And now, we are starting Grand Teton week! I have two campground reviews for you and lots of great information!
After leaving Grant Village Campground, we headed south towards the John D. Rockafeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway and into Grand Teton National Park. The National Park pass you bought works for both parks, so you will not have to stop at another check point. On the drive, before you leave Yellowstone, you will go over one point of the Continental Divide. I had no idea it ran through this part of Yellowstone and made sure to stop for a picture. There isn’t a great spot to stop on the big freeway (I-90) coming out of Idaho into Montana for us to do the pictures, plus this is a much nicer sign!
As you exit the Parkway, the views become more amazing than I had imagined. Forested areas open up and you start seeing water on your right, and then there they are. Some of the most beautiful mountains you have ever seen. They go straight up, as if rising from the lakes themselves. Sheer drop offs, glacial impacts, canyons, rock faces, just one after the other. I felt small and humble in their presence and understand why our Native people believed this to be a sacred place. I am a mountain person, and the many mountains I have been to speak to me, but none more than this place. Laddy didn’t understand why I kept stopping – I couldn’t help it. We have big mountains in Oregon and Washington, but the difference between our mountains and the Tetons is our foothills. You have lots of hills that make their way up, and the drama just isn’t the same. Forgive me for gushing, but this is truly a very, very special place.
After making a few stops along Jackson Lake to admire our view, we high-tailed it to Signal Mountain Campground to secure a spot to drop anchor. My trailer batteries were getting pretty low after 7 days of camping with no electric, so I opted for a spot with a few basic hook-ups. After paying between $20-30/night previously, the $45/night felt steep but I decided it was worth it for a night and 5 more days of worry free camping.
The spots were good sized, came with a large tent pad (gravel, which made for an awesome place for the Lad to play and collect dirt to later deposit into my bed as he climbed into his own bunk), a fire ring and a table. We were in loop 2 (spot 62, if I remember right). It is a hilly campground which is lush and provided a bit of privacy. It was a bit of a hike to the bathrooms, which had toilets and sinks. Bring a towel and soap if you want to wash up though. One big difference between Grand Teton and Yellowstone is that Grand Teton provides water only, and nothing else.
Spots are all first come, first served. During the busy season the spots fill up quick. We got there around 8:30am, and the campground was full by 10:04am according to the Ranger Station. Grab an envelope on your way in, fill out the form and put your money in. Drop the envelope in the slot and take your receipt with you to put on the post at your spot. It is that easy!
At the entrance of the campground is a lodge with a gift shop and a restaurant. We popped in for a breakfast after getting up so early. The etch-a-sketch the waitress brought over for us to play with while we waited was a big it with the lad and the food was pretty good and reasonably priced.
Signal Mountain Campground is a short drive to Colter Bay (about 10-15 minutes, depending on road construction). That will be your closest shower, grocery store, and Visitor Center. We headed there first to pick up a Jr. Ranger packet and to get our bearings. It is a really nice center and the Rangers are very nice. They also had a section teaching about the Native people who call the area home and to educate visitors about their roles and heritage in this land. It was very well done and Tribal members are there to answer questions as well.
After spending some time at Colter Bay, we decided to head down to Jenny Lake to explore. With lots of stops on the way, things just seemed to get more amazing as we drove.
Jenny Lake is a really neat place and I wish we could have camped there. They say it is tents only, but I am wondering if they might let my “hard-sided tent” in next time. We enjoyed the Visitor Center and picked up a “favorite thing” on the trip: The Kids Guide to Grand Teton National Park. It is a great book and we used it on hikes and the entire time we were in the Tetons.
We decided to do a walk along Jenny Lake. There is a hike that goes all the way around the lake, but it was too much for us at the time and we were not prepared. Next time we will do it for sure, as it is nice and flat and is good for kids. You can also take a boat tour across the lake, so we will do that as well! Check in with the Jenny Lake Visitor’s Center for departure times. As I recall, it went every hour or two.
After finishing our walk we decided to head back to our campground with a quick detour up Signal Mountain for a look around. You can see up and down the Valley but the views of the mountains are hit and miss.
We would recommend Signal Mountain Campground for folks. It is right on Jackson Lake, and I thought I should also mention they have boat tours and a marina in the area. Check them out!