San Francisco to Grand Teton National Park Road Trip

On September 25th, 2020 I started my journey for a weeklong trip to the Grand Teton and the Yellowstone National Parks. I have been dreaming of visiting these iconic national parks, finally I got some time off from work and I headed to these two national parks without any concrete plans. I didn’t even book a hotel, or tours, everything was so impromptu and I thought I would figure out as I go. So, when the day came, I packed in all the camping gears, food, and supplies with a goal to explore for the next 10 days photographing and capturing videos of natural beauty surrounding these region. I was very excited, after taking in a deep breadth, I started the engine at 1pm local time, and there I go for a 16 h drive to Grand Teton’s Jenny Lake. My plan was to reach the first-come first serve campground at Jenny Lake by early 6AM. I felt a jolt of energy, and kept driving not knowing what’s up ahead, as I was worried there will be roadblocks because of the forest fires that was ravaging California at that time.

Map to Grand Teton from Sunnyvale, CA

I remember driving countless hours on 80E through the deserts of Nevada. I remember stopping for couple of pee breaks, before riding the loneliest road I-86E, where not a single soul was present. After driving close to 14h, I was traveling through the park and stumbled upon a giant moose. I had never seen a moose, and it was crossing the road in the middle of the night. The sight was spectacular as it slipped away into darkness before I wanted to peek a second look. As I was traveling through the park, the rain came in full force, the temperature dropped, and everything was wet. I reached the Jenny Lake Campground at 5.00am, and I was in a queue to get to the coveted spot to rest for the day. I waited for over 2 h before the park ranger announced that Sept 26th was the last day of the season, on one side I was lucky enough to get the spot and on the other side I was disappointed that I needed to find another campground for the coming nights. The rain was heavy, accompanied by my sleepless night, I was in a terrible situation, without able to pitch the tent. I slept in the car not knowing what the time was, when I finally woke up it was already 12PM, and had to find a way to pitch a tent. When I took the first step to explore the campground, I was so anxious and nervous of encountering a grizzly bear, the fear of not having a bear spray was evident. Although this fear eventually disappeared as I stayed longer in the park but seeing so many bear warnings was terrifying. As the rains subsided, I pitched my tent, and announced myself that things will get better as time goes.

Jenny Lake Campground
Spectacular view of the Jenny lake and cloud covered Teton Mountains

Closeup shot of Teton Mountains
Fall Foliage on the Teton Mountains
Boat ride to the Inspiration point & Hidden Falls

After having my breakfast, I headed to the spectacular Jenny lake. The lake was formed 12000 years ago on the foothills of Teton Mountains.  The view of Teton Mountains along with the lake at the foreground was exquisite, and I was captivated by how this lake shaped the beauty of Teton Mountains. I was soaking in the fresh air, experiencing pristine waters, majestic mountains, fall colors, and the roaring sounds of water hitting the shores. The Teton mountains provokes a sense of timeless majesty. I was so happy to be present there, to experience the solitude the mountains offer.  I was photographing the mountains, lake, fall foliage, and nearby rock structures, when I noticed boats carrying many passengers to the mountains, where there seem to be many trails, and waterfalls.

Hidden Falls Trail
Overlook on the trail
Spectacular fall foliage along the trail
River flowing along the trail
Hidden Falls

So, I took the boat ride to the Hidden Falls to experience the stunning waterfalls near the mountain. The boat ride gives a unique perspective of mountains from the center of the lake. As I reached the shores, I could hear the sounds of river flowing with full life force. I hiked the Hidden fall trails encountering fall foliage, waterfalls, and many beautiful mountain landscapes. Finally, I reached hidden falls after a couple of minutes, as It was truly hidden from plain sight, with some spectacular views. After soaking in the view, I head back to the jetty to take the ride back to the Jenny Lake Visitor Center. It was the last Ferry ride of the day. I enjoyed the mountains one last time from the boat, and called for the night.

One final look of Teton mountains from the Boat
Travelers on the boat to the Jenny lake Visitor Center

Although, I was so tired from the last night epic ride, I decided to check out one last place before I headed to my tent for the night sleep. It was located close to the Jackson Hole town, with rain clouds approaching with full ferocity.

View of mountains from a view point along the road to Jackson hole

After all the adventures, I reached to my tent, and I slept nicely even when the rain was pounding my tent for the night. The night was chilly, and I was still anxious of the grizzly bears ripping my tent. I think it was all mental before I woke the next morning all well and good.

I will continue the blog with day 2 in the next few installments. Thanks for reading and would love to hear your feedback on my trip. You can also watch the Youtube video that features Day 1 of my trip below.

6 thoughts on “San Francisco to Grand Teton National Park Road Trip

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