Grand Teton Photography and Field Guide

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Teton Valley Photo Tour
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Tractor, Grand Tetons, farming, teton valley, Idaho
Farming Teton Valley

A short drive over the hill from Jackson Hole and Grand Teton Park is Idaho's Teton Valley.  Teton Valley lies snug against the western flank of the 13,000-foot peaks of the Grand Teton Range, along the eastern border of Idaho. The mountains themselves are actually in Wyoming; however, the locals fondly call the western slope, “Lapland”, the part of Idaho that laps over into Wyoming.

Folks describe Teton Valley as and its towns Victor, Driggs, and Tetonia "The quiet side of the Tetons." The jagged Grand Tetons to the east and the rolling Big Hole Mountains to the west cradle the gentle, flat course of the Teton River and the beautiful farming valley between the mountains.

The western foothills of the Grand Tetons make great agricultural photo fodder reminiscent of the famous Palouse Valley of eastern Washington. We in Idaho snicker a bit that the Palouse has become such a photo destination because our rolling farm hills are crowned be towering granite and accented with groves of aspen interspersed between the cultivated fields.  My guests from Asia stand in awe as they take in the breadth of irrigated rolling hills of barley, potatoes. and its unreal backdrop of the Grand Tetons beyond.  The regular thunderstorms bring beautiful drama to the skies enhancing the already compositionally rich landscape even more.

Our hills are devoid of the vineyards that have made the rolling agrarian hills of Tuscany such a photo destination.  Ok, ok Teton Valley also doesn’t have Tuscany’s ancient fortresses on hills and medieval architecture dotting the magnificent landscape. I get it!  Largely I believe Teton Valley would be a more popular photo destination if it wasn’t overshadowed by Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. The Palouse doesn’t have such over achieving neighbors.

Rolling hills, Teton Valley, Idaho
Rolling hills, Teton Valley, Idaho

As the foothills become to steep to farm wildflower meadows between the lodgepole pines and spruce often reveal grand vistas of carved jagged peaks and U-shaped glaciated canyons. One of these canyons leads to Grand Targhee Ski Resort which provides amazing up close and personal portrait opportunities of the high peaks.

The play of light of the undulating hills is what shooting Teton Valley fun. Sure that Grand Tetons are a great crown for the photos, but lines, shapes and shadows of afternoon light created by the intersecting lines of the hills and

I like to lead my Grand Teton photo tours in the morning as the morning sun lights up the mountains best then, afternoons they are in shadow.   Teton Valley is just the opposite, they photography best afternoon until sunset. A perfect way to finish off a day started in Grand Teton National Park.

The Teton Scenic Byway winds its way through the valley, designated so for all the reasons mentioned above. I have often wished that Teton Valley could have had a great land philanthropist like Grand Teton Park had with John D. Rockefeller Jr.  as the west side of the Grand Tetons  has equal natural attributes. Alas it wasn’t to be so we are gifted with rich agricultural landscapes instead. Variety is good I wistfully rationalize.

Although Teton Valley lives in the shadow of giants it is worth of side trip photo tour from Jackson Hole if you like that sort of thing.