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Pets in Parks – Exploring the Grand Tetons

Just south of Yellowstone sits a national park that attracts only a fraction of the hordes that flood its northern counterpart. In fact, a surprising number of Yellowstone’s guests don’t even realize it’s there. It’s Grand Teton National Park, and it’s a photographer’s dream.

Pets in the Park?

As in most national parks in the US, pets in the Tetons are allowed very limited access. In fact, Grand Teton’s pet policy is more restrictive than Yellowstone’s – allowing pets only within six feet of a road, in the campgrounds, and on boats only on Jackson Lake. That’s it. And, when outside, pets must be crated, in a carrier, or on a leash no longer than six feet at all times.

The restrictions are in place to protect you and your pet from the wildlife in the park. And, while we did not see the bears, wolves or bison as we did in Yellowstone, I have no doubt that they are here.

Sniffing Around

In 1929, the Teton’s central peaks and half a dozen lakes at their base became the first version of Grand Teton National Park. This initial preserve was a third of the park’s present day size and did not protect a complete ecosystem, so work continued toward expansion. John D. Rockefeller, Jr. believed that the beauty of the area would be spoiled if the valley below the Tetons was left to unfettered development. So, he quietly purchased 35,000 acres of farm and ranch land between 1927 and the mid-1930s at a cost of $1.4 million, intending to donating the land to increase the park’s size.

With the locals opposed to extending the park and Congress divided, Rockefeller pressured President Franklin Roosevelt to issue a presidential proclamation in 1943, creating Jackson Hole National Monument, a swath of 221,000 acres that protected the valley lands around the Snake River.

In 1950, Rockefeller’s lands were finally united with original park and the monument. The combination created the 310,000-acre park that exists today.

Pet Friendly Perspective

You may remember from last week’s post that, upon our arrival in the Tetons, Rod promptly announced he was never leaving. Luckily for us, the campgrounds here are pet friendly! And, we were able to get a site with no problem – even without reservations. We chose a spot at the north end of Jackson Lake and settled in for a few days.

Grand Teton National Park, WY Grand Teton National Park, WY Grand Teton National Park, WY

This park feels small and intimate after experiencing the massiveness of Yellowstone. There are just 56 miles between the Teton’s northern and southern boundaries, and they feel deserted by comparison.

Though we couldn’t tear ourselves away from the scenery, there was little we could do with the dogs during our stay. Laps around the campground roads passed for exercise. Thankfully, with all the interesting smells, the boys did not seem to mind.

Parking areas are abundant and, much to our surprise, we had good cell phone coverage. So, each day we moved our “office” to a different spot and soaked in the views.

Grand Teton National Park, WY Grand Teton National Park, WY Grand Teton National Park, WY

Alas, the Winnebago’s batteries will only last so long, and the campgrounds do not have electrical service. After three days it was time to move on – whether Rod was ready or not.

Jackson, WY

Just a few miles beyond the southern boundary of the park lies the town of Jackson. We set up camp on the south side of town and shortly after our arrival were treated to a show from a group of paragliders!

Jackson, WY

Much to Buster’s delight, the Bridger-Teton National Forest borders the city and several trails were within easy walking distance. The national forest regulations require only that your pet be under control on the trails, and most of the dogs we encountered during our hike up Snow King were off-leash.

Jackson, WY Snow King - Jackson, WY Snow King - Jackson, WY

The Jackson Hole Community Pathways are another extensive network of trails that also allow pets, though they must be leashed.

We spent a lot of time in Jackson focusing on the trails because we did not find the downtown area to be fun for the dogs. Pets are prohibited in the city park, several grassy areas had “NO PETS” signs, and even the staff at the visitors’ center confided that there was not a lot to do with your pet in town.

Of course, if you look hard enough, you can always find some exceptions. The Eddie Bauer store’s staff happily greeted Buster and Ty for little shopping – and suggested the boys join Rod in a dressing room!

Buster and Ty Shopping - Jackson,WY

We also got a kick out of this sign at a liquor store that welcomed leashed pets – and even provided the leash!

Leashes to Borrow - Jackson, WY

Teton Village, WY

A short drive from Jackson, the ski mecca known as Jackson Hole has a much more pet friendly attitude. We saw many dogs enjoying an afternoon of shopping, outdoor dining and lounging. In the summer, the mountains are used for hiking and biking, and leashed pets are welcome on the trails.

The village’s newly-created outdoor common area provides covered seating, benches, picnic areas, fire pits, and open space. It’s a great place to hang out and people-watch.

Teton Village - Jackson Hole, WY Teton Village - Jackson Hole, WY

After exploring to their hearts’ content, we dropped the dogs off in the Winnebago and took the gondola ride to the top of Mt. Rendezvous. It was a little brisk at more than 10,000 feet – in the 50’s and breezy, but the views were worth it.

Mt. Rendezvous - Jackson Hole, WY Mt. Rendezvous - Jackson Hole, WY Mt. Rendezvous - Jackson Hole, WY

Pet Friendly Accommodations and Restaurants

We found a nice selection of pet friendly hotels in Jackson. The campgrounds in Grand Teton National Park and Briger-Teton National Forest are pet friendly, however most sites are rustic. You can also find pet friendly camping in Jackson, and we suggest you check out Teton Village when you get hungry. All in all, we give the Jackson area 2 out of 4 paws for pet friendliness.

Update

It took us four years to get back, but we’ve finally done some additional pet friendly research in the Tetons. Read what we found here!

Discovering Dog Friendly Activities Near Grand Teton National Park

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