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  • Donna

Trip Report: Grand Teton National Park and the Buffalo KOA

Updated: Aug 5, 2021

September 17 – 22, 2017

“It’s just saying you won’t bring it into a federal building or kill rattlesnakes with it—stuff like that,” the cashier explained as he handed me a piece of paper the state of Wyoming requires everyone who purchases propane to sign.

“You can kill rattlesnakes with it?” I asked. I pictured someone placing the propane near a rattler then shooting the tank, killing the unsuspecting snake in a blaze of redneck glory.

“It freezes ‘em,” he explained. “Just point the hose at ‘em and it freezes ‘em.”

Honestly, I didn’t even know propane was cold. I just knew it’s compressed and dangerous. But suddenly killing snakes with it seemed like a really good idea. I’m from the country; we usually use a square-nosed shovel to kill poisonous snakes.

I signed the paper and paid the man $8—enough to cook with and keep us warm for the next couple of weeks. We’re currently at a KOA in Buffalo, WY. We arrived yesterday after driving nine hours and will leave tomorrow. Have you ever driven through Wyoming? It’s so beautiful! Even though it was a long drive, it was probably the most engaging we’ve had so far.

We left Grand Teton National Park around 9am. It was 32F and snowing as we packed up the trailer and shoved our wet, muddy chocks, hoses, and outdoor mat into plastic kitchen bags for transport. It was the first time I’ve ever towed the trailer in snow, then in sleet as we ascended Togwotee Pass, which hits an elevation above 10,000 feet and had received a lot of snow. Fortunately the road was clear aside from some slush, but I drove slowly in case we happened to hit some black ice.

The Grand Tetons were very pretty, but we barely got to see them in their full glory. The weather during our three-day stay was a mix of clouds, rain, sleet, snow, and hail like I’d never encountered. It was fun, polite hail: tiny little snowballs falling from the sky, collecting in our hair and the stroller. We had the best campsite in the whole campground: P112; we could see Jackson Lake and the Tetons right from our window.

We did a lot of chores and a little exploring during our stay. On the day with the nicest weather, we visited old log cabins then ran errands in Jackson (like grocery shopping and buying dog food). We accidentally chose a cold, rainy day to walk around Jenny Lake. We don’t mind walking in the rain, but unfortunately it was accompanied by thick clouds, so we missed out on great views of the Tetons. The last day was cold and intermittently wet with rain, sleet, and snow, so that meant laundry, hitching, and snuggling for The Secret Life of Pets on the iPad.

At first four nights didn’t seem like very long at Grand Teton National Park, but we were ready to go. I think scenery is the main attraction there and since the weather obscured that for us, our enjoyment was muted somewhat. But I don’t regret going—it was still really pretty, even under cloud cover.

Next we’re off to Devil’s Tower National Monument. I must admit I’m not too excited about it—it’s basically just our attempt to see something cool while traveling to Wind Cave National Park. I did learn something interesting this morning though, while talking to Wendy’s parents on FaceTime. Her dad periodically adds unexpected context to our trip. We’ll think we’re going somewhere obscure and he’ll come out with “Oh yeah, I visited there when I was in the Army,” or “There’s a famous rail station there [in Banff].” This morning’s revelation: the seemingly random numbers repeated over and over again in Close Encounters of the Third Kind (104 44 30 40 36 10) were the geographical coordinates for Devil’s Tower.

Are you trying to remember the notes Richard Dreyfuss played to communicate with the aliens? I am, but I just keep coming up with the theme for the X-files. Dammit.

Read the next trip report: Devils Tower and Wind Cave National Park


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