Grand Teton National Park spans approximately 310,000 acres across northwest Wyoming and is located just 10 miles south of Yellowstone National Park.
The rugged mountains and sweeping landscapes of Grand Teton provide wide corridors for great migrations, whether bison, pronghorn or elk, while the park’s crystal clear lakes provide opportunities for fishing, boating yachting and other water sports.
Discover what makes Grand Teton National Park, an environment of spectacular scenery and wildlife, so worth visiting.
The highest peak in the park stands at over 13,000 feet
At 40 miles long and 9 miles wide, the active fault block mountain range known as the Teton Range is the hallmark of the park.
While the highest peak in the range, Grand Teton, has an impressive elevation of 13,775 feet above sea level, the park contains eight other peaks that also rise to over 12,000 feet above sea level. .
The Teton Range is considered the youngest mountain range in the Rockies
Perhaps the park’s most iconic feature, the 40-mile Teton Range is the youngest of the Rocky Mountains and also includes some of the youngest mountains on the planet.
According to the National Park Service, the Tetons have been in existence for less than 10 million years, unlike the Rocky Mountains, which are between 50 and 80 million years old, or the Appalachians, which are over 300 million years old.
The rocks in the park are among the oldest in North America
Although the Teton Range is considerably younger, much of the metamorphic rock that makes up the majority of the mountain range is approximately 2.7 billion years old.
The rocks formed when two tectonic plates collided, the intense heat and pressure transforming the sediments and separating different minerals into lighter and darker bands and layers.
There are 11 active glaciers
Each year, winter snow accumulates on the peaks of Grand Teton National Park, adding to the already compacted snow to form icy glaciers. About half of Grand Teton’s 11 small glaciers are at higher elevations in a part of the mountain range known as the Cathedral Group.
Unfortunately, summer snowmelt is beginning to exceed winter gains, causing glaciers to retreat due to factors such as climate change – some of these glaciers have lost so much ice volume that they are no longer considered glaciers assets.
The largest waterfowl in North America lives inside the park
The trumpeter swan is the largest native waterfowl in North America and one of the heaviest flying birds in the region.
Partial to large shallow freshwater ponds, these birds were driven to near extinction in the 1930s before conservation protection helped populations rebound.
Trumpeter swans are often seen in pairs and usually mate for life.
North America’s smallest bird species also lives here
the calliope hummingbird is also commonly found around blooming scarlet gilia flowers in the park and near willow shrubs. These birds are known as the smallest bird species in North America, weighing less than a tenth of an ounce on average.
Pronghorns in Grand Teton National Park run faster than any other land mammal in the Western Hemisphere
Although dozens of other mammals inhabit Grand Teton National Park, the pronghorn is certainly the fastest. In fact, the antelope-related species is the fastest land mammal found in the Western Hemisphere, capable of reaching speeds of 60 miles per hour.
Migrating southeast as the winter months approach each year, these animals also have the second longest overland migration in North America – up to 150 miles!
In summer, the park hosts the largest herd of elk in North America
The group of elk that spend their summers in Grand Teton National Park are part of the Jackson Elk Herd, the largest known elk herd in North America. Each year they migrate between the park and the National Elk Refuge to the southeast.
Most trees in Grand Teton are conifers
The majority of trees inside Grand Teton National Park bear cones (conifers), such as lodgepole pines. These trees grow specially designed serotinous cones that only open when heated by fire; as such, many are located in areas regularly burned by wildfires or even prescribed burns. After being exposed to high heat, the cones deposit large numbers of seeds into the newly exposed soil.
It took decades to establish Grand Teton National Park
The property was established in 1929. In the 1940s, the National Park Service attempted to expand the original park, but some Jackson Hole residents did not support the idea of increased federal control over the landscape.
In 1943, a group of hundreds of cattle breeders led by actor Wallace Beery protested after President Franklin Roosevelt issued an executive order to create Jackson Hole National Monument (later to become part of Grand Teton). However, as tourism grew in the area, the local population gradually warmed to the idea.