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Keeping it Domestic: Grand Teton National Park

Keeping it Domestic: Grand Teton National Park

Old Jul 26, 2017, 9:45 am
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Keeping it Domestic: Grand Teton National Park

Welcome to my latest trip report installment. This time I decided to keep it domestic with a quick visit to Wyoming’s iconic Grand Teton National Park. Jackson Hole and the park have both been on my list for a while but every time I’ve looked at seriously going it’s either been the wrong time of the year, the flights weren’t open or a better opportunity in Europe or South America was available. Either way, I thoroughly enjoyed my time in the park and recommend anyone that’s a fan of landscapes or nature to make a trip out there one day. As a photographer, I went in with a list of spots to photograph but with only one sunset and one sunrise at my disposal, I had to make some concessions as to which locations I wanted to shoot and when.


Previous reports:
9 Days in Asia: Taipei, Hanoi, Ha Long Bay and Shanghai

Two Weeks in South Africa and Namibia: Joburg, Cape Town, Sossusvlei and Kruger

ˇBienvenido a Cuba!


This will be one of the shorter reports I’ve written in recent times. I arrived in Jackson Hole on a Saturday morning then left Sunday morning. Yes, I know it’s not enough time and after having visited, the area remains on my list of places to return (hopefully after I upgrade to a full frame DSLR).

The trip technically started on a Friday with a flight from Tampa, FL to Los Angeles, CA. The plan was to leave at 6:00 AM Saturday and fly all the way to Jackson Hole, but with First open on the TPA-LAX flight, I couldn’t say no, especially considering I work just down the street from TPA. I arrived around 9:00 PM in Los Angeles and proceeded to a Holiday Inn airport property for the night.
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Old Jul 26, 2017, 9:45 am
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The gate at LAX T3 for JAC.


The next morning only consisted of the one flight, which was to Jackson Hole on one of SkyWest’s newer EMB-175s, which was a nice ride.

The Delta Connection Embraer 175 to Jackson Hole.


Overflying Utah.


First view of the Tetons.


Welcome to Jackson Hole, Wyoming!


The plane after landing. Jackson Hole is a small airport without jetways so you deplane via stairs/ramp and walk into the terminal.



After landing and collecting my checked bag, I picked up my rental car from Avis. I was assigned a Nissan Sentra with roughly 8,000 miles on it, so perfectly acceptable for the short day trip. Since hotels and lodges were ungodly expensive in Jackson Hole this particular weekend (and likely all summer) I opted to camp instead, which is something I haven’t done in a very long time. I drove straight from the airport to the Gros Ventre Campground which was only about 10 minutes away and set up the tent. Camping saved quite a bit of money and was only a slight inconvenience with having to haul around the tent, mattress and sleeping bag.

The rental car and the tent at the campground. Gros Ventre is closer to the airport than any other campground but isn’t located in the park itself, so slightly less convenient than other campgrounds. I was told that the others in the park would very likely be full by 1:00 PM so I didn’t want to risk it and have to drive around town hunting down a spot with how limited my time was.


The first half of the day I spent location scouting for where I wanted to shoot sunset and sunrise. The first stop was about 20 minutes north at Schwabacher’s Landing, a very popular spot for photographers, especially in the morning (which is what I ended up choosing for the next morning).


Beautiful and relaxing scenery.


The next stop is the famous Snake River Overlook where the famous Ansel Adams shot his photo back in 1942. The trees block much more of the river compared to 1942 so the leading line isn’t quite as prominent, but a great spot none the less.


A sign describing his image.


Those were the only two spots I wanted to check out mid-day. I started the short drive over to Jenny Lake for lunch and a hike with a photo stop in between. What surprised me most about this trip was the sheer amount of Asian tourists. I didn’t imagine it being such a popular spot! I saw a countless number of tour buses with Mandarin/Korean and Japanese manuscript on them throughout the day. At this particular spot, I witnessed a Chinese tour bus open their doors followed by at least 30 people literally sprinting to the lookout to get a picture on their iPad. Quite comical since there was no one else at the lookout at the time.


Lunch with a view to fuel me for the 6-mile hike coming up.


I proceeded straight to Jenny Lake to start my hike. You can either hike (walk around the lake really) or take a shuttle ferry across the lake for the first two miles. I chose the ferry simply to save time.


The plan was to hike the Cascade Canyon trail. Unfortunately, I didn’t do enough homework ahead of time and didn’t realize the last ferry back to the other side was at 7:00 PM and there was no way I was going to be able to hike nearly 10-miles round-trip in 3 hours. The ferry driver said that the views are great after about a mile and that he’d recommend going anyways, so I continued.

Most of the elevation gain (roughly 1300 feet) was in the first mile and a half. Needless to say, for a sea-level dwelling individual (and out of shape at that) the first portion was rather tough, but the scenery was beautiful. The trail head starts at roughly 6,700 feet above sea level.


Trees.


Day time long exposure of the Cascade Creek. It’s sourced from a glacier so the water is crystal clear and ice cold.


After about two miles I hit a boulder field where I saw a Marmot. The views from here were fantastic as well.


Cascade Creek.


Looking forward at what I’m guessing is Freds Mountain.


Parts of the hike started getting more wooded at this point but there were plenty of openings where you’d see the beautiful mountains surrounding you.


The trail.


About 3-miles in I got a great view of Mount Owen which is the 2nd tallest mountain in the Teton Range at 12,928 feet. Note the waterfalls descending down the mountain.


The climb tapered off here and the creek calmed down, making this final part of the hike very relaxing. My backpack full of drinks and camera gear was killing me when I was ascending so it was nice to give my back a break.


After the last image, I turned around and headed back to the ferry dock as I didn’t want to be stuck walking the remaining 2.5 miles around the lake after 7:00 PM since I had other things I wanted to do. I think next time I visit the park, I’ll go a few miles further and camp out for the night like some people appeared to be doing. The following is an image of Jenny Lake on the way back across.


A low light, unzoomed, horrible image of a Bald Eagle.


After getting back to the car I decided to drive up to the top of Signal Mountain and get a view of Jackson Hole.


Quite the view from up here.


View of the Teton Range from Signal Mountain.


For sunset I headed out to Oxbow Bend, about 25 minutes north of where I was. Sunset is tough to shoot here as the sun sets directly behind the mountains. I imagine this spot is popular during the morning but you don’t get the two main peaks in the image.


Once the sun set I drove down to the city of Jackson for dinner. I picked up a Bison burger at Liberty Burger, which was delicious. I went straight back to the campground after dinner and went to bed as I had to be up at 4:45 AM the next morning.





My alarm went off at 4:45AM. Sunrise wasn’t until 6:05AM but I needed to pack the tent up and somehow fit it all back into the bag. I was going straight from shooting to the airport so I wasn’t going to have time to return and pack the tent up later. Sorry to those I woke up wrestling that tent!

I arrived at Schwabacher’s Landing at about 5:45AM where I’d estimate about 30 other photographers had already setup. I was able to find a spot and a decent composition. Boy did that mountain range light up once the sun cleared the horizon behind me! Absolutely stunnin (only some of you will recognize where that’s from).


In addition to Schwabacher’s Landing, I wanted to shoot another location during the golden hour. I drove about 10 minutes south to the most photographed barn in the world, the T.A. Moulton Barn. Anyone that’s seen a picture of the park have seen this barn. By time I got there, only a few photographers remained but the light was still fantastic. The barn was built in 1912.


Well… that’s it. Short trip, but cheap and a ton of fun. I’ve definitely added the park (and nearby Yellowstone) onto the list of places to return to and it’s also made me want to visit other landscape destinations as well even more, such as Banff, Yosemite, Zion and Grand Canyon. This is the entrance to the small airport in Jackson Hole.


I originally planned on trying for the flight to Atlanta but they were weight restricted that day, so I wasn’t going to get on. I ended up getting on the flight to Minneapolis with no issue but got to watch the Atlanta flight depart as I was walking out to the Minneapolis flight.


Boarding the A319 to Minneapolis.



Kept this trip short and simple this time but I hope it was still enjoyable and different from my normal reports. Just goes to show that you don’t have to fly around the world for excellent scenery, we here in the U.S. have some of the best in the world! Stay tuned for another short trip coming up in August, not sure where it’ll be to but there will be one!


Last edited by ChiefNWA; Jul 27, 2017 at 6:05 am
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Old Jul 26, 2017, 11:42 am
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I'm staying two nights in Jackson Hole in September so this was a very interesting report.
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Old Jul 26, 2017, 6:07 pm
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Great pictures! Were the bugs/mosquitos a problem at all?
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Old Jul 27, 2017, 3:20 am
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A great weekend away to a beautiful part of the country, ChiefNWA.

Also I didn't know Ansel Adams was infamous!
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Old Jul 27, 2017, 6:06 am
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Originally Posted by delta spartan
Great pictures! Were the bugs/mosquitos a problem at all?
Not too bad, I got bitten a few times around sunset but that was all.

Originally Posted by DanielW
A great weekend away to a beautiful part of the country, ChiefNWA.

Also I didn't know Ansel Adams was infamous!
Thanks and shhhh, that's what happens when you write these things up in 20 minutes at work lol... fixed.
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Old Jul 29, 2017, 2:11 pm
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Beautiful. A place I want to visit. So much to see in the US.
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Old Jul 29, 2017, 5:14 pm
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I enjoy reading your “Keeping it domestic” report, perhaps the FIRST report in this forum that is photography centric! Thanks.

Re: On your flight to JAC, which side of the aircraft from which you took that shot of the Grand Tetons? Looks like from the left?

Re: Snake River Overlook shot – did you stand on top of your car to shoot like Ansel Adam did, in order to get more of the lead-in line of the river?

Look at the size of that Bald Eagle!

Re: Oxford Bend shot – Given the sunset is behind the mountains, I’d try to use bracketed shots (5 shots with 1 f-stop differential). To use post process to merge as HDR.

That bison burger looks really good! Yum!

Schwabacher’s Landing at sunrise is great!

Last question: Did you shoot in RAW? If not, you should try it next time.
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Old Jul 30, 2017, 3:55 pm
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Nice piece of nature👍
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Old Jul 30, 2017, 6:25 pm
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Nice report! It reminds me we need to get back there. It's close enough that it's silly we don't go more often.
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Old Jul 31, 2017, 8:12 am
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Originally Posted by Bretteee
Beautiful. A place I want to visit. So much to see in the US.
Agreed, I spend a lot of time outside of the US but trips like this remind me of what we have right here in our backyard.

Originally Posted by allset2travel
I enjoy reading your “Keeping it domestic” report, perhaps the FIRST report in this forum that is photography centric! Thanks.

Re: On your flight to JAC, which side of the aircraft from which you took that shot of the Grand Tetons? Looks like from the left?

Re: Snake River Overlook shot – did you stand on top of your car to shoot like Ansel Adam did, in order to get more of the lead-in line of the river?

Look at the size of that Bald Eagle!

Re: Oxford Bend shot – Given the sunset is behind the mountains, I’d try to use bracketed shots (5 shots with 1 f-stop differential). To use post process to merge as HDR.

That bison burger looks really good! Yum!

Schwabacher’s Landing at sunrise is great!

Last question: Did you shoot in RAW? If not, you should try it next time.
You should check out my other TRs as well, most of them recently have been focused (or heavily centered) around photography.

I was seated on the left side (A) but the right side would've been better as the mountains were on the right when we were on final. It seems like most of the time the planes land from the north so if I had a choice I'd go with the right.

Nope, I stood on the ledge though. My little Sentra wasn't very tall lol.

That was my plan regarding the Oxbow Bend shot. The problem was the spot I picked was right down by the water and the mosquitoes were eating me alive so I bailed after two shots! I tried my best to play around with the shadows and highlights but without various exposures it wasn't coming out as I had hoped.

Yes, I only shoot in RAW and all of my images get processed through Lightroom (and a few Photoshop). I don't have any filters so the shot of the river was actually about 15 shots layered over each other to get the movement effect. I'm thinking of picking up a used 6D or moving to a full frame Sony so I didn't want to invest in a bunch of filters quite yet until I've made that decision.

Originally Posted by offerendum
Nice piece of nature��
Agreed, the park is very scenic!

Originally Posted by travellingwineO
Nice report! It reminds me we need to get back there. It's close enough that it's silly we don't go more often.
Ha, my family in Meridian say the same thing...
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Old Aug 3, 2017, 5:15 am
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Brought back some memories. Beautiful place. Thanks.
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Old Aug 7, 2017, 11:41 am
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Originally Posted by stevie
Brought back some memories. Beautiful place. Thanks.
Thank you!
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Old Aug 8, 2017, 12:42 am
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Wow at your fantastic photographs! It looks such a beautiful place.
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Old Aug 8, 2017, 6:15 am
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Gorgeous pictures and lovely TR! Thanks so much!
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