seemed to be a popular swimming spot.

Then we headed for our next stop which was String Lake.

Mt St John

 Mt St John
Mt St John


View of Grand Teton


View of Grand Teton

String Lake

It’s a much smaller lake bringing us closer views of the magnificent mountain ranges of Grand Teton. Located off Teton Park Road, it also had much fewer visitors than Jenny Lake. We too took a short walk along its shores before continuing.

Creek

 Creek
Creek


Since I was taking photos against sunshine, this proximity to mountains really helped.
View of Grand Teton behind String Lake

 View of Grand Teton behind String Lake
View of Grand Teton behind String Lake
View of Grand Teton behind String Lake


Park Road

 Park Road
Park Road

Mount Moran Turnout

If one’s confined to stay on the main park road, this is the best turnout to watch the rolling mountain ranges and snowpacks of Grand Teton National Park.
The bad side? Mosquitos certainly knew this too.

Mountain Ranges


Mountain Ranges
Grand Teton, Mt St John and Mt Moran.


Distant Summit

 Distant Summit
Distant Summit
Most likely Jackson Peak on the right photo.


Mt Moran


Mt Moran


Eagle Rest Peak


Eagle Rest Peak


View from Mt Moran Turnout


View from Mt Moran Turnout

After that, we drove up Signal Mountain, a hill straight out of Jackson Hole valley with panoramic views of the park. The 7.7km narrow winding road uphill might be going through some boring forest (compared with rest of the park), but majestic views up top would be more than rewarding. (except somehow it’s also mosquito infested.)

Signal Mountain

Deer


Deer
We caught sight of this creature on our way up, which was the only source of excitement during the 15-minute climb.


Snake River and Jackson Hole valley

 Snake River and Jackson Hole valley
Snake River and Jackson Hole valley


Distant Gravel Mountain


Distant Gravel Mountain


Blacktail Butte among Jackson Hole valley


Blacktail Butte among Jackson Hole valley
Blacktail Butte among Jackson Hole valley


Jackson Hole valley

 Jackson Hole valley
Jackson Hole valley


View from Signal Mountain


View from Signal Mountain


Blacktail Butte among Jackson Hole valley


Blacktail Butte among Jackson Hole valley


Mount Leidy


Mount Leidy


Signal Tower


Signal Tower
Ok, now I know why this place is called “Signal Mountain”.

Our last stop of the day was Jackson Lake Dam, another great place to view the many peaks across river.

Jackson Lake Dam

Controller of Jackson Lake Dam


Controller of Jackson Lake Dam
Engine cart and gears in use from 1911 to 1986 on display here to raise/lower the 2.5ton gates.


Mt Moran


Mt Moran


Mountain Ranges


Mountain Ranges
Mountain Ranges
Mountain Ranges


Jackson Lake Dam

 Jackson Lake Dam
Jackson Lake Dam


Goose


Goose
Life seemed pretty enjoyable for this little creature not far from the rolling waters of Jackson Lake Dam.

From the waves on Jackson Lake it’s not hard to tell how strongly the winds were blowing. To make matters worse, it started to rain. So we hopped back onto the car and drove back to hotel.

Mt Moran from Oxford Bend


Mt Moran from Oxford Bend

And called it a day after this not-so-spectacular photo at Oxford Bend.
END

CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 Day 4 of 2019 Western US Tour, July 15, to Jackson by Huang's Site is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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