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Yellowstone/Grand Teton Trip

Day 7 of 11

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Thursday, July 28th
Grand Prismatic Spring; Drive to Grand Teton

This morning was packing day. While we packed up our camp, the kids played with the kids from the neighboring camp. Our kids wanted us to spend more time with our neighbors, but we were heading off to Grand Teton today.

After we said goodbye, we started the drive south through Yellowstone. One of the downsides of camping in Grand Teton is that you can't reserve campsites. This always makes me a bit nervous, especially after our failed attempt to find a campsite along Tioga Road in California last year. The park newspaper said that Lizard Creek (one of the northernmost ones) rarely filled, Colter Bay (one of the largest) filled by evening, and Signal Mountain filled around noon. Signal Mountain was my first choice, and since we left camp around 10am, we would arrive around noon if we went straight there.

However, I decided that we had to stop at Grand Prismatic Spring. The aerial shots I had seen were very impressive, the colors of the rainbow spreading out like a big eye. So, about 15 minute south of Madison, we stopped at Grand Prismatic Spring. After walking around for close to an hour, we were back on the road.

We stopped at Grant Village for gas, then continued on to Grand Teton without stopping any further. When we exited Yellowstone around 12:45pm, the signs said that only the Jenny Lake campground was full, and that all others were open. Hopeful, we drove past Lizard Creek and Colter Bay, going straight to Signal Mountain. Unfortunately, when we got there (around 1:15pm), it was already full. It did say there were 17 sites available at Lizard Creek.

Feeling a bit nervous now, we stopped at Colter Bay. The sign at the entrance said "FULL". In retrospect, I think that it meant the RV park was full, but the tent campground probably still had vacancies. But at the time we didn't want to waste any more time, so we turned tail and drove to Lizard Creek. It turns out that Lizard Creek had in fact been my second choice after Signal Mountain, though I hadn't remembered that at the time. In any case, we drove about 15 minutes north to the Lizard Creek campground, where we drove around until we found a nice spot.

Lizard Creek is actually quite a nice campground, with plenty of distance and trees between neighbors. The bathroom facilities aren't quite as nice (smaller, and no soap or paper towels) as at Madison, but the campground provides easy access to the shores of Jackson Lake. A few sites have awesome views, right out onto the lake, but of course those were already taken. There's also the creek, though we never did take the time to see it. Our site was just a few hundred feet from the lake, with ample space for our tent, and a bear box near the picnic table. Not all sites at the campground have a bear box, but many do. It makes it so much easier, leaving the cooler and other food in the box instead of transferring it to and from the car.

After setting up our camp, we drove back to Colter Bay and did our laundry. There's a gift shop, grocery store, restaurant, and visitor's center here, as well. While we waited for our laundry, I took a shower (the same place as the laundry provides showers for a fee). I kind of feel like I cheated, taking a shower after 5 nights of camping, but it felt great to be clean. After finishing our laundry and picking up some groceries, we returned to our campground, which was now completely full (it was 7pm).

The one problem with our camp was mosquitoes. They were much more of a nuisance than at Madison campground. We battled them through dinner before turning in for the night.

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