After our night at Signal Mountain Campground, we decided to get up early and have breakfast. We loaded up the car and started on our drive to Gros Ventre Campground (pronounced Grow-vont…I was corrected a few times). Before we left the Signal Mountain area we noticed lots of cars parked along the side of the road. We pulled over really quick and hopped out. Everyone was well back, but we all stood there in awe as a big grizzly loafed across the grassy area away from us. It was the one and only grizzly we saw on our whole trip. Some would say that is a good thing we had so little exposure to them, but I was happy we got to catch a glimpse.
We got back on the road and made a couple of stops to check out the views along the Snake River. I made sure to stop at “Snake River Overlook” which is where Ansel Adams took the picture that hangs in my living room. The morning was amazing for me (for a 5 year old it might have been a bit boring)!
We pulled into the campground and checked in at the office. The folks there were very friendly and helpful. They put us in C loop in spot 134, which was right near the Gros Ventre River where a group of Moose had been spotted. We actually saw a cow and her babe resting under one of the trees on the way in, so we didn’t have to wait long to see a moose! The site was nice and big, there was lots of room between spots, however there was very little shade (it was nice a cool anyway, so we weren’t bothered), and we had a fire ring and picnic table. The views were also really nice. Bathrooms had toilets and sinks and were a little dated but were enough for us. Showers could be found either in Jackson or at Colter Bay. The campground is nice and flat, which was great for a new biker to ride around as well!
There is lots to do in the area of Gros Ventre as well. We started off by turning right as we pulled out of the campground and then took a quick left just down the road. This put us on Mormon Row where we saw pronghorns and got caught in a Bison traffic jam. The Bison were more concerned with grazing and I am pretty sure they had no concerns with us being there, but they were right up next to us. It was pretty cool to see them so closely, but safely from inside the car.
Just after the “traffic jam” we stopped to have a look at the Moulton Barn. While we were there they were doing some renovations in preparation for the 100 year anniversary of the barn. It is beautiful with the mountains framing the barn, the sage brush flats, and the water running through the irrigation lines. The Lad learned all about water diversion while we were there, which was fun.
After having a quick lunch at Dornans and enjoying the view from the patio, we headed to the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center. This has to be one of our favorite Visitors Centers ever. The exhibits on the history of the area, the animals, the environment, etc were fantastic. The Lad loved playing on the “water” they had on the floor (it was lighting behind a panel, but it was cool). The talk on bears was really good, and you got to see and feel two different pelts – one was a black bear and one a grizzly.
One great thing this discovery center offers is a “Family Backpack” to borrow and use. It is full of different activities to do. Most of them are art based and help you learn about our natural environment. Water colors, pencils, and plaster molds, assist in learning to observe what is going on around us and to catalog them. Folks of any age will enjoy this. After checking a pack out, take a hike in the area and find something inspiring. Then pick an activity and follow the instructions.
After a busy day, we headed into Jackson for a quick look around and stopped for an ice cream at Moos (it was recommended to us by one of the rangers and it is some of the most delicious ice cream we have had). Jackson is a neat town and we enjoyed our time there. I would love to get back and do some skiing there in the winter. One thing the Lad would say any kid should do is stop in at Teton Toys. It is a great toy store in the basement of one of the buildings right near the square. He had lots of fun playing and I enjoyed a few minutes of sitting on a couch with my thoughts!
Before we left town the next day, we turned right out of the campground again, and followed the road for 3 miles (give or take) to check out what had been touted as Jackson’s best espresso. Kelly on Gros Ventre is a neat little place with great coffee, really tasty waffles with your choice of toppings, and some of the most amazing sandwiches. We will go back here for sure the next time we are in town. Plus, the view from their deck wasn’t terrible either!
This is the sandwich that got me over WY-22 with my trailer and the long drive to Three Island Crossing State Park in Idaho. Which is where we stayed the next night. I still dream about this sandwich and we recommend the campground. It isn’t as private as some, but we felt very safe and enjoyed it here.