Iconic is the word people use to describe the view from Oxbow Bend at Grand Teton National Park. It “is without a doubt the most photographed place in the entire park.” Dictionary.com defines an oxbow as “a bow-shaped bend in a river, or the land embraced by it.” What makes Oxbow Bend so photogenic? Just about everything – Mount Moran in the background, aspen trees lining the water’s edge, wildlife, and a sunrise sky with soft lighting make this spot unforgettable.
If you’re in search of wildlife, everyone says to come early in the morning. This aquatic habitat is the home of moose, river otters, and grizzly bears. Just imagine peeking through your telephoto lens at a live grizzly bear in search of breakfast. That’s worth waking up early for!
How to Get There
If you’re coming from Teton Club, head north to the Moran Entrance Ranger Station on US Hwy 191. The John D Rockefeller Jr Parkway will take you all the way to the Oxbow Bend Turnout on your left.
For a more adventurous approach, consider kayaking the Snake River. This will give you abundant views that land lovers can’t access. And you may see some wildlife that don’t wander close to the parking areas. The easiest access to the water is at the end of a road called Cattleman’s Bridge. Go past the Oxbow Bend Turnout and take the first left. Follow the scenic road about a mile to the parking area.
The Outbound Collective says Oxbow Bend is an “Exceptionally scenic spot teeming with wildlife. Easy kayak rentals in Moose at Dornans. Duration: 1-4 hours, depending on how much you want to explore.”
How to Observe Wildlife Responsibly
The National Park Service has lots of information available on their website and in the visitor centers at each national park. Read the tips below before you go out for some wildlife viewing.
Be a Responsible Wildlife Observer
- Use binoculars, spotting scopes or long lenses for close views and photographs. Always maintain a safe distance of at least 100 yards from wolves and bears, and at least 25 yards from all other wildlife.
- Never position yourself between an adult and its offspring. Females with young are especially defensive.
- It is illegal to feed wildlife, including ground squirrels and birds. Feeding wild animals makes them dependent on people, and animals often bite the hand that feeds them.
- Do not harass wildlife. Harassment is any human action that causes unusual behavior, or a change of behavior, in an animal. Repeated encounters with people can have negative, long-term impacts on wildlife, including increased levels of stress and the avoidance of essential feeding areas.
- Nesting birds are easily disturbed. For wildlife, raising young is a private affair. If an adult bird on a nest flies off at your approach, or circles you or screams in alarm, you are too close to the nest. Unattended nestlings readily succumb to predation and exposure to heat, cold, and wet weather.
- Allow other visitors a chance to enjoy wildlife. If your actions cause an animal to flee, you have deprived other visitors of a viewing opportunity. Use an animal’s behavior as a guide to your actions.
One recent visitor said the following about Oxbow Bend: “Picture perfect. Words can’t really describe the beauty of this place. A photographer’s destination and a painter’s dream.” Whether you explore by land or by water, be sure to bring your binoculars, camera, hiking shoes, and bear spray. And bring a friend to share it with.
Where to Stay
Teton Club combines unparalleled luxury with rustic Western aesthetics to create an unforgettable vacation experience. The resort is located in Teton Village in the valley of Jackson Hole, Wyoming, widely considered one of the best skiing destinations in North America. Teton Club offers a wide range of amenities you can enjoy during your time in Jackson Hole, including ski-in/ski-out access, an underground parking garage with valet service, a private lounge, library, and a Great Room ideal for relaxing after a long day of adventures.