National Park Road Trip 2011: The Lodges of Grand Teton National Park, Part II

The cabins at Jenny Lake Lodge in Grand Teton National Park tucked into the forest in the afternoon shadow of the Teton Range. Photo by David and Kay Scott.

Editor's note: In part two of their look at lodging options in Grand Teton National Park, David and Kay Scott checked out Jackson Lake Lodge and Jenny Lake Lodge.

Greetings from Jackson Lake Lodge in Grand Teton National Park. On our last night in the park we drove to Colter Bay Marina to take the Elk Island dinner cruise. There were enough customers for two boats and we all enjoyed a dinner of trout and steak plus all the fixin’s. It takes about a half hour to get to the island where the concessionaire maintains about a dozen picnic tables and a large grill. It was a fun trip in which we got to meet a number of other travelers.

The cruise departs at 5:30 p.m. and arrives back at Colter Bay around 8 p.m. Upon our return we watched from back of the hotel as a grizzly sow and her two cubs romped in the distance. (Their antics were caught on video by Levi Thorn, the director of sales and marketing for the Grand Teton Lodge Co.)

We leave this morning to return north to Yellowstone for four nights following four nights in Grand Teton.

Our last report covered four of Grand Teton National Park’s seven lodging facilities, including Flagg Ranch, Signal Mountain Lodge, Triangle X Ranch, and Dornan’s Spur Ranch Log Cabins. The latter is the only one of these facilities that remains privately owned. This report will discuss the remaining three lodges, all of which are managed by the Grand Teton Lodge Company (GTLC).

GTLC operates three very different lodging facilities in Grand Teton. One is small, upscale, and quite expensive; another is large with a combination of comfortable cottages and hotel rooms, and the third is a combination of rustic cabins and tent cabins. The three properties span a wide range in terms of size, comfort, amenities, and cost.

Colter Bay Village in the park’s northern section has historic rustic cabins and tent cabins near a marina and large commercial complex. The tent cabins at $52 per night represent the least expensive lodging in the park.

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The cabins at Colter Bay are set in the woods. Photo by David and Kay Scott.

Tents have electricity and cots, but guests must bring their own sheets, blankets, pillows, and cooking gear.

Colter Bay also has 166 rustic cabins, most of which have been moved here from area dude ranches. All but two small dorm units each have a private bathroom and are within walking distance of the commercial area that includes restaurants, a market, gift shops, Laundromat, and a National Park Service visitor center. One-room cabins range in cost from $120 to $165 per night.

Jackson Lake Lodge was designed by Gilbert Stanley Underwood and constructed in the early 1950s. Underwood also designed Yosemite’s Ahwahnee. The lodge includes nearly 350 cottages plus a hotel with 37 third-floor rooms. The hotel is highlighted by a large lobby with huge windows that provide breathtaking views of the Teton Range. People often sit in the lobby for long periods taking in the mountain views to the west.

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The window view from the "view rooms" at Jackson Lake Lodge. Photo by David and Kay Scott.

Cottage rooms at Jackson Lake Lodge are quite nice, although it would be difficult to tell this from the exteriors that are pretty plain. Cottages are spread along parallel roads a short distance from the hotel.

The majority of cottage and hotel rooms do not have a mountain view and rent for $229 per night. Rooms in three cottage buildings and about half the hotel rooms do offer excellent mountain views and cost an extra $90 per night.

The concessionaire completely refurbished all of its cottage and hotel rooms for the opening of the 2009 season. The refurbishment included new carpeting, new drapes, new soft goods, and reupholstering and refinishing all of the furniture. All of the rooms are quite nice.

Jenny Lake Lodge is a small complex of 37 rustic cabins in a quiet area of the park. Most cabins are constructed as duplex units although a few are free-standing. The lodge is located about 20 miles north of the town of Jackson.

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Western charm is on display in the Jenny Lake Cabins at Grand Teton National Park. Photo by David and Kay Scott.

The cabins are upscale and rent for $630 per night (double occupancy) including breakfast and a gourmet dinner. The price of a room includes use of a bicycle and horseback riding on a first-come-first-serve basis.

These are well-maintained cabins, especially the interiors that include handmade quilts.

We are returning to Yellowstone National Park for two nights at Old Faithful Inn and two nights at Lake Yellowstone Hotel. Our plan is to include the three Old Faithful lodges in our next report, although it may or may not include videos depending on the Internet access that is available.

Yes, there is more lodging in the Old Faithful area than Old Faithful Inn. A second report several days later will cover Grant Village and two lodges in the Lake Yellowstone area. This will complete our coverage for the nine lodging facilities in Yellowstone National Park.

Comments

I'm really enjoying your road trip of park lodgings as it lets me see what is available, and hear about the accommodations from someone who is not a employee of the operator of the lodging. I especially liked your video of the Grizzlies and Elk behind the Jackson Lake Lodge. Which brings me to a slightly off topic question. Approximately how far were the Bears and Elk from your vantage point, and what is the make and model of your video camera? Your videos are a lot better than most home videos I've seen.
Keep up the good work. Have fun on your trip, and be safe.

Dear Old Geezer (older than me?), the video of the grizzly and her cubs chasing the elk was taken by Levi Thorn, who is head of PR for Grand Teton Lodging Company. Levi showed us the video in his office from his posting on YouTube. We thought that it would be a good video to include with this report, although it was Levi, not us, that was fortunate enough to take it. Levi told us the make of his camera, but I can't remember what it is. Kay saw the bears later that evening but with our small Blogger you would have seen nothing more than some specks.

Such a shabby view! (not) It is an incredible view! Sitting here in steamy Missouri it would be quite nice to view the mountains and wildlife. The video of the elk and bear is astonishing! How in the world did the recorder see it and catch it so clearly! Thanks for sharing, it was fun and made melong to be there!

Since you mentioned Gilbert Stanley Underwood and are headed back to the Old Faithful area, I would note that he designed the Old Faithful Lodge building. It may not be as well known as the Old Faithful Inn, but it's still a remarkable building.

Levi Thorn indicated that the camera used for the bear video was a Canon Power Shot SX 30 IS. So, there you have it.