I know where I will be on August 25, 2016: celebrating the US National Park Service’s Centennial (and my older daughter’s birthday) in my favorite park – Grand Teton National Park. Locals refer to it as The Park – as in I’m going biking/hiking/skiing/fishing/kayaking etc. in the Park. Come summer in Jackson Hole, the tourists go to Yellowstone but everyone else stays away from the teeming hoards and enjoys the spectacular beauty and relative peace of its neighbor closer to home.
Spring, Summer, Winter, Fall – GTNP is the fairest park of all and it is accessible year-round. One of my favorite activities there is biking to Jenny Lake in May, when the roads are plowed, but cars are not yet allowed. However, Grand Teton is truly a park for all seasons.
Due to the altitude, the wildflowers are stunning from June into September and hiking is one of the best ways to see them and enjoy the spectacular views.
String Lake (so named for its shape and the fact that it connects Jenny and Leigh Lakes) is a great place for picnics and a favorite place to learn how swim, kayak, or use a stand up paddle board. Fishing is popular, too, and there are numerous campsites.
In autumn, the aspen and cottonwood trees turn golden to match the grasses and the skies seem even bluer than usual. The crowds diminish while the wildlife viewing opportunities increase.
Winter cloaks the mountains and to me is the most beautiful time of year. The first time I came to the valley was to ski at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. These days, I am as likely to cross country ski or snow shoe in the park and I have studded tires for my bike.
I cannot think of a better place to visit any season. For those who like to plan well in advance (and hotel rooms are already scarce), one of best vantage points to see the Lunar Eclipse on August 22, 2017 is – you guessed it – Grand Teton National Park!