Monday, August 24, 2009

Mormon Row in Grand Teton National Park

A visit to Jackson Hole isnt complete without a trip to Grand Teton National Park. A mere 11 miles north on US 26/89/191 past the National Elk Refuge to the entrance at Moose from downtown Jackson, the Park offers visitors everything from history to big mountains to scenic trails. Located one mile north from the turnoff to Moose, Antelope Flats Road heads east along Ditch Creek bringing one to historic Mormon Row and the vintage establishments of early settlers. The open fields, which are home to herds of grazing bison in the summer, provide awesome views of the Teton Range and an exciting excursion off the beaten path.
The old farm buildings known as Mormon Row have withstood the elements for more than a century, making them not only a great spectacle, but also much-photographed. The farmland here was homesteaded by predominantly Mormon settlers in the early 1900s, but was later purchased by Rockefellers Snake River Land Company and transferred to the Park Service. Although the famed Oregon Trail remained south and didnt technically pass through Jackson Hole, many emigrants who were traveling west made trips to the area in search of the Promised Land. Most of the first settlers of the area were from what is now Utah.
The Moulton Ranch, which is the main attraction nestled in a cluster of old wooden structures, still has an acre which in privately owned. The other buildings were allowed to decay until the 1990s when the Park Service realized their worth and took measures to preserve them. With roaming bison and blossoming arrowleaf balsam root dominating the landscape in summer, a trip to Mormon Row is a must-do. While in the area, also keep your eyes open for small groups of pronghorn antelope.
In winter, Antelope Flats Road is only plowed for the first mile to a parking turnout. An easy and enjoyable cross-country ski or snowshoe out to Moulton Ranch is a great opportunity to view white hare, coyotes, and the occasional moose.
A worthy side trip in the area is to the small settlement of Kelly, which boarders the southeastern end of the Park. With a handful of small log homes and a cluster of Mongolian-style yurts, the Kelly establishment is certainly one of the most unusual dwellings in Wyoming. Just east of Kelly are the Kelly Warm Springs, which is a great place for swimming and picnics on a sunny summer afternoon. The Gros Ventre Campground, which is maintained by the Park Service, is located three miles west of Kelly. Situated around Sheep Mountain, better known as Sleeping Indian, and 10,741-foot Jackson Peak, the scenery is nothing short of magnificent.

Mormon Row in Grand Teton National Park

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