The first afternoon of our two-night, three-day Jackson Lake kayak trip in Grand Teton National Park, my nine-year-old had a question for our lead guide Nate: “Where are all the other people?”
Boaters and kayakers were on the water, of course, but Jackson is a massive lake, with plenty of tucked away places. We’d already located several of them, and currently found ourselves completely alone on a grassy island, polishing off our lunch of chicken salad sandwiches.
My son’s question touched upon my primary concern before embarking on the Jackson Lake kayaking trip: located in the heart of the national park during the peak of the summer season, would we experience more sightings of humanity than wildlife? My family is familiar with my phobia of crowds in national parks: the previous summer, we hiked four days into Yosemite’s backcountry to escape park enthusiasts, and I’d brought the whole family to Glacier National Park before its famed Going-to-the-Sun Road had even opened for the season, to avoid traffic. (We passed snow plows.) We’d spent the days leading up to our O.A.R.S. trip touring Grand Teton National Park by car and on day hikes, an enjoyable yet congested experience that only