Island to Inland PCS Road Trip | Day 6 | July 30, 2020 | Grand Teton National Park
Day 6 began with packing up our campsite and driving to Idaho Falls. We took US-93 South to US-20. On the way, we stopped at a rest stop near Arco, ID which is famous for being the ‘first town powered by nuclear power’. In fact the entire region we were driving in had and continues to have many ties to the nuclear power industry and is home of Idaho National Laboratory – too bad the Navy doesn’t have shore tours here.
Our next stop was to see Idaho’s Whispering Giant in Idaho Falls. We pulled into the small corner park, took some pictures and let Charlotte walk around. I’ve lost track of how many Giants we’ve seen now…I think it’s 26? Sadly we were never able to find the one in Hawaii. We had figured out that the last place it was seen was outside a lumber mill on the North shore 10 years ago.
We took US-26 out of Idaho Falls and then ID-31 over the mountains and to Victor, crossed into Wyoming on WY-22 and then North in Jackson on 390.
Now, Curtis and I have never been to this part of the country — neither of us have ever seen Grand Teton or Yellowstone National Parks. Obviously we would’ve loved to remedy that by spending a good amount of time here. However, we were severely limited on things we could do with Charlotte. Not to mention we were passing through at the height of the busiest season…during a pandemic. Clearly this just wasn’t the right time. However, we decided to compromise by driving through Grand Teton National Park. We couldn’t hike any of the trails, but we knew we could have plenty of good vistas of the Tetons just by driving through and stopping at scenic pullouts.
And so we did just that — we took our time and enjoyed every angle of these majestic mountains. The only spot where we weren’t able to visit was Jenny’s Lake, where the parking lot was packed with cars. We were able to enjoy other lake views by the Jackson Lake Dam though.
We knew it was important to find a campsite as soon as we could considering we were so close to two popular national parks, so after driving through we wasted no time in driving to one Curtis had found online. Luckily there were still some spots available at Turpin Meadow, a first come-first served campground located off a dirt road 10 miles off of US-26. We set up camp here and relaxed for a bit, then went to check out a nearby trail.
We started off strong on the trail with plenty of water, but Charlotte soon decided it was too hot to hike. She made it to a pretty viewpoint of both the national forest and the river rushing below us, as well as the Tetons behind us, and decided that was the end of the trail. I told Curtis to go on and see if there was anything worth hiking to later when it cooled off, and then sat down with Charlotte and enjoyed the view. We enjoyed our little scenic spot in the sun with an occasional breeze — until a guy on a horse came cantering passed us on the trail, which gave Char quite a scare.
Eventually Curtis returned, having scoped out a nice spot we could hike to for sunrise, and we decided to return to Grand Teton National Park for a bit since there were still several hours of daylight left.
Side note, I have to say that daylight was and has continued to be the weirdest part of our transition from Hawaii to the mainland. When we left Hawaii, the sun was setting around 7PM. At this point at the end of July and at this latitude, it would still be light out even past 9PM! What do you even do that late at night?! I guess by now we’ve become mostly adjusted to it, just as the days are starting to grow shorter…
We drove back to Grand Teton and this time drove up Signal Hill to enjoy another overlook. From the top, we had great visibility and could even see a heard of bison or elk in the far distance. On our drive back down the hill, we saw an elk on the side of the road. And that concludes all the cool wildlife we saw on this trip (aside from the occasional roadside deer) — we’ve never been very lucky with that!
We returned to our campsite for dinner and games in the tent, until we gave up on waiting for the sunset and drifted off to sleep while the sky was still light.