Copy and pasting this from my 42-day Trip Report on the Road Trips forum ...
DAY 4: As per most days, was up and out long before daybreak, gathering my stuff and doing the usual ice-changing routine with my coolers. Not in very good spirits for some reason, probably because of not a good night's sleep and a little too much beer at New Belgium yesterday.
Headed up I-25 to I-80 and got my first taste of truly high elevations, and I could definitely feel it - which I know for sure contributed to my blah emotions. Also was cloudy and got a hint of sleet, and some fierce winds. Welcome to the mountains of Wyoming.
Was wowed by the mountain scenery (albeit very brown and desolate-looking). Stopped at a rest area and enjoyed reading about the geology and wildlife of the area. However, it wasn't until I headed up 287 from Rawlins that this magical day really began.
And the magic began as it did with many days that wound up turning around for me on this trip - wildlife - and I have TetonBill to thank for this. Went right at the Muddy Gap intersection at 220 to head to Independence Rock. This place gets mixed reviews on TA and other sites, but for me it was a must stop for the cultural and historical significance.
On the way way there on 220 - besides the beautiful mountain scenery - an animal trotted right across the road (which I had all to myself). Still not assimilated into the West, it looked like a big dog so that's what I assumed it was, until it dawned on me that it was aremote area with not a house within miles, and that it had to be a wolf - something that was confirmed by alocal at Independence Rock when I described it to him. This gave me aq thrill that I will never forget, and I knew this road trip out West was now fully on. Just a couple miles later a herd of pronghorn antelope crossed the road in front me, only adding to the excitement. And again, the road was deserted - just me, the road and the wildlife.
Pulled up to Independence Rock and was thrilled. Thought the site was well-managed, with beautiful mountain scenery in the background. But the highlight is the rock itself, and the inscriptions from the pioneers was quite moving to say to the least. The few of us who were there were trying to find some name carvings in the area closest to the parking lot, but I quickly realized that I needed to branch off on my own. So I took the trail to the back of the rock, and back there I climbed up on the rock and went up to the top - where all along there were lots and lots of name carvings. Truly moving. And very private, with no one else around, except for several jack rabbits hopping around. One of them scared the s*&% out of me when it jumped out from behind one of the many beautiful yellows sagebrush in the area that would become a signature sight in the West for me.
Left Independence Rock and stumbled upon Martin's Cove historic site, a fascinating stop. Wathced a short film in the little Mormon Village, then went out and tried to find the wagon ruts from the pioneers of the 1800s. Wished I had time for the tour that takes you out to Devils' Gate - a sad and tragic story but inspiring when you consider the courage and fortitude of these pioneers. Drove around a while, and was greeted on the dirt road in the park by two more herds of pronghorn - which stopped and stared at me in the middle of the road. For a guy from the East, this was magical.
The drive from here to the tetons was long and tiresome, but very pretty, and I unexpectedly got my first taste of redrock. At first I thought, "Oh, great, why did I even bother reserving two full weeks for southern Utah," but of course those thoughts were quickly laid to rest upon my first sight of Zion a couple weeks later. Still, this drive in Wyoming was quite beautiful and a lot different than the beauty I'm used to here in gthe Blue Ridge Mountains.
The construction on Togwotee Pass was a pain in the butt. Not only did you have to wait quite a while for traffic to move - ever so close to that first look of the Tetons - but when the escort vehicle finally got going, it went so slow that I could have gotten out of my car and jogged faster than the truck was going.
Eventually made it to Grand Teton National Park just before sunset, and was treated to my first bison herd out in a field. I didn't realize at first that I was upon something special because no one was stopped on the side of the road, so apparently I got that started because when I pulle dover to get a photo, everyone else did the same and all of sudden there was a traffic jam. Very exciting to see these huge, beautiful creatures.
As for the Tetons, the sunset was quite anticlimactic. All the photographers were out and there was a buzz in the air, but the Tetons were nothing more than a silouette as it was very hazy. I asked people if it was because of the angle of the setting sun, and they said yes, that it it probably was.
After sunset made my way down to Jackson to Snake River Brewing but on the way encountered my first animal-spotting jam. Dozens and dozens of cars pulled off on the side in the Elk Preserve area, and it turned out to be a family of moose!!! Knoew that this was very special, after reading on the TA forums all these months about these hard-to-find creatures.
Got down to Snake River and had myself 1 1/2 very tasty beers, as I was exhausted, and then headed to Teton Vikllage to The Hostel. By the time I checked in and used their computer to post some photos on Facebook for family/friends (the laptop I borrowed for this trip didn't pick up WiFi), it was very late. My two roomates were already in the room asleep, so I very quietly got into my bed and tried to sleep - to no avail (I don't even sleep well at home, much less in an uncomfortable bed) - and just laid there for a few hours until it was time to get up and start the next day. Tiptoed into the bathroom using my iPhone as a flashlight, sitting on the toilet typing a brief trip report on the Wyoming forum ... LOL. Took a shower - without waking either of my roomates, as they were still snoring - and checked out. Time to hit Grand Teton National Park on Day 5 ...