We stayed at the Gros Ventre Campground, which is in the Gros Ventre Wilderness area between Jackson and the Grand Teton National Park. (It’s pronounced Gro-Vahn, not Gross Venture.) We’d been to here once before, when we were on a 4,000 mile trip with our teardrop (see teardrop site). It’s a nice national park campground on the Gros Ventre River with a great view of the Tetons and just a short drive to the park entrance.
Right after we arrived, it started snowing again, and it was frigid cold. Better weather was promised the next day, and even better the day after that. And then the following day, the South Entrance to Yellowstone would open for the season. So we decided to stay three nights: ride out the ugly weather the first day, explore Jackson the second, tour the Grand Tetons the third, and on Friday go back through the Grand Tetons Park and into Yellowstone.
The Tetons were obscured all day by clouds, but when they lifted, we had a beautiful windshield view of them. The campground was nearly empty this time of year, and there were plenty of places to hike around with the fur kids. We were sternly warned about bears and saw excrement evidence of moose all around us, but the only wildlife we saw in the campground were prairie dogs. One morning before dawn, though, Kate and I both jolted awake to a frantic yipping that sounded like coyotes, followed by the long baying howls of wolves. There must have been a dozen of them, and it went on for at least 20 minutes.
Very close to the campground is a dirt road that leads to an abandoned Mormon community that started in the 1890s with 27 homesteads. Abandoned in the mid-1900s, the area became a National Historic District in 1997. It’s now called “Mormon Row” and is part of the Grand Teton National Park.
There are several buildings and barns still standing and in decent shape. It was cold and cloudy when we explored it, but you could still see the impressive backdrop of snowy mountains. It was fascinating to imagine life for these 27 families back at the turn of the century.
As we were driving on Antelope Flats Road back from Mormon Row, we saw our first buffalos of the trip. Three were making good time across an open field and onto the road. We pulled over and waited for them to amble by. A little further down the road, we stopped at a store in the teeny town of Kelly and watched a lone buffalo plodding through the parking lot. It jumped up a gully and onto the road just as a car, driving too fast and not paying attention, sped by. I screamed and the buffalo, not the car, swerved away just in time. The car didn’t even slow down. Even though there are signs up and down the road warning of buffalo crossing, we saw many other drivers speeding down this fairly empty road without a care in the world. Running head on into one of these massive creatures could be deadly on both sides.