We woke up again this morning to another beautiful fall day here in the Yellowstone basin! But this morning unlike many of the ones over the past few weeks was really cold. As we pulled from our driveway this morning on our way to drop Brynn off at school the temp gauge was reading 28 degrees. By the time we got across the Snake River it was 25 degrees and even colder north of town.
The Snake River looked pretty cool as there was steam coming off of the water and for that to happen the air temp must be colder than the water. Trust me, the Snake River is not something to wade in this time of year as the water temperatures have dropped quite a bit. Anyway we dropped Brynn off and headed to the coffee shop and then north of town again.
Now forgive us as our camera was acting up this morning but I think you will enjoy our little adventure. We were alone this morning and the animals were right next to our truck at every turn. We took our time and sat and watched the three moose in the pics for quite some time. They were eating the sage next to the road and for the most part ignored us. Been then they decided to check us out and we rolled away as they headed to us. Very cool!
All in all we saw antelope, buffalo, moose, geese and most certainly some spectacular views of the valley. On this morning we passed through Kelly, Wyoming, past the entrance to the Gros Ventre canyon, over to Antelope flats and Mormon Row and then home again. Another great way to share a cup of java!
This mornings coffee run took me 40 miles north of Jackson into Teton National Park to one of the most photographed places in the United States, Oxbow Bend. Oxbow is just north of Moran Junction about 4 or 5 miles and on this morning it was -15 degrees as I arrived just before dawn. In the summer there is always a multitude of photographers waiting for the sun to bathe the mountains with its warmth. Today I was all alone, with the exception of my father-in-law who made the journey with me.
We arrived as it was still dark and set up for the shots I wanted, some of which I am sharing with you here. As the sun makes its way over the eastern range it begins to bathe the Teton Range with a warm glow. This all happens in about 12-15 minutes so you need to be ready with your camera. Now I am no professional but you would have to try pretty hard to screw this up. Here are a few pics of the Oxbow Bend with Mount Moran in the back ground all taken within minutes of each other. You can see the difference in the shots as to how the sun bathes the mountains and the river. Oh yeh – this is the Snake River for those who do not know this area. Amazing is all I can say. Put this on your bucket list for sure.
On the way back I took a detour and found some of my favorite subjects. I counted over 18 moose this morning all within a few hundred yards of these shots. I almost got stepped on when this big guy came within a few feet of my Jeep. A few feet is no exaggeration! I never tire of seeing these beautiful creatures of nature. They are so unique and awesome to be this close to. If you venture out – be careful because they can hurt you. Enjoy!
We grabbed our coffee this morning at Pearl Street Bagels and headed for another morning adventure. First let me give props to the girls at Pearl Street Bagels as they are so nice to deal with. They are always friendly, and these girls can crank out the coffee and bagels. On the east side of the Snake River they are our favorite!
As we left the coffee shop we just found ourselves heading out towards Miller’s Butte to see if the mountain sheep had returned. And, yes they have, along with the tourists. It is a very cool thing to be able to travel such a short distance from our home and see so much wildlife. Miller’s Butte for those of you who are not familiar with our town sits on the east side of the National Elk Refuge and you access the road just north-east of the hospital on Broadway.
This morning the fog was hovering over the valley but not too bad – just cold. The trees again had a fresh coating of powdery ice crystals on their branches making it a real Christmas like feel. If you like to take pictures these kinds of mornings make a great background to shoot away. So many opportunities for beautiful shots of the trees loaded with powder and the rivers with a steamy fog hovering over the water. The ice and the river flows squeeze through frozen banks making for some really incredible scenery.
On this morning though it was all about the mountain sheep. The east side of the butte is all rocks and cliffs and the sheep meander around as if they are on flat land. But on some days you will find them right on the road side and this morning was no exception. About a dozen or so sheep traveled from their safety high in the rock to the road side in order to access the grass hiding under the snow. A couple even are so bold as to come right up to your car and they lick the side of the cars for any salts that are deposited from the roads. Pretty cool for sure. They are cautious but not too friendly making sure they keep their distance when someone tries to approach.
On the other side of the road we found dozens of elk just lying around at the base of the pine trees that start about a few hundred yards off the east side of the road. Although I love the elk we decided to focus on the sheep and just sit and watch them interact with the public. The tourists are returning for the holidays and this morning some of them got to see something really special. It never gets old up here as long as you take the time to leave you home and see some of God’s wonders. Enjoy!
Today it was absolutely beautiful and cold too – about -2 degrees. This morning we counted in excess of 25 moose all around the valley. We saw cows and with their calves, big brutes with full racks on their heads and some younger males trying to keep up with their elders. This was one of the best mornings for spotting moose in weeks.
The sun was just rising on the ski resort so we took a shot of the slopes from across the valley floor. This morning there was an inversion in the valley and you can see it in a few of these shots. Again I wish I had a better camera with a much better lens selection. I need to get real close to these animals to get even these shots. A new camera is on my wish list for sure.
Peyton and I are constantly amazed at all we see each morning we take a drive. We see things that we do not take pictures simply because they are out of the range of our lenses. But today was saw Bald Eagles, beautiful vistas, many animals at a distance and more. If you come and visit you must take in some of this for your selves. Truly blessed!
This morning a friend of mine, Robin Elledge and I went into Teton National Park to see if we could get some pictures of the Fall colors. Because of several fires in the area there was a strong haze in the valley making picture with the mountains in them not possible. So we decided to venture into the trees and take some pictures of just the trees. These are a few of the ones I took this morning.
These were taken at Oxbo Bend in the park. This is one of the most photographed places in Teton National Park because of a beautiful bend in the Snake River happens here with an incredible view of Mount Moran in the distance. Today was about trees. Spectacular morning. Enjoy.
If you ever visit Jackson Hole there will more than likely be times when you will have an extra hour or two to kill before you are on to your next event. So what can you do with the couple of extra hours you have that can help add additional memories to your visit. Well, how about a nice 40 mile round trip drive through some really beautiful country.
Start your trip from Jackson Hole and head west on HWY 22 towards Wilson, Wyoming. Wilson is a quaint little town that is the home to many who live in this valley. Wilson is about 7 miles or so to the west of Jackson and on this first leg of this little journey you will cross the mighty Snake River and as you come into the town of Wilson you will cross over the Fish Creek bridge. Fish Creek is a very picturesque little creek that runs right through the town of Wilson. Now pay attention here as Wilson is not a very big place and if you blink you might miss your turn.
After your cross the Fish Creek bridge you will want to look on your left for the Exxon Gas Station that is on the corner of “Fall Creek Road” and “HWY 22”- which is where you will want to turn left. This is where the drive gets fun. From the town of Wilson you will travel south towards HWY 89 and you will end up in the Snake River Canyon. Fall Creek Road is about 19 miles from the turn in Wilson until you reach HWY 89. Fall Creek Road will meander through the mountains and valley passing by many ranches and private developments until you enter into the National
Forest. This drive is one that will let you get a pretty good feel for the terrain around Jackson Hole and have you back in town for your next event in plenty of time.
It is important to note that about half of the 19 miles of Fall Creek Road is paved and the other half is a dirt road. The dirt road is fairly well-traveled and it is usually maintained in very good shape. So you should really have no trouble making the whole length of Fall Creek Road. However your car or SUV may get dirty along the way. Also you will not have cell phone service for the majority of this trip. It is during this long stretch of the journey that you will have ample opportunities to see wildlife if they are out and about.
As you travel south don’t be in a hurry, first because this road is narrow and there is two-way traffic. If you need or want to look at some of the views – pull over and stop. It is very easy on this narrow winding road to make a mistake. So pay attention. Fall Creek Road runs south just to the west of the Snake River and then heads up into the hills. There are some beautiful areas where you can take some scenic pictures but be aware that much of this first leg runs through private property so please respect the signage.
Soon you will reach the entrance that leads you back into the National Forest and the road eventually will turn to dirt. This is bear country so if you stop and get out to take a hike be sure to have a fresh can of bear spray with you at all times. Personally I have not seen a bear on the many trips I have made on this road but they are there as are all the other animals that live in these mountains. But if you stay to the road you should not have any issues. At some point during this 19 mile stretch be sure to take a few minutes to find a place to pull over and just take in the beautiful scenery. Having a digital camera with you is a must.
One thing that may surprise you is how many homes and ranches are back on this road. But at some point you will leave them behind you for a nice stretch of just you, the dirt road, and mother nature. This picture of the actual Fall Creek was taken just this past week. The creek is really running with snow melt and it is quite muddy right now. Normally this is a beautiful little creek with crystal clear water. The creek makes its way through the valley you will pass and eventually end up emptying into the Snake River. Not to far from this picture you will head back up into the hills and then again travel back down the other side ending up on HWY 89.
When you get to the HWY 89 you will want to turn LEFT (EAST) and head back to Jackson Hole. From this point you are about 23 mile from town and the roads are all paved and you can drive most of it at 55MPH. You will cross the Snake River as you come into Hoback Junction and at Hoback you will turn LEFT again heading North. Then you are 10 miles from town and in no time you will have completed your 40 mile journey. This whole trip should not take more than and hour or so to complete depending on how much time you spend taking pictures and such. So if you have a couple of extra hours this is a good way to spend them as many people who visit the valley never see this little jewel of a drive.