This site is a collection of updates and stories relating to Signal Mountain Lodge, feel free to join the conversation.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Another Great Season

Signal Mountain Lodge closed up for the winter on October 18th. To make it official, the mountains and valley got a fresh blanket of snow a few days later. Signal Mountain Lodge is thankful for another wonderful year in Grand Teton National Park. Thanks to all of our staff who decided to spend their spring, summer and fall with us. Thanks to all of our guests who decided to spend their vacations in our cabins, campgrounds, marinas, and restaurants. We look forward to doing it all again next year! We will be opening May 6, 2011.

Spring beginning

Transitioning to Summer

Summer Flowers
Late Summer Thundershower
Fall Skies
Snow falls on Jackson Hole

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Softball in GTNP

Signal Mountain Lodge is pleased to once again crown itself Park Champion of this years GTNP softball season. The SML "Whistle Pigs" are tickled to maintain our smack talking priveleges.

The Signal Mountain Lodge "Whistle Pigs" looking good, as always.

Joking aside, we've had an incredibly fun few months of friendly competition with our neighboring concessionaires' and National Park Service's employees. A big thank you to all of the teams who came out and played this season and added yet another item to the long list of reasons why working and living in GTNP is so much fun.

Softball has a long history in Grand Teton National Park. There is strong evidence that it was played as far back as 1983, and no evidence but quite a bit of speculation that it was played during the Hayden expedition and preceeding fur trapping era. Signal Mountain Lodge maintains a portion of a wall in our Employee Dining Room that is dedicated to softball seasons past. Along with photos of our now 4 years running Park Champion team is a framed article from a Jackson Hole News issue dated Wednesday, August 3, 1983. The hysterical article is titled "The hot team in Moran whips some local boys" and is simply about Billy's Angels (the name of the NPS team in 1983) beating up on Bill's Standard/Teton Towing team at what was then called Fromm Memorial Stadium, the ball field in Moran, WY we now creatively refer to as Moran Field. The field is notoriously primitive and the article gives a colorful description that holds true to this day:

"Assuming Mother Nature is a baseball fan, it's safe to say she never would have let this chunk of land come out from under the water if she knew it would become Fromm Memorial Stadium. The infield is loaded with sedimentary rock. Every hop of the ball is a bad hop, even if it happens to go straight. The outfield sinks lower than the infield, and it appeared that balls rolling into left field actually pick up speed. Sagebrush, gopher holes, camouflaged boulders, and whatnot make the outfield an adventuresome place. An outfielder sprinting for a line drive is not risking a sprained ankle. He is risking a broken arm and two crushed ribs."

The historic article displayed in SML's Employee Dining Room.

Although the story behind the title of Fromm Memorial Stadium is not entirely clear a picture in the article shows a sign hanging on the backstop that offers a little insight, it reads: "On the tragic night of Aug 12, 1982 through a hail of screaming baseballs, exploding bats & flying cleats. Pete Fromm almost made it to first base. This is the stuff that heroes are made of."

The field may no longer bear this heroes name but his legacy is carried on a few times a week all summer long on it.

A bench-full of heroes.

Thanks again to all who played!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Fall is Beautiful in GTNP

Fall is still a few weeks away, but we're starting to see the very first signs. We've had a few dustings of snow over the last month in the upper upper parts of the mountains that white wash the glaciers and snow fields back to their brilliance and make the mountains shine. The wildlife are looking their most impressive in their healthy coats and massive antlers. The bull elk are beginning to bugle challenges to one another and spar for the interest and attention of the cow elk. A bull elk bugle is one of the wildest sounds one may hear, and is not soon forgotten. The aspen and cottonwood leaves are just starting to turn color, hinting at the fiery yellows, oranges, and reds they will soon be. All of these changes add to what is arguably the best time of year for photography in the area. This is also a perfect time for hiking due to the cool mornings and evenings. Don't miss Grand Teton National Park in the fall!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Free Entry in the Parks Weekend August 14th and 15th

This coming weekend, August 14th and 15th, the National Park Service will be waiving entrance fees into Parks nationwide as part of an iniative to spark interest in folks to take advantage of our nations treasures and to give them an opportunity at a more affordable vacation. In support of this event Signal Mountain Lodge will be giving away reusable grocery bags with a $15 purchase in any of our retail stores. Swing by our Convenience Store for all of your camping and picnic needs, or take a look through our two Gift Shops and they're collections of western art, Native American jewelry, and Grand Teton clothing, to name a few highlights. The weather has been beautiful, warm and sunny with brief afternoon thundershowers that lend interesting light to landscape and refresh the day as they pass. Bring your cameras and hiking boots for the weekend, we hope to see you in Grand Teton National Park!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Thank You to Grand Teton Rescue Teams

On Wednesday July 21st a powerful storm moved through Grand Teton National Park. The storm brought wind, rain, and a lot of lightning. It came early in the day, around 11:30 am, and caught many climbers on the Grand Teton off guard. 17 people were stranded on the Grand Teton for a number of hours while rescue teams worked courageously to help them off the mountain. Among those 17 climbers were two Signal Mountain Lodge employees Steve and Henry, climbing with two of Steve's family members. They were struck by lightning multiple times during the storm and were unable to climb down due to injuries. Fortunately, the very adept and brave rescue teams of rangers, guides, pilots and medics were able to evacuate them from the mountain safely and get them to the proper care, and for that the Signal community owes them an enormous thank you. We are grateful to have Steve and Henry back at Signal with us.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Staff Olympics

Signal Mountain Lodge hosted it's fourth annual Staff Olympics during the last week of June this summer. The events lasted five days and ranged from sporty challenges such as the canoe relay to brain busters like the chess tournament. A few events were held each day and culminated in an outdoor BBQ that went on during the celebrated events of the volleyball tournament and the talent show on Friday in our staff housing area.

Signal Mountain Lodge staff was divided into 7 teams of grouped departments. Each team had an impressive showing for each event and the standings were close throughout the five days. In the end the front of the house restaurant staff grouped with the bar under the team name of "Button Up" were crowned as champions. They will have their team name engraved on SML's most highly regarded and pined for prize, The Most Prestigous Trophy, where it will live on in fame(or infamy).

The SML Staff Olympics are just another reason why working and living at Signal are so much fun, a big thank you goes to all who participated!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Staff Spotlight: Mark Schweizer, Float Guide Manager

Mark Schweizer is one of those very lucky people in the world who looks forward to work each day. Mark is the Float Guide Manager at Signal Mountain Lodge, he takes up to three float trips a day down beautiful stretches of the Snake River in Grand Teton National Park. Mark says his favorite part of each work day is“when I push off from the bank of the river and the current pulls us away.”

Mark hasn’t always lived out west, he grew up in the Chicago area of Illinois, but when he was 10 years old his folks took him on a trip to the Grand Canyon and he started dreaming of living on this side of the country among the mountains. After high school he moved to Flagstaff, AZ to attend school at Northern Arizona University. He graduated with a double major in History and Philosophy and quickly took an outside job at Sylvan Lake State Park in Colorado as a Park Ranger.

Not too long after making the move to Colorado, the opportunity arose to become a river guide in Glen Canyon Arizona, Mark couldn’t pass it up. While guiding in Glen Canyon he met a fellow who had worked in Grand Teton National Park and loved it and Mark became quite interested. At the end of the season he applied to a few lodges in Grand Teton and Signal was lucky enough to snatch him up.

Mark has now been taking Signal Mountain Lodge guests down the Snake River for 6 seasons and he still has a passion for it. Mark explains, “My favorite part of guiding is that the job I do is an activity I would do on my spare time, actually one of my favorite hobbies.” He says this season has been great so far, “The sun has come out and the wildflowers are spectacular. The wildlife has been good: moose, elk, pronghorn, eagles, and pelicans.” Taking a float trip with Mark is a treat. His knowledge goes well beyond the river and one is bound to get a brain-full of Grand Teton geology, biology, history and more.

Swans on the Snake River.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Lizard Creek Campground is Open

Lizard Creek Campground opened on June 11. Lizard Creek Campground is a 60 site campground located at the north end of Jackson Lake making it a perfect launch pad for exploring Grand Teton National Park and/or Yellowstone National Park, the South Entrance to Yellowstone being about 15 minutes away by car. The opportunities for hiking, fishing, canoeing, kayaking, photography, wildlife watching and just straight staring at the mountains are limitless and unbeatable at this end of the lake. Come pitch your tent at Lizard Creek Campground for a spell.

A Lizard Creek Camper paddling his kayak on Jackson lake.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Free Entrance to National Parks June 5 & 6

Start packing your hiking boots, binoculars, sunscreen, etc. to take a trip to the park. This Saturday June 5th and Sunday June 6th the National Parks are waiving entrance fees to encourage folks to spend some time exploring our Nation’s Treasures and give them an opportunity to have a more affordable vacation.

Signal Mountain Lodge will be giving away reusable grocery bags over the weekend with a $15 or more purchase in our retail stores in support of this event. Swing by the SML Gift Shop to pick one up to pack your picnic in.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Signal Mountain Marina and Leek's Marina are Open

Signal Mountain Marina opened on May 26 and has had a fun first week. The docks are in the water, and the boats are ready to go.

It's a great time to rent a boat to explore the lake or do a little fishing. Saturday May 29 was the annual opening day fishing tournament on Jackson Lake which was a big success this year with one person taking in a 30+ pound lake trout. The fish are biting.

Our Leek's Marina and Pizzeria located 11 miles north of SML also opened on the 26th. It's always fun to take a boat up from Signal, wildlife watching around Donoho and Hermitage Points, to Leek's for some delicious pizza and fantastic views.

The Marina Staff are happy to be kicking off another great summer with Signal, and of course to be working on the water. They welcome all to come in and see them and chat about their favorite spots on the lake.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Guest Focus: Steele Clark

The spring brings the yearly return of many wonderful things to Signal. Besides longer days, greener surroundings, wildlife and their new offspring, Signal welcomes the arrival of returning staff and returning guests. This year the Clark family brought one of each of these to Signal. In late April Steele Clark, the son, returned to work at Signal for his second season, and two weeks later his father, also Steele, returned to the Signal Mountain Campground for his 16th year of spring camping. Every year since 1995, excluding one which he says to have made up for by camping here in the fall as well as the spring last year, the older Steele has been faithfully showing up for a few weeks of camping on or around Signal’s opening day in early May.

Steele Clark with Steele Clark

Camping in early May in Grand Teton National Park can be a gamble. Day time temperatures could be in the 60’s or 70’s with nights getting down into the low 40’s, or they could easily be in the 40’s or lower during the day and well below freezing at night, and snow is always a possibility. To many 80 year olds, as Steele now is (though one would never guess it), a few weeks of this type of camping sounds about as far from fun as one could get, but Steele loves it.

Steele’s love for Signal and the entire Grand Teton/Yellowstone area goes back much further than his 16 years of camping. He has visited the Yellowstone area 27 times. He first came to the area in 1949 to see if he could spend a summer working in Yellowstone. He hitch hiked out from his home state of Ohio and went from lodge to lodge inquiring about employment but had no luck. Despite lack of success in finding a summer job, he was anything but disheartened after seeing the landscape firsthand, and returned in 1951 this time with a job lined up at the Hamilton’s Store (now the General Store) in the Old Faithful area. Steele ended up working three seasons at the Hamilton’s Store and was offered a “winter keeper” position that he would have taken had he not been drafted in to the Army at the same time. Winters in Yellowstone were something quite different in those days. There was no coming out to civilization for a weekend by snowmobile, you were in for the winter and your only contact with society was a mail drop or two made by plane. Steele recounts the promise of these things with excitement and says he would still like to get in to Yellowstone in the winter for a stay at the lodge.

It’d be easy to imagine someone wanting that job would be anti-social or an odd duck, but Steele is quite the opposite, or at least not anti-social. He can be found most nights of the spring in Signal’s Deadman’s Bar chatting with his son, or any of the other returning staff or guests that he has become so familiar to. Steele “discovered” Deadman’s bar in 2004, “Until then I had never really been in it,” Steele explains, “I wasn’t avoiding it, I just ate else where. I came in at five minutes to 10 after a day of exploring and it was the only place staying open so I sat in there. Sean (Brokaw) was the bartender then and I asked him if I could still get any food, being late, even just some chips and he said ‘How about a bowl of soup?’ The bartenders are wonderful, Greg (Bosley) has been my best friend up here, he treats me like I’m 25.”

“The people at Signal, are the big reason,” for Steele when he chooses to come back to Signal each year that he returns to the Grand Teton/Yellowstone area. Steele found Signal while visiting friends who had a time share in Jackson, he told them he was heading up to Yellowstone to camp and they said, “No you don’t want to camp up there, you want to camp here.” He explains, “The NPS ran the campground then and the host was a man named Barry, a very kind man, he was a bit short and husky and with his uniform on he looked just like Smokey the Bear. When I heard the NPS was giving up the campground in 2004 I hoped it would be Signal Mountain Lodge taking over.” Steele continues, “I’m not sure what motivates a person to keep coming back to the area. For me it may be that Yellowstone was my introduction to the west. Why I keep coming to Signal is the people. Don’t change anything.”

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Spring 2010 is here!

We are happy to announce that Signal Mountain Lodge opened on the 7th of May. The Convenience Store, Gift Shops, Trapper Grill, Peaks Restaurant, Deadman's Bar, and Signal Mountain Campground are open along with our beautiful lodging.

We opened with a wonderful Mother's Day weekend with many families spending their special day with us and our views.

It is a neat time of year to be in Grand Teton National Park. The wildlife have been very visible over the last month, making their way in to the park from their winter ranges, or in some cases coming out of their winter slumber. Apart from the moose, elk, and deer we see just about daily, a mother black bear and two new cubs have been spotted several times over the last week in the Signal Mountain area.

The weather is warmer and warmer by the day, reaching in to the 60's this weekend. The last layer of ice on Jackson Lake is rapidly thinning and we expect to have our Signal Mountain Marina open and boats on the water on the 22nd, along with our Leek's Marina and Pizzeria open on the 26th. Lizard Creek Campground, also located on Jackson Lake, will open on June 11th.

We hope to see you in Grand Teton National Park!