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Unique Tourist Destinations in the United States: Grand Teton National Park

Updated on January 6, 2015

Grand Teton National Park

Grand Teton National Park is located in the northwestern portion of Wyoming with its main offices being found within the town limits of Moose. It plays host to the majority of the forty mile long Teton Mountain Range. The park is under the jurisdiction of the United States National Park Service. Approximately four million tourists visit Grand Teton National annually; the park occupies a space of 310,000 acres. The Grand Tetons represent some of America’s most rugged terrain. As such, it is highly advised to carefully a plan a trip to the area with the understanding of how close one wishes to be with the unbridled environment.

Planning a Trip To Grand Teton National Park

The nearest airport to Grand Teton National Park is the Jackson Hole Airport which regularly receives flights from Salt Lake City, Utah and Denver, Colorado as well as most other major American cities. From Jackson the park is only twelve miles to the north. The main visitor center is open year round, the only exception being Christmas day. From November to April the park is open from 9am-5pm. From May until June it is open from 8am-5pm. During the summer months of June to September the visitor center is open from 8am-7pm. Finally, from the end of September until the last day of October the park is open during the hours of 8am-5pm. Entering the park by way of automobile is priced at $25 per car. Each motorcycle is charged $20, while walkers pay a fee of $12 per person. These passes are valid for seven days. For those enjoying nature from a safe, yet close distance there is a main pathway that stretches the entire length of the park. The guided tours that are available are priced based on the vehicle’s carrying capacity. Those vehicles that carry 1-6 people cost a base fee of $25 plus an additional $12 per person. Tour buses carrying 7-15 people cost $125 per individual while vehicles carrying 16-25 people are charged $200 per person. Any vehicles carrying 26 or more people are priced at $300 per individual. Those who have aspirations for camping or hiking should first thoroughly read the park’s hiking brochure before visiting. Grand Teton National Park is geared more toward campers and hikers who are still learning how to deal with the environment’s elements. Of the park’s five campsites only one is a primitive site, meaning that it only accepts people with tents, not RVs or vehicles of any kind.

The Landscape of Grand Teton

The Five Campgrounds Of Grand Teton National Park

The five campgrounds located inside Grand Teton National Park are named Gros Ventre, Colter Bay, Lizard Creek, JennyLake, and Signal Mountain. Every one of these five campgrounds operates on a first come first serve basis. Each individual using either of these campgrounds are charged a price of $12 per night. The maximum stay in any park governed by the National Park Service is 14 nights. Colter Bay opens in the middle of May and closes in mid September. It contains a total of 350 camping sites while also offering a dump station, laundry service, showers, groceries, and a service station. Colter Bay reaches its maximum capacity everyday around noon. It is the best equipped of the five campgrounds. Gros Ventre opens at the beginning of May and closes in mid October. The largest campground in the park, Gros Ventre is comprised of 360 campsites and a dump station. It lacks laundry service and showers. However, the nearest grocer and service station are only two miles away. Gros Ventre typically fills up by 6pm. Jenny Lake opens near the end of May and closes at the end of September; it consists of only 49 campsites. It is without a dump station, laundry service, or showers. However, it does feature a tiny grocery store. The nearest service station is eight miles away. Jenny Lake reaches its capacity daily by 8am. The only primitive campground found in the park is Lizard Creek. Opening in mid June, closing at the beginning of September, it is home to 60 campsites that fill up daily by 2pm. As one might expect, it offers no dump station, laundry service, showers, groceries, or a service station. The nearest grocer and service station are eight miles away. Lizard Creek is intended solely for experienced hikers and campers. Lastly, the Signal Mountain Campground opens at the end of May and closes at the start of October. It encompasses 86 campsites while offering a dump station, grocery store, and service station. Unfortunately, it does not contain a laundry service or showers. This campground reliably reaches its full capacity by 10am. The terrain and accessibility vary depending on the campground. Gros Ventre, JennyLake, and Colter Bay are located on relatively flat land. Conversely, the Lizard Creek and Signal Mountain Campsites are quite hilly and considerably more difficult to access. Grand Teton National Park is a perfect example of the American West in its untouched natural beauty. These lands possess a history that dates back more than 11,000 years.

Jenny Lake at Grand Teton National Park

Grand Teton

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A Brief History Of The Grand Tetons

Starting at about 9000 BC nomadic hunter-gatherer societies began migrating to the region during the summer months in search of goods and food. The first European-American explorers did not reach the area until 1810 when they encountered the Shoshone Native American tribe. Throughout much of the 19th century, the area became a hotbed for the lucrative fur trade. The first permanent Caucasian settlers arrived in the late 1880s. It was during this time when Colonel S.B.M Young, the Superintendent of nearby Yellowstone National Park suggested that Yellowstone’s boundaries should be extended to include the Grand Tetons National Park. However, this was met with fierce resistance by locals because they feared an extended Yellowstone would cut into their valuable grazing areas. In 1923, the then Superintendent of Yellowstone, Horace Albright decided that he along with some local residents could pool their funds in order to purchase the land for the purpose of trying to preserve the land’s natural integrity. Originally, Albright was the only supporter for his plan which required that the land be deemed as a National Park. Locals feared this would lead to heavy regulations on their hunting and farming activities. Finally on February 26, 1929 US President Calvin Coolidge signed the Grand Teton National Park into law. However, this was not done without under-handed dealing. Famous millionaire John D. Rockefeller, Jr. elected to support Albright’s plan by creating a fictitious private company used as a front to buy up the land. This “company” was used as a means to conceal links between Rockefeller and the federal government. This phantom private company purchased lands from real private individuals who were duped into believing that by selling their land they were by proxy standing in opposition to Albright’s plan. Unbeknownst to them, their former lands simply became donations to the federal government’s National Park Service which would soon hold sway over the majority of the region. Regardless of how the park became listed as a National Park, it plays host to an endless amount of attractive views, varying flora and fauna, and rapidly changing climate .

Bisons at Grand Teton National Park

The Environment Of Grand Tetons National Park

The landscape found within the park is picturesquely beautiful. The park represents the area of the Rocky Mountain range that is the most photographed. Its four million guests annually regularly place the park within the country’s top ten sites most visited list. Although the Grand Teton National Park is home to hundreds of thousands of different species of plant life, it is stereotypically known for its relatively large elk, moose, and buffalo populations. The southern portion of the Jackson Hole Valley has climate that ranges from a sweltering 80 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer to averages of more than 15 feet of snow during the winter months. Therefore, as the elevation increases the temperatures decreases. With every 1,000 feet in rise the temperature drops four degrees. In higher elevations the summer months are quite rainy while the winter regularly sees sub-zero temperatures. Officially, winter sets in on December 21st. However, the first significant snows often occur prior to November 1st. During the winter the days are sunny and incredibly cold with highs reaching 29 degrees coupled with lows of only 6 degrees. Between June and August, the daily temperature reaches 76 degrees, but the trails do not fully thaw until mid July as nighttime temperatures remain in the lower 40s.

Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

Pt1-Grand Teton National Park

The Hidden Falls in Grand Teton

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