- Grand Teton National Park
Infobox_protected_area | name = Grand Teton National Park
iucn_category = II
locator_x = 75
locator_y = 48
Teton County, Wyoming, USA
nearest_city = Jackson
lat_degrees = 43
lat_minutes = 44
lat_seconds = 0
lat_direction = N
long_degrees = 110
long_minutes = 48
long_seconds = 12
long_direction = W
area = 309,995 acres (1,255 km²)
February 26 1929
visitation_num = 2,588,574
visitation_year = 2007
National Park Service
Grand Teton National Park is a
United States National Parklocated in northwestern Wyoming, south of Yellowstone National Park. The park is named after the Grand Teton, which at 13,770 feet (4,197 m), is the tallest mountain in the Teton Range.
The name "Tetons" originally was intended to describe several hills near the town of Arco, Idaho. They were named by a French trapper who thought that they resembled the female body. (Ergo "tétons", the French word for "nipples" or "teats".) Many years later the name was mistakenly applied to the mountains of present day Grand Teton National Park due to poor map-making/map-reading standards of the time.
Grand Teton National Park was established on
February 26 1929. The park covers 484 mi² (1,255 km²) of land and water.
There are nearly 200 miles (320 km) of trails for hikers to enjoy in Grand Teton National Park.
. Seven of these peaks between Avalanche and Cascade canyons make up the often-photographed Cathedral Group.
Jackson Hole is a 55 mile (90 km) long by 6 to 13 mile (10 to 20 km) wide
grabenvalley that has an average elevation of 6,800 ft (2,070 m) with its lowest point near the south park boundary at 6350 ft (1,935 m). The valley sits east of the Teton Range and is vertically displaced downward 30,000 ft (9,100 m) from corresponding rock layers in it, making the Teton Fault and its parallel twin on the east side of the valley normal faults with the Jackson Hole block being the hanging wall and the Teton Mountain block being the footwall. Grand Teton National Park contains the major part of both blocks. A great deal of erosionof the range and sedimentfilling the graben, however, yields a topographic relief of only up to 7,700 ft (2,350 m).
The glaciated range is composed of a series of horns and
arêtes separated by U-shaped valleys headed by cirques and ended by moraines, making the Tetons a textbook example of alpine topography. Rubble piles left by ice agealpine glaciers impounded a series of interconnected lakes at the foot of the range (Jackson, Leigh, String, Jenny, Bradley, Taggart, and Phelps). The largest lake in the valley, Jackson Lake, was impounded by a recessional moraine left by a very large valley glacier as it retreated north out of Jackson Hole. Jackson Lake covers 25,540 acres (103.4 km²) and has a maximum depth of 438 feet (134 m). There are also over 100 alpine and backcountry lakes.
(upper left), across the state from Cheyenne.
Just to the south is Burned Ridge, the same glacier's terminal or end moraine, which runs down the center of Jackson Hole roughly perpendicular to the range and cut in two by the
Snake River. After exiting its dammed outlet at the southeast corner of Jackson Lake, the Snake runs down the valley and through the 10 mile (16 km) long glacial outwash plain south of Burned Ridge. The river's headwaters are in a part of the Teton Wildernessa short distance north in Yellowstone National Parkand its destination is the Columbia Riverfar to the west, which in turn empties into the Pacific Ocean. Terraces have been cut by the river into the moraines and outwash plain in the valley. About 50 miles (80 km) of the 1,056 miles (1,699 km) mile long Snake River winds through the park where it is fed by three major tributaries; Pacific Creek, Buffalo Fork, and the Gros Ventre River.
climateis a semi- aridmountain one with a yearly extreme high of 93 °F (34 °C) and extreme low of −46 °F (−43 °C). Average annual snowfall is 191 inches (490 cm) and average rainfall is 10 inches (250 mm). The coldest temperatureever recorded in Grand Teton National Park was −63 °F (−52 °C), and snow often blankets the landscape from early November to late April.
Native American hunting parties from the northern
Rocky Mountainscamped along the shore of Jackson Lakearound 12,000 years ago while following game. For thousands of years Jackson Hole was used as a neutral crossroads for tradeand travel routes in the area. One route followed the Snake Riverto its source in the Yellowstone area where abundant obsidiancould be found. Another major route traversed the Teton Passat the southern end of the range, providing a shortcut to the Pacific Northwestregion of what is now the United States. Also, a southern route led to the Colorado Plateaus region and the Great Basin.
White exploration and settlement
The Tetons were named by French explorers who called the three highest peaks of the range "Les Trois Tetons" (the three breasts). In the 18th and 19th centuries, Caucasian
fur trappers and fur traders called deep valleys rimmed by high mountains "holes." One such fur trapper was named David Jackson and his favorite place to 'hole-up' was named after him in 1829. John Colter, a member of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, is the first white American known to have visited the area now know as Jackson Hole as early as 1805-1806. Geologist F.V. Haydenvisited the area in 1860 as part of the Raynolds expedition. In the summer of 1871 he led the first government-sponsored scientific survey of the Yellowstone area just to the north. One part of that survey, led by geologist James Stevenson, traveled into Jackson Hole via the Teton Pass before meeting up with the other half of the expedition in Yellowstone. While passing through, the team, which included Yellowstone's first superintendent N.P. Longford, photographer William Henry Jackson, and artist William Henry Holmes, among others, mapped the area and surveyed its geologyand biology. These data were later included in the Hayden Surveyset of reports.
Homesteaders moved into Jackson Hole after the reports were published but the short
growing seasonalong with weeks of being snowed-in each winter kept all but the hardiest individuals away. One of those settlers, a rancher named Pierce Cunningham, circulated a petition to have Jackson Hole saved for the "education and enjoyment of the Nation as a whole."
Fight for preservation
In 1897 acting Yellowstone superintendent Colonel S.B.M. Young proposed expanding that park's borders south to encompass the northern extent of Jackson Hole in order to protect migrating herds of
elk. Next year, United States Geological Surveyhead Charles D. Walcott suggested that the Teton Range should be included as well. Stephen Mather, director of the newly-created National Park Serviceand his assistant Horace Albrightsent a report to Secretary of the Interior Franklin Lanein 1917 stating much the same. Wyoming Representative Frank Mondellsponsored a bill that unanimously passed the United States House of Representativesin 1918 but was killed in the United States Senatewhen IdahoSenator John Nugentfeared that the expansion of Park Service jurisdiction would threaten sheepgrazing permits. Public opposition to park expansion also mounted in and around Jackson Hole. Albright, in fact, was practically run out of Jackson, Wyoming, by angry townspeople in 1919 when he traveled there to speak in favor of park expansion.
Local attitudes started to change that same year when proposals to dam Jenny, Emma Matilda, and Two Ocean lakes surfaced. Then on
July 26 1923, local and Park Service representatives including Albright met in Maud Noble's cabin to work on a plan to buy private lands to create a recreation area to preserve the "Old West" character of the valley. Albright was the only person who supported Park Service management; the others wanted traditional hunting, grazing, and dude-ranching activities to continue. In 1927 philanthropist John D. Rockefeller, Jr.founded the Snake River Land Companyso he and others could buy land in the area incognito and have it held until the National Park Service could administer it. The company launched a campaign to purchase more than 35,000 acres (142 km²) for $1.4 million but faced 15 years of opposition by ranchers and a refusal by the Park Service to take the land.
In 1928, a Coordinating Commission on National Parks and Forests met with valley residents and reached an agreement for the establishment of a park. Wyoming Senator John Kendrick then introduced a bill to establish Grand Teton National Park. It was passed by both houses of the U.S. Congress and signed into law by U.S. President
Calvin Coolidgeon February 26 1929. The 96,000 acre (388 km²) park was carved from Teton National Forest and included the Teton Range and six glacial lakes at its foot in Jackson Hole. Lobbying by cattlemen, however, meant that the original park borders did not include most of Jackson Hole (whose floor was used for grazing). Meanwhile the Park Service refused to accept the 35,000 acres (142 km²) held by the Snake River Company.
Discouraged by the stalemate, Rockefeller sent a letter to then U.S. President
Franklin D. Roosevelttelling him that if the federal government did not accept the land that he intended to make some other disposition of it or to sell it in the market to any satisfactory buyers. Soon afterward on March 15 1943the president declared 221,000 acres (894 km²) of public land as Jackson Hole National Monument. Continued controversy over the Rockefeller gift still made it impossible for the monument to officially include that land, however.
Opposition to the monument by local residents immediately followed with criticism that the declaration was a violation of
states' rightsand that it would destroy the local economy and taxbase. Ranchers drove 500 cattle across the newly created monument in a demonstration designed to provoke conflict. The Park Service did not respond to the stunt but the event brought national attention to the issue nonetheless. Wyoming Representative Frank A. Barrettintroduced a bill to abolish the monument that passed both houses of Congress but was pocket vetoed by Roosevelt. U.S. Forest Serviceofficials did not want to cede another large part of the Teton National Forest to the Park Service so they fought against transfer. One final act was to order forest rangers to gut the Jackson Lake Ranger Station before handing it over to park rangers. Residents in the area who supported the park and the monument were boycotted and harassed.
Other bills to abolish the monument were introduced between 1945 and 1947 but none passed. Increases in
tourismmoney following the end of World War IIhas been cited as a cause of the change in local attitudes. A move to merge the monument into an enlarged park gained steam and by April, 1949, interested parties gathered in the Senate Appropriation Committee chambers to finalize a compromise. The Rockefeller lands were finally transferred from private to public ownership on December 16 1949, when they were added to the monument. A bill merging most of Jackson Hole National Monument (except for its southern extent, which was added to the National Elk Refuge) into Grand Teton National Park was signed into law by President Harry S. Trumanon September 14 1950. One concession in the law modified the Antiquities Act, limiting the future power of a president to proclaim National Monuments in Wyoming. The scenic highwaythat extends from the northern border of Grand Teton National Park to the southern entrance of Yellowstone National Parkwas named the John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkwayto recognize Rockefeller's contribution to protecting the area. In 2001, the Rockefellers donated their Jackson Hole retreat, the JY Ranch, to the national park for the establishment of the Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve, dedicated on June 21, 2008.
meteoron a path over the Rocky Mountainsfrom the U.S. Southwest to Canada passed above the park area on August 10, 1972, and was filmed by a tourist with an 8-millimeter color film camera. The object was in the range of size from a car to a house and should have ended its life in a Hiroshima-sized blast, but there was never any explosion, much less a crater. Analysis of the trajectory indicated that it never came much lower than 58 kilometers off the ground, and the conclusion was that it had grazed Earth's atmosphere for about 100 seconds, then skipped back out of the atmosphere to return to its orbit around the Sun.
away from atop the Tetons.
The Paleozoic-aged sediments were deposited in warm shallow seas and resulted in various
carbonate rocks along with sandstones and shales. Mesozoic deposition transitioned back and forth from marine to non-marine sediments. In later Mesozoic, the Cretaceous Seawayperiodically covered the region and the Sierran Arcto the west provided volcanic sediments.
A mountain-building episode called the
Laramide orogenystarted to uplift western North America 70 million years ago and eventually formed the Rocky Mountains. This erased the seaway and created fault systems along which highlands rose. Sediment eroded from uplifted areas filled-in subsiding basins such as Jackson Hole while reverse faults created the first part of the Teton Range in the Eocene epoch. Large Eocene-aged volcanic eruptions from the north in the Yellowstone- Absarokaarea along with later Pleistocene-aged Yellowstone Calderaeruptions, left thick volcanic deposits in basins.
Teton Rangestarted to grow along a north-south trending fault system next to Jackson Hole some 9 million years ago in the Mioceneepoch. Then starting in the Pliocene, Lake Teewinot periodically filled Jackson Hole and left thick lakebed sediments. The lake was dry by the time a series of glaciations in the Pleistocene epoch saw the introduction of large glaciers in the Teton and surrounding ranges. During the Last Glacial Maximum, these glaciers melded together to become part of the Wisconsin glaciation, which carried away all soil from Jackson Hole and surrounding basins. Later and less severe ice ages created enough locally-deposited dirt in the form of moraines and tillto repair much of this damage. Since then, mass wastingevents such as the 1925 Gros Ventre landslide, along with slower forms of erosion, have continued to modify the area. On the floor of the Jackson Holevalley rise several landforms, one of the most conspicuous being Blacktail Butte.
Grand Teton National Park and areas adjacent to it host over 1000 species of
vascular plants. Whitebark Pine, Limber Pine, Subalpine fir, and Engelmann Sprucesurvive in Tetons' alpine zone up to around 10,000 feet (~3000 m). Lodgepole Pine, Douglas Fir, and Blue Spruceare found on the valley floor, while the aspens, cottonwoods, alders, and willows commonly inhabit the moist soils along rivers and lakeshores.
Forests in the Teton area generally consist of two to three different tree species that grow together in a specific habitat. Edge habitat for various wildlife species is created where these different forest types merge in zones called
ecotones. Some animals, such as the Red squirrel, pine marten, and black bear spend a majority of their life in forests. Other animal species, such as moose, elk (also known as the "wapiti"), and wolves, use the forest for shade and shelter in the day and move to sagebrush dominated areas or meadows to feed in the early mornings and evenings. Soilconditions, the amount of water, slope, aspect, and elevation all help determine where different plantcommunities grow. Biologists divide the plants of Grand Teton National Park into these communities: forests, sagebrush flats, riparian corridors and wetlands, and alpine areas. Evergreenforests in the area are composed of 7 speciesof coniferous tree while over 900 flowering plantspecies dominate the Teton Range below the tree linedown to the top of Jackson Hole's moraines. These moraines are composed of compact piles of unsorted rubble that have good claycontent and retain moisture better than the quartzite-rich outwash plain, which allows them to support large stands of Lodgepole Pines and many other plants.
Outwash plain areas are covered in a loose soil that doesn't hold moisture well and is therefore only able to support sparse
vegetationsuch as sagebrushand coarse grasses. Numerous aspens, cottonwoods, and willows grow along in riparian zones outside of the outwash plain. Grasses, sedges, and wildflowers dominate in wet meadows. Coyotes and badgers dig burrows into the loesses, which were blown into the valley between ice ages. High alpine areas of the park support plants that are specially adapted to the harsh conditions. These hardy plants cope with wind, snow, a lack of soil, increased ultravioletradiation, rapid and dramatic temperature shifts, and a short growing season. Growing close to the ground in mats like the Alpine Forget-me-notis a common adaptation.
Grand Teton National Park is located in the heart of the
Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, one of the largest intact temperate zone ecosystems remaining on the planet. This means that many of the animals in the Teton area travel between the two parks and the numerous adjacent National Forests.
*5 species of
Amphibians: Spotted Frog, Boreal Chorus Frog, Boreal Toad, Tiger Salamander, Northern Leopard Frog(believed to be locally extinct), and Bullfrog(introduced just outside the park).
*6 species of
*300+ species of
birds: including Bald Eagle, Calliope Hummingbird, Golden Eagle, Osprey, Sage Grouse, Trumpeter Swan, Western Tanager
*17 species of
carnivores: including Grizzly and Black Bear, Mountain Lion, Wolfand Coyote.
*16 species of
* 6 species of hoofed mammals: including
American Bison, Moose, Pronghorn, elk, and Mule Deer
invertebrates (no poisonous spiders)
*3 species of
*4 species of
reptiles (none poisonous): Wandering Garter Snake, Valley Garter Snake, Rubber Boa, and Northern Sagebrush Lizard
*22 species of
rodents: including Yellow-Bellied Marmot, Least Chipmunk, Muskrat, Red Squirrel, and Uinta Ground Squirrel
*"Geology of National Parks: Fifth Edition", Ann G. Harris, Esther Tuttle, Sherwood D., Tuttle (Iowa, Kendall/Hunt Publishing; 1997) ISBN 0-7872-5353-7
*National Park Service: Grand Teton National Park (this article includes some public domain text from these NPS webpages) [http://www.nps.gov/grte/pphtml/facts.html] [http://www.nps.gov/grte/cult/creation.pdf] [http://www.nps.gov/grte/nat/natural.htm] [http://www.nps.gov/grte/pphtml/plants.html] [http://www.nps.gov/grte/pphtml/subnaturalfeatures32.html]
* [http://www.nps.gov/grte/cult/creation.pdf National Park Service Publication: Creation of Grand Teton National Park] by Jackie Skaggs
last = Daugherty
first = John
others = Crockett, Stephanie; Goetzmann, William H.; Jackson Reynold G.
title = A Place Called Jackson Hole
origyear = 1999
url = http://www.cr.nps.gov/history/online_books/grte2/hrs.htm
accessdate = 2007-03-13
date = 2002-09-01
publisher = Grand Teton Natural History Association
location = Moose, Wyoming
isbn = 0931895561
* [http://www.nps.gov/grte/ Grand Teton National Park Official Website]
* [http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Newsroom/NewImages/images.php3?img_id=15782 Earth Observatory: Grand Tetons National Park]
* [http://www.nps.gov/jodr/ John D. Rockefeller Jr. Memorial Parkway]
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