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Current plan for July visit.

Ohio, USA
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for Bryce Canyon National Park, Bryce, Arches National Park
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Current plan for July visit.

I’m taking advantage of the quiet time around the holidays to do a little planning for our next trip to Grand Teton and Yellowstone. Lodging and flights are set. Just DW and me for the trip (early 50s; hiking and photography are the main goals of the trip). We’ll be in Grand Teton in mid –July for 4 nights staying at Signal Mountain. I know the first rule of visiting the parks, that being don’t over plan, just go with the flow, but I still want a nice outline and some back-up options (you never know what Mother Nature will throw at you!). Besides, I just hate wasting time with the whole “I don’t know, what do you want to do?” scenario ;-)

I’ve been reviewing several threads that I had saved from the GT and YNP forums, particularly looking at the hiking options (great input from several folks, particularly TetonBill and BlueBirdDay, so thanks for all the advice). Last trip we really only did one hike in GT, from LSR Preserve to Phelps Lake (very nice hike), but the weather conspired against us for the hike we had planned up Cascade Canyon so that one is a top priority.

Anyway, here’s my current thinking.

Day 1: Arrive JAC at 12:30; collect the rental car and head into Jackson for supplies (bear spray, bug spray and groceries). We’ll do a drive through of the park on our way to Signal Mountain Lodge. After check-in it will be back to the park to check out trail conditions, Ranger program options at the visitor center. Perhaps we’ll cruise up Signal Mountain for the views. Is this a better morning or evening view?

Day 2: We’ll want to acclimate to the elevation today, so maybe “flat” activities today. Morning photos at the favorite spots (Oxbow, Schwabacher Landing, Mormon Row, etc.) then a hike. Maybe something from the Two Ocean Trailhead or Bradley/Taggart Lake (we’ll do one today and one later in the week). I liked the option that TetonBill described about going CCW around Two Ocean, then up to Grand View Point and finally along the north side of Lake Emma Matilda.

Day 3: The idea is to hike up Cascade Canyon, taking advantage of the boat ride across Jenny Lake. We’ll start as early as we can and hike as far as we like, but hopefully we can get to the fork of the Canyon. Who knows, if we feel good, maybe we can make it to Lake Solitude (that would be a looong day of hiking). I’m guessing we’ll be done for the day after this hike!

Day 4: Perhaps hit some of the favorite photo spots again in the morning. Then some combination of a hike (either Two Ocean Trailhead or Bradley/Taggart Lake) and the tram to the top of Rendezvous Mountain with a hike at the top (Rock Springs perhaps). Would it be better to do the tram in the morning followed by our other hiking option? My first thought was to take the tram in the afternoon, but it looks like the last tram down the mountain is at 6:30 PM so time could get a little tight (hey, I like to have a plan when on vacation but not a hard schedule).

Days 5 - 9: Change of base to Yellowstone….still working on that plan; will most likely post it later today.

Day 9: Leaving Roosevelt and heading back to GT for another night at Signal Mountain. We’ll most likely arrive early evening, so it may just be a check-in and find some dinner (maybe Jenny Lake for the views).

Day 10: MsHick wants to spend a day in Jackson, so we’ll just do a drive through of the park on our way to town. We’ll be staying in Jackson tonight and flying home tomorrow morning.

Of course we'll be doing other activities as time allows. But these are the “main attractions” based on my current research. How’s it look? Am I overlooking anything? Is it reasonable to think that I can fit all of this into the time I have? Are the hikes that I have selected provide a good over view of the park as well as good variety of scenery and opportunities for wildlife viewing? They seem to from the descriptions I’ve read, but I want to hear what y’all have to say.

Moose, Wyoming
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1. Re: Current plan for July visit.

>Signal Mountain for the views. Is this a better morning or evening view?

imo, no strong preference on morning or evening, but I think end of the day, as you have planned, works better in your schedule.

>Would it be better to do the tram in the morning followed by our other hiking option?

If the weather is clear in the morning, I'd do the tram first and free up the rest of your day. However, if you could start hiking a lot earlier than you could catch the first tram, depending on how early you can get up that morning, then consider hiking first because it will add time to your day.

>Am I overlooking anything?

Well, as you know from prior visits, there are a lot of other activities, from horseback riding to whitewater rafting to museums.

>Is it reasonable to think that I can fit all of this into the time I have?

I'd say yes.

>Are the hikes that I have selected provide a good over view of the park as well as good variety of scenery and opportunities for wildlife viewing?

It's a good variety of hiking: canyons, lakes and high mountains.

Edited: 27 December 2013, 16:49
Atlanta, Georgia
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2. Re: Current plan for July visit.

We drove the Moose Wilson Rd. twice during our trip this September. One time early morning and the other late afternoon. Saw bears nears the LJR preserve and just missed seeing moose near the end of the road.

Ohio, USA
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3. Re: Current plan for July visit.

TetonBill: thanks for the comments. Sounds like I am on the right track. As for the the order for hiking and the tram ride, it seems that there are options, depending on the weather and how quickly we get going on that day. Perhaps the best is to just get on the trail early then take the tram afterward. But I now have a couple of ways to look at that day.

PB: We did not do that well on critter sightings along Moose-Wilson Road, but it is all about timing, so we'll try it again this next trip. As I recall, we saw a Green winged Teal and a Ruffed Grouse (and got a couple nice photos of each) but no big mammals. But searching is half the fun!

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4. Re: Current plan for July visit.

We very much enjoyed the hike to Taggart Lake. We did it very early in the morning and hardly saw another soul. It is a very enjoyable walk and the lake is so peaceful and beautiful. We also hit many of the best known sunrise photograph spots and loved them. However, one of our best times happened almost by chance. We stayed at the Moulton Ranch cabins right on Mormon Row for our first night in the park. At sunset we drove out along Antelope Flats and had an absolutely stunning sunset. Here is a picture from it: flickr.com/photos/…set-72157636337796895

Edited: 28 December 2013, 14:33
Ohio, USA
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5. Re: Current plan for July visit.

Nice shot, DH. Thanks for sharing. We also always try to get on the trail early to beat the crowds.

Driggs, Idaho
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6. Re: Current plan for July visit.

It sounds like you are a very good planner, and very good at giving kudos. Thank you! If time is tight, give up Signal Mountain and do the Tram. Don't not do this. You will be disappointed to miss it. This will be one of the highlights of your trip. Two Ocean Lake can be a crap shoot with the Gov Shutdown and will take a lot of time in a rental car due to bad roads - perhaps put that aside. Buy bear spray and let's revisit as time gets closer. I think your idea to revisit LSRP is a good one - make sure to revisit earlier in the day.

Ohio, USA
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7. Re: Current plan for July visit.

"Two Ocean Lake can be a crap shoot with the Gov Shutdown and will take a lot of time in a rental car due to bad road" I'm not sure I follow the Gov shutdown comment. Was there some issue following the shutdown this past fall?

I'll post the refined plan a few weeks prior to departure. I like to have a plan in place, but still, flexibility is a key. Maybe the weather will be a factor; maybe we'll get stuck in a bison jam ;-)

Driggs, Idaho
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8. Re: Current plan for July visit.

Yes, the road is still closed, and even if it is open, the road is bad. That was my comment in relation to >Was there some issue following the shutdown this past fall?

Ohio, USA
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9. Re: Current plan for July visit.

Got it. Thanks for the clarification, BBD. We'll just see how it plays out. Plenty of options for things to do. The Tram is now very high in the list!

Jackson, Wyoming
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10. Re: Current plan for July visit.

You have a great plan but being local here I've of course got a biased opinion. Some options:

Signal Mountain is a great location. Be sure to get out of your car at Dusk and wnader near Oxbow Bend. If you have an appropriate Mt. Vehicle think about driving the Old River and/or RKO roads at dawn or dusk. Lake Solitude is often called Lake Multitude around here. Cascade Canyon is the most popular hiking trail in Wyoming for good reason but IMO you would enjoy the 6.2 mile one way hike to Holly Lake up Paintbrush Canyon much more than the longer hike to Lake Solitdue, If you are in great shape lots of folks do the whole loop over Paintbrush Divide.

Instead of a huge hike out of Jenny Lake why not take the Tram up and do the 11 plus miles DOWN Granite Canyon? What about Surprise and Ampitheatre Lakes? If you are very fit Hanging Canyon is one of the greatest drainages ANYWHERE. Avalance Canyon is a gem too. Trails can be faint in both but routes are sound. Paul Petzoldt said Lake Taminah is as beautiful a place as he's ever been.

Two Ocean Lake is often not able to be circumnavigated because of Bear closures. If you want a nice, long fairly level hike I think Bear Paw and Trappers Lakes with the jaw dropping views around Leigh Lake with every step IS WORTH IT. Hiking from the Grand Teton Climbers Ranch to Phelps Lake is a great day too. Glade Creek off of Reclamation Road 261 ["Grassy Lake"] is like going back to the Jurassic.

Don't forget the relatively easy and close by summits in the Bridger-Teton NF like Mt. Sublette [DO NOT confuse with nearby and dangreous Sublette Peak], Mt. Leidy, etc. Brooks Lake is less than an hour from Signal Mountain and absolutely exquisite making it obvious why the Shoshone is the world's first national forest.

SO MANY possibilities. Let me know if you want to consider some of the more secretive gems.

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