I had a chance to spend several days in Grand Teton, my favorite national park, at the end of August, beginning of September. As always, I wished aspen would already start to turn yellow but no – they were summer green. But fall felt everywhere – brown grasses and bright yellow bushes were first signs of the season change.
Below, I will share the locations that I visited for three days in the area.
Sunrise at Taggart Lake
I found this location on Instagram. Actually, I looked through my feed when I saw this unusual view of Tetons. After some short search, I found this hike. And to my surprise, it was a trendy place.
Anyway, I had my mind set. And I wanted to hike there before sunrise.
I stayed that night at Jackson Hole and raised right at 4 am. An hour later, I parked at the trailhead, preparing to freeze.
The hike is short and easy. And the super early start allowed me to be the second at the lake. And it is super photogenic! I never shot so many photos of the same place before this. Even trail to the lake is stunning and jaw-dropping!
Hidden Falls Hike
Another popular place I didn’t hike was Hidden Falls. Super busy during the day and on the weekends. But when I parked the car at the almost empty parking lot at Jenny Lake, I immediately knew, there would be only a few people at the falls.
Also, I wanted to take a trail. Normally, you could make a loop hike to and back taking upper and lower trails. However, this time, the lower section was closed. Hike has a few viewpoints of the lake, and near the falls splits several times. If you follow signs, you easily can reach the falls overlook. The most right spur leads to Inspiration Point and further around the lake.
On the way back from the falls, I turned to Moose Ponds. And I wasn’t disappointed with what I saw. The moose standed in the water. She was perfectly visible from the trail and from the far side of the pond. So, apparently, the name of the place represents what you could see there 🙂
Golden hour at Snake River Overlook and Schwabacher Landing
Snake River Overlook is one of my favorite places in the park. It was clear that I eventually will stop there at least once. So the first day, I drove to the big parking lot and stopped there reading and waiting for sun to move closer to horizon.
Schwabacher Landing was one of the unknown places I wanted to see this time. To my surprise, it was very busy. There are short trails to the water. Also, it’s one of the places that looks better at sunrise 🙂
Sunrise at Snake River Overlook
The next morning I needed to drive all the way from Flagg Ranch to Jackson. The story was sad but edificatory.
The first day, I explored the park by myself on a rental car and waited for Eugene and our friends to drive to the park (they had a boys-only road trip). When I met them, I returned car to the rental center.
And only late night that day, I realized: I left my travel tripod in the trunk of a rental Jeep. The only reasonable solution was to wake very early in the morning and try to get the tripod at rental center opening.
It was one of the nicest drives I experienced. Empty road, clear air, sun raising slowly above the horizon. As I turned on Hwy 26, the sun started to color Tetons in red. I passed Elk Ranch Flats with grazing horses with a sad feeling; I cannot stop.
Then it was sharp right of Snake River Overlook. And I turned right. It was the nicest view. I spent there about 10 mins, and I never had a thought I’m doing something wrong.
I was at the rental center 20 minutes after opening. The rental Jeep was already cleaned. There was no tripod in it or anywhere around, not in the lost and found or anywhere else in the center. I was angry with myself more than on the employees at the rental center.
The next day I bought a new travel tripod at Jackson. The rental agency wasn’t able to locate my lost one.
Sunrise Oxbow Bend
Most of the previous day, we spent exploring Yellowstone, and this third day we planned to breakfast at Headwaters Lodge Restaurant, and then have a long drive to Idaho.
I didn’t want to miss the last opportunity to see the sunrise in one more location, Oxbow Bend. If Snake River Overlook was empty the previous day, Oxbow Bend was, as I expected, busy with photographers and regular tourists.
If you can wake early and drive there, I recommend spending significant time here: from before sunrise to 20-30 mins after it. At first, the sky will turn pink (when sky conditions are more or less right), and then when the sun starts to move higher above the horizon, Teton will change color from blue to orange or pink. Spectacular show!
Elk Ranch Flats Turnout
I saw horses at Elk Ranch Flats Turnout the day before, and I was glad to see them again. Usually, the area of Elk Ranch Flats is the place where you could see bison or horses. And they’re great objects to shoot with Teton backdrop.
Info and Links
- Check the Grand Tetons National Park site before the visit about trail conditions
- Entrance fee works fro both Grand Teton and Yellowstone. However, the annual pass is better if you want to visit several parks
- I used this alltrails.com guide for Taggart Lake hike, and this for Hidden Falls from Jenny Lake.
- We found Headwaters Lodge at Flagg Ranch the best place to stay if you want to visit both Yellowstone and Grand Teton
- We combined our stay at Grand Teton with Yellowstone. The second day after the breakfast we drove the grand loop at the nearby park.
- Check my other posts about the park.