Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Grand Teton Part 2: Mad for Moose at Gros Ventre

We left the wet and cold behind the day we moved to Gros Ventre Campground in the southern half of Grand Teton National Park. With the sun making an appearance perhaps we'd finally get to see the Grand Teton range?

Our first afternoon was spent strolling the streets of nearby Jackson, WY and restocking the larder. Lucky's Market turned out to be one of the best grocery stores we've seen in quite a while. With a focus on natural and organic, excellent prices, and a fun vibe ($2 local pints  or glass of wine available to sip while you shop), we were hooked!

Obligatory photo under one of the impressive antler arches on the Jackson Hole Plaza.

Wyoming is cowboy country for sure, but Jackson is more of a wealthy tourist cowboy town.

Savor your grocery shopping experience with a local beer at Lucky's Market!

Gros Ventre Campground (and the Gros Ventre River corridor) is prime moose habitat so we were really looking forward to some wildlife watching...we were not disappointed! We saw moose every day, often several times a day, in the campground.

You have to be careful around these gentle-looking giants...they can be very dangerous and unpredictable.
It's recommended you always keep at least 25 yards away from them.

We saw at least three bucks and probably ten females and a yearling or two.
The bulls always seemed to be lying down and about all you could see was their antlers!
Photographers would set up and wait for HOURS to get good shots of the bucks.

There was plenty of other wildlife besides the moose.

Our first full day we drove out Gros Ventre Road to check out the Gros Ventre Slide, then on to hike to Grizzly Lake. At every turn we had to stop to oooh and aaah at the gorgeous scenery around us!

Old cabin with a perfect view of the now visible and snow capped Tetons.

After days and days of rain and clouds the Tetons were a treat to behold.

Rock outcroppings along Gros Ventre Road are good Bighorn Sheep habitat...but we spotted a black bear instead!

Red tinged hills along Gros Ventre Road.

A pocket of fall among the red hills.

From Grizzly Lake trail we had a view back down the valley we'd driven and a peak at the Tetons with a fringe of clouds.

The trail also offered a view into the Gros Ventre range.

We never made it to Grizzly Lake, the trail was lost among cow paths and we decided we'd had enough after 2.5 miles,
but the scenery more than made up for the missing lake.

Another stunning view from Gros Ventre Road.

Back at the campground we enjoyed more bull moose head and antlers. This guy had five females in his harem.



This had to be Rosie's favorite campground ever. We took her on very long walks (a quarter mile for a cat, on a leash, is a long walk) and she flushed out all sorts of critters: snakes, frogs, chipmunks, mice. But the best critter ever was this adorable short-tailed weasel!

Terrible lighting, but seriously, how often do you see short-tailed weasels in the wild?!?!?

We watched this cutie for several minutes.
It was just as curious about us as we (well, I) was about it!

The next morning I was determined to get out before sunrise to see what animals might be walking through the campground. I was especially interested in a beaver dam near our site that showed signs of potential habitation, and we'd seen what was likely a beaver swimming near it at dusk.

My preoccupation with the beaver dam put me in the perfect spot to witness two female moose crossing the river, covered in early morning steam, moments before sunrise! What an awesome way to start the day!




On this day we planned to hike the 7.2 mile Phelps Lake loop from the Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve. Turns out a beautiful Sunday in September is a busy, busy time in Grand Teton National Park and we got one of the last parking spots at the Preserve at 10:30am.

Drive by coyote sighting on the way to our hike.

The new snow is already melting away.

Mountain reflections in Phelps Lake.

At the far end of Phelps Lake we accidentally walked within 10 feet of this guy and another young male moose...scary!
Fortunately when we stumbled upon them they were relaxing in the grass and had no interest in us!
Isn't he a beauty!



Campground Review

Wheeling It Nina recently did a comprehensive review of Gros Ventre Campground, so I'm not going to try to reinvent the wheel, her reviews are the best!... please read her excellent review here.

Here is our experience: We arrived at this first come, first serve campground at 10am and got site C-144 in the generators-allowed loop. It was a huge level site that backs up to the river (not visible, about 40 yards away). Since the site is kind of on the bend in the road it was pie-shaped - it opened up to the forest, with only one near neighbor, who really didn't seem all that near. We had good 4G Verizon signal with our booster.

This is an excellent place to stay when visiting Grand Teton National Park, the wildlife viewing is phenomenal, there's tons of hiking and amazing scenery nearby and it's only about 10 miles to Jackson Hole, we'd stay here again in a heartbeat!

Site C-144. the forest/riparian area continues behind me to the river.

The beaver lodge I was so enamored with. I'd love to watch it evolve over a few years.
There's a substantial base infrastructure in place to build a very large pond in the coming years.

Rosie was in kitty heaven at this campground! 


20 comments:

  1. You hit the jackpot for sure! Absolutely gorgeous Lisa!

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  2. Our kitty cats loved this campground too. Must be something special about it that gets the paws excited. You got some great pics and did some wonderful hikes. I so love that area! Great overview!
    Nina

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  3. The Tetons are really beautiful and what a great bonus to see all that wonderful wildlife.

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  4. Look forward to returning to the Teton one day. Thanks for the info on Gros Ventre.

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  5. Our cats loved it there, too, as did we! When we were there the first time in 2010 there was a huge beaver dam and lodge, and we would go watch them every evening. When we went back in 2014 we were disappointed that it was gone, destroyed by flooding, so I'm glad to hear they've been hard at work rebuilding.

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    1. Wow, I could not find any fresh beaver cuttings, and the lodge looked like it had been around for a while. But the future dam infrastructure was very impressive and it was easy to see that any wood coming down the river in the next few months would be put to good use in the dam. We are pretty sure we saw one beaver...those critters are industrious!

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  6. The weasel wins, hands down, for cuteness!

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  7. Oh boy, Steve is again jealous for your weasel sighting! He is also on the lookout for those. You are scoring a lot with all wildlife sightings, especially the Mooses!
    Great pictures all around but love those Moose strolling along in the morning.

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  8. This is a fabulous post, Lisa! Your photos are wonderful, and I love reading about your adventures. We got snowed out of going to the Tetons a couple of years ago, but we'll definitely return. Your wildlife sightings are fabulous -- we've yet to see moose in the wild. So, so cute that Rosie loved the campground. :-)

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  9. Although we have been to the Tetons, we have not been to this campground nor done these hikes, so this was a great post for us as we plan a return trip. Your photos are fabulous. I especially love the moose among the fall colors and the two crossing the river at dawn. That weasel sighting was amazing.

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  10. What beautiful country! Love all your moose shots. And I like the $2 pint idea - that's my kinda grocery store! I just got back from a great mini trip to Lassen Nat park. Can't wait to share photos with everyone.

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    1. Ooooh, can't wait to read your post. We loved our stay near Lassen!

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  11. Okay, this is a totally unacceptable blog post! No one should have this much beauty and that many moose and other wildlife sighting in one place!! This so unfair and I am beyond jealous:) Haha! Oh, boy, this will be a stop that will be hard to top. I know where we are staying when we come to the Tetons, even if we have to dry camp. That big guy with those amazing antlers is absolutely gorgeous! Wow! I love the snow capped Tetons through the cabin window. Beautiful photo:) The shot from the Gros Ventre Road is stunning:) How cool was Rosie to flush out a weasel. I've never seen one. How cute:) Love teh early morning moose crossing the river:) What a fantastic post!!

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    1. Seriously...leaving this wildlife heaven is tough! Nowhere else have we seen so much wildlife, and so much variety!

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    2. I just loved seeing all your wonderful photos of the wildlife. I'm sorry you left the area!

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  12. We love Gros Ventre campground too but have never got there in spring as we always run out of the time we are allowed in your wonderful country, I would love to see bull moose!

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  13. Gros Ventre is one of my VERY favorite campgrounds. But we didn't have moose in the campground or that darling Weasel. Timing is everything and we need to time it for September next time. Your pictures of the snow capped Tetons are fantastic and your moose shots, well I have to agree with John and Pam.........SO ENVIOUS!! Really great post.

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  14. Incredible shots of the moose! That big guy is so shiny and healthy looking. And the weasel is adorable!!!

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