For the next stop on our Idaho summer tour, we went east into Wyoming. Wait…what? Let me explain. From our previous spot on the Idaho/Wyoming border, we wanted to head west to explore more of the state, but a pesky heat wave that seemed to be taking over the entire area made us rethink that idea. Instead, we decided to go up — both in elevation and direction. So we traveled about an hour and a half north into the Teton Valley.
This farm-filled valley is nestled between the massive jagged peaks of Teton National Park to the east and the more mellow Big Hole Mountain Range to the west. The few small towns in the valley, Victor, Driggs, and Tetonia, cater to a mix of tourists and outdoor loving locals. Victor and Driggs are not that far from Jackson — less than an hour drive from both — so while they do get some tourism overflow, it’s far less crazy here than in the ultra-touristy, ultra-busy Jackson area.
Driggs has been our “home base” town these past two weeks as it’s only a 15ish minute drive from our boondocking spot. While not a big town, it has everything we need. There’s a well-stocked local supermarket, a great little health food store, a few outdoor sports stores, a clean laundromat, a surprisingly vibrant weekly farmers markets, and a number of delicious sounding restaurants. After an incredibly social winter and spring where we might have overdone it on the eating and drinking, we’re making an effort this summer to eat out less, so we didn’t try any of the restaurants. Well…except for the tiny little Airstream cafe where they serve unique sandwiches like grilled zucchini with tomato chutney. Yum!
We arrived in the area with a few camping options to choose from. There are two national forest campgrounds and a private park near Victor, boondocking on Darby Canyon Rd. more boondocking west of Driggs, and even more boondocking on the east side of town on a short dirt road called Teton Canyon. This is where we ended up.
This is also where the whole staying in Wyoming thing came to play. While Driggs is in Idaho, Teton Canyon Road is just over the state line in Wyoming. It’s a funny area of Wyoming because due to the massive mountain range directly to the east, you can’t actually get anywhere else in Wyoming from here.
As I mentioned last time, we arrived on Teton Valley Rd. on the Fourth of July and found what looked like a nice site from afar. Unfortunately, up close it was really more of an area for cows to gather than a place to camp. There was a large shallow pit that probably fills with water when it rains, an old tire with what looked like a salt lick in it (I guess cows like salt) and more piles of poop than I care to park my home next to.
At the time it was our best option. The road continues for a few miles before dead ending at a trailhead and small campground. And while there are a number of nice looking spots down the road, all traces of cell service disappear about 2 miles in so we needed to stay near the start of the road. We had our eye on a nearby spot in a meadow with great mountain views that was currently occupied by a motorhome. Lucky for us they left the next day and we quickly moved over to claim spot #2.
As you can see, we didn’t have the whole meadow to ourselves. The first night it was just us and a couple in a tent over near the river. The next day that fifth wheel you see in front of us showed up. Then our friend Marshall joined us, along with a variety of small campers and vans that filtered in and out throughout the week. Finally, this past weekend there was a big music festival at the nearby Grand Targhee Ski Area which meant at least half a dozen other RVs and tents arrived and claimed pieces of the meadow. As of this morning, it looks like the festival goers are packing up and hopefully by the end of the day it will be back to just us, Marshall (he’s on the other side of us) and the fifth wheel down the way.
Other than the fantastic view, we’re loving this spot for all the nearby trails. You know we love a camping spot with hiking right out the door! This spot is actually right near a trailhead with two trails. One is only about 2.5 miles long and travels across the river and up into a wildflower-filled meadow. It’s very popular with walkers, runners, and bikers. We’ve walked and biked it a few times and hope to get in one more ride before we leave. The last time we tried to bike the trail we only made it across the river before bumping into a runner who had just seen a mama and baby bear on the trail up ahead. Needless to say, we turned around. Bear spray or no bear spray, a mama bear with her cub in the trail is not something we want to run into!
Across the street, there’s another trail that climbs up a ridge and connects to the trail system at the ski area. I read that it was a popular route for downhill bikers. They leave one car at the trailhead, drive another car to the top, and ride back down. It’s a pretty smooth trail with lots of curves so I can see why it’s fun to ride down. Well, for some people. I’m a total wimp when it comes to downhill riding and after hiking part of the trail decided it was a bit too steep and curvy for my liking. It made for a great after work hike though. The view near the top of the trail was pretty sweet.
The Grand Targhee Ski Area is only a few miles up the road and has a ton of trails for both biking and hiking. In addition to the usual bring your bike up the lift and ride down option, there’s also a section of bike trails that follow the cross country ski routes. While not flat trails by any means, they were also not terribly steep and mostly traveled through gently rolling hills filled with wildflowers.
We did a hike up there as well — a really, really cool hike. But I think I’m going to save that for next time. There are some amazing trails in this valley and I think they deserve their very own post!