48 - Colter Bay Village, Grand Tetons Wyoming

On Thursday 9/8 we drove the 1.5 hours in Grand Tetons National Park. We are staying at Colter Village Campground which is very nice. The sites are the most wooded we have had even given all the different "outdoor" type places we have. There is a Grocery Store (small but bigger than most places), gift shop, restaurant and a visitor center. I did not have to go far to get my National Park Passport stamped.

When we checked in the woman told us that the viewing of the Grand Tetons is hazy because of fires in Utah and California with the smoke coming this way. Wow, that a long way for the smoke to come. It was supposed to get better after some rain yesterday, but it only rained a little, so the view is about the same. 

After setting up and looking around the campground we drove the hour into Jackson Hole. On the way we saw bison and some antelope. Unfortunately, I did not have my phone ready and did not get a picture when the antelope ran across the road.

We went to the Gun Barrel Steak and Game Restaurant where we had martinis for the queen. Mike had what she probably drank, a gin martini. I had my favorite lemon drop martini. We heard that the queen would have a martini everyday and about 2 years ago the doctors told her she couldn't have it anymore. My opinion is that if you make it over 90 you should be able to have what you want.

Aside from martinis we did eat. Mike had Bison prime rib and I had Bison Ribs .... wow those ribs where huge but don't know why we were surprised giving how big they are.

On Friday 9/9 we went for a hike around Jackson "lake". Unfortunately, as you can see from the pictures, the water level is very low, actually non-existent in places.

So, a little about Jackson Lake. 

Jackson Lake is a natural lake that was enlarged by the construction of the Jackson Lake Dam, which was originally built in 1911, enlarged in 1916 and rebuilt by 1989. As part of the Minidoka Project the top 33 ft of the lake is used by farmers in Idaho for irrigation purposes under water rights legislation that was enacted prior to the establishment of Grand Teton National Park. 

The lake is primarily fed by the Snake River, which flows in from the north, and empties at Jackson Lake Dam. Jackson Lake is one of the largest high-altitude lakes in the United States, at an elevation of 6,772 ft above sea level. The lake is up to 15 mi long, 7 mi wide and 438 ft   deep.

Nearly all of the reserve water stored in the lake will be released into the Snake River to meet the downstream irrigation needs in Idaho. Legally, Wyoming only has rights to four percent of water in the Snake River system. 

“Snowpack in the Upper Snake River feeds into Jackson Lake,” Erin Whorton, the water supply specialist for the Natural Resources Conservation Service, said. “It ended up being 83 percent of normal for the peak snowpack. So even though we have this cold, wet spring, and that's been helping make up for the overall low snowpack during the winter, it's still not enough to probably fill Jackson Lake Reservoir this coming spring.”

As we were driving through Idaho Mike may a comment several times about how he thought they were wasting water at the farms by having the watering system above ground spraying the water which would result in a lot evaporating before it hit the crops. The more efficient way would be to water underground. When we asked the ranger at the visitor center about the water level, she basically said the same thing (so did a couple we met while on our hike). While it might be expensive to change over the watering systems for the farmers, I think this would be money well spent to save the lakes probably getting drained around the country.

On Saturday 9/10, we went on a Raft Float down the Snake River. It was very scenic and relaxing. Our guide was born and raised in the Tetons so he had a lot of insights that we may not have gotten from someone else.

Sunday 9/11, Mike and I took a scenic ride around the park. Beautiful pictures for the Tetons at almost every turn. We stopped by the Jackson Dam which is the dam drawing the water out of Jackson Lake for Idaho. They are still drawing a lot out. The Dam was paid for by Idaho, even though in Wyoming, that is why Idaho has the right to the water. Hopefully the get a lot of snow this winter (according to our float guide they are forecasting way above average) so that the lake can be replenished.

Facts about the Grand Teton National Park

- Grand Teton National Park covers a total area of 309,994 acres.      

- Grand Teton was made a national park on February 26, 1929

- Grand Teton National Park is only 10 miles south of Yellowstone National Park. The two parks are connected by the John D. Rockefeller Jr. Memorial Parkway, also managed by the National Park Service.

- The Teton Range is thought to be the youngest mountain range in the Rocky Mountains, with its formation beginning between six and nine million years ago.

- On February 26, 1929, Grand Teton National Park was created. Later, in 1943, land in Jackson Hole, much of it purchased by John D. Rockefeller Jr, was named Jackson Hole National Monument. In 1950 the two areas were combined into the current Grand Teton National Park.

- While Grand Teton is the highest peak in the park at 13,770 feet, there are eight more peaks that exceed 12,000 feet in height.

Grand Teton National Park is the only national park in the United States to have its own airport. The Jackson hole Airport was established in the 1930s and absorbed into the Jackson Hole National Monument and eventually, Grand Teton park.

- The fastest mammal on land in the western hemisphere is the pronghorn, which is a native of Grand Teton National Park. The pronghorn can run up to 70 miles per hour.

Bird species in the area include the trumpeter swan, which is the largest waterfowl found on the North American continent, and the calliope hummingbird, which ranks as the smallest bird in North America.

- The first European-American explorer to discover the region’s abundance and natural beauty was John Coulter, who left the Lewis and Clark team in 1806 to travel through the region. He disappeared from his settlement, and his body was never found.

- The park features some of the oldest rocks found on the planet. The oldest rocks are at least 2.7 billion years old, which is surprising when you consider that the Grand Teton mountain range is one of the youngest.

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