Grand Teton is the place people visit for stunning mountains, discovering wildlife and wild places, and to have a life-changing adventure. A place with easy access from the moment they arrive to a picture-perfect view while driving, hiking, biking, or touching down on a runway in a sagebrush sea.
A park that more people are discovering than ever before.
Increasing & Changing Visitation Trends
In recent years, Grand Teton has experienced increasing and changing visitation trends. The total number of annual recreation visits surpassed 3 million in 2015, and between 2015 and 2021, that count increased by 23%, with a record-breaking annual total of over 3.8 million in 2021. In recent years, the park has embarked on identifying potential issues and impacts of changing visitation. Grand Teton, in collaboration with research partners, conducted several studies which are being used to identify themes and insights to help the park paint a fuller picture of what visitor use at Grand Teton looks like today.
Visitor Use Management Process
Visitor use management is a proactive and adaptive process to maintain desired conditions and visitor experiences in the park. Visitor use management can include managing various visitor use characteristics--like the type, timing, amount, and distribution of visitation, as well as visitor behaviors—so that the National Park Service mission can be achieved. This means that visitor use management helps ensure that the park’s fundamental resources—scenery, wildlife, historic and pre-historic features, mountains, plants, lakes, and streams—are protected, all while providing opportunities for outstanding visitor experiences.
Visitor use management at Grand Teton National Park is an ongoing process. Throughout the park’s history, various initiatives, plans, and developments have changed the course of visitor use management. Some of these efforts have had a nationwide focus, such as Mission 66, while others have focused on a particular park area or system.
Today, park managers are looking to organize previous visitor use management guidance, learn about the quality of visitors’ experience, and strategically meet parkwide management needs.
This very specific management process at Grand Teton follows guidance from the Interagency Visitor Use Management Council’s Framework. You can learn more about the council and view the full visitor use management framework on the council’s website.
Grand Teton National Park has made a concerted effort to better understand how visitors experience the park. These studies provide an understanding of visitor movement patterns, resource impacts from visitor use, visitors’ motivations and what they value about their visit, and their perceptions of the quality of their visit.
Key insights and themes from several recent studies can be found at Summer 2022: Key Insights and Findings. These findings paint a fuller picture of what visitor use management at the park looks like today.
These insights were gleaned from several recent peer-reviewed social science studies that can be found below.
The primary purpose of this summer 2021 project was to gain a comprehensive understanding of transportation and visitor movement to, through, and within Grand Teton National Park and John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway.
Of particular interest was to understand how visitors move and disperse throughout the park and surrounding area. This was achieved by relating key inputs (e.g., vehicles entering at the park entrances) to conditions at attraction sites and along trails. Full Report.
The purpose of this parkwide study is to develop a current and deeper understanding of who visits Grand Teton National Park, what they do during their visit, and their spending profile. Full Report.
Foundational Park Plans
The park, over its nearly 100 year history, has developed plans to guide overall management and design of specific areas. These plans guide visitor use management at Grand Teton and the Rockefeller Parkway today, and others may be developed in the future.