The Snake River Overlook is the spot where Ansel Adams photographed the bend of the Snake River over 70 years ago, and brought attention to Grand Teton National Park.
Here's an excerpt from a 2012 Blog Post about our trip to the Grand Tetons. You can read the full post here.
We’re heading north. And blue skies and dreams beckon. The drive out of SLC glowing pastel pink in the dawn. We head up through wafting snow drifts blanketing the quiet roads. Which is both mesmerizing and slightly harrowing with the tricks the shifting snowflakes play on the eyes. And we cross yet another border this time into Idaho. Our navi, unknowingly, set us on a course of high roads in the back country which were a little more packed with ice and snow than we wished, so we took it slow. Real slow. And this approach would fare us well, if not completely save lives at least once this trip. More on that after we leave Yellowstone…
Snow. Snow. Snow and more snow. Small town after small town swathed in it. With picturesque snow-bound farms, and wildlife here and there. And that massive expanse of blue sky. And we weren’t even in Montana yet… It was an idyllic drive punctuated with snacks from Wholefoods, practicing for Ignite and yes, of course, 80’s on 8. We’re nothing if not consistent.
The road led us to Jackson. Having been many, many years ago in Summer, it was a completely different vibe in winter. A winter wonderland and a very us downtown area. Always time for a few drive-by’s before checking in…to yes, another hotel, with complimentary cookies…and some slipping and sliding over the ice rink of a car park to get to our room.
We decided while there was still light to head into Grand Teton National Park to locate next morning’s sunrise location. A little scouting expedition per-say. As it was just a glorious afternoon. We will never forget the physical intake of air (breathtaking in every sense) we all experienced after we rounded the curve and saw this incredible winter view for the first time. Simply majestic. Yes, so very, very Grand. We had a ball exploring the open road through the park, stopping here and there for photos and being a bit blown away by the airport in the middle of it all.
And then it was time for the show. Hello sunset. Streaks of light filled the sky.
But if we’re being honest we missed it almost altogether because we came across a REAL moose which fascinated us all for quite some time. We would see her often over the next few days, down by the stream, hiding behind bushes only a 600mm could penetrate.
After finally finding the morning sunrise location we left the park and went back into town to explore Jackson. And first and only stop was to try the local ale at the world famous Million Dollar Cowboy Bar… That was just across the road from the illuminated Jackson’s Antler Arch.
Meanwhile back in the bar…delish local brew, a live cowboy band, extreme taxidermy and saddle bar stools have us all mightily entertained. No Moosedrool tonight, it was all about the Pale Ale (which we would happily drink buckets of…the former – neveragaininamillionyears…)
We called it a night fairly early on as the next morning we wanted to shoot a sunrise at the iconic Snake River Overlook. A scene that Ansel Adams made all his, so famously. The day before the guy at the info office made sure to tell us that things had grown since then and it didn’t quite look the same. There was no sign to the overlook – just a pullout on the side of the road so we were stoked we’d actually found it. And with some 20,000 layers of clothes later we were all still freezing so it was time for the hot pockets. And thankfully we had LOADS of them. We arrived just before dawn, just in time to see a most beautiful moonset. And it was COLD. Really, really cold. So here’s our take on Snake River. From pre-dawn to sunrise and every color in between.
With the moon down it was time for the sun to wake up. And she kept us waiting with a show of her own. The delicate pinks paving the way and the sky getting lighter and lighter…
With the sun finally rising behind us…
And then this was the show in front of the cameras – not quite the pastels and the colors we had envisioned, but stunning and unique to this day just the same.
And then in the light of day we saw that Trace’s mascara had frozen off her eyes and onto her face. So, yes we were lookin’ good. We had ice crystals on the camera backs from where we’d been breathing and Emma’s hair had turned into ice spaghetti. We were so cold we were HOT.
In the golden light of morning we were now off to Mormon row and the scenic Moulton Barn which required a couple of miles hike through the snow. At first nice and packed from the snowmobiles, but then once we ventured off the path and went rogue we were in it up to our thighs. Soft and powdery, the stuff of snow angels, but also laboriously hard to hike in. We should have rented the snowshoes… But it was worth it.
After exploring the barns, the old settlers homes and pondering a lot on what life must have been like in the good old days we made the hike back. In single file, it was both meditative and a bit exhausting. Upon arriving back at the car, CUE the hysterics…Trace couldn’t find her gloves… Emma was walking around with only one lens in her sunglasses. And didn’t notice the other had fallen out. At all. Trace still couldn’t find her gloves. This went on for quite sometime. There was a lot of discussion about the one sunglass lens and how you couldn’t notice the other one missing. And then we noticed that Trace’s hat was so high on head that the nickname Harry High-hat was thrown about a bit. We laughed a lot. It may have been the altitude. I had spaghetti ice hair. And I think there were icicles on my eyelashes for most of the morning, too. And then…finally Trace finds her gloves. She’s been wearing them on her head inside her hat for past 2 hours. We lost it. It clearly wasn’t the altitude. Or perhaps it was…
After we had de-thawed, de-hatted, de-gloved and de-sunglassed it was time for a drive along Gros Ventre…Which was simply teaming with wildlife in the mid-morning sun. We found a few bison and a few coyotes but we are still certain they are wolves. No doubt. We are resolute. Even though every park ranger in the vicinity said they were coyotes. What do they know? Really.
And then you realize it’s just you and the elements and nature always has you at her beck and call. After lunch, winter truly arrived and snow swept into town. Curtains coming down over the mountains. Blue sky no more. So we took a little trip to see if we could find some reindeer. And some of those frosty trees we’d all been obsessing about. We found elk, fields and fields of elk. Our awe-inspiring mountains were no longer up for hanging out. They had firmly now disappeared.
Back in town, we called it for the day and got ourselves organized with a little shopping. Getting all set for the next day and the road to the Mother of All National Parks…Yellowstone.
The next morning we again were up for sunrise but the mountains were not anywhere in sight. We sat in the car as the snow came down in the dark and the black of night turned into a whitewash of pure mist and snow. Sunrise was just sunwhite today. We had been so lucky the day before having that spectacular vision of the mountains. We knew that now.
So our last morning in the Grand Tetons, was again not what we had expected… but something equally moving, scenic and unforgettable. And again a moose featured. What more could we want? Well, again a 600mm lens if we’re keeping it real.
One last drive through this exquisite winter wonderland before we started on our way to Gardiner, Montana… Yes, it was hard to leave the moose. And the trees.
Goodbye Grand Tetons. So glad we saw you yesterday…Thanks for putting on the most grand affair.
“Like walking for the first time into Notre Dame or the Sainte Chapelle of Parkis, there is a sensory shock in seeing the Redwoods, the Grand Tetons, or Mount Rainier that dazzles all but the deadest souls.” ~ Joseph L. Sax
Keywords: Cowboy Bar (3), Grand Teton National Park (6), Jackson Hole (6), wyoming (6).
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