The Grand Tetons and Jackson’s Horsethief Canyon Wildfire

Saturday, Sept. 8, 2012:  The Grand Tetons were on our agenda for the day and our hostess had suggested we start in Antelope Flats to see some wildlife. We had gotten a late start and were on our way by mid-morning. We turned right just past the Gros Ventres (pronounced Grow Vant) River to make the driving loop around Antelope Flats. This is open, sagebrush country with a few trees along the river to the right and the Grand Tetons towering to the left.

We were driving along and I saw movement under a cluster of trees that looked like a deer so Wally braked and parked. By the time I jumped out with the camera, I no longer saw anything. But then I saw antlers – he had bedded down right under the tree!

Nap time!

View from Antelope Flats

This little guy wasn’t scared at all!

That was all the wildlife on the loop we saw, but snapped a few shots of the famous Moulton barn. What a fabulous view these homesteaders had!

Moulton Barn

We finished up the driving loop and turned left back onto the main highway towards Jackson. Just down the road to the right is the official Grand Tetons Visitor’s Center where visitors can pay their admission (be sure and keep your receipt for re-entry), learn about animal sightings and the history of the park. Be sure and fill up your water bottles for your hikes!

On the road to the right before you get to the Visitor’s Center is a grouping of buildings that have a market, deli, a chuckwagon-style restaurant and a dine-in restaurant. This is the little settlement of Dornan’s, and this is Moose, Wyoming. We were disappointed to find that they close the chuckwagon outdoor restaurant between 11 and 12 (which was when we arrived). Instead we went inside the market and ordered deli sandwiches and chips and had our lunch out at the picnic tables with a view of the Tetons. Dornan’s is the go-to place to eat, sign up for Snake River float tours, get gas and sundries.

After lunch we headed towards Jenny Lake – and what a gorgeous treasure for the area!

Jenny Lake and the Tetons

If you see a turnoff for a little chapel on the left, there is a path down the hill that leads to this lovely little beach. Great spot for a picnic! There’s also a bathroom outside by the chapel.

The turnoff for Inspiration Point is along the stretch where the chapel is, but the sign is on the right side of the road if you are headed toward the dam. It winds up, and up, and up.. (and yes, there is a bathroom at the very top!)

On top of the world!

He’s just happy he could drive up, cause we never would have made it on foot!

We made our way back down and continued on, stopping at the dam to check that out. Back at the main highway we turned right to work our way back towards Jackson. We stopped at the pulloff at Oxbow Bend, where I had read there is lots of wildlife and bird spottings.

Oxbow Bend

The next stop was the buffalo meadows and we were lucky enough that the herd was right next to the road and fence. The shoulders are really wide along the main highway, so you can safely pull off out of traffic. (Do not stop in the roads and block traffic!) There is a huge herd and we also spotted antelope and a coyote loping along.

Buffalo siesta time!

My itchy back..

Hello – you stay on your side of the fence…

Further down the road are several pullouts on the right side of the road overlooking the Snake River.

Jamie at Snake River overlook. Notice the haze to the left side of the mountains?

There was a sign for Schwabacher Landing and I asked Wally to stop – again – to see what was there. Isn’t he patient? And surprise! There was a bride and groom and wedding party that were doing their pre-wedding photos by the Snake River. What a FABULOUS backdrop for their pictures. I happily started snapping away too – I hope the bride eventually finds these photos to add them to her memories. I’ll post them on my Facebook page too.

Schwabacher wedding party photo shoot

Wally and the wedding party

What a sweet couple!


I love the mountains reflected in the river

They quickly piled into a white van and were gone… off to get married!

That was supposed to be our last stop before Jackson, however, a car jam awaited at the Gros Ventres River – actually it was a moose jam! This was where the English tourists had seen the moose the day before. They hang out in the Gros Ventres River, so if you park along where the bridge is over the river, check both sides as they munch on the willows there. Just don’t go close – I have a long telephoto lens. Moose are very territorial and can move FAST when they want to!

Young moose bull on left side of Gros Ventres bridge

Mama moose chilling

I think I’ll join you..

Back on the road again we noticed an ominous smoke cloud coming from Jackson – it looks almost like a mushroom cloud in the first shot.

Horsethief Canyon fire – in the beginning

Growing smoke cloud

Smoke cloud covering the sun – the airport was just to the right of us – see the plane?

We made it into Jackson and got over near his friend’s house and realized the wildfire was right across the road from his neighborhood!

Little Horsethief Canyon on fire

Helicopters started getting water from just down the hill in the Snake River. There was also a bike race going on to add to the confusion! His neighborhood was under a pre-evacuation order and everyone was worried. Lots of people just sat around watching the fire and helicopters working until dark. It was amazing how accurate the pilots were at dispensing their water loads directly onto the fire line.

View from Poot’s balcony!

Trees burning at dusk

Well, it was an extremely busy day and lots of excitement! Time to have a cocktail and chill…

Next time: bear sighting, more moose, a visit to the National Wildlife Museum, the  Taste of the Tetons on the Jackson Square and the wildfire is growing!

Categories: Travel: WYOMING | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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