The Grand Tetons

Teton mountain range at sunrise, WY

Teton mountain range at sunrise, WY

Located in Wyoming, this mountain range began forming 6-9 million years ago.  The Tetons are the youngest mountains in the Rocky Mountain range.


It is a unique mountain range due to its formation, and we had a mountain experience of an unusual nature.


A series of geological processes over millennium eventually led to the uplift of the region.  Situated on the Teton Fault, approximately two million years ago earthquakes displaced the range.


Fault block formation of the Teton Range and Jackson Hole. Courtesy Wikipedia.

The western side moved upward while the eastern side moved downward creating the Teton Range and Jackson Hole valley, respectively.


Most mountain ranges have foothills which often obscure much of the mountain.  But here the eastern side arose so quickly and sharply that there are no foothills.  In addition, the older the range is, the more eroded the peaks become.


But this range has no foothills, and is relatively young, creating high, craggy peaks that are prominent and stunning.


Moose, Grand Tetons

Moose, Grand Teton NP

More info here.


The highest peak is Grand Teton at 13,775 feet high (4,199 m).  Nine more peaks are over 12,000 feet high in this towering mountain range.


Visiting the Grand Tetons, only ten miles south of Yellowstone National Park, is an unforgettable experience because the mountains are always looming in your presence.


Great Spangled Fritillary (female)

Great Spangled Fritillary (female), Grand Teton NP

The geological mysteries one encounters while hiking or even driving in the valley are endless.


Mountain climbing is a favorite sport where 4,000 climbers a year attempt to summit the highest peak.


Grant Teton National Park combines with several other parks forming the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.  This ecosystem covers nearly 18,000,000 acres (7,300,00 ha) of land.


Jackson Lake, Grand Tetons

Jackson Lake, Grand Tetons


Jackson Lake and Tetons

Jackson Lake and Tetons

Although I enjoyed lovely hikes and wildlife adventures here, the most unique moment was when we got caught in a thunderstorm.


Halfway through dinner at the Jackson Lake Lodge, gusting winds and angry dark clouds began brewing.  By the time we finished, a thunderstorm was close to erupting.


Jackson Lake Lodge lobby

Jackson Lake Lodge lobby

It had not started raining, so we decided to walk back to the cabin ahead of the storm.


Outside it was so windy that fir trees were bent over sideways and pine cones had turned into horizontally flying missives.


We ran.


A few sprinkles came down and then a CLAP of thunder exploded just as lightning hit, and our entire universe turned opaque white.  I remember seeing my shoe reach the steps…and then it disappeared.


Mountain Bluebird

Mountain Bluebird, Grand Tetons NP

We had been caught in a lightning strike.


How strange it was to be on earth with eyes wide open, and yet not seeing anything.  White out.


Fortunately it didn’t hit us directly.  We looked around in disbelief; no one had been injured.  No fires either.


It rained for about ten minutes and then the storm vanished, as quickly as it had arrived.


Whenever I am in the presence of a foreign mountain range, it is fascinating to see the weather system that each individual range produces.  That day the Grand Tetons showed their grandeur.


Photo credit: Athena Alexander unless otherwise noted

Adams The Tetons and the Snake River.jpg

Snake River and Tetons. Photo by Ansel Adams. Courtesy Wikipedia.

74 thoughts on “The Grand Tetons

    • Hi Brick–I’m delighted you enjoyed the Tetons post today. I learned more about the geology in researching for this post, and found it very interesting, so I am glad you did too.

  1. Traumatic storm experience, that’s for sure and what a relief for you to reach shelter. Your adventures while in the G.T. park remind me of the time we visited the park for several days. We hiked the trail around beautiful Jenny Lake to the small lodge, saw a few marmots but my big concern was meeting up with a moose on its way to the lake; that area is noted more for Grizzly bears than moose but that didn’t seem to bother me.
    Thank you so much for the interesting geographic info on the mountain range in the park. My spouse and I feel it’s one of the most beautiful parks in the U.S. We love it there.

    • How wonderful that you have had the pleasure of the Grand Tetons, SWI. It was easy to imagine your walk and adventure around Jenny Lake; and I, too, get a little nervous about moose because they’re so big. Thanks so much for your kind words today.

  2. Thanks for the info, Jet. I am so glad that you guys weren’t hurt!
    Grant Tetons is one of my favorites. I remember the mountain were purple. I couldn’t take my eyes of them. Thanks for bringing back a good memory.
    Have a great day.

    • You know what I’m talking about, Helen, with the deep passion those mountains stir up, especially when you are in their presence. And yes, they did look purple at times. My thanks for your visit and comments today.

  3. Many of my greatest summer camping memories are of the Grand Tetons. Did you know a French trapper “discovered” and named them? I’ll let you use your imagination as to what he was referring to. 😉
    The area of Jackson Hole might sound like an unusual name. A hole is a high elevation valley between to Mountain Ranges; the Wind River Range and The Grand Tetons. On our last camping trip we had brought our small fishing boat to Jackson Lake. We actually made it to the other side and picked up a volunteer ranger waiting for a ride and brought him back to the camping area.
    Jenny Lake is also a very beautiful lake. No motorized vehicles are allowed so the rowing is extremely peaceful.
    Thank you for bringing back those wonderful memories Jet.

    • Thanks so much for your contribution to the Tetons post, Carol Mae. I love hearing about your adventures. The name, which the french trapper likened to a woman’s breasts, is also credited to the Shoshone word “teewinot” which translates to “many pinnacles.” Re Jenny Lake. On the day we had devoted to hiking around here and taking a boat ride, when we got to the trailhead at 10am, it was so crowded we had to use the overflow parking lot. I am a bird counter and used my skills to observe there were roughly 500 people at the parking lot/trailhead area. The crowds (in Sept.) were so immense, that we went elsewhere that day. I don’t do crowds in wilderness. Fortunately we had a great day, just didn’t get up close to Jenny Lake. Thanks so much Carol Mae.

      • Thanks for the extra info. We camped in the early ’80s and the crowds were nothing like that. Yellowstone was getting more crowded. It’s unfortunate I haven’t gotten around to scanning by photos of our vacations.

  4. Mountains always have their own weather personalities, don’t they? Sounds like the younger, the more unpredictable. Gorgeous place….never been.

    • Yes, it’s an amazing thing about mountains. I’ve noticed it espec. at Mt. Rainier in WA and Mt. McKinley in Alaska, they create their own weather patterns. I’m very glad I could share the Tetons with you today, Jan. Thank you.

  5. The Grand Tetons Range is to my personal opinion one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen. I was in total awe for a while (most likely with an open mouth) standing in front of the jagged peaks! I will never forget that instance, I treasure memories like that one! Thanks my dear friend for you bring me back to the past for a double take. 🙂

  6. Such a scary experience, Jet! You have been very lucky. Now looking back it is a really special, probably ‘once in a lifetime’ event 🙂 I wish everybody could see and appreciate the glory and beauty of the nature.

  7. What a grand place! Love to stay at that lodge. I experienced a similar lightning storm many years ago in the Catskills. Felt like we were in the clouds and about to get toasted. Very scary. I cant resist an addition to the geology: this article includes descriptions of the plate movements and a more in depth description of the orogenic events. I would love to go there because I am a geologist.

    • That lightning experience did feel like being instantly zapped into clouds. Thanks for the geology article, Sherry. It is one of the most fascinating places for geology, and the article gave a deeper understanding. Those black diabase dikes were incredible to see, something I had never seen before. I hope you do get a chance to visit the Tetons, espec. since you are a geologist. Many thanks.

  8. Jet are you both all right?! Caught in a lightening strike? I have been in many thunderstorms as we get them almost daily here in the summer months but never that close. What a fright!
    The Tetons look spectacular. We have not explored them but definitely will be part of future road trips.

    • We were pretty scared. Later we saw people standing outside watching the storm and said to ourselves, “No way.” Thanks so much, Sue, for your visit, as always. When you and Dave get to the Tetons you will be in awe. I know you’ve seen a lot of the Canadian Rockies (I never have), but there is never too much beauty.

      • Oh my I can see why you didn’t want to stand outside! Yes never too much beauty that is for certain. Each range of mountains has a different magical spell to cast. We will look forward to the Tetons!

    • Isn’t it so that the more we travel, Kirt, the more we want to see? I know you would enjoy the Tetons, and am glad I could share them with you here. I’m glad no one got hurt too. 🙂

  9. Fascinating post. The photos are just incredible — though not unusual for Athena, of course. Your lightning experience was beautifully written. You thoroughly relayed the terror and frightening emotions of the experience, but also captured the beauty and magnificence of all of nature, as only you can do, Jet. Blessings to you both.

    • Thank you very much, Nan, for your kind words. I am glad the writing and photos captured the experience, and that we could share it with you. Many thanks for your frequent visits and comments, they are much appreciated.

  10. thank you so much for featuring the Grand Tetons, Jet! Athena took spectacular photos of this majestic mountain range! it is in my bucket list 🙂 and what a scary lightning experience!

    • I am delighted you enjoyed the Tetons, pc. I have always enjoyed your many treks and adventures through the Canadian Rockies. What a spectacular mountain range this is. My thanks to you for your enthusiasm and kindness.

  11. One of my many favorite places. Last time I was there was early 80s. It’s a bit sad to hear that these are overrun with tourists, though I surely can’t blame them for wanting to visit this gem. I suppose I should just consider myself extremely lucky to have seen many of our parks before the were “discovered”. 🙂

  12. Love your pics. the moose, great shot! I just took a drive though Yellow Stone from Montana down to Jackson hole. If you ever get a chance, go check out the Beehive Basin hike located out of Gallatin National Forest. I can see you would get some great pics there!

  13. The Teton’s are truly impressive, it’s been too many years since I’ve seen them. The closest I’ve ever been to a lightning strike was when a jet I was in got hit. Flash like a very bright strobe and a bang like something big fell from an overhead bin, but nothing as intense as what you describe. Lucky no one was hurt.

  14. Great post and harrowing adventure ta boot! You make me salivate over mountains and lakes. It has been a couple of years since we’ve been there, and we long to return. One of our favorite places to be as a family! Perhaps I should put a Teton post together now…

    • What a treat it is to romp around the Grand Tetons, I can see why you would want to return to this wonderful place, Shannon. I always enjoy your visits and comments here, thanks so very much.

  15. Pingback: The Grand Tetons – Jet Eliot – Nomad Advocate

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