Some 5,000 elk winter in the Jackson Hole area in the National Elk Refuge managed by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. This herd of Elk in Jackson was used to replenish elk herds in other locations throughout the US, and in winter it is the world's largest concentration of elk. The refuge consists of some 25,000 acres and is one of 545 wildlife refuges managed by the USFWS.
We stopped here while driving out of Jackson toward Grand Tetons National Park. We saw some 20 or 30 elk off in the distance that were barely photographable because they were so far from the road. They were in two groups: one groups standing to the north and another group lying down in the tall grass with only their antlers visible. This is a very popular spot for tourists and others passers-though.
Refuge headquarters are located in Jackson and is open all year, weekdays from 8:00am to 4:30pm.
I attended this festival at the Grand Targhee Ski Resort located in Caribou/Targhee National Forest in 2003 and 2004. They had one of the best line ups and there was no one there! I am used to attending bluegrass and cajun festivals in the northeast and they are crowded-but here no way. Fine with me. I relaxed, knitted a scarf or two and hoola hooped.
The best thing about this festival besides the music is the indoor flush toilets. This is important when you usually get a row of too full porto potties-you know what I'm talking about. LOL
We always try to take at least one rafting trip down the Snake River whenever we go to Jackson. When our daughter was younger we took her on the scenic float trip, then when she was 7, we took her on the whitewater trip. Now we have a new baby (2 yrs old), so we are going to be back to the float trip for a few years. The company that we always use is Barker-Ewing, as they always seem to have the best guides and have great trips, and have been in the business since 1963. I would recommend the Breakfast Combo float-whitewater trip where you take a scenic float trip in the morning, then stop for a home-cooked breakfast at one of their camps and take a whitewater trip in the afternoon. It is a two for one and is 8 miles of scenic and 8 of whitewater allowing you to view bald eagles and osprey while snapping pictures in the morning and making you hold onto your hat for the whitewater in the afternoon.
Another great summer time activity. Located at the base of the Jackson Hole ski resort you can take the tram to the top of the mountain for spectacular summer views. Be prepared for a 10-20 degree temperature drop so bring a jacket.
They have a snack bar at the top and for the daring you can consider a full afternoon hike down.
Star parties for Jackson visitors, convention groups, visitors to B&Bs, conducted by the Jackson Hole Astronomy Club during the summer months. Spectacular and dark night skies. Galaxies, star clusters, nebula, Milky Way, double stars, planets, the moon & more.
The landscape of the National Park is dominated by the Teton Range, a 40 miles long mountain front. The highest peak of the the Tetons is Grand Teton with an elevation of 13,770 feet (4198 meters). There are eleven other peaks with an elevation of 12,000 feet and higher. The lowest temperature recorded is -43 degrees Celcius (-46 Fahrenheit) and the park receives an average snowfall of 191 inches (490 cm) each year. But there is a lot more to see in the national park than just mountains and winter scenary. The Snake River cuts through the park and there are seven morainal lakes at the base of the Teton Range: Jackson, Leigh, String, Jenny, Bradley, Taggart, and Phelps. Over 100 alpine and backcountry lakes are also within the park borders. Hiking, snowmobiling, cross-country skiing and of course wildlife watching are the main activities at Grand Teton National Park. Black bears, grizzly bears, mooses, elks, deers, wolves, coyotes, bats, reptiles, amphibians and 300 species of birds can be found in the park.
The photo is a free download from the National Park
Beside the natural beauty of the hot spring terraces you can also find historical points of interest. The old Fort Yellowstone is located in the small village of Mammoth Hot Springs. And there is a visitor center. By the way, if you walk a few steps north from Mammoth Hot Springs you cross the state border and enter Montana.
Old Faithful is one of the biggest attractions of Yellowstone National Park - and one out of 300 geysirs in Americas oldest National Park. The geysir got its name because of its predictable, regular eruption. The length of the eruption varies from 1:30 to 5 minutes. The average interval between eruptions is 94 minutes. You shouldn't come too close, because water at the vent reaches 204° F / 95.6° C. Old Faithful's height ranges from 106 feet to more than 180 feet, averaging 130 feet. But its average eruption length, height and interval will change again--often as a result of an earthquake. A very informative visitor center is located just 200 yards from the Geysir. At the center you can watch a film about Old Faithful and buy a lot of souvenirs.
Mammoth Hot Springs is famous for its limestone terraces. About 50 hot springs are located in the area. Several key ingredients combine to make the Mammoth Hot Springs Terraces: heat, water, limestone, and a rock fracture system through which hot water can reach the earth's surface. Hot water is the creative force of the terraces. The source of the water is rain and snow that seeps deep into the earth. This cold ground water is warmed by heat radiating from the magma chamber before rising back to the surface. A system of small fissures carries water and an acidic solution filled with limestone upward. Once exposed to the open air, limestone can no longer remain in solution. A solid mineral reforms and is deposited as the travertine that forms the terraces.
Most people come to Jackson to visit Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone. Jackson is the gateway community for the spectacularly scenic Grand Teton National Park. If you love mountain vistas, you will treasure a visit to Grand Teton. This park is centered around one of the most beautiful mountain ranges in the country. The peaks in the Teton Range stand a sheer 7,000 feet above the valley floor. In my opinion, this park offers the best view of mountains in the entire Rocky Mountain range, if not in the entire country. They just suddenly rise up above the Snake River, Jenny Lake, and the grassy meadows in the Jackson Hole Valley. So visit the Grand Teton Park, and enjoy driving its scenic road, hiking, or boating on its beautiful lakes and the Snake River.
My second photo is a view after hiking to Inspiration Point. The third photo is a view from one of the turnouts along the main park road.
For detailed information on Grand Teton National Park, visit my VT pages, Enjoy the Beauty of Grand Teton National Park.
The National Elk Refuge is a 24,700 acre refuge that is the winter home for an average of 7,500 elk. The refuge was created in 1912 in order to protect habitat and provide sanctuary for elk, which make up one of the largest herds in North America. It is managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Elk can be seen in the refuge from November through April. During the remainder of the year the elk migrate out of the refuge to the mountain meadows in Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks, as well as Bridger-Teton National Forest. This refuges also attracts other wildlife, including trumpeter swans. It is believed that originally the size of this herd was more than 25,000. The expansion of Jackson, however, blocked off the traditional migration route, and by the end of the 19th century the size of the herd was greatly reduced, due to the harsh winter climate and the lack of food. People began to talk of the need to protect the remaining herd, and this led to the creation of the refuge. Within the refuge the elk are managed through feeding and hunting. Hunting within the range is highly regulated and a lottery is used to win hunting permits. Elk shed their antlers yearly, and the Boy Scouts of America have been permitted to collect these sheds since the 1950s. The organization sells these at auction, however the permit states that 80% of the proceeds must be returned to the refuge. Generally around ten to eleven thousand pounds of antlers are auctioned off each year. This money is then used to purchase feed, as well as for research and management of the herd.
In the winter the public may take horse drawn sleigh rides into the refuge to view the elk. For information about this outing, visit: http://www.jacksonholetours.net.
The Elk Refuge has a visitor center located at 532 N. Cache Street, which offers exhibits and wildlife videotapes. The visitor center is open all year, except on major holidays.
Teton Expedition has been in business for over 46 years, and has a variety of trips to choose from, each offering grand views of the Teton Mountain Range. The Scenic trip is a 13 mile float, which will take about 3 hours. The morning and afternoon trips include a deli lunch, while the evening trip includes a sunset dinner back at their boathouse. This dinner includes an 8-oz. New York Steak or barbecued chicken. It is served with coleslaw, potato salad, and garlic bread.
A Combination outing is offered jointly by Jackson Hole Whitewater and Teton Expeditions. This trip usually runs twice a day, and includes a 13 mile float, followed by a ride over wild whitewater rapids. This trip will take 7-hours, and again includes a deli-style lunch for the early trip, or an optional steak or chicken dinner for an additional $6.00. This is a popular trip, so make reservations ahead of time.
As you float the Snake Rover, you may also have the opportunity to see wildlife, so keep a look out for bald eagles, osprey, elk, and moose. Trips are offered daily from May through October.
If you aren’t that interested in the 13 mile slow float, and are mainly interested in a whitewater trip, check out the Jackson Hole Whitewater website to see what tours they offer. Their webpage can be found at www.jhww.com.
As you drive the highway from/to Grand Teton National Park, you will see an interesting stone building built into a hillside. This building blends well with its natural surroundings, and was built with 433 tons of Arizona sandstone. This is the National Museum of Wildlife Art (see my 5th photo), which opened in 1994. The museum was granted its national designation by the United States Congress in 2008. Within this museum you will view more than 3,000 paintings, sculptures, and photos of wildlife. Works of art from over 550 artists, including some well know ones are displayed here. Some of the artist’s whose work you will view are Robert Batemen, Albert Bierstadt, George Catlin, Carl Rungius, C.M. Russell, and John Clymer. You will have the opportunity to view the museum with a free audio tour, that will allow you to gain additional information about many of the works of art that are on display. We used this audio option and thought it was well worth the time. You can choose to listen only to the small talks that you are interested in, so do not have to listen to the entire audio tour. A Children’s discovery gallery, and a library are also found within the museum. The library contains materials relating to wildlife art and artists, and is open by appointment by calling 307-732-5451. This is a non-circulating collection, however, scanning and photocopying of materials is available.
Within the building you will also find a museum gift shop, which carries books, art, jewelry, some house wares, and other items. The Rising Sage Café will give you the opportunity to have a snack or lunch without leaving the museum. A 200 seat auditorium may be offering films or lectures.
NOTE: No photography is allowed within the museum galleries. All my photos were taken either outside the building, or in the lobby area. These photos include the museum entrance, a section of the sandstone construction from behind the café area, and a deer and cougar sculptures.
Jackson Hole was a name given to the town of Jackson ( named for Davey Jackson, the fur trapper in the early 1800's) by the fur trappers in the 1820's for the valley that is surrounded by the mountains with the Grand Tetons to the west. A short distance to Yellowstone National Park makes Jackson Hole a great road trip stop, and the view of the Grand Tetons on the way to Yellowstone, makes a photo stop a must. But, what makes you want to stop and stay awhile in Jackson Hole. Well, the flair of the old west still thrives in this much sought after vacation spot and tourist destination.
One of the delights in town is the "Stagecoach Ride" that round trips the center of town via the Town Square Stagecoach Depot. Climb aboard the ladder steps to enter the cab of the stagecoach and sit down on the leather seats, right out of the "Old West". As the driver, who sits outside, above the cab, gives out a yell to the horses that pull the coach, you get this rush of nostalgia and the inner peace that this mode of transportation gives one. Looking out the windows to the stores, cars, and the people milling around brings you back to reality and the twenty-first century, but you still have that big grin that comes the fact that you're inside, riding the old west stagecoach. Giggy-up!!!
Most of one's time is spent looking at the beautiful mountain views I know, but there is an abundance of nature to be found as well. Especially if you go farther north into the Yellowstone area.
On my backpacking trip there was an abundance of different wildlflowers, several bird species (I particularly enjoyed watching ospreys hunt for fish in the mountain lakes), I saw mountain goats, and a sage grouse. I would have like to have seen more large game, but what can you do?
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