Jackson Lake Lodge - Countdown: 5 Days

August 20, 2012 Posted by: KG

John D. Rockefeller, Jr. was incredibly moved by the expansive view that Horace Albright had showed him of the Jackson Hole valley from Lunch Tree Hill. This spot continued to have a special place in his heart for years to come. When it became apparent that lodging in Grand Teton National Park was inadequate, Rockefeller envisioned a grand lodge on this meaningful spot.

Located just south of Lunch Tree Hill, on the hill's base, now stands Jackson Lake Lodge. The lodge was designed by Harvard trained architect Gilbert Stanley Underwood. Underwood was already known for several Park Service buildings including Ahwanee Lodge in Yosemite, the lodges at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, at Bryce, Zion, Sun Valley, and Old Faithful in Yellowstone.

In the case of Jackson Lake Lodge, Underwood was asked to create a building harmonious with its surroundings. He used a technique called "Shadow Wood" and acid stain to make the concrete exterior of the lodge mimic wood in both texture and color. As guests arrive at the front of the lodge, it can seem like a very imposing structure, more at odds with its surroundings than harmonious with them. However, viewed from the Teton Park Road, the structure virtually blends into the eastern hills behind it. From this angle, Underwood was quite successful in his design.

Jackson Lake Lodge (Photo Credit: Grand Teton Lodge Company)
Jackson Lake Lodge
Photo Credit: Grand Teton Lodge Company

The lodge's entrance involves a bit of trickery. The large front entrance ushers guests through a dark porte-cochere into a business lobby. It is not until guests ascend to the main floor that they find themselves face to face with an awe inspiring view of the mountains and Jackson Lake. These windows are the centerpiece of the lodge. 60 feet wide and 36 feet tall, the windows of the Jackson Lake Lodge leave a lasting impression on anyone who has seen them.

Main Lobby of Jackson Lake Lodge (Photo Credit: Grand Teton Lodge Company)
Main Lobby of Jackson Lake Lodge
Photo Credit: Grand Teton Lodge Company

Rockefeller thought this view so important and special that he had scaffolding erected and stood atop it to make sure that the view was just right.

Getting the view just right (Photo Credit: Jackson Hole Preserve)
Getting the view just right
Photo Credit: Jackson Hole Preserve

Although Jackson Lake Lodge was built to address the increasing visitation to Grand Teton National Park, it also represents the dual vision of both the Park Service and Mr. Rockefeller. Balancing enjoyment of the parks and also their continued preservation continues to be a guiding principle. At the grand opening of the Jackson Lake Lodge on June 11, 1955, Laurance S. Rockefeller spoke on his behalf as well as his father's and summed up this sentiment quite eloquently.  

"Conservation today means far more than just preserving our natural resources. It means their wise use and protection so that more and more people may enjoy and benefit by them. Here in this incomparable area, millions of people will find some measure of the peace and solitude which they require."

In the summer season, the Park Service does their part to help visitors enjoy and find meaning in this grand view. Join a Park Ranger on the back deck of the lodge for wildlife sightings of all shapes and sizes and unparalleled scenery. Check the schedule of Ranger Programs for dates and times.

Ranger Program at Jackson Lake Lodge (Photo Credit: D. Lehle, NPS)
Enjoy a Ranger Program on the back deck of Jackson Lake Lodge
Photo Credit: D. Lehle, NPS


Sources: McKinney, Mary. The View That Inspired a Vision: The History of the Grand Teton Lodge Company and the Rockefeller Involvement. Grand Teton Lodge Company. 1991.

Last updated: August 22, 2012

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