Wyoming: Jackson (Part II, Jenny Lake and Granite Hot Springs)

Sept 9 (Monday) – In need of some exercise after a Sunday Funday, we drove to Jenny Lake and took the $12 (round-trip) boat ride across the lake to the trailhead for the Cascade Canyon Trail.  You can walk around the lake to the trail, but a little pressed for time we chose the boat which shaves some miles off the round-trip.  The Cascade Canyon Trail ascends far up into the Tetons and one could hike to Solitude Lake.  We ascended perhaps three miles on a gently sloping path, I estimate about 600-800 vertical feet.

Lunch view on Cascade Canyon Trail
Lunch view on Cascade Canyon Trail

We began by taking the horse trail up and to the right which soon meets back up with the more popular trail and runs along a mountain stream.  It was a little cloudy but we got frequent views of the Tetons peeking through.  Our lunch spot had inspiring views of an emerald green valley with water cascading down from glaciers.  On the way down we stopped at Inspiration Point for views over the lake, and also glimpsed Hidden Falls.

Hidden Falls
Hidden Falls

There are ample hiking opportunities in the area.  Jenni was sick much of the time in Jackson and we got a late start, so the idea of hiking up to the top of Jackson Hole and taking the tram down was off the table.  I would like to return some day to do a bit of backpacking because these mountains are so beautiful.

Ted, our bartender yesterday at The Spur, had strongly recommended we check out Granite Hot Springs.  It was already 2:15 pm and quite a drive to get there, but we had a nice moment abiding by our “let’s not be lazy on this trip” motto.  The springs are about 30 miles southeast of Jackson (itself a significant drive from Jenny Lake).  The drive was very pretty, and then we turned off the main road onto a dirt road leading to the springs.  When one travels in a convertible, 10 miles on a dirt road takes about an hour.  This was one of many highlights of our journey, as this area is rugged, remote and gorgeous.  The dirt road runs along and above a river with abundant views of granite mountains.

There are camp sites in the area.  I did not research this, but it seemed that perhaps the ones closer to the hot springs can be reserved and have pit toilets while those closer to the paved road are fully wilderness camping.  If I had a better vehicle and some preparation, this would be a delightful place to get away from it all.

At the end of the road is a hot spring fed man-made pool area.  It costs $6 each and there are changing rooms and pit toilets available.  The temperature of the pool fluctuates between 93º in the summer and a scorching 112º in the winter.  We met a nice man from Iowa on a fly-fishing trip who told us he is not remarkably skilled but sure does look good courtesy of the Orvis catalog.  He also said the Atherton Creek Campground at Lower Slide Lake is great.  Rumor has it one may cross the creek just below the granite falls and enjoy a two-person sized natural hot tub for free.

On the dirt road we saw some signs that could indicate points of interest.  These included Payson Ranch, Jackpine summer homes, Granite ranch and the Safari Club International.  We stopped at Albertson’s on the way home and found these Zip Superstarter fire starters at 6 for $6, which sure beats Duraflames at $5 each.  In this area between the town of Jackson and Route 22 are more affordable shopping options like Albertson’s, K-Mart etc. if you want to buy anything or stock a condo while visiting, and there are countless outdoor outfitters.

The drive back to Colter Bay afforded some spectacular views and lighting, and we stopped at Oxbow Bend for sunset and mountains reflecting in the water.  This is a famous photography spot, and you will see camera gear that costs about as much as a car.

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Back home we grilled up some teriyaki pork tenderloin (which will appear in the next post, too) and baked potatoes.  There is an American Alpine Club Climbers’ Ranch with a superb location near Jenny Lake.  I do not know what is required to join the club, but it is something to consider.  The Jackson area also has a museum of wildlife art and a national fish hatchery.  We did not see any moose or bears here but a lot more bison and some pronghorn.  And many more miles driven alongside rivers, which I enjoy.

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