Monday, September 19, 2011

A Welcome Dose of Americana: Grand Teton National Park

While waiting for our flight from Chicago O'Hare to Jackson Hole CNN was broadcasting news of 50 new planets discovered across a small screen at Gate 9. When I woke up to the Teton Range the next morning I was entirely convinced I had landed on one of them feeling completely overwhelmed by the destination's unique beauty. Driving to Jackson Lake Lodge at 10pm the night before was no easy fete (as you can imagine, Manhattanites are not used to such dark roads). But when we each arrived safely to our lovely cabins, I soon found comfort in the solitude of the mountains, the crisp, clean air and distant (or maybe not-so-distant) sounds of bountiful wildlife. The trip had a very classic, back-to-the-basics, Americana vibe — which inspired the use of my iphone instagram app creating a cool, vintage mountain feel for my photos.

What's Grand Teton National Park all about? Getting back in touch with history, American culture, and most of all, the great outdoors! See my list of Teton’s Top Four below for some tips on how to make the most of your time in the park.

Mormon Row Historic District

1.     Grand Teton Lodge Company is without-a-doubt the perfect option for families and travelers looking to experience the park and nearby Jackson Hole. Jackson Lake Lodge, Colter Bay Village and Jenny Lake Lodge provide wonderful accommodations, prime access to activities and dining options that are nothing less than superb. If you haven’t yet experienced huckleberry pancakes (or anything with huckleberries for that matter), you're missing out. 

2.     Rent a car. The views are spectacular and there was truly something special about waking up at 6:30 each morning before sunrise zooming through the morning fog to discover the Teton Range a few miles up the road. 

The Corrals at Jackson Lake Lodge

3.     If conducive to your travel plans, book a night at each lodging property; the drives between each are leisurely and gorgeous. Colter Bay Village is right on the water, providing easy access to the marina and Jackson Lake. Enjoy lake cruises, fishing, hikes, an on-site historical museum and great shopping. Jackson Lake Lodge has lovely rooms, a grand main cabin lobby and three lovely eateries: The Mural Room (fine dining), The Pioneer Grill (delicious casual-style dining with very generous portions) and the Blue Heron Lounge (unbelievable views of the range and wildlife; their Huckleberry margaritas and local beer are also well worth sampling). Jenny Lake Lodge is absolutely lovely, with cabins spread out around the base of The Tetons. The view from your porch will be spectacular no matter what the location. Tip: don’t miss out on the five-course dinner tasting menu at The Dining Room at Jenny Lake Lodge; Chef Alyson Zimmerman and Vishwatej Nath are masters of American cuisine. The Dining Room additionally serves breakfast and lunch. Dinner and Breakfast at Jenny Lake Lodge are included in the nightly rate.

Lorianne Lacey rafting on Snake River

4.      Take advantage of the park’s activities, which seem endless. Horseback riding, Dinner Wagon Rides, Scenic and Whitewater Rafting, Hiking, Boat Cruises, Guided Tours, Golf & Tennis at Jackson Hole Golf & Tennis Club and much, much more. If heading down to Jackson Hole (about 45 minutes drive from the park), you’ll find the town is always bustling with cultural events and activity. Snake River Lodge & Spa, A RockResort is located right in the heart of Teton Village with wonderful rooms and suites, also providing access to the on-site Avanyu Spa (Jackson Hole’s largest at 17,000 square feet!) If you're headed to or from Yellowstone, a great home-base to consider is Flagg Ranch, located conveniently between each of the parks, where spacious log cabins, camping and RV sites are nestled between the pines. The main lodge also boasts a restaurant serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as an on-site gas station and gift shop.

Prepping for s'mores after a Dinner Wagon Ride
Like  many, in the past I’ve fallen victim to the lures of Europe and the Caribbean forgetting what amazing experiences are right here in The States. If you’re looking to get back in touch with nature, and inevitably your own American history — the Tetons are for you. I’ll speak for both Lorianne and I when I say we’ll be back... that’s for sure.

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