There are some places in this country that are magnetic. I don’t mean the kind of magnetism that will throw your compass out of whack – I’m talking about those spots on the map that call to your heart and tug on your soul. The ones that seem to have their own gravity, because they suck you in when you get close enough. Maybe they’re different for everyone, but one of those spots for me is the Tetons.
During our last visit to the Tetons we discovered that the National Park regulations severely limited what we could do with Ty and Buster inside the park. This time around we were ready to put some of the skills we’ve learned over the past few years to use and, with a little digging, we found plenty of ways to keep the boys busy!
The first thing we did differently on this trip was to choose a significantly larger campground. All seven campgrounds in the national park are pet friendly, and with the limited traffic and pedestrian-friendly speed limits, walking the campground roads is a great way to get some exercise. We decided on the 350-site Gros Ventre campground, because it’s one of the largest, and our Tales from the Backroad friends were also staying there. Taking Ty and Buster for a couple mile stroll was no problem, and we were excited to find that the moose liked this spot as much as we did! Every day we saw moose in the campground, and we had to take care to keep the boys a safe distance from them – something we’ve never had the pleasure to worry about in the past.
Any visit to the Tetons would not be complete without a trip around the 43-mile Scenic Loop Drive. It sounds like a quick enough thing to do, but be forewarned that you’re going to want to make recent stops for photos. Remember, your pets are able to get out of the vehicle to stretch their legs, but must stay within six feet of the turnouts, parking areas, and roads. Pets are not allowed on any of the multi-use trails or pathways inside the national park.
Almost every national park we’ve visited has a national forest very close by, and you can always count on the national forests to be dog friendly! On our last visit to the Tetons, we walked right out of Jackson and took the trail to the top of Snow King. It was a great hike, but we were looking for something a little more “woodsy” this time around. We settled on a three-mile hike up to Goodwin Lake.
Directions to the trailhead: Take Elk Refuge Road out of Jackson and turn right after the end of county maintenance, following signs to Curtis Canyon campground. Go up a couple switchbacks, past the overlook and campground, and up a couple more switchbacks. Bear right at the fork, and the road ends in the parking lot at the trailhead. Note: It’s slow going most of the way because the road is rough, especially after the fork.
There are a lot of gorgeous spots to pull over and admire the views on the way up to the trailhead and, if I had it to do over again, I might just pack a picnic, the camera, my hammock, a book, and the boys’ zip line and skip the hike the next time! It would be a dream to spend the day soaking up that amazing scenery and playing with the dogs.
But you don’t know these things until you try them – so we took off up the trail, which starts out uphill and climbs steadily until you reach the ridge. From there, it’s a comfortable incline the rest of the way to the lake. The trail is pretty popular, so we went on a weekday to avoid some of the traffic. Dogs with a good recall are allowed to be off-leash in the national forest, so don’t be surprised if you meet a pooch loping down the trail. Since Ty and Buster are reactive to other dogs, we kept them on leash and moved off the trail when off-leash dogs came along. The other owners were very nice and kept their dogs away from the boys when we asked them to.
It took us about 90 minutes to get to the lake, going at a pretty good clip. Once we were there, we had it mostly to ourselves and we took our time following the little trail that curved around the shore.
Ty and Rod even made a new friend when this little guy came over to check them out …
It was a fun way to end our most recent visit to the Tetons! I have no doubt that we’ll be back again … and before long I’m sure we’ll begin to hear that song in our hearts and feel that pull on our souls.
There is a nice selection of pet friendly hotels in Jackson. The campgrounds in Grand Teton National Park and Bridger-Teton National Forest are also pet friendly, however, most sites are rustic and they fill up quickly during peak season. You can also find pet friendly camping in Jackson. Pet friendly restaurants are a little more difficult to come by in Jackson, so check out the ones we’ve found or plan to hit the deli or call for take out.
Do you have an older dog, or one that’s more couch potato than trail runner? We’ve found the perfect place to spend a relaxing day together in the Tetons!