Colter Bay District FAQs

Guest Artist Colter Bay Visitor Center
Guest Artist, Colter Bay Visitor Center

NPS Photo

Frequently asked questions and answers!

  • Where is the entrance gate? Why haven’t I received a park map yet? Stop by one of the visitor centers or information stations to receive a park map and newspaper.
  • Is Jackson Lake a natural lake or a reservoir? It is both. It is a 400-foot deep natural lake with 39-feet of reservoir storage added on top. During dry years, Colter Bay may become too shallow for motorboats or may dry up completely.
  • Where is the John D. Rockefeller Jr. Memorial Parkway? The parkway refers to both the highway from the south boundary of Grand Teton National Park to West Thumb in Yellowstone National Park and the 24,000-acre parcel of land between Grand Teton and Yellowstone national parks. It was set aside in 1972 to honor John D. Rockefeller, Jr., a well-known philanthropist and conservationist. Rockefeller purchased thousands of acres of land that he later gave to the federal government to create or expand several national parks including Grand Teton.
  • Who was David T. Vernon? He was a Chicago newspaper illustrator with a passion to lean about Indian tribes. He gathered an impressive variety of Indian artifacts throughout his lifetime, and sold his collection to the Jackson Hole Preserve, Incorporated—a Rockefeller Family foundation dedicated to the conservation of cultural and natural resources.
  • Where’s the building with the huge mural windows overlooking the lake? The Jackson Lake Lodge was once known as the Rockefeller Lodge. The windows in the Upper Lobby look across Willow Flats and Jackson Lake toward Mount Moran. The view from Lunch Tree Hill next to the lodge inspired John D. Rockefeller Jr. to purchase lands in Jackson Hole for conservation and eventual park expansion.
  • Did John Colter ever visit here? John Colter did travel through Yellowstone during the winter of 1807-1808, but his route is unclear. In 1933, a rhyolite rock with his name engraved on one side and the year 1808 on the other side was found on the west side of the Teton Range. This rock is known as the Colter Stone.
  • Where may I find wildlife? Dawn and dusk are the best times to view wildlife from your car along most park roads. Many large animals seek shade during the heat of the day and come out in the cool of the day. Two special places are the Willow Flats Overlook, 6 miles south of Colter Bay, and the Oxbow Bend Turnout, 7.5 miles south of Colter Bay. These areas are home to elk, moose, sandhill cranes and many other animals.
  • When was the park established? The park's history is a tricky question. In 1929, the original park protected much of the Teton Range. In 1943, the creation of Jackson Hole National Monument protected the remaining federal land on the valley floor. In 1950, the park we enjoy today joined the original national park, the national monument, and 35,000 acres of private land donated by John D. Rockefeller, Jr.
  • Are there bears in the park? Yes, both black and grizzly bears, but don’t be tricked! Black bears may be blonde, cinnamon, brown or black, and grizzly bears may be brown to black. Ask a ranger for all the details. Please follow the park’s Bear Safety recommendations.
  • Do people climb those mountains? Yes, but most mountains require technical rock climbing and mountaineering skills to reach the summit. The Grand Teton has nearly 100 different climbing routes and variations.
  • Where does the Snake River start? The headwaters are in the Teton Wilderness just south of Yellowstone National Park. Where does it end? The Snake River flows into the Columbia River in Washington. Portions of the Snake River were designated “Wild and Scenic” in 2009.

Last updated: April 2, 2015

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P.O. Box 170
Moose, WY 83012


(307) 739-3399

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