• The Cathedral Group from the Teton Park Road

    Grand Teton

    National Park Wyoming

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  • Bears are active in Grand Teton

    Black and grizzly bears are roaming throughout the park--near roads, trails and in backcountry areas. Hikers and backcountry users are advised to travel in groups of three or more, make noise and carry bear spray. Visitors must stay 100 yards from bears. More »

  • Area closure in the area around Baxter's Pinnacle

    An area closure is in effect around Baxter's Pinnacle to protect nesting peregrine falcons. This closure precludes any climbs of Baxter's Pinnacle and usage of the walk-off gully. This closure will be in effect through 8-15-2013. More »

Grasses

With towering peaks and beautiful stands of conifers and aspens, Grand Teton National Park tends to draw your attention upward. All the while, below your gaze, tickling your ankles, padding your footsteps, helping cool a hot summer day, are the unsung heroes of the park-the grasses.

Grand Teton National Park is home to over one hundred different species of grasses. Grasses make up one of the most widely distributed plant types in existence. Grasses are present in every community in the park from wetlands, to sagebrush flats, to forests, to the alpine zone. Wherever they grow, grasses are an integral element of the ecological tapestry. Grasses are the chief food source for much of the native wildlife: bison, elk, marmots and many insect species. Other animal species use grasses to supplement their diets. Grasses also provide cover and nesting material. Many small mammals, as well as birds, use grasses to build nests and insulate burrows against the severe climate.

Grasses stabilize soils and help provide a substrate for other plants to grow. The dense root structure of grass holds soil in place reducing erosion. This is essential in an area such as Grand Teton National Park with steep-slopes and high levels of precipitation. When you visit, take time to consider the grasses. View them from afar to appreciate the wonderful colors they add to the landscape. View them from near and marvel at their fine structure. Contemplate the vital role grasses play in one of the most vibrant ecosystems in the world.


Native Species

Alpine Timothy - Phleum alpinum
Bearded Wheatgrass - Elymos trachycaulus
Idaho Fescue - Festuca idahoensis
Kentucky Bluegrass - Poa pratensis
Pinegrass - Calamagrostis rubescens
Sanberg Bluegrass - Poa secunda
Spike Trisetum - Trisetum spicatum
Ticklegrass - Agrostis scabra
Timber Oatgrass - Danthonia intermedia
Tufted Hairgrass - Deschampsia cespitosa

Non-native Species

Cheatgrass - Bromus tectorum
Common Timothy - Phleum pratense
Crested Wheatgrass - Agropyron cristatum
Orchard Grass - Dactylis glomerata
Smooth Brome - Bromus inermis

Did You Know?

Tetons from the north, photo by Erin Himmel

Did you know that a large fault lies at the base of the Teton Range? Every few thousand years earthquakes up to a magnitude of 7.5 on the Richter Scale signal movement on the Teton fault, lifting the mountains skyward and hinging the valley floor downward.