Located in the northwest section of Yellowstone, right here in Wyoming, you’ll find an area through which Glen Creek flows north on its path to Gardner River. It’s Golden Gate Canyon.
In the canyon, the creek descends from 7,400 feet to 6,000 feet.
Grand Loop Road traverses the canyon, connecting Mammoth Hot Springs to points south.
The Golden Gate viaduct was held up as an engineering marvel. It was removed and replaced in 1976. There was a tunnel built at one time too, but it collapsed in 1933 and was abandoned.
Golden Gate got its name from its rocks’ yellow hues, as if encrusted in gold.
Be sure to check out Bunsen Peak too.
Ever been to the Golden Gate?
Its 51,000 square feet has 14(!) extensive galleries, with the works of the revered Carl Rungius and Bob Kuhn as the centerpiece.
There’s more, much more, than just the traditional gallery experience: a sculpture trail, museum shop, restaurant, children’s area, and fully-stocked library, make it a completely immersive experience.
Its appearance is inspired by Slains Castle in Aberdeenshire, Scotland. And being situated on a bluff, the East Gros Ventre Butte, adds spectacular appeal to the ambiance.
You really don’t want to miss out on this award-winning experience.
Snow King Mountain is world-renowned for its winter activities, especially its skiing. But it’s just as fun and full of summer activities as well! Here’s a few things for your to-do list:
Here we’ll just focus on natural features that are on, or directly connect to, Jackson Lake. There’s a great many, drawing in visitors for days of enjoyment. This list is extensive and we could include *a lot* more, which we’ll do in future posts. This is enough to make your head spin and ask, “What to see? What to see?!” Do you have any favorites among these? Read more
We’re going to stay in the Jackson Lake area for a while yet. One feature that dominates the lake’s landscape and gets discussed regularly by visitors is Mount Moran. Rising to a height of 12,600 feet(!!!), it stands 6,000 feet above Jackson Lake.
While a centerpiece, we’ll tell you upfront that it’s a difficult climb—rated 5.4 to 5.7 on the climbing-difficulty scale—and trails haven’t been maintained. Many climbers choose to start their ascent over at Leigh Lake, and they wind up taking several days to make their climb.
The mountain is named after frontier landscape painter Thomas Moran. It was first scaled by a three-man team in 1922, and they did so via what may be the easiest route up the mountain, over Skiller Glacier. Mt. Moran has several glaciers, and it has a distinctive basalt feature known as the Blake Dike. If you’re going to climb across the glaciers, make sure you bring ice-climbing equipment, such as axes and crampons, with you.
This mountain is not for the faint of heart and may be best viewed from afar on the lakes.
Interesting tidbit: a C-47 cargo plane crashed on the mountain in 1950 during a storm, tragically killing all 21 aboard. Due to the site’s extreme location, the plane and bodies have not been recovered, and the Park Service strongly advises against trekking to the location.
At that time, the dam rose Jackson Lake’s waters by 22 feet. When it was rebuilt in 1916, that number rose to 30 feet.
In blocking the lake’s outlet into Snake River, the consequent 847,000 acre-feet of storage area provides irrigation water for Idaho farmland diverted into distribution canals when further collected by the Minidoka and American Falls dams 100 miles downriver.
According to the US Bureau of Reclamation, the latest update to the dam, in 1989, can withstand a 7.5 magnitude earthquake along the Teton fault.
You can see Jackson Lake Dam along Teton Park Road, off of the John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Parkway. It sits below the immensely popular Signal Mountain and the picturesque Jackson Lake Overlook.
The Jackson Lake Dam Picnic Area, next to the dam, is a sought-after spot for outdoor eating with breath-taking views of the lake and surrounding mountains.
Just north of Leigh Lake is Jackson Lake, the largest lake in the Tetons, and one of the largest high-altitude lakes in the country at 6,700 feet up! In fact, it’s so big that we’ll be posting some off-shoot must-see’s from it. (There’s so much to do there!)
Jackson Lake is 15 miles long, 7 miles wide, and over 400 feet deep. It has several bays and 15 islands, the largest of which is Elk Island. Its size has been enlarged since the construction of the Jackson Lake Dam, which was built in 1911 and rebuilt in 1989.
Its pristine glacial waters are chilled below 60 degrees Fahrenheit even in the summer. It’s fed chiefly by the Snake River flowing in from the north. And the lake is globally known as a prime fishing destination with a wide variety of species inhabiting it, particularly trout and whitefish.
The John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Highway runs by it, and there are marinas and lodges along the lake’s eastern shore providing starting- and end-points for a variety of day-long activities in and around the lake. These spots include: Leeks Marina, Signal Mountain Lodge, Jackson Lake Lodge, and Colter Bay Village.
If you’re looking to hike, picnic, swim, boat, kayak, fish, etc., all in one spot, Jackson Hole’s your best bet.
Check out Jackson Lake Lodge
Just north of Jenny Lake is Leigh Lake. Less well-known, but just as beautiful and striking.
The glacially-formed lake, also with environmentally cool, pristine waters, is two-and-a-half miles wide by nearly three miles long. It sits just southeast of Mt. Moran and where the Leigh and Paintbrush canyons meet.
You can get to the lake by way of hiking the easy, flat Leigh Lake Trail. You’ll find the Leigh Lake Ranger Patrol Cabin on the northeast shore. The Cabin is registered on the National Register of Historical Places as of 1990, by the way.
Here’s a quick piece of footage of the lake…