By Suzi Caffey
My trip to the Teton/Yellowstone National Park was in May of 2003, the weather was perfect. Sunny and 60's during the day and 30's and 40's at night. We flew into Jackson Hole, Wyoming rented a car and took off for the Tetons. The mountain landscape where jagged peaks tower more than a mile above the Jackson Hole valley, was my first peak at the Grand Tetons. Wow was all I could say...in this case a picture was worth a thousand words. For a self-described city slicker, I'm used to tall buildings but the majesty of the Teton mountains is jaw dropping. There is still snow on the peaks, and the sky changes with the sunlight and clouds every minute. Grand Teton National Park is located in northwestern Wyoming just south of Yellowstone National Park and just north of the town of Jackson. The park's mountain range is very popular among climbers, hikers and photographers. The Grand Teton rises to 13,770 feet above sea level and 12 other peaks reach above 12,000 feet elevation. We rented a boat one day and toured Jenny Lake. The Tetons are beautiful on the water or on land! We spent two days hiking and taking pictures then headed into Yellowstone National Park. As we headed into Yellowstone there are bear warnings everywhere, and rumors of elk and moose, but the only wildlife we encountered was a Chipmunk. That's a good first step for me. Just about everyday we packed a lunch to take with us on the road. Didn't want to take time away from hiking and sight seeing to drive back to a town. Established in 1872, Yellowstone National Park is America's first national park. Located in Wyoming, Montana and Idaho, it is home to a large variety of wildlife including grizzly bears, wolves, bison, and elk. Preserved within Yellowstone National Park are Old Faithful and a collection of the world's most extraordinary geysers and hot springs, and the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. Old Faithful, is the most popular geyser in the world, and I can see why. On average, Old Faithful erupts about every 92 minutes, and shoots water 135 feet into the air, but has been known to erupt as high as 190 feet. We were lucky to see Old Faithful at night and day time, what an unsual sight to see it at night. From there we hiked a few trials, saw mud pots (with lots of sulphur smell...peeeu), more geysers with steaming vents and spouting columns of superheated water and wildlife. There are so many trails...from boardwalk strolls to multi-day backpacks, you’re sure to find something to suit your speed. There is still horseback riding, wild trout fishing and if your brave enough tent camping (not me I like room service)! We did spend one day fishing for wild trout, my husband caught one I got zip but had lots of fun doing it. Horseback riding didn't work for us this trip, but I am told it has wonderful trails and of course lots of scenery and a chance at more wildlife. We had Bison Jams on the road, elk herds everywhere, and we were extremely lucky and saw a wolf, I am told thats pretty rare. Did manage to see a mama Grizzly with one cub....from a distance which was good enough for me, an awesome sight! Most of the park,98 percent is rugged, beautiful, dynamic wilderness so be sure you’ve completed your checklist of necessary items to pack, as well as reviewed the regulations for the area in which you plan to camp or hike. It’s a good idea to announce your plans to someone you know in case you run into trouble. If you plan to camp in grizzly bear country, take extra precautions. (Yikes!) I carried BEAR SPRAY on my belt, in my North Face Day Pack I had a space blanket, water, energy bars, flashlight, first aid kit, SPF chap stick, camera, binoculars, park map and a compass and this was for a short hike! I wore my North Face Rain Jacket, with a North Face TKA Light Fleece under it. Waterproof hiking boots Merrell Siren with SmartWool Socks. Had gloves and a hat stuffed in my pockets...the weather changes quickly out there so be prepared! Spent one night in Montana at Chico Hot Springs, a historic resort that is located in the heart of Paradise Valley, just north of Yellowstone National Park - and nestled in the foothills of the breathtaking Absaroka Mountain Range. The hot springs at Chico flow into two open-air mineral Hot Springs pools. You can soak, swim, play and relax in their Hot Springs pools every day of the year. Stayed a few nights in West Yellowstone, visited The Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center. The Center is home for grizzly bears and wolves from as far away as Alaska and as close as Yellowstone National Park. Each bear and wolf has its own unique story, but they all have something in common; they came to reside here after becoming a nuisnace or orphaned cubs. The Center provides the bears and the wolves with a large outdoor habitat that includes many natural features. The Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center offers every visitor a chance to experience the world of grizzly bears and gray wolves. All the animals at the Center are unable to survive in the wild and serve as ambassadors for their wild counterparts. The last afternoon we spent in Jackson Hole shopping and eating before our plane took off that evening. Some wonderful shops, eaterys and again scenery was to be had in Jackson Hole. So don't miss your chance to go if you can. I would recommend this trip for the whole family and retirees. You can go at your own speed and do as much walking as you want. Just be prepared and have fun!