Grand Teton National Park – Day 2 – Tour Day

John Moulton's pink home with the Grand Tetons in the background.
This pink house was on our tour.
Anybody know which stop?

Our tour of Grand Teton National Park started out at Jackson Lake Lodge which was a 13 minute drive from our campsite in Colter Bay RV park. Our tour vehicle was a nice, comfortable van. Besides our tour guide, Christine, there was one other couple. Climb on in, and I’ll take you to each of the sites we visited.

Oxbow Bend

Our first stop was Oxbow Bend. Here the Snake River makes a classic, crescent bend. According to the NPS website, “The oxbow is created over time as erosion and deposits of soil change the river’s course.” Our guide said the river’s course will continue to change over time.

With the stillness of the early morning stop, the river reflected the grand scenery all around us. Our guide mentioned that later in the day, this would not be the case. And when we drove past later near the end of our tour, we noticed she was right. So, mark this for an early morning stop. Here, we also saw a bald eagle soaring in the sky. The day was just beginning, but what a beautiful beginning it was.

Oxbow Bend
Betty and Dan standing at Oxbow Bend with the Grand Tetons in the distance.
Grand Teton National Park

Mount Moran Turnout

Mount Moran

Mount Moran is the tallest of the Grand Tetons. It was named after Thomas Moran, a landscape artist who visited the area with the Hayden expedition in 1872. Thomas Moran only visited the west side of the Teton range; he never saw the mountain named for him.

According to a plaque at the site, the mountain has five glaciers. The glacier on the left is known as “Skillet Glacier.” These glaciers have shrunk 20% in the last 40 years because of our changing climate. A black vertical line can also be seen on the mountain. According to the NPS website, this is actually a vein of black diabase which came from molten lava squeezing into the cracks of the mountain about a billion years ago.

String Lake

Our next stop was String Lake. String Lake is a small but picturesque lake set between two larger lakes – Leigh Lake and Jenny Lake. This is a pretty area with several hiking trail options available. On the day we visited, there were several kayakers enjoying the calm and scenic water. Our guide also pointed out some wild huckleberry bushes. I tried one, but it was small and somewhat bitter. My understanding is huckleberries are usually sweeter.

String Lake
A path goes through evergreen trees right along String Lake.
Don’t you just want to follow that path?

As we drove to our next stop, we passed the South Jenny Lake area. This is where one can catch the shuttle boat, our guide pointed out. She recommended going early or later in the day to avoid the long lines for the boat shuttle. The number of cars parked in the area attested to the wisdom of her advice.

Chapel of the Transfiguration

The Episcopal Chapel of the Transfiguration with the Grand Tetons in the background.

Our next stop took us to the Chapel of the Transfiguration. Here was a church – a small structure with built-in elements of beauty, all surrounded by the grandeur of God’s creation. It is in a place such as this where I feel closest to God. This is a place to reflect and to pray.

When entering the chapel, immediately to the left and to the right are two most colorful stained glass windows. In the corner, to the right of the door, is a small stand with a prayer intention book. I wrote in two requests. While these requests will remain in my heart, I did feel, being in such a sacred place, the requests would be given “special status” and sent to the “Powers that Be” by express delivery. Let’s just say, I expect I will be getting many more blog followers very soon. Just kidding! That was not my prayer.

Spring scene in stained glass
Winter scene in stained glass.

The Chapel of Transfiguration was built in 1925. In 1980, the chapel was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. Presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton both attended services in the chapel. Since I was on a tour, I couldn’t stay long. But I did sit, just a bit, and said a quick prayer. Should I ever return to Grand Teton National Park, I would make a point of attending Sunday services at the Chapel.

Looking to the back of the Chapel
Looking out the window at the front of the Chapel

Menor’s Ferry

Not too far down the road from the Chapel is Menor’s Ferry. Bill Menor came to Jackson’s Hole in 1894. He homesteaded land near the Snake River where he operated a ferry and a general store. The cabin and the country store are original, but the ferry and the cables are replicas. Menor’s Ferry became a main crossing in the central part of the Jackson Hole area. The ferry was a “reaction ferry” design which uses ropes connected to a cable across the river. The ropes are used to catch the current which propels the ferry.

Replica of Menor’s Ferry
Menor’s General Store

Maud Noble’s Cabin

Maud Noble’s Cabin

Just a short walk from Menor’s General Store is Maud Noble’s Cabin. Bill Menor sold his ferry and general store to Maud Noble in 1918. Maud doubled the fares for the ferry, but eventually a steel truss bridge was built south of the ferry. Of course, after the bridge was built, nobody needed the ferry.

In 1929, Maud sold her holdings to the Snake River Land Company. However, while Maud may sound somewhat shrewd, her cabin is preserved as an important part of the area’s history. Maud’s cabin is where a meeting of local folks and the Superintendent of Yellowstone National Park, Horace Albright, was held. This meeting, held on July 26th, 1923, laid the groundwork for what eventually became Grand Teton National Park.

Mormon Row

Dan and our Tour Mates – Cathy and Tom
John Moulton Barn

The first settlers to – what is now known as Mormon’s Row – came to the area in the 1890’s. The community worked together to make farming tasks easier. The settlers created an extensive irrigation system which served the community from 1896 until 1937. Electric power came to Mormon Row in the 1950’s; however, by this time many of the families had sold their homesteads to become part of the national park.

Pictures of the Thomas and John Moulton barns are so ubiquitous, I thought you’d enjoy a more unique one with our tour group included. Cathy and Tom told us we could remember their names because they were “Tomcat.” Tom and Cathy. Sounds crazy, but guess what. It worked.

Unfortunately, we really didn’t get to explore this area very much at all. Basically, we had time to take our own version of the iconic photos of the barns. Imagine my surprise when I looked more closely at this informational board and saw that two of the homesteads on Mormon’s Row were . . . Chambers! Just think if they would have had electricity sooner, perhaps one of them would have had a blog – ChambersontheRow!

A pictorial presentation of where the homes were on Mormon Row Historic District.
Dan’s dad was Roy Chambers.
The pink house in the feature photo is part of John Moulton’s Homestead – close to the “You Are Here” notation.

Have you stopped laughing yet?

All kidding aside, should we ever return to Grand Teton National Park, I would like to walk around and explore this area more. Our guide also mentioned that the land is slowly being restored to how it was before all the irrigation channels were put in by the Mormons.

Snake River Overlook

The Snake River Overlook was our tour’s last stop before heading back to Jackson Lake Lodge.

Snake River Overlook

This stop may be the favorite for all you bloggers who love photography. It is also a testament to the power of a photograph. An informational plaque marks the very place where Ansel Adams took his famous picture of the Snake River overlook.

Capturing Nature in a Box plaque with  the Grand Tetons in the distance.

Ansel Adams stood here in 1942 and took this photograph of the vast unspoiled beauty of the Snake River and jagged Teton Range. The National Park Service hired Adams in 1941 to capture nature as exemplified by national parks. At the time local ranchers were battling a proposal to include the Jackson Hole valley in Grand Teton National Park. Adams’s photographs helped promote and protect western U.S. landscapes.

Capturing Nature in a Box
Grand Teton National Park

With that, our tour came to a happy conclusion. Are you tired? Even though we were driven to each of these attractions in the national park, we still had over 8,000 steps. Are you in for tomorrow? If so, you better rest up because our activities tomorrow will register over 12,000 steps, and that’s no bull! My next post will explain.

A view of the Grand Tetons with our tour van in the distance.

40 comments

  1. What a fabulous tour, Betty! It was informative, funny, and a great read overall. Of course, I loved the Ansel Adams bit. All of your photos are excellent and you’re a skilled tour guide. Thanks for taking us along! I look forward to “no bull” tomorrow, and am very curious about that teaser.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Terry. I thought about you with the Ansel Adams bit; I thought you’d like it. 🙂 I worked hard on this post, and it took some time to write and to choose and edit the photos. However, it was very rewarding to write this post as not only did I relive the tour, but I felt like I got so much more out of the tour by writing this blog – even though I did it afterwards. I appreciate your kind comments, and yes, that was a teaser! Enjoy your day!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. It is very beautiful there, and with some interesting history too. Sounds like your trip is going well. We went there in 2016 for my parents 60th wedding anniversary, but we hope to go back sometime with our 5th Wheel.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Grand Teton National Park would be a wonderful place to celebrate an anniversary. It is very beautiful, and I really enjoyed our time there. It would be nice to go back. Thanks for your comment, and enjoy your day!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Fabulous post. I felt like I was reading a travel magazine. My goodness, your pictures are amazing. And, I’d love to sit in that church. It reminds me of where we got married. On a mountain top.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you. I am glad you enjoyed the tour. Those stained glass windows were beautiful. It was kind of dark when entering the church, so the windows were really bright and colorful. Enjoy your day!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. It sounds like y’all are having a wonderful time! Thanks for sharing your beautiful photos. We drove through the Grand Tetons on our trip out west but didn’t have a chance to stop and look around. We need to remedy that at some point in the future.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sometimes, all you have time to do is drive through. And that can let you know if you should go back or not. I really enjoyed our time there and could go back and explore even more. Enjoy your day!

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  5. What a fantastic tour! It was just great to read. If you are pressed for time, tours we’ve found have always been the way to go. The photos absolutely added so much to the whole post. Thanks for taking me along! No Bull? That has to be interesting. Looking forward to that post.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Bill! I appreciate your kind words. I think tours are good when you are pressed for time. Tours also help when there is so much to see or a lot of history or information to learn. I really like your idea to take a tour when in a new place. It’s worth a few bucks. You’ll find out about the bull in my next post. Enjoy your day!

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  6. I have that Ansel Adams photograph. My sister-in-law sent it to me in a birthday card. I enjoyed reading about each tour stop, as well as your photographs. I am curious. How much was your tour!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Linda. I love that photograph. Actually, I love all of Ansel Adams’ work. The tour cost $105 per person. It lasted about 4 hours and maybe 15 minutes. The guide was very informative. Hope you have a great Sunday!

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  7. I really enjoyed reading this. We will be there next week for the first time and really enjoy hearing about the place to check out. I look forward to your next posting.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you very much. I am glad you enjoyed reading this. I have 2 more posts coming about Grand Teton NP. One will be published tomorrow. After GTNP, we visited Yellowstone. It was our first trip to the area, too. I hope you have a wonderful time there!

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  8. Joining a tour is something I have not given much consideration to at national parks. It doesn’t sound like a bad way to go. Looks like you saw a lot in a short period of time. I will have to look at that option going forward.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I feel like there are several benefits to taking a tour. It does help give us a “lay of land” early on. And the tour guide often suggests other things to do. And one thing I didn’t include was all the info we learned from the tour guide. There was lots! And it is another way to support the local economy. We did an all day tour of Yellowstone, too. Safe travels, and have a great day!

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