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Grand Teton National Park: Part 3


If you missed our first installment about Grand Teton, you could check out our day one adventures about arriving at Grand Tetons.. After recovering from the trip into Wyoming and the amazing hike across Jenny lake on the following day, we took the second half of the day to do some less strenuous activities.

We first stopped in at Dornan’s for some lunch, and man this place is HUGE. A family-owned resort that started in 1922, it has a ton-o-stuff. A chuck wagon, pizza, wine shop, store and cabins to rent. Our positive park parking karma was still in force when we arrive, and we quickly found a spot. The kids made it easy and gravitated to the pizza in the bar/cafe. It had an amazing view, long bar, and, well, pizza.

The menu was simple, but I think that just made it easier for them to deliver the food. It was tasted fine, and frankly we could have eaten leather from the bottom of someone’s shoe and called it good, as we were famished. Note, you have to get drinks form the bar, which my 8-year-old thought was fun.

After lunch we headed to the new Craig Thomas Visitor Center that is just across the Snake River from Dornans. You can almost smell the paint. This place is so sparkly and new. It was very busy and was loaded with amenities.

The one thing that I really liked was the HUGE windows that afforded an amazing view of the Tetons. If you looked closely at the floor, engraved metal lines with the name of the mountain and elevation, guided your gaze to the actual mountain. Pretty slick!

The Visitor Center has a nice topographic map of the park as well as a digital floor (!). Overall, the exhibits were well done, modern and gift shop nicely stocked.

We took plenty of time exploring and were able to get a bit of rest as well.

To round out the afternoon, we headed to Jackson to check out a few of the must-see sites of the town.

The first thing we did was take a short trip up Snow Kings Ski lift to check out the view from atop the mountain. The ride was short, view amazing, with absolutely nothing to do once you are up there except go back down again. It was fairly pricey for a view, but we knew we were tourist and they have to eat too, I guess.

We then took a little time at the Teton Boulder Park to try a few bouldering moves. It was quite fun. My daughter was even getting some tips from some climbers. After which, we found some Huckleberry ice cream at Moo’s Gourmet Ice Cream near Jackson Town Square. Of course, we had to stop in and check out the super amazing antler arches that was nearby at the town square. Little known fact, at least by me, they have to periodically remake the arches as the antlers do decompose over time. How about that.

The day that we were leaving, I was able to convince my wife to allow me to get up early and drive over to Mormon Row and take a few shots while the rest of the family packed up. It is a bucket list picture taking opportunity and just could not pass it up. While I woke up a bit late, it was still great to walk around the old homesteads and play with the composition of the structures.

I was only able to spend a short period of time there, and mainly stuck around the famous T.A. Moulton Barn. There are many other areas and homesteads to explore!

Key Tip: We used the Guide Along app in our travels and it made a HUGE difference! We learned so much and it absolutely kept the kids engaged. So much so, they nick-named the narrator ‘Bob’, and consistently asked to put ‘Bob’ on so they can hear a story. Check them out! (I am not affiliated, and do not get any kick back on this recommendation, by the way)

Driving north out of Grand Teton National Park, you have to take the John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway. What is so special that this dude gets a whole road named after him, you ask? Wasn’t he just the son of a super-rich guy? Yes. Yes, was. He was the son of the co-founder of Standard Oil (John D. senior), and who many describe as the richest person in modern history (think $340 Billion rich. That’s billion with a B).

So, when the primary description of you is ‘philanthropist’, as is used to describe his son, believe it. He had plenty of cash to be philanthropic with. So much so, that in 1926 he started acquiring over 310,000 acres of land and was a key individual in actually coalescing Grand Teton into a National Park. His acquisition of property, persevering through fierce local backlash (they were not aware he was just going to give away their land) and final engagement with the Federal government made it happen. I am certainly pleased with the results and think a little road bearing his name is the least we could do.

A great visit overall, and a great lead in as we moved North the iconic Yellowstone National Park, which we will review shortly.

Cancellations stamp reading "John D. Rockefeller Jr, memorial parkway"

Unit: John D. Rockefeller Jr Memorial Parkway

Path to 428+: 75

Region: Rocky Mountain

Month/Year: Aug 2023

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