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Contact: Denise Germann, 307.739.3393
MOOSE, WY—Grand Teton National Park recently was recognized with the 2018 National Park Service Architectural Design Accessibility Achievement Award for superior accomplishments advancing park opportunities for persons with disabilities at Jenny Lake.
Grand Teton National Park Superintendent David Vela said, “We are very pleased to be recognized with this national award for the preservation and unencumbered access of the ionic landscape of Jenny Lake and the Teton Range. These improvements were constructed to endure multiple generations of all visitors.”
The Jenny Lake Renewal Project is a public-private partnership construction project that has restored one of Grand Teton National Park’s most iconic visitor destinations. Nearly 1.9 million people visit Jenny Lake each year, making this historic landmark the park’s most frequented visitor destination. The $18 million project has been funded by both the National Park Service ($4 million) and Grand Teton National Park Foundation ($14 million). This project’s purpose is to address deferred maintenance and accessibility at Jenny Lake.
Vela said, “We extend gratitude to our partners and friends at the Grand Teton National Park Foundation for their support of this project and helping to meet and exceed accessibility standards.”
The Jenny Lake visitor area is being completely rehabilitated to meet or exceed accessibility guidelines for National Park Service interpretive media, allowing an inclusive experience for all visitors. The new interpretive components in the plaza welcome, orient, and provide route-finding for visitors through tactile and interactive elements, allowing visitors of all ages and abilities to experience the compelling stories of the Jenny Lake area and the park.
The existing restroom in the South Jenny Lake developed area was upgraded to be Architectural Barriers Act Accessibility Standards (ABAAS) compliant by widening of the stalls and replacement of the fixtures. Universal access to the existing Jenny Lake Visitor Center, convenience store, and vault toilets were also provided.
The Jenny Lake path network, including overlooks and plazas, was designed and constructed to meet and exceed accessibility standards. The project also improved way-finding and alleviated congestion by realigning and widening paths, rebuilding non-conforming paths, and reducing the grades. The path system now clearly circulates and orients visitors to Jenny Lake with a series of unique overlooks, plazas, and access points at the lake’s edge.
Allowing full season water access to visitors with limited mobility is also an accomplishment. A paved accessible lakeshore and water access area dubbed Rock Beach was designed to receive water during periods of high lake levels (early to mid-summer) to allow those using wheelchairs to more fully experience the glacial lake by enabling them to roll their wheelchair into the lake water if they choose. Two access points were also included for shoreline access at lower lake levels during mid to late summer months.
Areas of existing shoreline erosion are now accessible lakeshore overlooks, enabling people with limited mobility a chance to enjoy the views of Grand Teton National Park. These overlooks curb the resource impacts, while offering all visitors a place to enjoy the natural beauty.
At two lakeshore overlooks, bronze-raised relief maps will allow a visually impaired person to “feel” the view that a visually unimpaired person sees. More than half of the interpretive exhibits in the Jenny Lake area include tactile elements that permit persons with visual impairments to have a rewarding interpretive experience. Labels on relief maps are also designed for the visually impaired.
Twenty-five accessible benches have been installed throughout the project to provide visitors with varying abilities a place to rest and comfortably enjoy the views as they move through the Jenny Lake area. A companion space was provided at each bench to allow those using wheelchairs a place to pause as well.
This project is unique in that accessibility improvements were fulfilled in a discreet manner, allowing preservation of the natural beauty of the area. By utilizing natural dry laid stone construction techniques and natural boulder retaining walls, the historical character of the site was preserved, allowing everyone a chance to enjoy Jenny Lake in a pristine state.
The Jenny Lake Renewal project is anticipated to be completed by this coming summer.