Three summers ago, I had the privilege of taking a month-long vacation with my family to Grand Teton National Park in the state of Wyoming. Located just south of Yellowstone, Grand Teton is home to some of the most robust and breathtaking mountain peaks on the North American continent. The Grand Teton, which is the Park’s tallest peak, towers over 13,000 feet above sea level, and over 6,000 feet above the surrounding valley.
Having been to the Tetons a couple times before, I was no stranger to the Park. But despite my familiarity with the area, I still could not help but feel excited and adventurous as my feet hit the dusty soil of Colter Bay Campground upon our arrival. If anything, my feeling of nostalgia served only to add to my enjoyment, rather than dull it. I felt at home among the lodgepole pines and gray jays.
We determined that the best way to experience this magnificent country was not from the pullouts on the roads but from the heart of the mountains themselves. Every morning, we would wake bright and early and set off on a hike in the cool mountain air. It seemed our feet would carry us impossible distances, and before we knew it we were summiting Paintbrush Divide or snacking at Amphitheater Lake, halfway up the side of the Grand Teton itself. Along the way, we ran into plenty of red squirrels chattering away in the trees, Uinta ground squirrels busily preparing for hibernation, and even the occasional black bear lazily foraging for wild huckleberries.
In addition to witnessing Grand Teton National Park’s voluminous flora and fauna, we also got to experience the culture of Jackson, Wyoming, a small tourist town just outside the southern border of the park. It felt like we were in an Old West town as we walked down the wooden sidewalk, exploring all of the shops located around the town square. Art galleries, authentic Western apparel stores, and Native American jewelry shops were but a few of the many interesting places we discovered. We finished up our day with a trip to Mountain High Pizza Pie, where we ate fresh-baked, deep-dish pizzas and breadsticks.
All too soon, our vacation was nearing its end. As we packed up our tents, loaded the van to the breaking point, and said goodbye to Colter Bay Campground and the Tetons, I was disappointed to know that it was all over already. I didn’t ever want to have to leave, but I knew that we must. Our time in the mountains was a thrilling adventure, and I will cherish and remember it for the rest of my life. The month our family spent together brought us all closer together and taught us a lot about the amazing plants, animals, and people of Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Hopefully, before I get old, I will have the opportunity to return to the Park and finish exploring and discovering all of the possibilities that it has to offer. Until then, I will be content with my fond memories of that summer in the vast wilderness of Grand Teton National Park.
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