Camping on the Snake River

Between the Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks is the John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Parkway.  That’s the name of the road, and also the name of the area that connects the two parks.  Grassy Lake Road comes off the Parkway and goes behind the Flagg Ranch resort complex.  It runs along the Snake River for a few miles, then connects to Ashton, Idaho.  The road is reported to be very rough, but the first few miles aren’t too bad, and the Park Service has constructed several mini campgrounds there. It’s free to stay for up to 14 days.  I stopped at the 2nd campground, which has 2 campsites.  One site had a tent but no car, and the other site was vacant.  I grabbed the vacant site and hoped the tent didn’t belong to an axe-murderer.

Grassy Lake Road Camp

Grassy Lake Camp. The little building on the left is a new rest room (pit toilet) constructed by the Park Service.

After getting level and setting up, a car drove up and I got to meet my neighbor. It was a young woman named Gillian, solo camping with her newly adopted dog – a Chihuahua named Mouse.  Gillian had been living in New York, but was originally from Scotland, so had just the best accent.  We had a great time talking about how we each took to the road (many similarities), our plans, and had fun playing with the dogs.  She left early the next morning, as she had many miles to make that day.  She was such a lovely, fantastic, free-spirit I was sorry we didn’t have another day or 2 to visit.  That’s one of the hard things about traveling around – you meet fantastic people and make great friendships, but the time is too short before saying goodbye.

The Snake River runs directly behind the campsites, and in the mornings there would be fog in the area and mist over the water.  It made for great pictures.  Usually there were fisherman further along the river, and I often thought about how much my friend Chris Turner, an avid fly-fisherman, would love that site.

Morning on the Snake River

After Gillian left some deer came by, checking on the site.

Deer wondering where Gillian and Mouse went

The National Park Service patrols the campsites, both with rangers and a very nice retired volunteer gentleman.  He told me there were other campsites further up the road (I was aware about just the first 2 campgrounds), so Riley and I took a walk up the road a mile or so to check out the other sites.  We met another lovely woman, Jen from New Jersey, solo tent camping out of her car.  She too had quit her job and hit the road.  Her goal was to do some back-country hiking in the Tetons, so was very excited to be there and close to her dream.  We talked for a couple of hours, then later, she came to visit at our campground.  Turns out she had been camped next to me at Colter Bay 2 days before, and really liked the look of my Lazy Daze motorhome.  She was surprised and glad to see me in the same area, but had camped further up the road since our little 2-site area was full.  So, I gave a tour and we talked a couple of hours more.  I was planning to leave the next morning to go to Yellowstone, and we arranged for her to come by and take my site, as it was nicer than the one she had up the road.  Again, I made a great friend and was saying a sad goodbye to head on to the next part of my trip.

I love a campsite with a nice view!

I had stayed Sunday/Monday, Sept. 2nd & 3rd at the Grassy Lake Road camp.  Now that Labor Day had passed I wanted to get to Yellowstone, since the crowds should be smaller than during the ‘summer season’.   There would be a lot to see there, and I planned to meet my friend Dwight, who was in Norris Campground.  I have a LOT of pictures from Yellowstone and will post on that part of the trip soon.

Grand Teton National Park

Next we headed to the Tetons.  Approaching from the east on Hwy. 26, the Teton range is seen from the side, a great angle.  What I didn’t expect was to see glimpses through openings in the trees as I was driving towards Moran Junction.  I was stunned.  You see pictures, but nothing can prepare you for the first sighting of the Teton range.

Glimpse of Tetons, approaching on Hwy. 26

The prior night had been stormy and there were still a lot of low clouds hanging around.  Unfortunately, a lot of my pictures have those clouds along the mountaintops.  (By the way, clicking on the pictures will open them to a bigger view.)

Low clouds over the Teton range

We stopped at a few places, including along the Snake River, a view made famous by Ansel Adams.

Tetons from Snake River Overlook

We drove through the park down to Jackson, passing by fields of bison, to take care of our gas, grocery and internet access needs.  Then we took the park road back north, to the visitor center at Moose, to viewpoint pull-offs, by Jenny Lake, and to Jackson Lake, where we would get a site at Colter Bay campground.  Another storm was gathering over the mountains and we were driving into it.

Storm over Tetons

Closer view

Jenny Lake

Colter Bay Campsite

At Colter Bay, Riley and I walked around the area, including to the beach at Jackson Lake.

Tetons and Jackson Lake

Jackson Lake near Colter Bay campsite

Riley at Jackson Lake

Back at the campground we met Margaret, from New York, originally from Australia.  She was traveling solo with her bird and tent camping out of her car.  A spunky, lovely lady.

The next morning we headed toward Yellowstone. The road hugs Jackson Lake north of Colter Bay and I got a picture of Myrtle (my rig) with a pretty backdrop.

The low clouds hide the tops of the mountains. You can just see a few tips above the clouds in places.

I had read about a park campground just south of Yellowstone, right on the Snake River and free!  This post is already long enough, so will write about that stop separately.