Grand Teton National Park, sitting only 10 miles south of Yellowstone National Park, was originally created in 1929 by Herbert Hoover, preserving 96,000 acres. In 1943 Franklin Delano Roosevelt created the Jackson Hole National Monument, preserving the unique features of the adjacent valley. John D. Rockefeller donated public lands—lands that he had purchased over the years to save them from development—to the federal government in 1949. In 1950, the three areas—Grand Teton, Jackson Hole, and the Rockefeller acres—were combined together under the name Grand Teton National Park, now covering 310,000 acres. Today, it is one of the most popular national parks, visited by 3.2 million visitors in 2015.
The first time I visited Grand Teton National Park was in 1993, but it really was not my destination. I was heading toward Yellowstone and passed through Grand Teton because the road passed right through it. To say the rugged mountain range surprised me is an understatement. I was driving along and—boom!—the mountains were just right there. One of my first stops was the Teton Point Overlook that showcased the entire mountain range.
The Grand Teton Range, the youngest sub-range of the Rocky Mountains, is impressive. What makes this range stand out is how it juts straight up from the valley floor, rather than ascending gradually through a range of foothills. The tallest peak is Grand Teton, reaching 13,770 feet above sea level. There are eleven other peaks, each one reaching close to 12,000 feet above sea level. Surrounding these peaks are numerous lakes and rivers, such as the Snake River and Jackson and Jenny Lakes. Remnants of glaciation are evident, including at least a dozen u-shaped valleys scoured into existence by ice-age glaciers.
On part of that long ago drive, I took the Teton Park side loop past Jenny Lake and then looped back towards Jackson, Wyoming, stopping at Oxbow Bend Overlook and Sleeping Indian Overlook.
Later during that same trip, I took the monorail ride available from Teton Village near Jackson, Wyoming, to see the glorious peaks from an aerial view.
Some Aerial Views of Peaks within the Grand Teton Range
This year, my main goal for my Nature Trek was–once again—to visit Yellowstone National Park. This time, as part of the trip, I planned to spend several days exploring Grand Teton National Park as well. Unfortunately, a day of snow in Montana as I was first heading into Yellowstone via the west entrance forced me off the roads and mountain passes, requiring an adjustment to my itinerary. I no longer had an extra day to spend at Grand Teton National Park.
But I still wanted to view these magnificent Grand Tetons again! Thus, as I left Yellowstone out the south entrance, I traveled U.S. Highway 191, heading to Jackson, Wyoming. This route is also known as the John D. Rockefeller Memorial Parkway, named in 1972 for Rockefeller’s significant contributions to national parks, including Grant Teton National Park.
The scenic route showcases mountains, grasslands and wildlife, reminiscent of the area over a hundred years ago. It was a late spring afternoon. As the light was growing dim, I stopped at various pullouts and overlooks to capture some shots of the mountains that at times seemed to hide as the road twisted and turned along the route.
Along Jackson Lake
Willow Flats Overlook
Oxbow Bend Overlook
Elk Ranch Turnout
Teton Point Overlook
The Cathedral Group
I can hardly wait until I get a chance to come visit the Grand Tetons again.
Are there some places you hope to visit again, again, and again?