Part III: Shooting the Grand Tetons September 13 - 16
We only allowed three nights in Jackson, and that was a mistake. It only gave us two full days to shoot, and we could have used more. I knew that sunrises at Oxbow Bend, Schwabacher Landing, and Mormon Row were top priority shots. Any wildlife here would be a bonus. We stopped on the way into Grand Teton NP to get maps and any advice the rangers might have. The first thing we discovered was that there was highway construction on the main route I had planned to use, causing lengthy delays both ways. We stopped at Oxbow Bend to take a few insurance shots, just in case. I drove towards Jackson on Highway 26/89/191 until we got to the construction. We sat there for about a half hour and decided it was going to take too long. I talked to one of the construction workers and asked him if it was this bad early in the morning. He confided to me that they would not set up the barricades until around 7:30 AM. I knew we would be through long before that, so I then turned around and drove through Teton NP on the Teton Park Road to get to Jackson. We had to go through downtown Jackson to get to our motel, which was a Motel 6. Now honestly, I would not stay in a Motel 6 in the Atlanta area for fear of my life. However, this was a very nice place. It was clean and, quiet, had a courteous staff, and there was easy access to everything. Our favorite place to eat there was The Bunnery. Don’t miss it if you go.
The following morning we were up well before sunrise and on our way to Oxbow Bend, about 35 miles away from the motel. We arrived about 20 minutes before sunrise, staked out our spots and got set up. The water was completely calm without a ripple on the surface, reflecting the Tetons in the distance and the trees along the river. As the sun began to break over the horizon, the tops of the peaks began to glow and soon the entire scene was bathed in soft morning light. We shot for about 30 minutes, by which time a breeze had developed ripples on the water, and we called it a wrap. We drove back to Jackson along Teton Park Road, checking out other potential places to shoot along Jenny Lake. After lunch, we drove back north on Highway 26/89/191 and checked out Blacktail Ponds, Schwabacher Landing, and Mormon Row. We identified specific shooting locations at each place for the next day. After talking to a fly fisherman at Blacktail Ponds, we found that there would probably be moose at the Gros Ventre campgounds. We then spent some time shooting scenery at Blacktail Ponds, Mormon Row, and exploring along Gros Ventre road, which produced some photos of a bull moose. The rest of the day we explored along Teton Park Road, driving up to top of Signal Mountain, and shooting along Jenny Lake. We returned to the motel, and that night one of my sisters and I went back to Mormon Row to try our hand at photographing the Milky Way. We could only shoot until about 10:00 PM due to a near full moon rising; however, we did get some satisfactory shots.
Again, with a personal 4WD vehicle, I would have driven the Grow Ventre Road up into the Bridger-Teton National Forest, and the Moose-Wilson Road that runs from Moose Junction to Teton Village that was closed to all but 4WD vehicles.
Our last morning in Jackson we headed for Schwabacher Landing for sunrise. Again, an early morning departure from the motel put us in position well before sunrise the next morning, and the efforts paid off fantastically. We were able to get some fantastic shots of the Tetons reflected in the perfectly still waters of the beaver ponds, with the breaking sun providing beautiful color to the mountains and sky. We returned to the motel to prepare for our drive to West Yellowstone the next day. Due to road closures in Yellowstone, we would have to traverse Teton Pass and travel through Idaho to get there.