Teton Scenic Byway – Fall Colors and Big Mountains

Driggs, Idaho.

Regular readers know that we like to explore scenic byways when we travel. in October 2020, on our way to the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone Park, we found ourselves (unexpectedly) on a scenic byway we hadn’t planned. It turned out to be the fastest way from our previous night’s stay to Wyoming and the gateway to those two National Parks. At one point, we stopped and found this placard defining the route of the Teton Scenic Byway.

I’d love to know specifically where we saw this placard, and if I’d used my cell phone, I’d know the GPS coordinates. Unfortunately, I used my D500 which doesn’t have a GPS chip. Luckily, we’d been taking photos along the way, and once we found we were on part of this 70-mile (113 km) byway, I captured all that many more images to share.

Teton Scenic Byway-1

It is always a treat to come upon any wildlife. Our first images along the route included a small herd of elk calmly gathered in a valley, a couple of large bull elk standing vigil over their harem.

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It was October 6 when we traveled this route so in the higher country, those autumn leaves were on their way to full color, not quite yet ready for prime time. Another week or so, and we would have hit the perfect time for those spectacular fall colors.

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The valley is home to many ranches as well as the wild creatures of the area. This corral was one of many we saw along the route.

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On our easterly journey, we could see some of the mountain ranges that ringed the valleys we traveled through. We never encountered any bears, happy there were no close encounters, but disappointed that we couldn’t view any bears from the comfort of a fully extended telephoto lens inside a sturdy SUV.

Teton Scenic Byway-9

We would see our first glimpse of the Grand Teton range in the distance. The namesakes of this byway were not as visible as we’d have liked, haze from those western wildfires made them hard to see clearly. The image above provides a clearer image than we saw in real life as Luminar’s haze filter did a great job in helping to clear the smoke from the image. This one is the clearest view we had. You’ll see if you explore the gallery and other photos posted here that were much hazier.

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In addition to elk, the valley is home to bison. This image features part of a larger herd spread throughout the valley. This part of the herd was relatively close as I had my zoom lens set only to 58 mm. Contrast that with the 300 mm zoom I needed to capture that herd of elk I shared above.

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If you travel through Grand Teton National Park, you’ll see the eastern side of the mountains. Traveling on the Teton Scenic Byway, you’ll see the western slopes. Well, that is, you will if they aren’t obscured by smoke and haze.

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As we got closer to the eastern edge of the byway, fall colors were more prevalent. It is a beautiful time to explore the valleys west of the Tetons. An info page here on the Visit Idaho page suggests that late spring, when all the wildflowers are out, is also a great time to take this journey.

I have included many more images in my Flickr gallery than I am sharing here. You can see any of the images here close up by clicking on them to go directly to my Flickr site. From there, you can scroll the entire gallery, or you can visit the album page to see and select any specific image to pixel peep. Photo metadata is provided for those techies who care about those details. You will find the album here.

John Steiner

13 comments

    • I do need to consider some spring trips. We’ve made two autumn trips in the last two years, and enjoy the fall colors, but it would be nice to visit some of these places in the spring and summer.

  1. What a wonderful drive, and I love the views of the Tetons! Yes, they are hazy, but I think that just adds to the atmosphere of the shots, with the beautiful colours of the trees in the foreground ๐Ÿ˜€

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