We spent a glorious week camping on the shores of Jackson Lake at Signal Mountain Lodge and Campground. This sheltered corner of Grand Teton National Park is so beautiful that we could have stayed there under a stick lean-to and had a heckuva great time. But … there was something so sublime about the people and facilities at Signal Mountain that I’m jumping ahead on my blogging narrative to share our review with you.
As promised, I must disclose that the folks at Forever Resorts who run Signal Mountain Lodge (as well as the campground, restaurant, and store) invited us to stay for the week of June 30 to July 6 for free, and even threw in a couple of other freebies which I’ll get to later. It’s not that we could promise them all kinds of great free publicity (at the time of their invite we only had about 19 followers of this blog). But they really liked the idea of supporting “Every Kid in a Park,” and I hope that we can live up to the faith they put in our family to help get the word out.
That being said, I think we would have loved this place even at full price. And the reason is simple — the people who work there are outstanding! From the first moment we arrived, the Forever Resorts crew was really looking out for us. Well, actually, it was the second moment …
Laney Breaks the New Trailer
Okay, the grown-ups responsible for guiding and backing the travel trailer onto the campsite parking pad may have had something to do with the ensuing disaster. There were a couple of hard lessons that my daughter had to learn about listening to her folks’ directions, and this was one of them. Laney was still recovering from her double-skinned knee episode at the rim of the Lower Falls of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, when the following incident occurred.
Because of the new trailer, our rig was probably about 5 feet longer than when we had informed Signal Mountain about our impending visit with the old pop-up. But there was our reservation card with our name on it, and the site looked doable. Since Signal Mountain Campground features a lot of sites that are terraced into the slope down to the lake, there isn’t always enough campsite length to simply back up a camper and vehicle onto the pad. Many sites require a quick back up and unhitching so that the vehicle can be parked to the side of the camper to get out of the way of other vehicles coming through the campground.
Another driver patiently waiting for us to get into our site, while we calmly but quickly got the trailer in place and unhitched. Apparently, our camper was a bit too long for this particular site. The campground can handle rigs up to 30 feet long, but some sites are smaller. Just as we got the truck out of the
way and before we had all the jacks down and everything chocked and secured, Laney ran into the camper to escape a couple of bugs (against mom’s specific instructions), and the whole camper lurched dangerously forward down the slight incline that the tongue jack was resting on. One of the jacks got bent up and sheared off a bolt, and the whole thing looked like it could take a further tumble at any second.
Some parents would have quickly reassured their nine-year-old child that it wasn’t their fault, but we kind of let the chips fall where they fell for the time being. With my daughter safely returned to the truck and bawling (“I broke the camper!”), we managed to get the trailer back onto the truck as Hunter the Campground Manager rode in on his trusty steed (the golf cart) and guided us to safety at a bigger site.
Signal Mountain would of had our eternal gratitude with just that simple act of campground grace, but that was only the beginning of the excellent care we received at Signal Mountain. Hunter returned with Steve the campground maintenance man who helped me assess the damage to the jack and assured me that we would be fine with a few adjustments.
The Trapper Grill
It was getting late, so I sent Carol and Laney ahead to the powder room and restaurant. Everybody needed some extra TLC after the near disaster of the bent jack. When I caught up to them (with sweat still pouring from wrestling with the trailer), I found them in much better spirits thanks to Eliska our server and new friend. She’s from Slovakia and married to a Yank who also works at The Trapper Grill Restaurant.
Eliska and the Trapper Grill crew soon had us feeling much better. The food was fantastic and reasonably priced. And we had no trouble getting our fill. I had The Signal Chicken Quesadilla and Laney had her usual butter and parmesan pasta. Even though Carol wasn’t quite feeling up to a full meal yet, she was impressed by all of the environmentally conscious care that the restaurant takes — organic and locally grown, raised, or caught meats and veggies, soups made from scratch, and fresh baked goods.
We came back again for breakfast a couple of days later, and were even more impressed. I ordered the Trout Cake Benedict with two trout cakes topping a perfectly cooked eggs Benedict with hashbrowns and a
fluffy buttermilk biscuit. Carol got the Eyeopener Skillet with organic potatoes and cage-free eggs, smothered with an organic veggie medley and Cabot white cheddar cheese. Laney devoured the thick-cut sourdough French Toast with butter and powdered sugar. We had juice and coffee, too, and the whole breakfast feast only cost us $31.43 plus tip.
I included my Etch A Sketch rendering of Mt. Moran — one of the completely useless abilities I have in my unusual skill set — as a tip bonus for Eliska .
We give Signal Mountain Campground 5 stars, 2 thumbs up. Excellent staff and great facilities with campsites just a stone’s throw away from Jackson Lake. Great tent sites all along the top of the bluff above the lake. Try sites 5-12 for RV sites with electricity and views of the water. Some RV sites are a bit tight though (30 ft. max), so you may have to park your trailer, disconnect, and then park next to your rig. Flush toilets, pay showers ($5 for 7 minutes, but the showers are nicer than what I’ve got at home), laundry, gas station and store, restaurant, gift shop, and lodge are all within easy walking distance. We didn’t get to it, but the 6-mile-roundtrip Signal Mountain Summit Trail is said to be well worth the effort, and you can get to it from the campground by foot. Standard sites are $22 a night and electric sites are $45 a night. Also, there is a dump station and place to fill up your potable water.
Signal Mountain also has its own marina, so you can rent boats by the hour or by the day. They have runabouts, pontoon/deck boats, canoes and one & two person kayaks. We had our own canoe, but I would have loved to take out a little runabout to explore the lake and fish with my girls. Maybe next time. A Wyoming fishing license is available at the front desk of the lodge, but be sure to budget enough time and money for your fishing. Apparently, they aren’t just giving their fish away in Wyoming. An out-of-state license costs $14 a day or $104 for the season. Guided fishing trips with Signal Mountain Lodge guides are also available (sign up at the front desk). We took a scenic Snake River float trip through the lodge, as well, but that’s a story for another day …