Day 1: Colter Bay Visitor Center and Jackson Lake Trails
Our Teton/Yellowstone adventure begins today when Deborah Lewis picks you up at 3:00 p.m. at the Jackson Wyoming Airport. We’ll drive 22 miles to the Colter Bay Cabins, our base during our stay in Grand Teton and right in the park. The cabins are authentic Jackson Hole homestead cabins that were relocated here and refurbished to today’s standards. Each rustic cabin comes with its own local history and stories displayed for your reading pleasure. We’ll have time to visit the Colter Bay Visitor Center and Indian Arts Museum, go for a walk along the shores of Jackson Lake, or just put our feet up and relax before a welcome dinner at the elegant Jackson Lake Lodge.
Day 2: Jenny Lake, Inspiration Point and Cascade Canyon
After a hearty Homesteader Breakfast Buffet at the Ranch House Restaurant at Colter Bay we’ll take the scenic one-way Jenny Lake Loop Road to Jenny Lake, a pristine, glacial lake, nestled at the foot of the Teton Mountain Range, for today’s hike. Jenny Lake and nearby Leigh Lake are named for the fur trapper “Beaver” Dick Leigh and his wife Jenny, who assisted the Hayden party that explored the region in 1872. We’ll stop in the Jenny Lake Visitor Center, the former cabin of park photographer and artist Harrison Crandall, and then board the launch across Jenny Lake. Our hike will take us up to Inspiration Point, which sits atop an outcropping on a glacial bench four hundred plus feet above the lake. The magnificent overlook rests near the mouth of Cascade Canyon and the pinnacled Teewinot Mountain towers across the canyon. The views stretch out across Jenny Lake and the Snake River Valley to the Gros Ventre Mountains east of Jackson Hole. Hidden Falls, surrounded by spruce and fir, drops 200 feet along Cascade Creek before tumbling into Jenny Lake. After enjoying a picnic lunch together in this beautiful area we’ll divide into two groups. Those wishing a longer option will hike into Cascade Canyon and hike back the same route, returning via the trail along the shores of Jenny Lake. The other group will hike directly back along the Jenny Lake shore trail. As time allows, we’ll visit the beautiful Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center, known as much for its stunning architecture as for its wonderful interpretive exhibits. We’ll trade our hiking pants for jeans this evening and tuck into a steak at a good old fashioned Chuck Wagon Dinner. Yeehaw! Hike: 4-5 miles or 5-10 miles.
Day 3: Two Ocean Lake, Signal Mountain and Menors Ferry
Early risers will enjoy a quiet pre-breakfast walk along the Hermitage Point Trail through lodgepole forests, sagebrush meadows and wetlands near Jackson Lake. Whereas yesterday’s Jenny Lake hike is one of the Park’s best known hikes, today’s Two Ocean Lake hike is a walk on the Park’s quiet side. A short drive from our Colter Bay cabins is a beautiful forested environment where we’ll experience a lovely hike around a lake carved by glaciers. This hike will give us the pleasure of seeing the birds that come to Two Ocean Lake, such as loons, swans and grebes. Wildlife is abundant, with beaver, coyotes, elk, moose and even bears inhabiting the woods. The hike around the lake traverses rolling terrain through meadows lined with aspen groves and old-growth spruce, fir and pines. Along the north shore we’ll be treated to views of Jackson Lake and the Teton Range. Those interested in more challenge can extend up to and back from Grand View Point, offering magnificent westward views of the Tetons, the Lake and the upper valley, and eastward to Two Ocean and Emma Matilda Lakes and the Gros Ventre Range. Before heading back to our cabins to relax we’ll drive up to the top of Signal Mountain to enjoy the amazing view. Late afternoon we’ll head out to the Cunningham Cabin, an evocative historic site with a homesteader cabin and also the scene of an 1899 shoot-out. Dinner will likely be on the upper deck of an informal restaurant at Moose Junction, where we’ll savor the sunset over the Tetons and the Snake River after visiting the Menors Ferry Historic District and the Mormon Row barns. Hike: 6.4 moderate miles with an optional 2.2 mile challenging extension to/from Grand View Point.
Day 4: Granite Creek and Hot Springs and Jackson
After breakfast, we’ll drive south along the National Elk Refuge, where we’ll be more likely to see bison than elk at this time of year, and past Jackson where we’ll enjoy a pleasant hike along Granite Creek and a soak in a natural hot spring. This hike follows the Creek as it cascades over beautiful Granite Falls, a wide, roaring 20-foot cascade. The waterfall was used as a backdrop in the movie A River Runs Through It. The hike follows the cascading creek downstream to Granite Falls Hot Springs, an undeveloped hot springs on the edge of the creek at the base of Granite Falls. We’ll return the same way and will walk through a beautiful forest into a canyon, walking as far as we wish heading north. We’ll pass through a meadow often frequented by moose and will return to the “official” Granite Hot Springs pool that was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the mid 1930’s, where we’ll go for a soothing dip. Mellow from our hot springs encounter, we’ll drive to the fun town of Jackson and we’ll visit the Jackson Hole Historical Society & Museum, where the Old West is truly still alive, and explore the town’s art galleries and shops. Dinner will be on your own in Jackson, with a wide range of options, including the Snake River Brewery and Restaurant, which claims that all roads, trails, bike paths, climbing routes and ski runs end up at the Brewery. Hike: 2-4 miles.
Day 5: Independent Play Day and Dinner Cruise on Jackson Lake
Today is a play day, when you’ll have the chance to choose from among the many activities available in the area including bicycling on the amazing network of paved trails in Jackson Hole, horseback riding, motor boating or kayaking on Jackson Lake, museum viewing, swimming in the pool at Jackson Lake Lodge (included free of charge) or participating in a ranger led hike. Deborah Lewis will also lead a half day hike, and will coordinate plans and provide assistance with transportation for the various outings. It is also possible to organize a Snake River floating trip if enough people are interested. The group will reunite this evening as we enjoy a dinner cruise on Jackson Lake. Various activities.
Day 6: South Rim of Grand Canyon of Yellowstone
We’ll depart from Grand Teton today and transfer to Yellowstone National Park and the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, the leading sight in the northern half of that park. Carved by the Yellowstone River, which makes a dramatic entrance by way of two amazingly scenic waterfalls, the canyon’s steep honey-colored walls are dappled in rusted oranges and reds. The panorama from Artist Point, at the canyon’s south end, is the park’s most photographed scene for very good reason. In 1869 the explorer David Folsom said “language is inadequate to convey a just conception…of this masterpiece of nature’s handiwork.”
We’ll stop first at a fumarole area north of Lake Yellowstone before setting out on a loop hike. Hiking along the South Rim we’ll experience extraordinary scenery as the Upper and Lower Falls of the Yellowstone River plunge powerfully into the canyon below. Our loop will bring us back past mysterious mudpots and several small lakes. We’ll follow up this great hike with a stop at Canyon Visitor’s Center, before checking into our nearby cabins. We’ll have dinner at Roosevelt Lodge, Yellowstone's tribute to the Old West. The rustic log lodge houses two stone fireplaces and a lobby bar and a front porch made for rocking and relaxing, in addition to the family style restaurant where we’ll dine. Hike: moderate 4.5 mile loop.
Day 7: Old Faithful and Lone Star Geyser Hikes and Inn Tour
Geologically speaking, the Upper Geyser Basin, where Old Faithful is located, is one of the most extraordinary places on the planet. Over 25 percent of the world’s geysers can be found here. The Observation Point loop trail, with Old Faithful as its centerpiece, allows us to see this remarkable area up close and personal. We’ll experience this trail before breakfast when the light is lovely and the crowds are thin. We’ll then have breakfast at the Lower Hamilton Store, an old style diner that is the oldest building in the Old Faithful area and has a one of a kind knotty-pine porch with views of Old Faithful. We’ll belly up to the counter on rotating stools. After breakfast we’ll hike to the Lone Star Geyser, an excellent opportunity to observe a geyser without sharing the experience with lots of other hikers. This afternoon, we’ll tour the Old Faithful Inn, the park’s most glorious structure. Considered the world’s largest log building, the inn was built during the bitter winter of 1903-04 to satisfy the growing demand of well-heeled visitors wanting to spend more time in the Upper Geyser Basin. The seven story lobby was constructed around a 500-ton, four-sided fireplace. After cocktails on the Inn’s balcony with its view of Old Faithful, we’ll share our farewell dinner in the Old Faithful Inn dining room. Hike: Observation Point/Old Faithful: 1.8 miles/moderate. Lone Star Geyser: 5 miles/moderate.
Day 8: Farewell to Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons
After breakfast we hopefully won’t be fuming (pun intended again) as we say good-bye to Yellowstone and transfer 2 ½ to 3 hours to the Jackson, Wyoming airport for our departure. We’ll arrive at the airport by noon.
Please bear in mind that this is a typical itinerary, and the actual walks and sites may vary due to season, special events or weather. We reserve the right to alter the itinerary since tour arrangements are made many months in advance, and unforeseen circumstances that mandate change may arise. Itinerary changes are made to improve the tour and your experience. We also always strive to provide a pleasant surprise or two.