The Allure of the Tetons

Grand Teton National Park

Flying in to the Jackson Hole valley can be best described as sensory overload. You are above the clouds and then as you descend you see this jagged granite peaks soaring thousands of feet above the flat land below you.

The plane seems to tilt to the right as everyone on board looks out the western windows and you can hear an audible gasp from newcomers.

And then you touch down in a very small airport, grab a rental car and within 30 minutes you are driving in Grand Teton National Park with the magical Teton mountain range engulfing your senses. These mountains look like they were drawn by the hands of a child – rugged peaks soaring over a flat valley that has an abundance of evergreen trees. And then it dawns on you – its not just that the mountain range is over 13,000 feet tall – its the fact that the relief from the valley floor is so dramatic. Sure – other places have tall mountains, but they don’t have the relief from a valley that creates such a sense of wonder to visitors.

As you drive north from the airport, you find several pull offs that beckon you to stop. A good one for newcomers is Blacktail Ponds Overlook. You walk from the parking spot to a ridge that overlooks a series of small streams that flow into the Snake River ….. and you see a vast expanse of willow trees adjoining the water. Look closely and you’ll likely see a moose – since eating willow tree branches is the main source of food throughout the day.

And finally – if you listen to the gentle breeze that embraces you as you stand there alone, you’ll hear yourself asking why you live in a concrete city and deal with the hassles of urban life voluntarily. You will wonder if it is all worth it – or if life wouldn’t be better lived in the open air at the base of the mountains.

Regardless of your answer, you’ll experience something very special on that ridge. A realization that a trip back in time to a landscape unchanged for thousands of years is a treat for your eyes, your mind….and your soul.


  1. Wilderness Dave says:

    This is a great shot and I love your take on this from a sensory angle. Thanks, Jeff…great stuff! It really makes me want to visit the Tetons…

  2. Great shot Jeff! We visited the Tetons a few years ago in early Spring and had much more cloud cover than you did. We couldn’t see the peaks the first 3 days but got a few decent shots on the day we were leaving for Yellowstone.

  3. Jack Booth says:

    Great shot and story, Jeff. I particularly liked the image of the mountains drawn by the hands of a child. You definitely can tell a story.

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