The mountains of Grand Teton National Park rise above a scene rich with extraordinary wildlife, pristine lakes, and alpine terrain. The granite and gneiss composing the core of the Teton Range are some of the oldest rocks in North America, but the mountains are among the youngest in the world.
The park was established in 1929, and today you can explore over two hundred miles of trails, float the Snake River or enjoy the serenity of this remarkable place. Grand Teton National Park is located in northwestern Wyoming. At approximately 310,000 acres, the park includes the major peaks of the 40-mile-long Teton Range as well as most of the northern sections of the valley known as Jackson Hole.
Grand Teton National Park is only 10 miles south of Yellowstone National Park, to which it is connected by the National Park Service-managed John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway. Along with surrounding national forests, these three protected areas constitute the almost 18,000,000-acres.
Efforts to preserve the area as a national park began in the late 19th century, and in 1929 Grand Teton National Park was established, protecting the Teton Range's major peaks. The valley of Jackson Hole remained in private ownership until the 1930s, when conservationists led by John D. Rockefeller, Jr. began purchasing land in Jackson Hole to be added to the existing national park. Against public opinion and with repeated Congressional efforts to repeal the measures, much of Jackson Hole was set aside for protection as Jackson Hole National Monument in 1943. The monument was abolished in 1950 and most of the monument land was added to Grand Teton National Park.
Grand Teton National Park is named for Grand Teton, the tallest mountain in the Teton Range. The naming of the mountains is attributed to early 19th-century French-speaking trappers: les trois tétons (the three teats) was later anglicized and shortened to Tetons. At 13,775 feet, Grand Teton abruptly rises more than 7,000 feet above Jackson Hole, almost 850 feet higher than Mount Owen, the second-highest summit in the range.
The park has numerous lakes, including 15-mile-long Jackson Lake as well as streams of varying length and the upper main stem of the Snake River. Visitors can explore the Jenny Lake District on foot, by boat or bicycle while enjoying dramatic mountain scenery. Hike into Cascade Canyon past Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point; ascend from sagebrush meadows to alpine lakes; or pass through forested trails into Paintbrush Canyon.
Photographers, wildlife watchers and history buffs will all enjoy a stop at the Mormon Row Historic District. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, this tract of land was founded as a Mormon ranch settlement in the 1890s and to this day contains preserved homesteads and barns that provide a compelling foreground to the Teton Range in the backdrop. If you're lucky, you might see some antelope or other mammals grazing. Enter the Menors Ferry Historic District and be transported back to the Wild West when William (Bill) D. Menor settled beside the Snake River at the turn of the century and built the ferry that transported people across the river. Along with preserved 19th-century barns and cabins, the district features a working general store. Stop in at the Chapel of the Transfiguration for an awe-inspiring view of Grand Teton. This 1920s log chapel, which hosts Sunday services in the summer, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and contains an enormous window that overlooks Grand Teton.
Grand Teton National Park is a popular destination for mountaineering, hiking, fishing and other forms of recreation. There are more than 1,000 drive-in campsites and over 200 miles of hiking trails that provide access to backcountry camping areas. Noted for world-renowned trout fishing, the park is one of the few places to catch Snake River fine-spotted cutthroat trout. Grand Teton has several National Park Service-run visitor centers, and privately operated concessions for motels, lodges, gas stations and marinas.
Jenny Lake at Grand Teton National Park, as seen from the Cascade Canyon Overlook.