About two years ago, I saw a photo of Alyssa Padgett drinking a cup of coffee in her RV, as the Grand Tetons towered in the background. We had just taken a weekend trip to Yellowstone and I had fallen for the Grand Tetons while driving past them in the early morning from Jackson Hole. I told myself I would go back and recreate Alyssa’s coffee moment in that stunningly beautiful spot, known as Upper Teton View.
It took two years, but we made it back. In that time, we decided we weren’t “doing it right,” and wild camping was one of the missing pieces. Now armed with AGM batteries, portable solar panel, and experience, I was thrilled to finally be heading to Upper Teton View. It was the place I was looking forward to most of our entire 2018 West Mountain Loop trip.
As it turned out, what was supposed to be perfection ending up presenting some unexpected challenges. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
We stayed at Upper Teton View from May 26-June 9, 2018.
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Dry Camping at Upper Teton View
We arrived at Upper Teton View on the Saturday before Memorial Day, a recipe for disaster and we knew it. We parked the RV on the entrance road and used the Jeep to scout ahead. The road was extremely bumpy–and even rocky–as we went farther in to locate the GPS coordinates.
Once we arrived at the top of the hill, it was fairly crowded. We found a spot near the edge of the hill, but a trailer was between us and my perfect view. Oh well, maybe it would clear out on Tuesday and we could relocate.
The whole exercise was questionable. But we were there to camp at Upper Teton View, so I didn’t overthink it. Plus, there was another Class A that had made it up. We could do it, too.
As it turned out, the drive up with Meriwether was much easier than expected. This was because of the RV’s wide wheelbase, which went around and over the passenger vehicle ruts.
As I pulled into Upper Teton View, I noticed a clearing directly in front of me. I don’t know how we missed it earlier. It took some maneuvering (10-point turn?), but we ended up parking straight towards the mountains. My perfect view out the windshield, plus that way we weren’t completely blocking the rigs lined up farther away from the hill.
Because our rig is so big, no one else wanted to park in the clearing with us. And because we were a ways from the cliffside, we had an amazing view of the mountains. Sitting in our patio chairs, the scrub brush almost completely obscured the RVs closer to the ledge.
Located in Bridger-Teton National Forest, Upper Teton View is free with a 16-day stay limit and dog-friendly. Mosquitos were fairly bad during our stay, especially at twilight. We saved our campfires for about 9 p.m. Our spot got quite muddy during rain, but fortunately we only had rain once during our two weeks. I wouldn’t want to be arriving or departing on muddy ground, so keep an eye on the forecast.
Here’s a timelapse video of the full drive up the forest road:
GPS: 43.7638, -110.5538
Where to Dump and Fill Up
We went to the Shell station in Jackson Hole to dump, get propane, and diesel. Typically the dump fee is $5. But because we bought propane, they waived the dump fee (not sure whether they normally do that). Note that there is no potable water here.
580 W. Broadway Ave.
Cloud on My Silver Lining: Connectivity Nightmare
When we arrived at Upper Teton View, we quickly checked our cell coverage bars. All good.
That is, until we tried to actually use the Internet.
We quickly learned that in crowded areas, you can have bars without having usable Internet. At Upper Teton View, we had a couple of bars Verizon, but it was virtually impossible to do anything at any time of day. We reached out to the expert: Cherie Ve Ard of Mobile Internet Resource Center/Technomadia. She suggested two hardware changes:
- New Verizon device, specifically the MiFi 7730L with dual antenna ports
- MIMO antenna
It took a few days for everything to arrive. But with the new setup, we went from virtually unusable Internet 24/7, to almost normal speeds from early in the morning until about 9 a.m. Speeds returned slightly in the evening, but were slow until 10 p.m. The rest of the day, usage was better than before the MIMO, but still painfully slow (like, I’m wasting my entire life).
So we basically commuted every day. First, we tried Jackson Lodge inside the national park (23 minutes away), but the WiFi was slow there, too. My favorite place to work ended up being Cowboy Coffee in Jackson Hole (36 minutes away). They have bars outside that are perfect standing height. Persephone Bakery is also lovely, with some blow-your-mind pastry items.
When Eric and I had to work at the same time, we went to the library. There’s a toddler play room where Caspian stayed semi-occupied. Note that Jackson Hole itself has free public WiFi, so you can actually sit in the square and work.
What We Did at Grand Teton National Park
Beyond the incredible view from inside our home, we made a few trips into Grand Teton National Park. It was, after all, our front yard. We drove all over the park on a cool May morning, soaking in the stunning views. This mountain range is so dramatic because it rises sharply from the plains directly below it.
Another afternoon, we went to Jenny Lake and took the ferry across. On the other side, we hiked to Hidden Falls and on to Lower Inspiration Point. There are a number of trail closures in the area this summer, as maintenance is performed. The short hike led us beside a rushing river that was just beautiful. If you’re active or retired military, you can currently get a discount on the Jenny Lake ferry ticket.
I’ve been to 24 national parks of the 60 national parks, and this national park is in my top five…maybe top three.
What We Did in Jackson Hole
Jackson Hole was a wonderful place to visit with a toddler. Most of our activities revolved around #BabyNomad.
Swimming at Teton County Recreation Center
There’s a huge swimming area for kids at Teton County Recreation Center, including the largest baby/toddler space I’ve ever seen. It’s just the perfect height for littles who need to gain confidence in the water. There are features like a waterfall, huge floaties, small slide (still too big for a baby who isn’t sure about going underwater), and enclosed slide for big kids/kids at heart that is many stories high.
Extra plus: this is where we would take our showers while we were dry camping!
155 E. Gill Ave. – Website
Teton County Library
This library as a whole is fabulous, especially the store with its high-quality books for sale. Adult books are $2/each and children’s books are only 50-cents each. The children’s section in this library is the size of full libraries I’ve seen.
125 Virginian Lane – Website
Miller Park Playground
155 N. Jackson St.
I’m not sure whether Touch-A-Truck events are all affiliated or not, but I know we have one annually in Austin. For the event, all types of vehicles are brought in: fire truck to dump truck to helicopter. Kids get to walk up and around them, even sit in the driver’s seat and mess with the buttons.
Earlier in our trip this year, I had been wishing we’d come across a Touch-A-Truck event. Caspian is all about “things that go” right now. Every time he hears a school bus or motorcycle, not to mention sees one, he flips out.
I was so excited when I saw a sign for Touch-A-Truck in Jackson Hole, sponsored by Jackson Hole Children’s Museum. What a delight to see my little guy in his element.
We loved getting to see Jon and Nadia Bajuelo (Roaming Remodelers) and Richard and Kelsey Robertson (#RV Magazine) again. They all rolled in the day before we left. We had a pizza lunch together, and a wonderful Friday afternoon/evening back in Upper Teton View. They both parked their RVs in our small loop.
We also spent a full day in Yellowstone Park and had an amazing meal at Roosevelt Lodge. But I’ll save those details for my next travel log.
What We Ate in Jackson Hole
We ate some good food in Jackson Hole.
Pinky G’s was our haunt. Once, we ate it two times in one day by accident because they had a food trailer at Touch-A-Truck, and then they were serving it at church that same night. Casual atmosphere, delicious pizza, refreshing salads, and solid margaritas. ‘Nuff said.
50 W. Broadway – Website
We also visited Lift, Fiesta Mexican Restaurant, Pearl Street Bagels, Liberty Burger, and Moo’s Gourmet Ice Cream. Moo’s is a hard pass. There was constantly a line out the door, so I figured it must be amazing. But the line was only because of the temperature and the place’s proximity to the town square.
Pearl Street Bagels was really good. Caspian and I sat at the bar by the window, and shared a honey walnut bagel with sunflower honey cream cheese.
145 W. Pearl Ave. – Website
Lift was the other standout. Loved the food and enjoyed my cocktail. Plus, the patio is shaded around dinner time. Eric and I enjoyed our meal while Caspian played on the lawn, where there’s giant Connect Four and cornhole.
645 S. Cache St. – Website
Internet drama aside, Upper Teton View/Jackson Hole was one of my favorite stops this year. Stunning natural beauty, charming town. This is a place I hope to return to many times.