Like Yellowstone, the Tetons can be crazy crowded and while visiting some of the must-see spots (Snake River Overlook, Jenny Lake) is, well, a must-do, we found some spots on the water that tend to be a bit quieter.
Kelly Warm Springs: First of all, I appreciate the naming of this swimming hole as a warm spring instead of a hot spring because this is truthful. It’s not hot, but it’s warm enough to be comfortable on a summer day when the sun’s out. We arrived in the middle of the afternoon and there were a couple families there with kids, but there was plenty of space to spread out on the grass next to the springs. There is one larger swimming hole that gradually narrows into the stream. Along with views of the Tetons, the smell of sulfur greeted us and we followed it upstream to see if we could find a hotter spot. We slipped over rocks and got stuck in the muck, stopping at times to look down on the goldfish and what we thought were cichlids. How these types of fish got into the warm springs…we don’t know. Failing to find a hotter area we returned to the main swimming hole where it was deep enough to float around. And when we’d had enough water time we laid down on the bank to soak up the sun.
To get here: Follow highway 191 north out of Jackson. Turn right at Gros Ventre Junction, following signs toward the town of Kelly. Continue north through the town of Kelly and follow signs for the warm springs, which will be a right turn.
Kayaking on Jackson Lake: The first time we thought to rent a kayak on Jackson
Lake was 5 years ago, when I had blisters so bad from hiking that I couldn’t even bear the thought of putting shoes on my misshapen feet. Kayaking proved to be a worthy alternative to hiking in the Tetons, especially when we were able to observe a Bald Eagle at close range, so we decided to go on an evening kayak excursion this time around too. It’s $19 an hour to rent a tandem kayak on Jackson Lake and we ended up being out for about an hour and a half at the end of the day. Although you won’t be alone on the lake, you’ll have plenty of space to yourself as you paddle around the islands, enjoying uninterrupted views of the Tetons. If you have the time it’s always fun to pull your boat up on one of the rocky shores and spend a couple minutes exploring on land. We also figure that a quick kayak trip is a good way to keep the body balanced if you plan to do a lot of hiking in Yellowstone and the Tetons.
To get here: Take Highway 191 north out of Jackson until you reach Moran Junction. Turn left, following signs for Grand Teton National Park entrance. Continue to follow Highway 191 to the Colter Bay area. Rent your kayak at the Colter Bay Marina.
Granite Hot Springs/ Granite Falls: A little bit south out of the hustle bustle of Jackson, the Tetons, and Yellowstone Granite Hot Springs is the dead end of a dirt road that heads right into the Medicine Bow range. Ahhhh, sounds glorious already doesn’t it? We took the road to the hot springs to take a look and found that for a low rate ($6 I believe) you are granted access to a small, hot swimming pool. Having heard from Alex’s cousin that there is a hot spot in the river below the paid-entry pool, we set out to explore this option further. We didn’t find anything directly below the pool so went back down the road to Granite Falls (it has a sign and a small parking lot). We took one of the trails down toward the falls and saw two people soaking in a little nook on the far side of the river. Hmmmmmm….. After some debate about whether to pay $15 and stay in the nearby campground or pay $0 and stay in a national forest campsite down the road we …headed down the road. We ended up finding a free national forest spot nearby, set up camp, ate dinner, and organized the car. Then, first thing in the morning we packed up and headed up to the waterfall to get in that nook. We crossed the icy waters and stuck our numb feet- followed by the rest of our bodies- into a small, built-up pool just big enough for two. We were tucked in along the rock wall below the waterfall, with a hot springs waterfall flowing gently down into our little private pool. Oh, how I love Wyoming! We enjoyed quiet solitude here for about an hour and a half before dragging ourselves out of that little piece of heaven and heading down the road back to Colorado.
To get here: Take Highway 191 south out of Jackson. Stay on Highway 191 at Hoback Junction. Follow signs to Granite Hot Springs. If you get to Bondurant, you’ve gone too far south.