Our visit to Grand Tetons was a short one.
We had been staying at the north end of Yellowstone, in Gardiner, and had reservations for a number of days in West Yellowstone but in between we had an overnight in Jackson Hole.
The plan was to drive down through the park, see a few things, stay overnight in Jackson Hole, and then see a few more things the following morning. Grand Tetons is not a big Park, and unless someone wants to hike into the back country, there really is not that much to see aside of the mountains themselves. Memory fails me, but I think the above picture is part of Jackson Lake at a time when the water was low.
Most likely the north end of the lake was the part that was dry, and as we got down towards Jackson Hole the views were more like the one above. It was late afternoon, the clouds were beginning to come in, and the mountains themselves were going in and out of the clouds.
One of the advantages of cloudy days is you have a narrower exposure range to deal with. No deep shadows and no very bright spots makes for a different look. As a consequence, you see more details in the photographs, as in the example below.
Before we even got to Jackson Hole, it began to rain. We’ve found a motel just outside Jackson Hole. It’s on a slight rise, and overlooks a large Elk reserve right across from an Elk Reserve. Apparently they wintered there, but none could be seen while we were there. The rain passed quickly, and we got a great view of a double rainbow. I don’t remember having seen one before this, or if I did, they were too faint for me to notice.
The next morning the air had a chill to it, and the mountains were snow-capped. My D100 was still somewhat of a mystery to me since, being an engineer, I have a healthy disregard for them things called “manuals” . . . these days I fight the urge to ignore them.
I ended up with a lot of overexposed or underexposed to photographs, but some I got just right.
From our Motel we were on our way to Oxbow Bend, a little East of Moran. As we headed there, the light took on a surreal quality. Low clouds were shielding the peaks from direct sunlight, but still lit the vegetation below them fairly well.
For those not familiar with the place, Oxbow Bend is one of the most photographed places on earth, or at least I read so at some point or other. A casual image search in Google will yield thousands of photographs very much like the ones I am going to show you now.
The name comes from a bend in the river, and it forms a watery foreground to the looming Grand Tetons in the background. On calm days the water is like a mirror, and you get a reflection of the mountain and trees, which is what people hope to get when they come here.
When we got there, there was no parking near the optimum shooting place. There were photographers along the shore, RV parked on the side of the road, and people snapping away like crazy. I parked a bit down the road and walked back, all the while shooting away. Many of those photographers had been there since dawn, hoping to catch the first light hitting the peaks.
All of them must have been as disappointed as I was. One, because the sun was behind the clouds at sunrise (I asked), and two, because even as we sat there waiting, the breeze kept getting stronger, negating any chance at the “mirror”effect.
We were there about forty minutes before it became obvious conditions were not going to improve. We got back on our Suburban, and headed back up to Yellowstone. We could see clearing skies to the North, and even before we got out of Grand Tetons NP, I was able to shoot a few decent shots of the Aspens in color.
Like I said, Grand Tetons is not a big park. It does have some interesting sights, but unless one wants to venture on long hikes into the mountains or surrounding hills, even a half a day is sufficient to hit the main points of interest.
Some may find fault with my assessment, but I’ve been there twice now, and both times half a day seemed a bit on the long side, at least for us. When we go again we’ll pass through it (we come up from the South), but I won’t be stopping more then an hour or so as I make my way to Yellowstone. Lots to see in Yellowstone.
As usual, click any picture to visit the SmugMug gallery. There you will find thirty-five (35) pictures of our first visit to Grand Tetons National Park.