Take a day trip a few miles outside of GTNP and you might start thinking you left the state!
The Gros Ventre River crosses State Highway 89-191 a few miles north of the town of Jackson. It originates well out of the Park, crosses through it and dumps into the Snake River just north of Wilson. Currently, Grand Teton National Park is closed. If you are already in town, a trip up the Gros Ventre might be a viable option for visitors and photographers. Be prepared for a completely different view of the region. The roads seem to go on forever. There are no services or stores, so if you do go out, be prepared with a full tank of gas, water, food and so forth. The roads are passable, but rough in places.
Take the road east from Kelly and follow it out of the Park towards Slide Lake. You’re on your way! Click the map above to see it larger.
There are stands of willows, cottonwoods, and aspens in many areas along the way.
The Wedding Trees are located at the top of the hill about a mile past the Gros Ventre River Ranch, just outside the Park boundary. Park at the lot and walk a short distance back towards the Tetons.
First light on willows alongside Slide Lake.
Lower Slide Lake was formed in 1925 by a land slide in the canyon. It is also popular with campers, wind surfers, and a variety of outdoor sports enthusiasts.
Red Rocks alongside Slide Lake.
Bighorns are often seen along the red cliffs near the lake and on additional red hills and ridges farther up the valley.
A variety of wildlife can be seen, especially early in the mornings. I hear of grizzlies and wolf packs, along with mountain lions, deer, and moose along the Gros Ventre river.
Past the Red Hills area, the rocky hillsides change to gray on the north side of the river. Several Dude Ranches operate in the valley along the Gros Ventre, including Red Rock Ranch which operates on beautiful Crystal Creek.The Crystal Creek campground was one of our favorite spots to camp when the kids were young. I could fly fish and take photos and the kids played in and alongside the creek.
Many people head to the Gros Ventre for the numerous hiking trails, such as the one to Grizzly Lake, south of the river. Several scenes from the movie “The Mountain Men” (Charlton Heston and Brian Keith) were filmed along the Gros Ventre.
I pulled these photos from my existing image library. Maybe I can take a quick run out the Gros Ventre in the next few days and add more images for this page. Hopefully, you can see the potential for viewing and photography there. The entire river from the campground to the headwaters can be great for fly fishing—plus there are several terrific small lakes in the area with fat trout. Watch for Soda Lake, Cottonwood Creek and Darwin Ranch on your topo maps of the upper drainage.
During the Winter, access past the Atherton Creek Campground at Lower Slide Lakes is limited to snowmobiles, hiking, snow shoes and cross country skiing. Many snowmobile companies offer tours in the area.
Oh yes, one last comment. The locals pronounce Gros Ventre as “Grow Vaunt”. Click here for a little history.
Cheers! Mike Jackson