Grand Teton National Park
Four of us and the dog piled into a minivan and toured Grand Teton National Park.
First stop was the Rockefeller Preserve. In 1932, John D. Rockefeller quietly bought all the open land leading up to the Tetons in order to save it from commercial development. His son, Laurence, recently donated a few thousand acres to the National Park, and this center was opened in 2008.
This magnificent structure is a contemplative center, meant to enhance your experience within the park. There are several rooms to wander, each presenting a different perspective. One of our favorites is the meditation room, in which the sounds of Tetons are played; rolling thunderstorms, trumpeting elk, eagle cries, and birdsongs. There is a large backlit mosaic of the mountain range, and on close inspection you discover with delight the picture is composed of 21,000 thumbnail images of the flora and fauna of the park.
A library filled with books and maps dedicated to the Grand Tetons is in yet another room of the Rockefeller Center. Off from the lobby, a full model of the valley shows all the hiking trails in wonderful detail. However, we won’t be wandering too far from the road, as there have been many bear sightings today.
We stopped for a picnic at Cottonwood Creek, where the views were outstanding and Shadow had a chance to splash in the cold mountain stream.
Jenny Lake was just up the road, and our last stop for the afternoon because a sudden storm blew over the Tetons. The temperature dropped 20 degrees in a matter of minutes, and we dodged downbursts all the way back to camp.
Evening found us at the rustic delights of the Bar J Chuckwagon. This long-running dinner theater is so entertaining that we visit every time we’re in Jackson. Steak dinner is grilled on site, and in a clever bit of orchestration they serve 700 folks in about 20 minutes. The Humphrey family of singing cowboys, a.k.a. the Bar J Wranglers, put on a show of music and comedy, and have some of the best harmonies I’ve been privileged to hear.