Grand Teton and Yellowstone national parks

[This was the final leg of our ~3000 mile journey in the great American west. Here are the links to the first, second, third, and fourth parts]

After our rest in Salt lake city, we left the next day we left for Wyoming, a state we had only heard of in movies and stories. We didn’t know anyone that had ever lived there. Having lived in NY, it felt as if we were visiting a far, remote and forgotten part of the US. Forgotten, except perhaps for its two renowned national parks: Yellowstone and Grand Teton, to which visitors from around the world flock in great numbers throughout the year.

The drive up north from Utah into Wyoming was spectacular. We saw more cows and horses and ranches on this part of the trip than in all the other states we visited.

An endless road flanked by beautiful ranches somewhere in Wyoming, USA (Uday Arya)

An endless road flanked by beautiful ranches somewhere in Wyoming, USA

We reached the Grand Teton park first, and it had been raining quite a bit. The park is named after a tremendous mountain which abruptly rises about 7000 feet above the area, in all almost 14,000 feet above sea level. Another reason some people know this park is through one of the most legendary images of the beautiful American west, an unforgettable composition made by Ansel Adams titled “The Tetons – Snake River (1942)”. You can see the image here.

Snow capped peaks of Grand teton range (Uday Arya)

Snow capped peaks of Grand teton range

Video 2 – Driving inside Grand Teton area

The area was incredibly beautiful – and was teaming with elks, bison and other wildlife roaming freely across the plains.

A lonely tree set against vast open fields in Grand Teton national park (Uday Arya)

A lonely tree set against vast open fields in Grand Teton national park

We spent some time finding our campground, and it happened to be right next to the beautiful Jenny Lake. Thankfully it  stopped raining by the time we started putting up our tent for the night.

That evening a forest ranger gave a long talk by a fireplace – there were even wooden benches! This was a first for us, and it was a unique experience. It was like sitting in a geography or biology class again – only this time we paid a lot more attention.

It was below freezing at night, so we wore extra pants, socks, head cover etc.. A dramatic change from just a week ago, when we slept in shorts at the Wahweap bay campground in Arizona.

The next day, we’d planned to start early by seeing the sun rise on the Grand Tetons – and boy, was the effort worth it! (See the landscape below)

Sunrise at the Grand Teton range, Wyoming

Sunrise at the Grand Teton range, Wyoming

After the beautiful sunrise, we had a good breakfast and headed further up north towards Yellowstone. Historically, Yellowstone is very special – as it was the first area in the US (and likely in the world) that was designated to be a ‘national park’ by its advocates. The move symbolized a new age of our terrestrial existence, an age best characterized by its loftiest aspirations – respect, love, and genuine care for the natural world.

Yellowstone is an ex-volcanic region, and has umpteen hot springs and geysers of every kind, apart from being what many campers call ‘bear-heaven’! It is quite a complex and interesting eco-system that needs a good deal of time to truly understand. Even in the short while we were there, we could spend a fair amount of time examining and admiring different thermal features, and encountered wild-life practically everywhere. A week here with someone who knows the place well could potentially teach us more than what years of class room study could possibly introduce us to.

The beautiful fields of Yellowstone bathed in the gentle afternoon yellows one fine day in August 2010 (Uday Arya)

The beautiful fields of Yellowstone bathed in the gentle afternoon yellows one fine day in August 2010

A beautiful blue pool at Yellowstone

A beautiful blue pool at Yellowstone

A silhouette of the great fountain geyser, Yellowstone - in black and white (Uday Arya)

A silhouette of the great fountain geyser, Yellowstone – in black and white

A dreamy landscape shot at Yellowstone where red sands contrast with beautiful, often dramatic skies (Uday Arya)

A dreamy landscape shot at Yellowstone where red sands contrast with beautiful, often dramatic skies

Past sunset at Yellowstone national park, a painted sky and yellow fields (Uday Arya)

Past sunset at Yellowstone national park, a painted sky and yellow fields

We left Yellowstone early on September 5th. Even on our way out of the park, we saw a brilliant sunrise, and so much wildlife – this is truly a treasure of all mankind, and we are grateful that the opportunity to safeguard it has been given to a country as worthy of it as the United States.

It was a good ten to eleven hours of a drive from Yellowstone to Denver. For breakfast, we stopped at a small breakfast diner in a town called ‘Cody’.  There were no free tables for two, and there were 3 couples standing in line for a table. One couple was in their 80s, the other were only in late 60s and then there was us. The owner saw us and asked us if we didn’t mind sitting together at a 6-seat round-table? All of us happily agreed.

This turned out to be one of the best random breakfasts we have had to date. Such jolly and warm people! We chatted a lot, exchanged stories & spent an hour and half over basically three slices of bread and a cup of coffee. We met as strangers but felt so much closer when we had to say goodbye!

Early that evening, we reached Denver. We washed the car, and re-packed all our luggage for the flight the next day. We rested at a lovely bed-and-breakfast, which felt amazing after all those cold nights in the tent!

Other parts of this road-trip

Uday
..is a wanna-be travel-writer and photographer currently based out of New York. In 2013, received the Dilbert bravery award for attempting to put together lengthy travelogues in the age of 20-sec attention spans.
Uday
Uday