Connecting the Parks
August 23, 2012
After the boundary of Grand Teton was expanded in 1949, Yellowstone and Grand Teton were that much closer to one another, but not quite side by side. There was a corridor of national forest between the two. This designation as national forest meant that use was not regulated as tightly as in a national park. Heavy use of the area through recreation and camping began to degrade this sensitive area between the parks. It became apparent that something needed to change. It made sense to bring this area under the control of the national parks.
In a national park the scenery and resources are protected, and nature is allowed to run its course. The ultimate decision to establish this corridor as a memorial parkway under the management of the national park meant that the scenery, resources, and some of the native architecture would be protected for all people to enjoy into the infinite future.
On August 25, 1972, the John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway, managed by Grand Teton National Park, connected Yellowstone and Grand Teton and created a seamless experience for visitors. Under the management of the parks, the Parkway continues to be a wonderful refuge for animals, a beautiful area for quiet, relaxing recreation, and an enjoyable area to camp and even attend ranger programs.
The Parkway shows us that even small connections, whether between national parks or even in your own communities at home, can make a big impact and be a vehicle for positive change.