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Grand Teton


THE Grand Teton National Park embraces the most scenic portion of the Teton Range of Wyoming, with an area of approximately 150 square miles, or 96,000 acres. It varies from 3 to 9 miles in width and is 27 miles in length. The northern extremity of the park is about 11 miles south of the southern boundary of Yellowstone National Park. This park was established by an act of Congress on February 26, 1929.

In addition to its majestic peaks and canyons, the Grand Teton National Park includes 5 large lakes and many smaller bodies of water, glaciers, and snowfields, and extensive forests of pine, fir, and spruce. Much of the park area is above timber line, the Grand Teton rising to 13,766 feet, more than 7,000 feet above the floor of Jackson Hole.

The great array of peaks which constitutes the scenic climax of this national park is one of the noblest in the world. Southwest of Jenny Lake is a culminating group of lofty peaks whose dominating figure is the Grand Teton, the famous mountain after which the park is named.


Many of our national parks have been carved from wilderness areas previously little known to man and seldom visited. The Tetons, on the contrary, are remarkably rich in historic associations. The Grand Teton itself has been referred to by an eminent historian as "the most noted historic summit of the West."

Up to 1800 Indians held undisputed sway over the country dominated by the Three Tetons. Jackson Hole was literally a happy hunting ground, and, while the severe winters precluded permanent habitation, during the milder seasons, bands of Indians frequently came across the passes into the basins on warring or hunting expeditions.

The Tetons probably first became known to white men in 1807-8, when the intrepid John Colter crossed the range on the memorable journey which also made him discoverer of the Yellowstone country. In 1811 the Astorians, under Wilson Price Hunt, entered Jackson Hole and crossed the range on their expedition to the mouth of the Columbia.

The decades that follow are frequently referred to as the "Fur Era," for the Tetons became the center of remarkable activities on the part of fur trappers representing both British and American interests. The picturesque name "Jackson Hole" dates back to 1829, when Capt. William Sublette named it for his fellow trapper, David E. Jackson, who was especially fond of this beautiful valley or "basin" as we call it today.

By 1845 the romantic trapper of the "Fur Era" vanished from the Rockies. During the next four decades the valleys near the Tetons were largely deserted, except for wandering bands of Indians who occasionally drifted in. But the frontier was relentlessly closing in, and one Government expedition after another passed through the Teton country or near it. The most important of these were the Hayden surveys of 1871, 1872, 1877, and 1878. The names of members of these parties are perpetuated in the naming of Leigh, Jenny, Bradley, and Taggart Lakes and Mounts St. John and Moran.

In the middle eighties came the first settlers. They entered by the Gros Ventre River and Teton Pass, and settled first in the south end of the valley. The story of the homesteader has been one of isolation, privation, and hardships, met, however, with persistency and indomitable courage.


The Teton Range may be described as a long block of the earth that has been broken and uplifted along its eastern margin, thus being tilted westward. Movement of this sort along a fracture is what the geologist terms "faulting." The total amount of uplift along the eastern edge of the block amounts to more than 10,000 feet. Doubtless this uplift was accomplished not by one cataclysm but by a series of small faulting movements distributed over a very long period. Probably the time of faulting was as remote as the middle of the Tertiary period (the period just before the ice age, the latest chapter of the earth's history).

Very impressive is the contrast between the east and west sides of the Teton Range. From the east, the Jackson Hole basin, one views the precipitous side of the mountain block as it has been exposed by uplift and erosion. From the west, the Idaho side, is seen the broad top of the block, which is gently inclined toward the west. In the eastern front, furthermore, one sees the ancient, deep-seated crystalline rocks (gneiss, schist, granite, etc.) belonging to the earliest known geologic eras, the pre-Cambrian. In places on the top of the block as, for example, the Head of Death and Avalanche Canyons, inclined layers of limestone, quartzite, and shale belonging to the less ancient Paleozoic era. These layers formerly covered the entire block, but they have been worn away from half of the area, thus exposing the underlying crystallines. The west and north flanks of the range are overlapped by relatively young beds of lava that are continuous with those covering eastern Idaho and the Yellowstone plateaus.



Jackson Hole, which adjoins the park on the southeast, is encompassed on all sides by mountain barriers. It is 48 miles long, for the most part 6 to 8 miles wide, and embraces an area of more than 400 square miles. The floor of the valley slopes from an altitude of 7,000 feet at the north end to 6,000 at the south. Jackson Hole lies a few miles west of the Continental Divide, and occupies the central portion of the headwaters area of the Snake River. Mountain streams converge radially toward it from the surrounding highlands, and the Snake River receives these as it flows through the valley.

Jackson Hole has largely been excavated by the Snake River and its tributaries from the shale formations which once extended over the region to a depth of several thousand feet. The more resistant rocks surrounding the region were reduced less rapidly and have been left standing in relief as highlands.


The glaciers of the ice age or Pleistocene period played a leading role in developing the extraordinary scenic features of the park. Just as the streams now converge toward Jackson Hole, so in ages past glaciers moved down toward, and in many instances into, the basin from the highlands to the east, north, and west.

The precipitous north slopes of the mountains, the knife-like ridges or aretes, the matterhorns or isolated peaks, and the smooth, polished rock floors and canyon walls are results of glacial action.

Some of the glaciers have completely disappeared, leaving in the cirques or amphitheaters beautiful alpine lakes. As the glaciers reached the valley floors and then receded, they dropped their accumulated load of rock materials, building the morainal dams at the canyon mouths, and forming Phelps, Taggart, Bradley, Jenny, Leigh, and Jackson Lakes.

The floor of Jackson Hole is a cobble-strewn flat or out-wash plain, which originated when the streams issuing from the glaciers deposited the rock materials they carried.



For many years the Jackson Hole country has been famous for its big game, and for those who wish to see wild animals in their natural habitat, the expenditure of a little time off the main road will satisfy their desire.

In the park itself Shiras' moose is the most common big game animal; it is frequently seen in the smaller ponds and marshy meadows. The moose is the largest member of the deer family, but is not as wary as other deer. Mule deer are increasing in the park and environs, and, though quite shy, are often seen along the trails by hikers and horseback riders.

The elk or wapiti have been the most important big game animals in Jackson Hole since the occupancy of white men. In the spring they leave the low country and the Government feeding grounds near Jackson and move toward the highlands to the north and east. Scattered small bands summer in the Teton Range. When snowfall comes in the high country, the elk return once more to the feed grounds.

Small herds of bighorn or Rocky Mountain sheep range in isolated sections of the park. Bears are found only in the mountains and canyons. Very few invade the campgrounds.

Beaver, marten, mink, weasels, coyotes, marmots, conies, rabbits, chipmunks, and squirrels are found within the park area. More than 100 species of birds may be identified by the careful observer.

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In several respects the flora of the Tetons is unique. The high mountains have constituted a barrier to plant migration which many forms could not cross; hence the range limit of a number of species is found here. Representatives from north, south, east, and west are in the region, this being the limit, in many instances, of their distribution. There are many plants typical of the central Rockies, and a few known only to this range. Four life zones are recognized within the park, all occurring in a distance of less than 15 miles. Plants migrating from other regions have grown equally well in each zone.

The flowering period begins in the park as soon as the ridges and flats are free of snow in May, and it continues until about August 15 in the Arctic-Alpine Zone. Hence, plants of at least one zone and usually of several may be seen blooming at any time in the spring or summer.

The evergreen trees, of which the lodgepole pine, whitebark pine, Engelmann spruce, and alpine fir are most common, form an appropriate frame for the majestic Teton peaks and are reflected in the lakes which they encircle.


At Jenny Lake is located the park museum, which also serves as the ranger station. In it are housed exhibits pertaining to the history, geology, fauna, and flora of the Teton-Jackson Hole country. The collection devoted to mountaineering is in many respects unique. Adjacent to the museum is an open-air amphitheater where campfire talks on geology, wildlife, and other subjects related to the park are given every evening at dusk by a ranger-naturalist. Nature walks, auto caravans, and all-day hikes are conducted by a member of the ranger-naturalist staff.

An information desk is maintained at the museum, and rangers are there at all hours of the day to answer inquiries. Information service is also maintained at park headquarters.


The representative of the National Park Service in immediate charge of the park is Charles J. Smith, superintendent, with office at park headquarters; address, Moose, Wyo.


An unbroken wilderness a few years ago, the Grand Teton National Park is now penetrated by 82 miles of the finest trails in the national park system. These trails, suitable alike for travel afoot or on saddle horses, are 3 to 4 feet wide, free of boulders, and of grade so moderate they may be followed by old or young with full safety and a minimum of physical exertion. While the trails are traversable during the greater part of the summer, some of them may be blocked by snow early in the season. Those visitors expecting to climb the high trails should inquire at park headquarters or the museum at Jenny Lake for information regarding their condition.

THE LAKES TRAIL runs parallel to the mountains, following closely the base of the range and skirting the shore of each large body of water from Leigh Lake at the north to Phelps Lake at the south.

THE TETON GLACIER TRAIL extends up the east slope of Grand Teton to Surprise and Amphitheater Lakes, unfolding matchless panoramas of the surrounding country. Amphitheater Lake, at the end of the trail, occupies a protected glacial cirque and is the starting point for the climb to Teton Glacier.

THE INDIAN PAINTBRUSH TRAIL starts near the outlet of Leigh Lake and follows up the bottom of Indian Paintbrush Canyon to connect with the Cascade Canyon Trail by way of Lake Solitude, a lakelet of rarest beauty near the head of the north fork of Cascade Canyon. The wealth of wildflowers along this trail gives the canyon its name, and one may see big game, especially moose, near the lakes and swamps.

THE CASCADE CANYON TRAIL passes through a chasm whose walls rise sheer on either side for thousands of feet. By this trail one penetrates into the deepest recesses of the Tetons, skirting the bases of several tall peaks.

THE DEATH CANYON TRAIL traverses the full length of a canyon which in its lower portion is of profound depth and grandeur, as awesome as its name, and then emerges above into broad, sunny meadows.

THE SKYLINE TRAIL is that portion of the trail system which connects the Indian Paintbrush, Cascade Canyon, and Death Canyon Trails. Following down the north fork, then up the south fork of Cascade Canyon, it crosses the head of Avalanche Canyon to Alaska Basin, in the western watershed of the Tetons, thence over a high saddle on Buck Mountain and down a series of switchbacks to join the Death Canyon Trail.



Among American climbers no range enjoys higher rank than the Tetons, and its growing fame abroad is evidenced by increasingly large numbers of foreign mountaineers who come here to climb. Leading mountaineers rank many of the Teton climbs with the best in the Alps and other world-famous climbing centers. Though the majority of climbs must be considered difficult even for mountaineers of skill and wide experience, there are peaks, notably the Middle Teton and South Teton, which have relatively easy routes that may be safely followed by anyone of average strength.

Since 1931 authorized guide service has been available in the park. In view of the difficulties one encounters on the Teton peaks and the hazards they present, prospective climbers—especially if inexperienced—are urged to make use of the guide service. If venturing out unguided, climbers should under all circumstances consult rangers or guides for full information relative to routes and equipment. Failure to heed this caution has, in the past, led to accidents and even fatalities. Climbing parties are required, under all circumstances, to report at either park headquarters or Jenny Lake Ranger Station before and after each expedition, whether guided or unguided. Climbing alone, without a companion, is absolutely prohibited.

The climbing season varies with the weather and the amount of snow in the range; it is at its best during July, August, and early September. In most cases it is advisable to allow 2 days for an ascent of Grand Teton, Mount Owen, or Mount Moran, and 1 day for other major peaks. Jenny Lake campground is the logical outfitting point for most expeditions. The majority of ascents require ice axes, rope, and hobbed boots or climbing shoes. Guided parties may arrange to rent equipment from guide.


Grand Teton Park offers splendid opportunities for fishing. Fish may be taken with artificial fly during most of the summer, but the lake or mackinaw trout in Jackson and Jenny Lakes must be caught with heavy tackle by means of trolling. Other species in park waters are the cutthroat trout (also known as native blackspotted) and the brook or speckled trout. The park waters are stocked through the cooperation of the United States Bureau of Fisheries. A Wyoming fishing license, costing $1.50 for State residents and $3 for nonresidents, is required. For $1.50, however, nonresidents may secure a 7-day fishing permit.



At the south end of Jenny Lake and north end of Leigh Lake, D. Kenneth Reimers maintains motorboat and rowboat service. Four or more persons may make a trip around Jenny Lake for 50 cents each. Rowboats may be rented for 50 cents an hour or $2 a day. Motor-boats, with a driver, are $2 an hour, $1.50 each additional hour, and $10 a day; without a driver, $1.50 an hour and $6 a day.



Modern, well-developed campgrounds are available at Jenny and String Lakes. These camps are supplied with running water, sanitary facilities, and cooking grates. There are also many camping sites away from the main campgrounds suitable for overnight stops for hikers or pack outfits. Supplies, including fishing tackle, may be procured at Jenny Lake, Moose, Jackson, or Moran. Cabin accommodations may be found outside the park in Jackson Hole.

GUIDE SERVICE.—The authorized official guide for mountain climbing in the park is Paul Petzoldt. He maintains summer headquarters at Jenny Lake. The charge for guide service ranges from $10 to $30 for trips to the summits of major peaks.

Early summer skiing is possible in the park. Fred Brown, skiing guide, furnishes instruction and rents equipment.

Robert Carmichael is the authorized fishing guide. His services as guide are $8 per day; with boat and outboard motor, $12 per day for 1 or 2 persons. Casting lessons are $2 per hour. Rod, reel, and line are rented for $1 per day, and highest grade tackle is sold.

SADDLE HORSES.—At the south end of Jenny Lake, near the ranger station, Guy C. Sutton, park saddle-horse operator, maintains an excellent string of saddle and pack horses with good equipment for short or long trips. One may rent saddle horses without guides, but only to ride over well-defined trails in designated areas. Discretion as to the ability of patrons to ride, or to go unguided, rests with the operator; however, the operator is not responsible for accidents. Saddle horses without guide, per person, are $1 per hour, $3.50 per 8-hour day, and $14 per week. All-day guided trips are $5 per person for parties of 5 or more and $6 per person for parties less than 5.

PHOTOGRAPHS.—The Crandall Studios maintain up-to-date picture shops at Moran. Photographs of the surrounding country, enlargements, paintings, moving pictures, and souvenir postcards are sold. Laboratories are maintained for developing, printing, and enlarging.

This booklet is issued once a year, and the rates mentioned herein may have changed slightly since issuance, but the latest rates approved by the Secretary of the Interior are on file with the superintendent and the park operators.



BY AUTOMOBILE.—The Grand Teton National Park is reached by automobile from the north, south, east, and west. Each approach is highly scenic, affording splendid distant views of the Teton Range and Jackson Hole. U. S. Highway 287 connects Jackson Hole with Yellowstone Park and is the north approach to the Teton Park. One mile north of Moran the traveler reaches U. S. Highway 187, which traverses Jackson Hole and makes the park accessible. From the east U. S. Highway 287, known as the Atlantic-Yellowstone-Pacific Highway, enters Jackson Hole through Togwotee Pass, altitude 9,638 feet, and the Buffalo Fork of the Snake River, joining U. S. Highways 89 and 287 from Yellowstone Park, 1 mile north of Moran. The south road (U. S. 187) enters Jackson Hole via Hoback Canyon. This improved highway leaves Rock Springs, Wyo., on the Lincoln Highway. U. S. Highway 189, leading to Kemmerer, Wyo., connects with U. S. Highway 187 two miles north of Daniel, Wyo. The western approach road from Idaho, via Teton Pass, State Highway 22, to Wilson and Jackson crosses the Teton Range at an altitude of 8,431 feet. Several connecting roads in Idaho lead from this road to the West Yellowstone-Salt Lake City Highway (U. S. 191). A new road, U. S. Highway 89, enters Jackson Hole from the southwest through the Grand Canyon of the Snake River. It connects with the U. S. Highway 91 at Logan, Utah.

BY RAILROAD AND BUS.—The nearest terminal of the Union Pacific System is at Victor, Idaho. Regular bus service is maintained between Victor and Moran, via Grand Teton National Park, as well as from Yellowstone. Inquire at any concentration point for rates and schedules.

BY AIRPLANE.—Western Air Express provides passenger, mail, and express service to Grand Teton National Park from the West Yellowstone airport. Connections are made at Salt Lake City with United Air Lines' main transcontinental line and at Butte and Helena, Mont., with Northwest Airlines. Scenic trips over the park are also available from West Yellowstone.



The following synopsis of park regulations is for the general guidance of visitors. Complete rules and regulations may be obtained at the office of the superintendent and at other points of concentration throughout the park.

PRESERVATION OF NATURAL FEATURES.—The destruction, injury, defacement, or disturbance of any buildings, signs, equipment, trees, flowers, vegetation, rocks, minerals, animals, or birds is prohibited.

CAMPING.—Camps must be kept clean; rubbish and garbage burned; and refuse placed in cans provided for this purpose. If no cans are available, refuse should be buried. No camping or fires permitted outside designated campgrounds, except by permission of superintendent.

FIRES.—Fires shall be lighted only when necessary and when no longer needed shall be completely extinguished. Smoking or building of fires may be prohibited by superintendent when hazard makes such action necessary.

HUNTING.—Hunting within park boundaries is not permitted. Unsealed firearms are prohibited within the park except with written permission of superintendent.

FISHING.—The limit for a day's catch is 10 fish. The possession of more than 1 day's catch at any one time is prohibited. Fishing in any way other than with hook and line, the rod or line being held in hand, is prohibited. A State fishing license is required, and the use of fish eggs or fish as bait is prohibited.

MOUNTAIN CLIMBING.—All mountain climbers must report at a ranger station before and after making ascent of any peak. No solo climbs are permitted, except with permission of superintendent.

AUTOMOBILES.—Drive carefully at all times. Speed limit is 25 miles per hour on park roads, and 15 miles per hour within the campground areas. All accidents must be reported at nearest ranger station or office of superintendent. Entrance fee for automobile, $1; house trailer, $1; motorcycle, 50 cents. Applicable on fee for Yellowstone National Park and Yellowstone permits honored at Grand Teton entrances.

DOGS AND CATS.—Dogs and cats may be taken through the park, but must be crated or on leash while within park boundaries.

The penalty for violation of the rules and regulations is a fine not exceeding $500, or imprisonment not exceeding 6 months, or both, together with all costs of the proceedings.


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Last Updated: 20-Jun-2010