There aren't really "sights" to see at Grand Teton, except one: the mountains themselves. And you can see the mountains from absolutely anywhere, including every hotel, gift shop, and campground bathroom, so no one clogs the roads with their giant tripods hoping to capture that one amazing shot, like they do with wildlife or thermal features at Yellowstone.
In person, the Tetons look like every postcard you've ever seen, which is to say they look totally fake.
|I mean, they really do look like that.|
The view is also spectacular in the back country. I started with a four-day, three-night trek through a popular series of canyons and passes. The first day was harder than I expected, mostly because I hadn't looked carefully at the elevation gain. Trudging up a couple thousand feet, laden with four days' worth of food and fuel, I kept getting passed by retired British couples on day hikes. They were all refreshingly fit and chipper. In another contrast with Yellowstone, no one seemed surprised to encounter a camper. In fact, after one couple asked the inevitable, "... by yourself?" I got the best response I've ever heard: "Well, you're very good. Right then, on you go!"
Teton has designated camping "zones" where you set up a tent anywhere you like. This makes for neat camping--you feel like you're claiming a little part of the wilderness for yourself. I found a flat spot in a tiny bowl that tipped over a steep edge, giving me a great view of the canyon I'd climbed and the lakes of Jackson Hole.
|Fires burning in the valley added a layer of smoky haze on the horizon.|
|My view to the south|
|I can't remember the name of the alpine lake below the campsite.|
|Dawn from my tent|
The next morning, it was a short but steep climb to Paintbrush Divide, the first mountain pass. The trail was rubble and snowbanks, but there were lots of other hikers to encourage everyone along, including one guy who was nice enough to take my picture on the way up.
|It was warm and sunny every day. Take that, Yellowstone!|
The next night was perfect for viewing Grand Teton peak and its companion to the east, whose name I didn't catch.
The second day, I day-hiked up Hurricane Pass, a notch in the mountains that takes you to the boundary of the park. Unlike Paintbrush Divide, there was almost no one there, despite it being a popular hike. This is where I saw the moose, plus her unpictured bull companion, chilling in a swampy meadow.
|The peak of Grand Teton and a pretty autumn meadow below Hurricane Pass|
|A series of peaks appropriately known as "The Jaw."|
The way out was a simple, mostly downhill hike back to the valley. While I was in the mountains, all the aspen trees in the valley took the opportunity to turn blazing yellow, which made for a really beautiful next few days.
The very best view of the Tetons is from a little ways away from the Tetons, so I planned one night at a campsite on a point on Jackson Lake, a really easy and flat 5-mile stroll. The night before, I stopped for a beer at the lodge bar by my campground. Because I was alone, I ended up making friends with the bartender and some of the waitstaff. They were very generous with my glass, and my next morning's short and easy hike suddenly became very long and very strenuous. But it was a good, hot day, so I shook it off with a brief swim in Jackson Lake and what I consider a Tyler-worthy fire.
That and the good time I had with the bar staff reminded me of another thing I missed in Yellowstone--because I was so annoyed with people, I didn't end up making connections with anyone the way I had in Glacier and now in Teton.
That short hike was the last back country trip I took in the Mountain West, and the last one I'll take on my own for a long time. I'm currently on a civilization break in Salt Lake City, and from here I'll head to the Grand Canyon. More updates soon!