The park ranger’s voice echoed throughout the almost empty Grand Teton visitors center “The road to Yellowstone is closed”. Although she was not speaking directly to me her comment resulted in a furrowed brow from me. With the “road to Yellowstone” closed, otherwise known as the John D. Rockerfeller Jr Memorial Parkway, it would not only derail our plans for the day but also our route home as I had intended on passing through Yellowstone National Park on the last day of our trip. I now had to start accepting the fact that I would be driving over Teton Pass once again to get home and at the time unbeknownst to me with a fresh layer of slippery snow on it. Fun times for me my friends.
The change in plans did result in a positive as it would mean I would spend the entire day in Grand Teton National Park. This is by far one of the prettiest national parks I have ever been to. The tall craggy mountains are stellar, especially when they are covered in snow. The park is somewhat small, just 484 square miles (1253 square km), but packs in quite a punch with the Teton mountain range as well as the well known Jenny and Jackson Lakes.
It would also mean that I would be able to finally visit Mormon Row. Most likely if you have seen photos of Grand Teton you have seen an old barn sitting in front of the tall rugged Teton Mountains. If you have not, you may refer to the photo above. The above barn is the T.A. Moulton Barn, a barn built by the Moulton homesteaders who came to the area in 1912 and lived there for 33 years. The land was later sold to the National Park Service in 1945.
The road that the barn sits near is referred to as Mormon Row, although the official name of the road is Gros Ventre Road in case you are interested in visiting Mormon Row using GPS. So you may have guessed that the reason the area is referred to as Mormon Row is because it was inhabited by the Mormons, also known as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. The pioneers came to the area in the early 1890’s and set up a small community of 27 homesteads. The people worked together to farm the land, building irrigation systems to service their crops and several barns to house their animals.
Today there are 6 homesteads that remain: Clark and Veda Moulton Homestead, T.A Mounton Homestead, Roy Chambers Homestead and Andy Chambers Homestead that are all located on the south end of Mormon Row. The John Moulton and Reed Moulton Homesteads are at the north end.
Although most of the structures are on the south end, it really is the two homesteads T.A Mounton and John Moulton that steal the show and are often the most photographed out of all of the structures that are remaining. Perhaps that is because they have the best views of the mountains and photographers love to take photos of old barns with epic backdrops. As I stood looking at the T.A Moulton barn I could not help but be envious of the fact that people got to wake up to that view every day. Ironically the barn took about 30 years to be completely be built as there were several add-ons to the barn. Perhaps the 30 year build warrants taking a photo all in its self. That has to be some sort of record for longest build!
I took some photos of the T.A Moulton barn and walked back to the John Moulton homestead where I found the “pink house”. John Moulton and his wife Bartha lived in a modest log cabin for 30 years only to build the now iconic pink stucco house. The color is odd and sticks out like a sore thumb against the other weathered gray structures. According to some research on the color of the house I discovered that it was accidentally painted the pink color as there was a mix up at the paint store. Apparently John needed to jet ahead 100 years and take advantage of Valspar’s “love your color guarantee” and he would not have been stuck with a pink house!
Most of the homesteads in the area were sold in the 1950’s to become part of Grand Teton National Park and in 1997 Mormon Row was added to the National Register of Historic Places.
Mormon Row is definitely one of the hot spots to take photos of Grand Teton but I will make one small recommendation. If you spend the time to take the photos make sure your lens is clean before doing so. OK, I am really speaking to myself right now. That was something I did not do and when I came home to look at my treasured photos I noticed a small dirty dot located on each of my photos. I will be honest I wanted to punch myself in the face for such a lame mistake. I did return to Grand Teton in September last year and decided to take my camera, with it’s cleaned lens, and re-shoot the photos. When I arrived to Mormon Row I could not help but laugh as my re-shoot would be futile. It was off season so I am assuming that the maintenance crew decided it was a good time to re-roof the the T.A Moulton barn. Blue tarps covered the roof of the barn and squashed my hopes of capturing better photos. So all the photos above have been severely cropped along with a few cell phone photos (shhh don’t tell my Dad).
To visit Mormon Row (with a clean camera lens) head north on Highway 191 passing by Moose Junction and turning east (right) on to Antelope Flats Road. Follow the road for 1.5 miles (2.41 km) until you reach the intersection of Antelope Flats and Mormon Row. The “Pink House” will be visible for quite some distance and will lead you to a small parking lot with informative signs and a map of the remaining homesteads. The road does close in the winter so be sure to check in with the rangers at the visitor center for road conditions.
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