Grand Teton National Park
Schwabacher Landing, copyright QT Luong, www.terragalleria.com/parks
QT Luong is a full-time freelance nature and travel photographer from San Jose, California.
Born to Vietnamese parents in France, he was trained as a scientist (PhD U. Paris). The revelation of the high Alps led him to become a mountain climber and wilderness guide. When he came to the US to conduct research in the fields of Artificial Intelligence and Image Processing, he fell in love with the National Parks. After he became the first to photograph all of them in large format, Ken Burns featured him in The National Parks: America's Best Idea (2009).
For more of Tuan's national park images, visit www.terragalleria.com/parks
Swift, powerful strokes carry the osprey and its meal away from the river. Winging through the trees that line the Snake River, the raptor carries a fat, protein-rich fish -- a trout, maybe a sucker -- that its talons moments ago had plucked from the swirling river.
Somewhere the bird will find a roost where it can enjoy its meal in peace. Now it simply is determined to flee the river and the other ospreys and eagles that might want to steal the catch.
The backdrop to this scene is that sky-scraping national park that holds up western Wyoming's border, Grand Teton. Soaring to nearly 14,000 feet atop the granitic tip of its namesake peak, the park’s jagged crags and their snowfields quickly catch your eye -- and hold it -- from anywhere in the Jackson Hole Valley.
The abruptness with which the Tetons climb out of the valley, their easy access, and the countless climbing opportunities, combine to define the range as one of mountaineering's classics.
But there’s much more to do in this wondrous park than grab a rope and ice axe and climb to the roof. There's the Snake River for angling and paddling, a string of shimmering lakes nestled at the base of the Tetons for exploring by canoe or sea kayak, hiking trails that allow you to escape the crush of humanity, and rich wildlife resources to spot.
Campers have hundreds of sites to choose from in the front-country, while backpackers have hundreds of miles of trails to follow high into, and across, the mountains. Easy trails cater to families with young children as well as folks just looking to savor the scenery and build an appetite for dinner.
A Western classic, Grand Teton lures most of its visitors in summer and fall. While winters can be harsh, they also reveal other elements of this majestic park.
Traveler's Choice For: Hiking, paddling, wildlife viewing, climbing, families, photography
The Jackson Lake Lodge was Gilbert Stanley Underwood's last project, but was it his best?
As with its northern neighbor, Yellowstone, the prime tourist season in Grand Teton is July and August, thanks mainly to school schedules, but the gorgeous Rocky Mountain weather is a great draw, too. Warm, sunny days followed by cool, starry nights are as much an invitation to the park as is its iconic mountain range.
Though Grand Teton National Park's scenery is the first thing that overwhelms you about the park, look a little closer and you'll find an incredible wildlife menagerie. There are bears -- black and grizzly --, wolves, bison, moose, elk, pronghorn antelope, and so much more.
Dotting the base of the Teton Range like pearls on a necklace is a series of lakes -- some large, some small -- that offer great paddling opportunities. And then, of course, there's the Snake River, a powerful stream that offers a watery adventure with the craggy Tetons always looming overhead.