Antelope Flats Loop
One mile north of the turnoff to Moose, Antelope Flats Road heads east along Ditch Creek. This road provides an interesting side loop to dramatic views of the Tetons and a great chance to see bison, elk, antelope, and other wildlife.
Antelope Flats Road connects with other paved (and dirt) roads leading to Mormon Row, Teton Science School, Gros Ventre River Valley, and the town of Kelly. It forms a peaceful and beautiful out-of-the-way diversion from the crowds in other parts of the park.
Just south of the Antelope Flats junction is Blacktail Butte, a timbered knoll rising 1,000 feet over the surrounding sagebrush plains. It’s a favorite of rock climbers and has a hiking trail up the back (east) side. Climbing access is from a parking area off U.S. 26/89/191.
You will want to stop at the much-photographed old farm buildings known as Mormon Row. The farmland here was homesteaded by predominantly Mormon settlers in the early 1900s, but was later purchased by Rockefeller’s Snake River Land Company and transferred to the Park Service. Only one set of buildings—an acre of the Moulton Ranch—is still in private hands. The other buildings were allowed to decay until the 1990s, when the Park Service recognized their value and stepped in to preserve the structures. Herds of bison often wander past the old farmsteads in summer, providing one of the best places to view them. Also keep your eyes open for small groups of pronghorn antelope in the vicinity.
Shadow Mountain Area
This interesting area is found up a side road off Antelope Flats Road. Shadow Mountain Road (officially Forest Road 30340) is paved for the first mile or so but turns to gravel as it snakes rather steeply up the mountain. The road is definitely not recommended for RVs or trailers, or for any vehicles after rains, when some sections turn to slippery mud. Shadow Mountain (8,252 feet) is named for the shadows of the Tetons that fall across the mountain’s face each evening. The views from the top are truly amazing, with the Tetons in all their glory. Several dispersed campsites can be found along this route on Forest Service land.
Teton Science Schools
Hidden away in a valley along upper Ditch Creek is Teton Science Schools (TSS, 307/733-4765, www.tetonscience.org), a fine hands-on school for both young and old. Founded in 1967 as a summer field-biology program for high-school kids, TSS has grown into a year-round program with classes that run the gamut from elementary-school level all the way up to intensive college courses and a graduate program. Summertime visitors of all ages will enjoy classes on such diverse subjects as bird-banding, canoeing, sunset hikes, and elk-watching. These classes fill up fast, so make reservations early to be sure of a spot. The school’s excellent month-long wilderness emergency medical technician (EMT) course in early winter is one of the few programs of its kind in the nation.
Based at the old Elbo dude ranch (started in 1932), TSS includes two dormitories, a central kitchen, a dining area, and other log structures. Visitors to the school should visit the Murie Natural History Museum, which displays thousands of specimens of birds, mammals, and plants. Included are casts of animal tracks used by famed wildlife biologist Olaus Murie in producing his Peterson’s Guide to Animal Tracks. It’s open to the public, but call ahead to arrange an appointment.
Separately, the Jackson Campus of TSS occupies an 860-acre parcel west of town along Highway 22. This eco-friendly facility provides room for additional programs and lodging for guests, including those for “Road Scholars” (formerly Elderhostel). In addition, the school operates very popular Wildlife Expeditions (307/733-2623 or 888/945-3567, www.wildlifeexpeditions.org) with safaris throughout the Grand Teton and Yellowstone area.
© Don Pitcher from Moon Yellowstone & Grand Teton, 5th Edition