I just returned from another road trip, or should I say half of one. I was delivering an older van that’s been sitting in the driveway for a few years to my son and daughter-in-law who live in Reno, Nevada. In a straight shot, it’s just over 2000 miles from our home in Grand Rapids, Michigan. But I saw the drive as a chance to stop off and enjoy a couple of our magnificent national parks. Anyway, this was only a half of a road trip since I flew home after delivering the van.
I’ve taken to the road cross country dozens of times before so I know the routine. Waking at 4am, I leave Grand Rapids, point the van towards the West and go. Indiana, Illinois and Iowa are a breeze. And while I don’t mean to disparage any part of the trip, Interstate 80 through Nebraska is one of the least interesting 450 miles unless you like seeing corn and wheat fields galore. Afterwards, the slowly rising mountains of Wyoming are a welcome sight. By about 9pm, I pull into Rawlins, Wyoming for a late dinner and some sleep.
I’m up early the next morning and leave the interstate for the northern trek towards Moran Junction – the Tetons and Yellowstone. What a lovely part of the world with vast cattle ranches, scenic buttes, craggy overhangs, deep cut gorges, abundant wildlife. Without having to leave the vehicle, I’m thrilled to view the scenery.
My first order of business is to visit the Tetons where the mountains just pop up from the earth without any intervening foothills. This range across the valley known as Jackson Hole is simply breathtaking.
After driving 1600 miles, I’m more than ready for a hike and head for the trailhead at Taggert Lake. It’s early September and there are many other outdoor lovers enjoying the same sights along the trail.
Next on my agenda is a hop over to South Jenny Lake. Having visited this area several times before with my family, I have an emotional attachment to the lake and its energizing surroundings.
Then on to Oxbow Bend where the Snake River winds through the tree-lined valley. You’ll recognize the view from this iconic location – there’s a myriad of Oxbow Bend photographs that adorn walls and calendars everywhere. From this spot, just point your camera at the mountains, click and you’ll capture an unforgettable view for yourself.
Over to the Jackson Lake Dam. Here the water from the various rivers in Yellowstone collect and feed the Snake River. After the water passes through the dam, it serves the farms and citizens of Wyoming, Idaho, Oregon and Washington. And by the way, the white water rafting downstream is very exciting!
My last stop in the Tetons is at Coulter Bay. This is not only a popular camping area, but its large marina handles water craft for the crowd that enjoys the amazing Jackson Lake surroundings and vistas.
At this point, I head north along the John D Rockerfeller Jr Memorial Parkway which connects Grand Teton National Park with Yellowstone National Park.
If you’re still with me, you can continue with my visit to Yellowstone National Park in Part 2 of the road trip.