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Return to the Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone...for more BEARS!

Updated: Sep 25, 2021


Famous 399 and her quadruplet cubs in the Tetons

We made it through the winter and early spring, 2021 and like many of Americans, wanted to get outside and travel to a national park. According to the Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Park sites, Grizzly bear 399 and her cubs survived the winter and were out of hibernation in late April, 2021. Knowing that...we had to get in the truck and head to the Tetons with both our dogs this time for our third visit in less than 9 months. We wanted to see the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone with snow on the mountains in the spring months. We were not disappointed, it was gorgeous. Weather was unpredictable with cold weather some days and warmer weather others. But we were fortunate to see bear, moose, fox, and coyote. The above photo was our first day in the park after driving 19 hours straight through of 399 and her four cubs playing in a field.


“Grand Teton National Park remains my favorite national park. There is so much to see and the beauty of the mountains weather it is spring, summer or fall, is breathtaking! The wildlife is easier to find as it seems they are not as far away as Yellowstone or Glacier National Parks."

GRAND TETON NATIONAL PARK

The Teton Park is much easier for us to navigate and while the various attractions are not all centrally located, as you drive through the park there are various attractions to see without a lot of driving between them. Typically along the way you will spot wildlife activity just watch for the long line of cars, known as the "bear jam" or "moose jam" and the photographers with the long lenses and the park patrol in their bright yellow vests. The park patrol do a wonderful job at keeping the animals and park visitors safe. The rule is to stay at least 100 yards from the animals. While this is not always possible with the the amount of people and traffic, the park patrol do a great job at keeping visitors at a safe distance and ensuring the animals have room to roam.


YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK

Spring time in Yellowstone is exciting with all of the new bear cubs and baby bison calves. We were fortunate to see both Grizzly and Black bear in Yellowstone and one moose from a far distance. It was also my first time to see a coyote in Yellowstone with it crossing the road right in front of us! Yellowstone is a much larger park with great distances between each attraction. The best location to see animals is after Monmouth Springs heading through Lamar Valley along the Lamar River in the northeastern section of the park. It is very scenic with mountainous views.


Lodging near Grand Teton National Park

Jackson Hole is beautiful and about 30 minutes from the park entrance but the lodging is expensive. The rooms book up quickly and can easily be over $300 or more for a very basic hotel room a night during the summer and early fall. This trip we stayed in Victor, Idaho again, which is 42 miles west of the Grand Teton park. It is a pretty drive through the mountains in a small and pleasant community with hotel rooms at less than one-half the price of the hotels in Jackson Hole. We stayed at the Cobblestone Hotel and Suites in Victor. If you do not like to drive and ride in a car a lot, staying Victor is probably not for you. It is a very small laid back community, which we like, without many extras! I wasn't as pleased with the Cobblestone Hotel as I was last year. We had paid a pet deposit and had changed our reservation to check out two days early to head to Yellowstone and stay in that vicinity overnight. There was no charge for changing the nights stay but we were charged $267 for cleaning the room due to our pets. We had paid a $50 a night pet deposit and were told this was not enough to cover carpet cleaning. This was a total hoax and when questioning the manager about the charges, he become rude and belligerent. Needless to say, we will never stay there again. I tried to not let the issue ruin the rest of my trip. I attempted to call the corporate office to complain but never received a return call.


We drove from Victor daily to the park and took the Moose Wilson Road into the park which is on the south end. It is a good drive through the park to get to Oxbow Bend but the views are amazing and you may see wildlife along the route. This is a great way to see moose and bear along the Moose Wilson road and a short cut into the park. The road is partially paved and part gravel with many potholes. Drive slowly! But it is best you drive slowly anyway so you can watch for wildlife! Next time to the Tetons, I will probably pay the extra price and stay in Jackson Hole.


Lodging near Yellowstone National Park

There are many hotels at the West Entrance of Yellowstone park. We stayed in West Yellowstone and drove into the park daily. Rooms are expensive and the small town is bustling with restaurants, supermarkets and gift shops. We stayed at the Kelly Inn. It was clean, updated and allowed dogs. Packing a picnic lunch for the day while touring the park is highly recommended. The drives are long between visitor centers and there are plenty of areas to pull off to enjoy a picnic.


When and Where to See Wildlife in Grand Teton National Park or Yellowstone Park

People always ask how to see wildlife and how do I get the photos. My advice, be PATIENT and have a good 35mm camera and zoom lens! I have a Canon Rebel T7i with a Tamron 150mm to 600mm zoom. I also have a 18mm to 400 mm Tamron lens. Good photos take time and a lot of luck. You have to be at the right place at the right time. In general no matter your park or location, going out early morning just after sunrise and taking a break mid-day and then going back out around 4:00 late afternoon until dark are the best times of day to see Moose. They say that about bear too but we have seen the bear at all times of day. That does not necessarily hold true for moose. Moose tend to come and hang out in marshy areas in the evening hours. In any event, no matter what you see for wildlife, respect their distance to keep you safe and to keep them safe.


In all of my Grand Teton research they said that Oxbow Bend was a place to see moose but we didn't see one moose in that location. Moose-Wilson Road was the best location to see moose in the evening hours. You may also spot bear along that road both morning and evening. Pilgrim Creek area and Colter Bay are other areas you may see black bear or grizzly bear. 399 supposedly had a den in the Pilgrim Creek area so we spent some time driving that gravel road but never had any luck spotting her there.


Yellowstone is more of a hit and miss with the animals. Many times you will see people pulled over with binoculars looking at a mountain goat or a bear way up on the mountainside. You will also see people using telescopes looking for wolves in the Slough Creek area in the Lamar Valley. They say you can occasionally see them up close but we were fortunate to see them through a telescope this time. Another visitor was looking at 4 large wolves and 6 baby wolf pups through their telescope up the mountain side. We couldn't see them with our binoculars so they offered for us to see them through their telescope. It was very cool to see!


TIPS TO TRAVEL ECONOMICALLY AND GET THE MOST FOR YOUR TIME AND MONEY

I also get asked many times, "How do you travel so often and keep it affordable?" A few tips are below:

  • For me, planning and researching is part of the excitement of the trip! Visioning is so much fun!!!

  • I plan all of my own trips and research, research, research on the internet. I utilize TripAdvisor, Frommer's, and blogs from other travelers to find the information I need for my trip. I do ALOT of reading and researching. It takes patience to plan a good affordable trip!

  • I have a budget in mind for each trip and challenge myself to stay in the budget. Depending on the location, I typically start planning and booking hotels, cars, etc., approximately 9 months out. Hotel prices usually get more expensive the closer to the trip unless you are willing to do a last minute internet deal. Car rental and airline prices also go up the closer it is to your trip. Occasionally you can get a last minute deal but something else may be more expensive and you are really not saving. I like to plan!

  • For hotels, I use Booking.com, or Priceline.com. I look for hotels with good reviews, pay when you stay, and free cancellation in advance.

  • We have done all-inclusive in a couple of tropical locations years and years ago but found that we do not eat and drink enough to make it worth the extra expense. We like to go off site from the hotel and experience the local cuisine and traditions. We have not done all-inclusive in the last 15 years. However, all-inclusive is wonderful if you want to stay at the resort for all meals, not rent a car, and have the hotel shuttle you to your destinations. That has worked for us in Jamaica and it was very relaxing! But I would not drive in Jamaica so all-inclusive was the smartest option! If you enjoy all-inclusive, the earlier you book the trip the lower the price. Unless you are game and are not a planner, and are willing to travel where the last minute deal is advertised. Then you could get a great all-inclusive deal!

  • If we are flying, I use the Skyscanner app to check airfare prices and I try not to buy until about 60 to 75 days out. There are times where I will by earlier if the price is super reasonable. I usually do not book on Skyscanner. It will tell me the site that is the most affordable to purchase the tickets and if it is a more well known trust site, I go directly to the site to purchase the tickets. Many times Skyscanner will take you right to the airline website. Skyscanner will search all airlines and will sort by price, times, shortest trip, etc.

  • Have a credit card that gives you miles or hotel points. We will use points for many of our trips. We are American Advantage members and have an Advantage credit card. We try to fly American as often as we can to earn points and then use those points for future airline tickets. Our credit card is tied to our Advantage numbers and awards points as well.

  • We drive if the location is in the United States and we can drive and sightsee along the way. If we need to rent a car, we reserve online using Booking.com, Orbitz.com, or Priceline.com. They are usually the most reasonable. I watch for specials and never book a luxury vehicle! We also have a credit card with a low limit that we use for vehicle rentals that provides insurance as a credit card benefit. We always decline the insurance when we are in the United States. If we are traveling out of the United States, we check with the credit card if the insurance is valid internationally. We have found it is valid in Europe, Canada, U.S. Virgin Islands, but in other locations, we are forced to purchase the liability insurance from the rental car company.

  • While there are free maps online for most destinations, I always go onto Amazon and buy a map of my destination, especially if it is international. I do not buy maps for tropical Caribbean islands. I just get one when we arrive. But for countries like Costa Rica, Panama, Belize, England, Canada, Germany, France, etc., I always purchase a good map. As you do you research, you can use the map to highlight the places you want to visit and the sites you want to see. I have it as a reference later for putting my memories and photos into a photobook!




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