Jackson Hole Land Trust

Last night, I went to what will become an annual event for me. It was the Jackson Hole Land Trust Picnic. The food was great, the scenery inspirational, and the common purpose of the guests uplifting. A large white tent on the Bar BC Ranch off of Spring Gulch Jackson Hole Land Trust PicnicRoad was the epicenter of the festivities. Music, a raptor demonstration, and an open bar with coolers filled with cans of local beer led off the meal. Of course, a shot of Wyoming Whiskey helped put me in the proper frame of mind as well. Then generous helpings of barbecue (and for those that know me well generous helpings is an understatement) – followed by cake, strawberries and whipped cream left me satiated.
The Jackson Hole Land Trust is a private, non-profit organization that strives to preserve the incredible vistas, necessary wildlife habitat and open spaces that all of us love. Despite the fact that 97% of Teton County is park land, the remaining 3% is privately held and without careful stewardship could result in permanently changing the unique character of Jackson Hole. The Land Trust strategically identifies critical land that must be protected for the enjoyment of future generation. It then works with land owners and local government to protect land from further development through donations, purchaseIMG_1018_0087s and conservation easements.
Whether you are a resident or a visitor there is something refreshing about mingling with more than a hundred people in a magical setting with just enough of a cool breeze to balance any heat generated from the setting sun. It was easy to spot friendships being renewed and new ones formed. We ran into friends of our daughter and their new baby. Just last year my twenty-something year old kids tubed the Snake River with them and had a fabulous time. Of course, once my wife spotted their newborn, she just had just had to hold that baby for as long as she could.
And by the way – if future years work like this one, you can make a last minute decision to show up. They were happy to register me at the door. Not being certain that I could do that, I drove to the location earlier in the day to make sure it was OK to sign up and pay my money at the event. I was looking for a “warm fuzzy” that it was fine since their web site said reservations need to be made by July 30, but was only able to get a telephone number to call. [Read more…]

Kayaking on Jenny Lake


Kayak Jenny Lake

Seven trees stand green and tall atop a burnt, but not barren hillside.  How did they survive the fires that engulfed the northwestern shore of Jenny Lake? How could I have gone eight years recreating all over Jackson Hole without once kayaking in the early morning placid waters of the Lake?  Those were my thoughts as my wife and I glided along the shoreline.

We arrived at the boat dock about 9:00 AM on September 3rd.  It was the last day of the season. The Jenny Lake Boating concession was closing a month early because of unusually low water levels. According to an attendant this was due to heavy early season snow run-off caused by high temperatures followed by a dry summer. 

My wife and I are no strangers to kayaking. We have glided through frigid ocean teeming with life in Alaska, protected water off the San Juan Islands, placid boat channels in Vancouver and a misty lake in Connecticut. We may not have refined our two person kayak technique, but we have learned the fine art of arguing about who is paddling harder, who is paddling better, and who wants to paddle at all.

With full knowledge of our propensity to debate the fine arts of boating, we prepared to venture onto a body of water in a narrow plastic shell that magnifies any momentary lapses of balance. [Read more…]

My First Trip To Jackson Hole

Sixteen years ago I arrived in Jackson Hole with my family for a first family trip out west and had no idea what I was getting into.  I was a veteran flyer and avid traveler, accustomed to navigating my way through airports, baggage facilities, interminable rental car lines and endless airport traffic.  After flying for several hours, including a stop in Dallas with a long delay, by the time we approached Jackson Hole, my wife’s nerves were frayed from her fruitless efforts to keep three young children from de-composing  into a primordial display of pre-adolescent fireworks.  Of course, my attempts to remain in blissful ignorance of their impending explosion, was repeatedly frustrated by continued spousal reminders that I had responsibility for the kids too.

Suddenly, everything changed.  [Read more…]

String Lake to Inspiration Point

Most guidebooks will have you park in the South Jenny Lake parking lot and walk three miles around the lake to the beginning of trail leading to Inspiration Point. Alternatively, they will point out the option of taking a boat from the Jenny Lake Boat dock.  Not me.

Instead you should drive to String Lake. You can reach it by heading ten miles north of the Moose Entrance to Grand Teton National Park.  Turn left at the signed North Jenny Lake Junction.  It is another one and a half miles to the String Lake parking lot access road on the right.  There are three lots, park in the first one. If it is full, you can go to one of the others, get out of the car, head for the lake and turn left on the trail until you reach the first lot.

From the first parking lot head south, following the short trail that skirts the eastern edge of the lake. Within a couple of hundred yards you will see a bridge on your right cross it, or perhaps stop in the middle and marvel at the view.

After the bridge the trail bears west and south. It passes through area burnt from a forest fire in 1999, incredible views of the Tetons looming over the hills, and a fast moving stream on your left. When you reach an intersection after about one third of a mile, bear left, rather than breaking right to continue around String Lake. The path will take you about 1.5 miles to Jenny Lake and then head west along the lake shore for a short stretch to the western edge of Jenny Lake where the boat ramp is located  (hopefully you arrived at a different time than the boat). [Read more…]

Hike to Phelps Lake

An Idyllic hike that combines rushing rivers, wooden bridges, and a beautiful lake with a mountain backdrop can be had by parking at the Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve Center and following the Lake Creek Trail to Phelps Lake. Along the way you will cross three bridges, hike gentle switchbacks up and down forested hills, and arrive at a large lake with a tempting bench to sit on. This can all be accomplished within slightly less than a three mile roundtrip.

If you just want to soak in the view, you can forsake the trip and relax on one of the many benches strategically placed along the streams and enjoy the sounds and the view. For those who want to extend the journey, once you reach Phelps Lake, follow the trail to the left (I have not yet travelled to the right). After walking approximately three quarters of a mile you will reach a rocky promontory that juts into the water. It is a great spot to relax and eat a sandwich.  I have been known to wade into the cold waters of the lake from that spot, but be aware it is slippery.  Water shoes definitely help. [Read more…]

String Lake to Hidden Falls – Hiking Grand Teton National Park

If you like mountains, rushing streams, a gorgeous lake, and a waterfall to boot, then this 4 mile round trip hike is for you.   Perhaps long stretches of shade, open terrain recovering from a forest fire and minor elevation gain would interest you as well. 

The trip starts in the String Lake parking lot. 

String Lake

String Lake

You can shorten the distance if you park in the first area on your left.  Lengthen it slightly and park in the last lot, but then you have the advantage of quick access to the bathroom facilities.  Either way, leave the parking area and head to String Lake where you turn left.  Eventually, you will cross a scenic wooden footpath bridge.  Follow the path and continue straight, instead of turning right at the intersection with the String Lake loop trail.  [Read more…]

String Lake – Hiking Grand Teton National Park

It probably was once a river channel connecting Jenny Lake to the South and Leigh Lake to the North. Now, String Lake is nothing short of a spectacular narrow body of sparkling water ringed on its Western and South Western sides by majestic mountains that seemingly stretch from the shore to the clouds.  On its eastern shore are numerous small beaches, some immediately adjacent to the parking lot and others to the North that provide some semblance of privacy.

The trail that rings the lake is easy, especially the stretch from the parking lot north to the bridge that crosses a mild set of rapids to the Western side (about a fifteen minute walk).  The shaded walk keeps you in close contact with the water on the left and the woods on the right.  Should you want to go further, after crossing the bridge follow the trail for another couple of hundred yards until you reach a branch heading South (to your left).  It will lead you back to your starting point in another hour after first circling the lake.

String Lake is not just for viewing. It is also for swimming as well.  [Read more…]

Jackson Hole – Great Harvest Bread Company

Ok.  I can’t believe I am recommending a franchise.  I can’t believe I am recommending that you go all the way to Jackson Hole and then frequent an eatery that you might have back home.  However, this ain’t just your ordinary Great Harvest Bread Company store (and the ordinary ones are pretty darned good too!).  This bakery is special – at least it is to me and everybody I have brought in there.  It is quite different than the franchise that is located where I live.  The owners appear to have taken special care to put their own distinctive twist on the brand.

It starts with the free samples.  They offer you gigantic portions of several different types of bread, swathed in butter or jelly that, except for your guilt, would be enough to eat along with their Snake River Roaster coffee sold by the cup.  However, even though they serve fine looking breakfasts that is not what brings me in.  Even the tempting smells emanating from the freshly baked loaves of bread would not necessarily warrant a stop there an almost command performance.

For me, it is their sandwiches and desserts.  Specifically, it is one of each.  Usually I am a roast beef or corned beef sandwich guy.  However, once I ventured out of my comfort zone when I saw the description of their Cowboy Cobb.  It included:

  • Fresh avocado
  • Smoked turkey breast
  • Crispy bacon
  • Blue cheese spread

When I opened it up forty minutes later up at the Oxbow (see a future post on this incredible wildlife viewing location), I thought I had died and gone to heaven.  I was so impressed that between bites I called my wife in Maryland and told her I had found Nirvana.  [Read more…]

Jackson Hole – Creekside Market and Deli

This little gem is a great place to stop for a surprisingly inexpensive sandwich to take along on your outdoor adventure.  The turkey club is especially good, but alternatively you have your choice of:

  • 13 meats
  • 8 cheeses
  • 12 breads
  • 19 fixings

or 9 other specialty sandwiches.  Along with all this you get the benefit of a small grocery ( a clean bathroom for those in need) and personal assistance.

It is located at 545 N. Cache Rd. ( the main road heading north out of town).  As you are leaving town, you will see a long low strip center on your left.  The Deli is located in the middle of the structure.

Jackson Hole – Dornan’s

If you want the best Bloody Mary for the best price in the world, Dornan’s is the place to go.  If you want world class views of the Tetons while savoring incredibly tasty pizzas, calzones, and salads washed down by local beers, Dornan’s is the place to go.  If you want to rent bikes to ride into Grand Teton National Park or just pick up a few grocery items before you enter the Park, Dornan’s is the place to go.  If you…. well you get the idea – Dornan’s is the place to go! [Read more…]