Sunday, October 7, 2012

Grand Teton National Park

One of my most favorite places in the world is Grand Teton National Park, just outside of Jackson, Wyo. The Tetons are majestic, towering above the valleys surrounding them in Idaho and Wyoming, and Jackson is always beautiful and fun to visit. While our latest trip there was rushed and kind of disappointing, we did manage to get a few pictures of some of the must-sees. I absolutely love this area in the fall.

Don't miss:
  • Jenny Lake: If you don't have time to hit any other spot in Grand Teton National Park, go here. It's an absolutely stunning mountain lake that's always peaceful and quiet. It's also one of my mom's favorite places, so I went here frequently as a kid and always think of her when I'm there.
  • Mormon Row: I had actually never heard of this place (which is odd, as I grew up 90 minutes away from here) until this trip, but it's this old settlement right at the base of the Tetons that includes the most photographed barn of the West (the one I included at the top of this post). Technically, it's not actually part of the park, but it's about a mile away.
Getting here:
From St. Anthony, Idaho, take Hwy 33 east to Jackson, Wyo., (over the Teton Pass). In Jackson, turn left on Broadway, then left on North Cache Street and follow that road to the park entrance. If you don't want to travel over the steep mountain pass -- which does close during the winter occasionally -- you can also take a longer route that's equally as scenic.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Alpine Loop

Fall is my absolute favorite season -- so when we heard about the Alpine Loop (a 20-mile loop through the canyons in the Salt Lake valley) and the gorgeous fall colors this time of year, we had to try it for ourselves. The route was absolutely incredible. As an Idaho girl used to bright yellows and a few dark reds during autumn, I was floored by the vivid pinks of the bushes and trees.

See a few of my favorite shots from the trip below. This is definitely going to be a tradition in our little family. I could not stop smiling and snapping photos throughout the journey.

Don't miss:
  • Guardsman Pass: If you don't have time to go anywhere else, take Guardsman Pass (which connects in Big Cottonwood Canyon) down to Midway, Utah. The majority of these photos were taken there, and the red bushes are absolutely phenomenal.
  • Sundance: There's a reason Robert Redford founded the Sundance Film Festival in this area. It's peaceful, rugged and stunning during the fall.
Getting there:
There are many ways to drive the Alpine Loop, but here's the route we took. Enter Big Cottonwood Canyon (take the belt route from I-15 to the 6200 South exit and follow the signs up to the canyon) and connect with Guardsman Pass at the top of the canyon. Follow Guardsman Pass over to Midway, Utah, and enter Provo Canyon via U.S. 189. Near the top of Provo Canyon, connect with American Fork Canyon via Hwy. 92. You'll pass Sundance Resort and eventually end up in American Fork, Utah; follow Hwy. 92 all the way to I-15.

  • Plan on this trip taking at least 3.5 hours, especially if you stop a lot to take pictures.
  • Don't drive your super-nice Porsche over Guardsman Pass (oh, wait -- a lot of people do that) if you don't want to damage it; part of the road is gravel and very steep.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Bannack State Park

Ever since I spent four years of my life in the Spori building at BYU-Idaho and saw beautiful framed photos students took at Bannack State Park lining the halls, I've wanted to go there -- and in June 2012, I finally made the trip. If you want to experience an eerie ghost town the way it was meant to be experienced, Bannack is for you. It's out in the middle of nowhere (seriously -- the area around it is sagebrush and farmland), and then suddenly, you come down the little dirt road and encounter a full town, just as it would have looked in the 1870s.

Don't miss:
  • The Masonic lodge (pictured three from the bottom). It's creepy, full of old desks and school equipment and can only be accessed (the top floor, anyway) by rickety old stairs. What's not to love?
  • Hotel Meade: This old hotel was recently restored and painted with butter yellow paint that was popular in the 1800s -- and it has an incredible staircase. I was totally freaked out while walking around in it, though. It made me think of the creepy short story "The Yellow Wallpaper." Anybody remember that?
  • The gold panning tubs. Apparently during Bannack Days in July, you can pan for gold and take part in quite a few old-fashioned activities, which sounds like fun. We were there about a month too early, and it was FREEZING, so I recommend going later in the summer. But either way, the gold panning tubs are cool and make a nice picture.
Getting there: 
From Idaho, take I-15 north toward Butte and turn left on MT-278. Bannack is about three hours from St. Anthony and 25 miles west of Dillon, Montana.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Glacier National Park

Andrew and I spent only a day in Glacier National Park, but that was plenty of time to capture lots of photos. Rather than go on and on about how incredible this is and how this should be on every person's bucket list, I'll let the images speak for themselves.

Don't miss:
  • The Going-to-the-Sun Road: This road cuts through the middle of the park and is absolutely stunning. Unfortunately, the majority of the road was closed when we were there because of snow. So my main recommendation is to wait until late June or even early July before going to Glacier National Park. The snow takes forever to melt.
  • Two Medicine Lakes: These gorgeous lakes are right of the base of some massive mountains. I seriously thought I was staring at the Matterhorn.
  • Lake McDonald: This giant lake has the most glassy water, and the mountains are incredible.
  • Weeping Wall: I probably saw this the first time I went to Glacier National Park when I was 13, but this was on the Going-to-the-Sun Road portion that was closed. It is amazing, though -- just google pictures of it.
Getting there:
From Idaho, take Highway 20 all the way to the Montana border and then turn onto ID-87 (which becomes MT-87). From here, there are several ways to get to Glacier National Park. I would recommend the scenic route we took, through Butte, Missoula and then around the east side of Flathead Lake (the west side is not nearly as scenic). To do this, take W-287 N to I-90 W, and then take US-93 to MT-35. Be sure to make lots of stops along the way, especially in Missoula and Bigfork, which is on Flathead Lake. It's a long trip!