Within a relatively short drive of the Town of Jackson, there are a few beautiful waterfalls most people never see. They are on the maps, but take a little extra effort to find and photograph. Most waterfalls photograph well on a murky, overcast day. So, if you are in the Tetons and can’t see the range for the clouds, consider a short trip for something different.
Granite Falls: This very interesting waterfalls is located about 40 miles south of Jackson on Granite Creek. Drive south towards Pinedale, then turn on the Granite Falls road. After leaving the highway, you drive about 10 miles over a gravel road. In the summer, you can go to Granite Hot Springs just above the falls. There is a small fee to use the semi-improved concrete pool. On the other side of the river, just below the waterfalls, look for free warm pool if you can ford the stream. During high water periods, the warm pool on the other side would be nearly impossible to reach. Also, during the winter months, the waterfall is accessible by snowmobile or sled dog rides. Several local snowmobile tours offer day trips.
Nikon D300 with a Nikon 24-70mm lens, on a Gitzo Tripod. Arca-Swiss Ball Head. ISO 200, 1/5th second, F/11, EV -2/3, 45mm.
Brooks Falls: To be honest, I couldn’t find a name on any map. Brooks Creek feeds out of Brooks Lake on the East side of Togwotee Pass. The small creek meanders through a few little meadows and then plunges hundreds of feet over a variety of terraces. The creek and waterfalls runs alongside the campground—but both are poorly marked. I’ve lived here 27 years and never knew this waterfalls was there! We’ve driven by it dozens of times. Park near the entrance to the campground and take the gravel based hiking trail to the edge of the canyon walls. A fence keeps people from getting too close to the ledge. From Jackson, head north to Moran Junction, then turn east towards Dubois. Watch for the campground sign on the right about 20 miles east of Moran Junction.
Nikon D800 with a Nikon 70-200 mm lens, on a Gitzo Tripod. Arca-Swiss Ball Head and Wimberley Sidekick. ISO 100, 1.6 seconds, F/22, EV 0, 110mm. When I had this image framed the way I wanted, I did a variety of shots at most of the aperture settings. I had the camera set to 3 second shutter delay so it could settle down before the shutter opened. As seen in the shooting data, I was stopped down to F22 to create a very long shutter speed. Note: This image was photographed through a light rain. I planned on going back after it stopped. It rained lightly for several hours, but eventually stopped. I went back only to find the river had blown out. Instead of the clear mountain stream I saw originally, the water was creamy yellow in color.
Falls Creek: Again, I had trouble finding a specific name for this waterfalls. I’ll correct this on this page if I ever find out for sure. This beautiful waterfalls dumps into the South Fork of the Snake River near the little town of Swan Valley, Idaho. Swan Valley is roughly 45 miles west of Jackson if you go over Teton Pass and head towards Idaho Falls. Continue past Swan Valley, cross the South Fork and then turn left immediately after the bridge. The waterfall is only a couple of miles south of the bridge. You drive over a small creek and would never suspect it creates such a beautiful waterfall. There are parking spots, then a small trail down to the brink of the falls. Kids climb all over this waterfalls all summer. The caveat on this waterfalls is the lack of access to a front on view of the waterfalls. This one takes a float trip to be able to get the view in this image. There are a couple of islands directly in front of the falls and it makes a great place to get the shots. Still, if you can get to the island, I found it to be a great shoot. Click the image above to see a wider pano image stitched from three photographs.
I took my camera with me on a recent fly fishing trip down the South Fork. I had hoped to get to the waterfalls about the time the sun dropped behind the hill behind the falls. Otherwise, I’d have possible sun flares in the lens. Everything worked out perfectly. The water in this image was essentially “frozen” at 1/125th of a second. Some of the other waterfalls on this page were captured using a tripod to support the camera at roughly 1/30th second, allowing the water to blur. I didn’t take the tripod with me on the fishing trip, so I had to sit on my rear and try to hand hold the camera with my elbows held still over my knees. I got some acceptable single shots with slower shutter speeds (even down to 1/15th second), but I opted to go to 1/125th second for the stitched pano images. This pano was photographed with a Nikon D4 and a Nikon 28-300mm VR2 lens in early September of 2013.
Falls Creek Falls in May: Same waterfalls—taken from the hillside just to the south. This one didn’t require a boat trip! I got up very early to get to this place as the first light hit it.
Nikon D4 with a Nikon 70-200 mm lens, on a Gitzo Tripod. Arca-Swiss Ball Head and Wimberley Sidekick. ISO 100, 1/30th second, F/14, EV -2/3, 70mm.
Moose Falls: This waterfalls is actually in Yellowstone. Crawfish Creek crosses the road about two miles past the entry station if heading north and leaving Grand Teton National Park. Most people are either in a hurry to get to Yellowstone—or in a hurry to get to Jackson if coming out of the park. It’s easy to miss! This one takes a short hike down the hill, but it is usually well worth it. I waited for a fresh snow storm to go down last winter. The Park closed a few days later, so I hit it about as well as I could.
Nikon D4 with a Nikon 70-200 mm lens, on a Gitzo Tripod. Arca-Swiss Ball Head and Wimberley Sidekick. ISO 100, 1/13th seconds, F/14, EV -1/3, 70mm.
Please Note: All of the images on this page are fully copyrighted with the US Copyright Office. ©2013 Mike R. Jackson – All Rights Reserved