Grand Teton National Park

 

IMG_E3277

IMG_3422

 

We concluded our getaway at Grand Teton National Park and boy, was it the cherry on top of our transformational trip. After all the hype and excitement Yellowstone provided us with, it was nice to wind down at yet another treasure the U.S.A has to offer.  Fun fact, Grand Teton is only about 27 miles or a 45 minute drive from the South Entrance of Yellowstone.

 

36725206_10217031797135550_7632097043212664832_o

 

Our first impression driving into the park was awe-inspiring. It could not have been a more perfect day to come across the unparalleled stunning view of the Tetons. Pictures and videos do not do the scenic view justice. The sun beamed, the sky was vast with opportunities, and the birds chirped gleefully – it somehow felt like I was teleported to a Disney princess fantasy. I must admit, I was thrilled to encounter the heat; the Miami girl in me jumped on the opportunity to wear shorts.

 

IMG_7202

36688552_10217031770614887_3355607894815932416_n

36739895_10217031794455483_8451082551337943040_o

 

On our drive into the park, we had to stop and take pictures. I could not help marveling at the juxtaposition of the Teton range and the yellow daisies. For the most part, I struggle with living in the moment. On this day, I savored every second and took mental images of it all.

 

IMG_3312

Morning view from our room

 

Ok so, I am a morning person – more so for productivity than anything else. On vacation, I love to milk my days and do as much as possibly, but there are also those days when I want to sleep in. Let me just say, mornings are in fact made easier with mountains. I valued my morning view at Signal Mountain Lodge, it actually may be what I miss most from the trip. I consider myself to be a spiritual person and mountains have a way of enhancing that part of myself. Not only that, they make me feel undeniably blessed and thankful.

 

I know what you’re thinking, how can mountains do all of that? And why can’t you be grateful without an incredible view of mountains? Hear me out, I am thankful for every moment – for everything, really. Mountains just have a way of providing retrospect, that whatever I may be feeling or going through, it could always be worse and there is light at the end of the tunnel. They remind me that there is more to life than the tangible – there’s family, love, and the undeniable beauty in things that we cannot explain.

 

FYI, the mountains appear to be A LOT closer than they actually are. Maybe it was just me, but I swore that they were in touching distance.

 

Accommodations

 

 

IMG_3348

IMG_3526

Stairs leading to our room

 

We all loved our Lakefront Retreat room. With a view like the one I included above, do you blame us? I wish I could wake up to a view like that every morning. Unlike the other lodges we stayed at, WIFI was included and it worked really well! The lodge itself was adorable, featuring antiques in the lobby, along with complimentary, quality coffee. Our room was spacious and cozy. Joyous dance parties were done, family Clue face-offs were had, homemade breakfasts were thoughtfully crafted and later devoured, reading sessions were enjoyed on all the various seating areas, and restful nights were experienced. Along with awesome lodging, Signal Mountain Lodge also yielded us with incredible perks. Including (but not limited to) convenient and delicious restaurants, a useful and well stocked general store, and a laundromat that made our lives 100 times easier.

 

IMG_3310

IMG_3311

IMG_3371

IMG_3530

IMG_3529

IMG_3421

 

I find it important to highlight Signal Mountain Lodge’s sustainability efforts. The lodge was named as a member of the EPA’s Green Power Partnership Leaders Club for offsetting our electrical power usage by purchasing renewable energy credits. Additionally, all three of the Lodge restaurants (The Peaks, Trapper Grill and Leek’s Pizzeria) were the first businesses in Wyoming to achieve certification by the Green Restaurant Association. Signal Mountain Lodge was named a Reduce, Reuse, Recycle Restaurant Business Leader by Teton County, Wyoming and they are partners with the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics. Just like the lodge we stayed at in Yellowstone, there was a fountain to fill water bottles in the lobby.

 

 

IMG_3299

 

As we waited for our room at the Signal Mountain Lodge to be ready, we decided to explore the larger, more popular option – Jackson Lake Lodge. I will not lie, it was gorgeous and vast. The view when you walk into the lobby was absolutely breathtaking. Although I may be partial to the more placid and quaint option, I cannot deny Jackson Lake Lodge’s irrefutable grandeur. If given the choice again, I would have still chosen the same.

 

Q48A0805

 

Food

 

The emphasis placed on quality fresh ingredients in this part of the country was not lost on me. You may be thinking, “oh, if such high regard is placed on quality then quantity must be lacking”. I’m here to tell you that the portions over here are huge. It is the best of both worlds, quality AND quantity! All the restaurants I went to incorporated gluten free, vegan, and vegetarian options, so there was always something for everyone to eat.

 

 

IMG_3349

IMG_3352

IMG_3351

Lunch with a view

 

Many of our meals were had here and honestly, everything we ate was amazing (the phenomenal view of the Tetons also helped). We dined here for breakfast, lunch and dinner (we even did takeout on a lazy night) and every dish we had was fresh and abundant. Remember what I said about quality AND quantity? The menu offers a large array of options that everyone can enjoy, diet restrictions and all.

 

Trapper Sandwich (turkey, guac, bacon, alfalfa) with homemade chips

 

My Dad grew up in Jersey and he recalls seeing kids at school bring sandwiches with alfalfa in them. He asked his Cuban Mother if she could put alfalfa in his sandwiches too. Let’s just say, it is not exactly easy to explain alfalfa to a non-English speaker. I must admit, alfalfa has a way of heightening a sandwich – it makes you feel fancier. The Trapper Sandwich hit the spot. I usually feel that if a dish is named after the restaurant, it will be good one. I normally tap out of eating chips, but these homemade chips were marvelous. Yet again, the potatoes did not disappoint.

 

IMG_E3406

Grand Teton Beer

 

I was really excited to try this beer. Although it was hoppy and not as malty as I had hoped for, I still appreciated it after a long day in the heat.

 

The Signal Chicken Quesadilla

 

The quesadillas were immense. I believe two people could share them and still be content. They also have a half portion that was still substantial in comparison to quesadillas back home. If you are not a fan of spicy, ask for the quesadillas without jalapeños!

 

IMG_3417

Trout Tacos

 

The trout tacos were recommended to me by the waitress and I am glad I got them. Although the angle of the shot does nothing for them, the tacos were indeed jam packed with fish and slaw. The crunchy sweet potato fries coupled well with the tacos.

 

IMG_3418

Huckleberry Crème Brulee

 

Anyone that knows me knows that I have a severe sweet tooth – I LOVE sweets! Trapper Grill concocts delectable homemade desserts. I am obsessed with huckleberry and I have always loved Crème Brûlée, therefor I had to give it a shot. It exceeded my expectations. It was so incredibly divine that I did not care that my stomach went wild afterwards (you know, the type of wild when you have these incomprehensible dreams).

 

IMG_3473

Benedict Florentine

 

There are times when selecting Benedict Florentine would be an unwise choice, this was not one of those times! I started my day on a high point by demolishing this lovely benedict.

 

Signal Mountain Chili

 

I was not all the hungry one of the nights, so I opted for the chili and corn bread. It turned out to be a larger portion than I expected, but it was pretty good.

 

Signal Blackberry Pie

 

The blackberry pie is their specialty and after having it, I understood why. It is made with Marion blackberries and the crust was tender and scrumptious. I had multiple delicious desserts at The Trapper Grill and this was by far my favorite.

 

In addition to all the food pictured, I also had the abundant cheese curds, the Wyoming whiskey chocolate pecan pie, the cheesy & flavorful brussels sprouts, the healthy hummus plate, and the famously mountainous nachos. Although the nachos are one of their signature dishes, I was not a fan of the meat nor the sauce used.

 

 

IMG_3456

Fried tofu served w/ sweet & sour sauce and fried dumplings w/ sweet sesame soy sauce

IMG_3457

 

This place was a bit difficult for us to find at first. Teton Thai is still a part of Teton Village, just not in the main area (thus, making the whole locating thing a bit challenging). The fried tofu chunks were colossal and exemplary matched with the sweet & sour dipping sauce. The dumplings were also delightful – all the ingredients were heavenly amalgamated. Looking around we noticed the dinner plates were you guessed it, humongous. Not wanting to over stuff ourselves, we shared two noodle dishes – one with rice noodles and duck and the other with clear noodles and chicken. The duck was exquisite. My only complaint was that in the clear noodle dish there were too many bean sprouts (I loathe bean sprouts. To me, they are fake noodles).

 

 

IMG_3514

IMG_3516

IMG_3517

Milk Stout

IMG_3519

IMG_3518

Pesto Chicken Wrap

 

Leeks’s Pizzeria is the ideal spot in Grand Teton to enjoy yummy eats while still reveling in the good outdoors. The view of Jackson Lake and the Teton Mountain Range was gorgeous. Spending a day like this one indoors would have been a waste. I sated my thirst with a Milk Stout that resembled a Guinness, which I adore. Apparently, the pizza was really tasteful. Since I was trying to limit my dairy consumption (although, I am sure you have noticed I am not always good at restraining myself), I opted to have the gratifyingly fresh Chicken Pesto Wrap (without cheese, of course)

 

 

Homestyle Breakfast – 2 Eggs, Bacon, Ham or Sausage, Hash Browns, Toast or English Muffin

IMG_3542.JPG

 

All of their breakfast and lunch menu items are made to order. Pre-made and pre-packaged selections are also available if you are in a hurry. This was one of the best (if not the best) breakfasts I have had at an airport. The breathtaking view of the mountains solidified the positive experience.

 

Things-to-do:

 

  • Teton Park Road

 

IMG_3378

 

This road winds around the base of the Teton range, offering an overview of the park. The jaw-dropping views of the Teton range are not to be missed. If I had a view like this when driving in Miami, I probably would not mind driving so much. Pictures do not accurately depict the scenic view, so take videos! Attach that GoPro to the car and capture the wondrousness of it all.

 

  • Star gazing

 

Q48A0904

36667468_10217031793535460_6382080613104484352_o

36650059_10217031795455508_7222767302486261760_o

 

Star gazing in Yellowstone can be frightening with all the animals freely roaming about. Although there are still plenty of animals in Grand Teton, it is not as unnerving. My Dad was obsessed with going out when it was pitch black to star gaze and take pictures. We do not see a magnitude of stars back home, so naturally we had to take advantage of it. To my surprise, shooting stars were occurring liberally. Last time I spotted a copious amount of stars was 8 years ago in Utah. One of the nights that I was star gazing, I heard a noise and swore that something or someone was out there with us. Turns out, there was a buck right by us munching loudly on his late night snack.

 

  • Kick back and relax

 

IMG_4935

IMG_E3415

IMG_3408

 

Grand Teton is a great place to indulge in some family time. Since there was no TV in our room, we spent our days dancing to music and our nights playing board games. The quietude and serenity of Lake Jackson can also serve as an excellent reading spot. I woke up every morning and read while peering at my view of the lake and mountains.

 

 

36688172_10217031789615362_1846365878879256576_o

IMG_3389

IMG_3387

IMG_E3393

 

Those Mormons sure knew what was good – incredible choice of location! The view they had was unbelievable. Fair warning, the area is heavily populated with Columbian ground squirrels. Be careful not to fall in the holes they make in the ground. If you do, I fully expect you to disguise the fall with a Tom Cruise Mission Impossible stunt. I give you full creative liberty to select the move of your choice.

 

 

IMG_3397

IMG_4938

IMG_E3403

 

Jenny Lake was on every Grand Teton must-do list that I saw. I found it startling that people were actually in the water. I’m a born and raised Miami girl, so I tend to struggle with getting into cold water. The Jenny Lake area was filled with things to do – hiking trails, shuttle services, canoe and kayak rentals, an evening cruise, etc.

 

 

IMG_3429

IMG_3466

IMG_3436

IMG_3438

Q48A1263

Q48A1258

 

The parking area was closed, so we had to park further and walk a bit more. Grand Teton as whole is not as hiker friendly as the other parks, especially in comparison to Yellowstone. From what I saw, we were some of the few crazy people to do this trail on 4th of July. The isolated trail was daunting. I was waiting for a bear to pop out at any moment. To add to the eeriness of it all, there were barely any signs and when we did happen upon one it said, “Beware of Bears”. Safe to say, I had my bear spray, whistle, and bell handy. As we were climbing uphill, we noticed feces that looked like it belonged to a larger animal on the path – yeah, not gross at all. There was a point in the trail that was inhabited by a plentitude of butterflies and moths. People with giant nets appeared with the sole mission of trying to catch them (don’t worry, they said they had permits). I would recapitulate this trail as a lengthy uphill battle with heaps of bees and bugs, narrow pathways, and personal space invading grass. Trust me, I loved the view and of course, the feeling of completing a trail (the elation caused me to take bit of a tumble), BUT I was still totally spooked.

 

 

IMG_3460

IMG_3458

IMG_3459

Huckleberry Ice Cream

 

There was point on our drive to Teton Village where we had to take the narrow, dirt road entitled Moose Wilson Road and it was…for the lack of a better term, interesting. Teton Village is a darling ski village, that was surprisingly packed in the summer. I can only imagine what it is like in the winter. We visited on 4th of July, so there were certain festivities taking place. Even though it was 4th of July and many were out and about, their ice cream place was closed. We eventually found ice cream at the general store. I, of course, had the huckleberry ice cream and it was great, as usual. It was different than the other ones I have had, a bit creamier. Before leaving, we hopped on the complimentary gondola lift and it was awesome – it took us to the top of the mountain.

 

 

IMG_3464

IMG_3461

 

We drove up to see the firework viewing area and it was more of a drive than we expected. On the way up, we saw a doe with a pretty badass scar, along with a momma bear and her 3 cubs. I was so excited! The viewing area was beautiful and already packed with people waiting for the fireworks to begin. Although we did not stay for the fireworks, I’m glad we got to see the scenic view while the sun was setting.

 

  • Jackson, WY

 

IMG_3493

Q48A1509

Q48A1512

IMG_5005

IMG_3505

IMG_3486

IMG_3484

 

On our last day we drove 45 minutes to visit Jackson, WY. It was honestly the cutest town we have been to while on this trip. It was lively, touristy and very western. It had an adorable toy store (how old am I?), several restaurants and shops, and the iconic Antler Arches of Jackson that are made from naturally shed antlers. Next time I am in Wyoming, I am definitely down to go to a rodeo!

 

  • Wildlife

 

IMG_3534

 

I mentioned earlier that we encountered bears and deers while in Grand Teton (we even had a buck right by our room window twice, assuming it was the same buck). Our animal sightings continued up until we were leaving to catch our flight back home. Three bucks bid us farewell and wished us safe travels.

 

Thoughts/Takeaways:

 

IMG_3522

36677059_10217031775335005_4100648162186756096_n

36742191_10217031779375106_7918083122858557440_n

 

A while back I went to Washington D.C. for the 4th of July and that was the most patriotic 4th of July I have ever had. It was unfathomable for me to think that any 4th of July destination would ever beat that. Being in Grand Teton was a whole other experience – not better or worse, just different. I spent the day appreciating my country’s natural beauty. America has a lot to offer. You don’t have to travel out of the country to see resplendent views.

 

Planning a trip to Grand Teton National Park? Keep in mind that Signal Mountain Lodge & Marina’s 2019 dates of operation are from May 10th to October 13th.

 

Check out my VLOG on Grand Teton:

 

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.