Just like you, I had multiple plans and trips canceled due to Covid-19.
However, in early September 2020, we were able to hit three national parks in eight days. And while I planned to get to Grand Teton, Yellowstone and Glacier one day, I was not expecting it to be this year.
With that said, we couldn’t think of a better way to stay safe, while still having the time of our life. Our one way road trip would start in Jackson Hole and end in Kalispell, Montana.
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Arriving in Jackson Hole
Jackson Hole, Wyoming, has the only commercial airport located inside a National Park. It’s a spectacular way to start a journey as you get a great view of the Teton range just before touching down. We made our way out of the plane, down the stairs and onto the tarmac. The airport is beautiful, inside and out, with a spectacular view.
Luckily for us, we chose Enterprise for our one way car rental service, as their booth was inside the airport. By signing up for their Enterprise Plus service ahead of time, via email, we were able to bypass the line and head straight to the front desk. No less than five minutes later and were were breathing in the fresh mountain air and turning the keys to our GMC Arcadia, a free upgrade for the week.
Instagram – @Navigator.Nick
Grand Teton National Park
The Teton mountain range is a grand landmark in the northern parts of Wyoming and the surrounding region is known as Grand Teton National Park.
Rising above a scene rich with extraordinary wildlife, pristine lakes, and alpine terrain, the Teton Range stands as a monument to the people who fought to protect it. In Grand Teton National Park, you can explore over two hundred miles of trails, float the Snake River, and enjoy the serenity of this remarkable place.
This park covers an area of 310,000 acres and lies to the south of Yellowstone National Park. The Tetons are actually part of the Rock Mountains and this range constitutes a large part of the park.
The other main feature is the immense valley known as Jackson Hole – this valley contains Jackson Lake, the National Elk Refuge and Snake River.
It was mid-afternoon and we wanted to get a quick hike in before heading to our first accommodation for the night. Little did we know, this would become one of our favorite hikes of the week! We headed 25 minutes North from JAC to the Taggart Lake trailhead.
Taggart Lake Hike
The hike to Taggart Lake in Grand Teton National Park begins from the Taggart Lake Trailhead, located roughly 2.3 miles north of the Moose Entrance Station. This hike is the easiest and most direct route to Taggart Lake.
From the trailhead, hikers will immediately enjoy stunning views of Grand Teton towering above the sagebrush flat. At 13,770 feet, Grand Teton is the highest mountain in the Teton Range. The peak was renamed as Mt. Hayden by the 1872 Hayden Geological Survey, but most people continue to call it Grand Teton Peak. In 1931, the U.S. Board of Geographic Names recognized its more common name, and then shortened it to Grand Teton in 1970.
At just over one-tenth of a mile from the trailhead hikers will reach a fork in the trail. The Beaver Creek Trail leads to the left. Hikers should veer to the right to continue along the Taggart Lake Trail. After walking another tenth-of-a-mile you’ll arrive at another split where an old gravel road forks off to the left. Hikers should remain on the footpath that leads to the right to continue on towards Taggart Lake. A short distance beyond the junction you’ll cross a footbridge over Taggart Creek which offers a nice view of a cascading waterfall just upstream from the bridge, it’s a beautiful spot for a photo or two.
Some animals you can expect to see on this hike, depending on the season and time of day are; flycatchers, woodpeckers, owls, marmots, elk, mule deer and bears. We saw mostly chipmunks, squirrels and a couple of mule deer. One deer nearly scared me out of my shorts as I turned a corner and it was staring straight into my soul with its big brown eyes and perky ears. Throughout this hike we enjoy outstanding views of the mountains looming towards the west.
At just over 1.1 miles we arrived at the Bradley Lake Trail junction. The trail leading to the right visits Bradley Lake, the smallest of the glacially-carved chain lakes lying below the Teton Range. From Bradley Lake hikers can swing back around to Taggart Lake via the Valley Trail to form a loop hike. However, we continued directly towards Taggart Lake by staying to the left at this junction.
From the junction the trail travels over mostly level terrain that also offers some amazing mountain scenery. After walking only a half-mile you’ll finally reach the southeastern shore of Taggart Lake where you’ll enjoy outstanding views of 12,804-foot Middle Teton, Garnet Canyon, Grand Teton, 12,928-foot Mt. Owen and 12,235-foot Teewinot Mountain. Taggert Lake Trail is one of the best hikes in Grand Teton National Park.
The 305-acre, glacially-carved lake was named for William Rush Taggart, an assistant geologist under Frank Bradley during the Hayden Geological Survey of 1872.
This out-and-back easy hike is very popular and there is a good reason why! I would rate the Taggert Lake Trail a 10/10 for its incredible payoff, scenic views and moderate elevation change.
Our hike made us a little hungry, so we headed back to town for some BBQ and beer at Big Hole BBQ. Solid place, laid back vibes. The food was good. We had fish tacos, a brisket sandwich and a side of mac n cheese. Always get the mac n cheese, always. I’ll rate it a 3.5/5.
Glamping in South Jackson Hole
Well, not exactly, because there is no glamping in South Jackson Hole. While Jackson Hole is a cute town, full of motels, hotels, grocery stores and excursion companies, it’s not somewhere we wanted to stay. Not to mention the prices are absolutely outrageous. Supply and demand are at a premium here, buyer beware.
If we had to do it again, we wouldn’t have done it any other way. For just around $90-$100 a night we stayed in Victor, Idaho at Teton Valley Resort. Use my AirBnb link to get a coupon of your stay. A mere 35 minutes West of Jackson Hole lies the small town of Victor. The beautiful drive during late summer to Victor was amazing. It was a blessing in disguise as we weaved in and out of the Tetons. There were plenty of switchbacks and a beautiful landscape to peer out of the windows of our SUV.
Traveler Tip: Stay outside of South Jackson Hole if you want to Value Travel.
Let’s talk a little about our well decorated and accommodating glamping tent. The tent was very spacious, equipped with two space heaters, a tempurpedic queen bed, and two folding twin beds (which also turned into single sofa chairs- pictured above). Given that the temperature outside was mild, around 55° Fahrenheit, the space heaters and down comforters kept us plenty warm. Extra blankets were also provided should we have had company. The decor of the tent was rustic, western and a bit chic. Heavy, dark wood dressers and end tables lined the tent walls. A faux bear skin rug laid in front of the bed with a few green plants placed precisely around the space.
My one complaint is the specific location of the glamping tent within the campground, as it was in between the outdoor patio of the clubhouse and a swing set. While the patio was not finished yet (it was under construction and just the foundation was being built), but I can see this being a major problem in the future on the location of the tent.
The campground was very clean, organized and well laid out. Albeit, there were a lot of people in a small campground. I’d like to see them expand and open up the spaces more instead of everybody being on top of each other. What is unique about this campground was that it offered a plethora of accommodation options including; camping spaces, teepees, cabins, glamping tents, and RV lots. I’ll rate it a 8.5/10