Seasonal road closures in effect
Seasonal road closures are in effect for motorized vehicles. The Teton Park Road is closed from the Taggart Lake Trailhead to the Signal Mountain Lodge. The Moose-Wilson Road is closed from the Granite Canyon Trailhead to the Death Canyon Road. More »
Avalanche hazards exist in the park
Avalanche hazards exist in the park, especially in mountain canyons and on exposed slopes. A daily avalanche forecast can be found at www.jhavalanche.org or by calling (307) 733-2664. More »
Bears emerging from hibernation
Bears are beginning to emerge from hibernation. Travel in groups of three of more, make noise and carry bear spray. Visitors must stay at least 100 yards from bears. More »
Over 1000 species of vascular plants grow in Grand Teton National Park and the surrounding area. Soil conditions, availability of moisture, slope, aspect, and elevation all determine where plants grow. Plants that require similar conditions are often found growing in the same area. These associations form various plant communities. It is useful to divide the plants of Grand Teton National Park into the following communities: sagebrush flats, riparian corridors and wetlands, forests, and alpine areas.
The valley floor of Jackson Hole is comprised of loose rocky soil that allows water to percolate through easily. Silvery-green big leaf sagebrush blankets the valley. Although at first glance it appears that only sage grows on the flats, this area is remarkably diverse.
Moisture-loving plants find suitable growing conditions along the Snake River, its tributaries, and other wetland areas. Narrow leaf cottonwood and willows, both of which thrive in wet areas, grow along the watercourses, creating ribbons of bright green across the landscape. Wet meadows provide the conditions suited to grasses, sedges, and wildflowers.
The canyons, mountainsides, and ridges formed of glacial debris, called moraines, contain soils capable of holding moisture. These conditions support the growth of trees. Conifers dominate these areas, coloring the slopes a dark green.
Although they appear gray and lifeless, the high alpine reaches of the park support plants specially adapted to the harsh growing conditions found there. Wind, snow, lack of soil, increased ultraviolet radiation, rapid and dramatic shifts in temperature, and a short growing season all challenge the hardy plants that survive here. Most plants adapt by growing close to the ground in mats like the alpine forget-me-not.
Greater Yellowstone Science and Learning Center
Did You Know?
Did you know that the bark on Aspen trees looks green because it contains chlorophyll? Aspen bark is photosynthetic, a process that allows a plant to make energy from the sun, and helps the tree flourish during the short growing season.