Grand Teton National Park
Earth : North America : United States of America : Rocky Mountains (United States of America) : Wyoming : Northwest Wyoming : Grand Teton National Park
Grand Teton National Park  is a United States National Park that is located in the Rocky Mountains, in Northwest Wyoming. The park is south of Yellowstone National Park and just north of the town of Jackson. Grand Teton National Park is noted for its stunning mountain vistas, its shimmering alpine lakes and its abundant wildlife.
In the late 1800s, Colonel S.B.M. Young, the acting Superintendent of Yellowstone National Park, suggested the expansion of Yellowstone's park boundaries towards the south. During the following years, various officials introduced a series of proposals to include the Teton mountain range and Jackson Lake in an enlarged Yellowstone. These proposals were met with fierce opposition by local ranchers, who feared that an expanded park would lead to cuts in their grazing areas.
Around this same time, farmers in the region suggested the damming of Two Ocean, Emma Matilda and Jenny Lakes for irrigation purposes. Ranchers became concerned that if the lakes were dammed, it could lead to the destruction of natural resources by way of increased commercial development. This concern led to a key meeting in 1923, when Yellowstone Superintendent Horace Albright and some local residents decided that they could pool private funds to buy up land. This way, they could lock the land away from developers and preserve the natural character of the Jackson Hole region.
Albright was the only person at the meeting who openly supported a national park. The other attendees wanted to make sure that they could continue to use the land for hunting and ranching. As time went by, public support for a national park grew. This support wasn't unanimous, and there were still many holdouts who would not sell their land to the government. Nonetheless, on February 26, 1929, Grand Teton National Park was signed into law by President Calvin Coolidge.
John D. Rockefeller, Jr. became enamored of the Jackson Hole area and decided to help with Superintendent Albright's plan. Rockefeller created a private company as a front to buy land, using the company to hide both his personal involvement and any links to the federal government. That way, local residents would sell their land to the company, not knowing that it was in fact going to be donated to the National Park Service.
When the true nature of Rockefeller's front company became publicly known, it caused outrage in the area. After many legal battles, this controversy was put to rest with a compromise that allowed limited hunting and grazing within the park, as well as the existence of some privately run guest ranches.
The Wyoming landscape in Grand Teton National Park is stunningly beautiful. This range often represents the entire Rocky Mountain range in countless photographs, postcards, and imaginations. This section of the Rockies is a wondrous playground for climbers, hikers, skiers, and nearly all other outdoor enthusiasts.
Flora and fauna
Grand Teton National Park has abundant wildlife, but it is most famous for its populations of elk, bison (buffalo), moose and bald eagles.
Jackson Hole hardly seems the same place when one contrasts the winter and summer seasons. The southern end of the valley averages 15 feet of snow in the winter and often reaches balmy 80 degree temperatures in the summer. Temperatures in higher elevations average four degrees Fahrenheit cooler every 1,000 feet in rise. Raingear is recommended during spring, summer and fall. Sub-zero temperatures are common throughout winter and demand multi-layered clothing, hats, mittens and cold weather boots. Vehicles with four-wheel drive or all-weather tires are recommended for winter travel, roads may be closed during blizzards. Drive at or below posted speed limits at all times; moose and other wildlife are often seen crossing roads during the winter.
Winter doesn’t officially set in until December 21, but the first heavy snows may fall by November 1. Between winter storms the days are sunny and the nights are frigid. Average temperatures range from a daily maximum of 29°F to a minimum of 6°F. Ask at the Moose Visitor Center for road closures during blizzards.
During spring mild days and cool nights frequently come with rain or snow. The spring months average 11 days with measurable precipitation. Temperatures typically range from 22°F to 49° F. Valley trails remain snow-covered until late May.
Between the months of June through August the average daily temperature is 76°F, but high-elevation hiking trails don’t melt out until mid-July. Nighttime temperatures can reach the lower 40s. Most of the year’s precipitation falls during the summer months; afternoon thunderstorms are common.
Sun and occasional rain and snow fill the short fall days. The average daily maximum is 54°F while the minimum average is a cool 25°F. The fall months average 23 days that drop below freezing. For a comfortable trip, bring plenty of layered clothing.
Jackson Hole Airport (IATA: JAC)  lies within the park boundaries, on the west side of the Wyoming Centennial Scenic Byway, which carries three US Route designations: 26, 89, and 191. American, Delta, Frontier, and United serve the airport. Some service is seasonal.
From the north, U.S. Highways 89, 191 and 287 share the same road into the park via Yellowstone National Park. This route is closed from November to April due to snow.
From the south, U.S. Highways 26, 89 and 191 share a road from Jackson.
From the east, U.S. 26 connects to Dubois.
All vehicles and individuals entering the park must pay an entrance fee that is valid for seven days. The entrance fee provides entry to both Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks. Fees are $25 for non-commercial vehicles, $12 for hikers and cyclists, and $20 for motorcycles. A National Parks Pass ($80 and valid for one year) provides free entrance to all national parks and monuments. From December through mid-April a winter day use pass is also available for $5 per person (Grand Teton National Park only).
Grand Teton National Park is a bit curious in that the ranger stations where you pay the entry fees lie fairly deep within the park. This essentially means that sections of the park can be accessed for free, including Jackson Hole Airport.
Most visitors to the park drive around, because of the distances involved. Some hardy souls bike or hike.
There are turnouts and scenic overlooks throughout the park which offer a good view of Grand Teton's many mountains. Here are just a few highlights:
Besides the mountains, there are other attractions worth seeing:
A worthwhile and fun activity is to see Hidden Falls by Jenny Lake. You can hike 2.5 miles to the falls and take a boat ride back ($7 one way, $10 round trip). The falls and whitewater is spectacular as it makes its mad dash down to Jenny Lake. Be sure to be on the lookout for rock climbers near the falls.
Beyond Hidden Falls the hiking trail continues with a climb up to Inspiration Point which affords a spectacular view over Jenny Lake and Jackson Hole. After another climb the trail flattens out and heads west along highly scenic Cascade Canyon. Eventually the trail reaches Lake Solitude.
Colter Bay Village
Jackson Lake Lodge
Due to the political deals which made Grand Teton National Park a reality, a mix of concessioner lodging, private guest ranches and camping is available within the park. Apart from the in-park accommodations, Jackson is the closest town with many lodging options.
All backcountry camping requires a permit. These permits are free when applied for in person, on a first-come, first-serve basis. Permits can be obtained at the Moose and Colter Bay visitor centers, and at the Jenny Lake Ranger Station. People who wish to climb mountains must apply at the Jenny Lake Ranger Station.
Requests for advance reservations are accepted from January 1st to May 15th. Send the request by regular mail, fax, or in person. Include your name, address, phone number, number of people, and preferred campsites and dates. Be sure to include alternatives. Requests are processed in the order received. Requests may be faxed to +1 307 739-3438 or mailed to:
A non-refundable service fee of $15 will be charged for each reservation (fee is per trip, not per person). Put credit card information directly on the fax, or mail a check made payable to the National Park Service. If no payment is received with your request, you will be billed. Only one-third of the sites are reserved in advance, leaving two-thirds available for walk-in reservations.
The weather can change rapidly in this mountainous region. Temperatures can plummet with little advance warning. Lightning is a real danger. Watch the skies, and if you hear thunder, take shelter within a structure or lower your profile to the sky.