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Top Shots in Grand Teton, Gros Ventre, and Teton Pass

Todd Rightsell shares his list of top shots, top hikes, top drives, top campgrounds, and more top recommendations for truck camping in Grand Teton, Gros Ventre Wilderness, and Teton Pass.

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Armed only with his Northstar truck camper, a camera, and the occasional fly rod, Todd Rightsell gets himself into some fairly dangerous situations with wild animals.  In this article, he describes one particular close encounter with a, “grunting and snorting” Proghorn.  A few paragraphs later he’s eye to eye with a bison as big as a car in an experience he describes as, “intense”.  Most of us consider watching a close match in the Olympics as intense, but evidently Todd has another standard for this emotion.

Perhaps Todd’s death defying antics would be for not if he wasn’t also a truck camping photo journalist for Truck Camper Magazine.  Anything for a story, right Todd?  That’s the spirit!  For the record, we don’t encourage Todd’s daredevil behavior, but we sure do enjoy reading about it.

For this installment of Top Shots, Todd presents some of the best up-close-and-almost-too-personal animal photographs we’ve ever seen, and gives us the goods on the best hikes, drives, campgrounds, and more in Grand Teton National Park, Gross Ventre Wilderness, Teton Pass, and its surrounding areas.

Click here to see Todd’s Travel Tips for Grand Teton National Park

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I’ve been to the Tetons several times before, but have never spent any length of time there as I was always in a hurry to get to Yellowstone.  That was a mistake.  The Tetons are incredible.  I spent nearly the entire month of July in Gros Ventre Campground five miles north of Jackson, Wyoming and managed to fall in love with the Tetons.

If you blow past them in a mad dash to Yellowstone, like I always did, you are really missing out.  The hiking there was surreal.  Yeah, there are crowds on some trails, but the landscape is just big.  There is room for everybody!  Grand Teton National Park is one of my new favorite places.

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Like I said, the hiking here is surreal.  This photograph was taken on the trail to Bradley and Taggart Lakes, which were a little ways past the small rise in the middle of the picture.  This was a great short hike to get acclimated to the altitude and gives you sweeping, in your face views of the Tetons.

I liked this hike so much I did it three times.

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If you guessed deer, you are wrong.  These two Pronghorn were pretty curious and allowed me to get fairly close.  They are usually very skittish and will run before you can even think about getting a picture.  The mama was off to the side watching carefully but never sounded the alarm.  When they go, they go fast.  Pronghorns can run up to sixty miles per hour.

I was taking a fly fishing class in Yellowstone three summers ago and the teacher had us spread out along the Lamar River fishing when two mature males (one chasing the other) ran at full speed behind me and one other class member.  I heard them coming and thought it was a herd of Bison!  They scared us to death.  They came within fifty feet or so of us at full speed and then ran about a hundred yards upstream from me.

The one in front took one giant leap into the middle of the river and one more leap out the other side!  The one in the rear came to a sliding halt at the river bank and they faced off over the Lamar River grunting and snorting at each other.  It was pretty intense.

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This is another Pronghorn.  Believe it or not, this one was actually taken out the window of my truck on Mormon Row in the Tetons just behind Black Tail Butte.  This is my best ever shot of a Pronghorn.  She was pretty patient and cooperated for a minute or so while I got the camera ready before she got spooked.  I rarely see them in such lush green grass.  This was a real treat.

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It’s amazing to me how an animal this big can move so quietly.  I was out on Mormon Row again taking photos near Moulton Barn, which is one of the iconic landmarks of Grand Teton National Park.  I heard something behind me and turned around to see this big fellow staring right at me!  He was way too close for comfort and I was more than a bit nervous.  The herd there is pretty tolerant of people so he was not aggressive, but to be face to face with an animal that weighs as much as small car is a sobering experience.  I beat a hasty retreat to the truck and waited for him and a few of his friends to pass.

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