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  • Writer's pictureDeborah Kade

Grand Teton National Park

Today is our last full day at the Tetons.

Grand Teton National Park may share a border with Yellowstone, but the two parks might as well be worlds apart. Yellowstone is known for its geothermal natural wonders and Old Faithful, but Grand Teton offers a more peaceful experience. You don't have to worry about boiling hot geysers or supervolcanoes at Grand Teton, all you need to do is sit back and enjoy the rugged mountains, beautiful valleys, and the abundant wilderness wonders that the park has to offer.

Grand Teton National Park is only 484 square miles while Yellowstone is 3.5 thousand square miles.

The park is home to one of the most photographed barns in America, the T.A. Moulton Barn. The weathered wood, grassy valley, and blue mountains in the background make it insanely photogenic. Thomas Alma Moulton and his sons built the barn as part of a larger farm between 1912 and 1945, it's now the only building on the Moulton family homestead, and was one of the last parcels of land sold to the National Park Service for Grand Teton.

It's only recently that the park's population of grizzly bears has begun to boom. There are only about 1,500 grizzlies in the continental US right now, and 600 of them live in the Yellowstone-Teton area. Unfortunately, we did not see any today but we were extremely lucky to see momma grizzly and her two cubs up close and personal the other day.

"Grand Teton National Park, at approximately 310,000 acres (480 sq mi; 130,000 ha; 1,300 km2), includes the major peaks of the 40-mile-long (64 km) Teton Range as well as most of the northern sections of the valley known as Jackson Hole. Grand Teton National Park is only 10 miles (16 km) south of Yellowstone National Park, to which it is connected by the National Park Service-managed John D. Rockefeller Jr. Memorial Parkway. Along with surrounding national forests, these three protected areas constitute the almost 18,000,000-acre (7,300,000 ha) Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, one of the world's largest intact mid-latitude temperate ecosystems."

Elk starting their migration north.

"The human history of the Grand Teton region dates back at least 11,000 years, when the first nomadic hunter-gatherer Paleo-Indians began migrating into the region during warmer months pursuing food and supplies. In the early 19th century, the first white explorers encountered the eastern Shoshone natives. Between 1810 and 1840, the region attracted fur trading companies that vied for control of the lucrative beaver pelt trade. U.S. Government expeditions to the region commenced in the mid-19th century as an offshoot of exploration in Yellowstone, with the first permanent white settlers in Jackson Hole arriving in the 1880's.

Efforts to preserve the region as a national park began in the late 19th century, and in 1929 Grand Teton National Park was established, protecting the Teton Range's major peaks. The valley of Jackson Hole remained in private ownership until the 1930's, when conservationists led by John D. Rockefeller, Jr. began purchasing land in Jackson Hole to be added to the existing national park. Against public opinion and with repeated Congressional efforts to repeal the measures, much of Jackson Hole was set aside for protection as Jackson Hole National Monument in 1943. The monument was abolished in 1950 and most of the monument land was added to Grand Teton National Park."

"Grand Teton National Park is named for Grand Teton, the tallest mountain in the Teton Range. The naming of the mountains is attributed to early 19th-century French-speaking trappers—les trois tétons (the three teats) was later anglicized and shortened to Tetons. At 13,775 feet (4,199 m), Grand Teton abruptly rises more than 7,000 feet (2,100 m) above Jackson Hole, almost 850 feet (260 m) higher than Mount Owen, the second-highest summit in the range. The park has numerous lakes, including 15-mile-long (24 km) Jackson Lake as well as streams of varying length and the upper main stem of the Snake River. Though in a state of recession, a dozen small glaciers persist at the higher elevations near the highest peaks in the range. Some of the rocks in the park are the oldest found in any American national park and have been dated at nearly 2.7 billion years."

"Grand Teton National Park is an almost pristine ecosystem and the same species of flora and fauna that have existed since prehistoric times can still be found there. More than 1,000 species of vascular plants, dozens of species of mammals, 300 species of birds, more than a dozen fish species and a few species of reptiles and amphibians inhabit the park. Due to various changes in the ecosystem, some of them human-induced, efforts have been made to provide enhanced protection to some species of native fish and the increasingly threatened whitebark pine."

"Grand Teton National Park is a popular destination for mountaineering, hiking, fishing and other forms of recreation. There are more than 1,000 drive-in campsites and over 200 miles (320 km) of hiking trails that provide access to backcountry camping areas. Noted for world-renowned trout fishing, the park is one of the few places to catch Snake River fine-spotted cutthroat trout. Grand Teton has several National Park Service-run visitor centers, and privately operated concessions for motels, lodges, gas stations and marinas."

If you are looking for a seasonal summer job, this is the place to come. When I read the paper this morning, there were 12 pages of want ads.

"Grand Teton National Park is one of the ten most visited national parks in the U.S., with an annual average of 2.75 million visitors in the period from 2007 to 2016, with 3.27 million visiting in 2016. The National Park Service is a federal agency of the United States Department of the Interior and manages both Grand Teton National Park and the John D. Rockefeller Jr. Memorial Parkway. Grand Teton National Park has an average of 100 permanent and 180 seasonal employees. The park also manages 27 concession contracts that provide services such as lodging, restaurants, mountaineering guides, dude ranching, fishing and a boat shuttle on Jenny Lake. The National Park Service works closely with other federal agencies such as the U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Reclamation, and also, in consequence of Jackson Hole Airport's presence in the park, the Federal Aviation Administration. There was an advertisement in today's paper for TSA agents. Initial construction of the airstrip north of the town of Jackson was completed in the 1930's. When Jackson Hole National Monument was designated, the airport was inside it. After the monument and park were combined, the Jackson Hole Airport became the only commercial airport within an American national park. Jackson Hole Airport has some of the strictest noise abatement regulations of any airport in the U.S. The airport has night flight curfews and overflight restrictions, with pilots being expected to approach and depart the airport along the east, south or southwest flight corridors. As of 2010, 110 privately owned property inholdings, many belonging to the state of Wyoming, are located within Grand Teton National Park. Efforts to purchase or trade these inholdings for other federal lands are ongoing and through partnerships with other entities, 10 million dollars was hoped to be raised to acquire private inholdings."

"In December 2016, the Antelope Flats Parcel consisting of 640 acres (owned by the State of Wyoming as part of state school trust lands) was purchased and transferred to Grand Teton National Park. The purchase price amounted to 46 million dollars (23 million allocated from the Land and Water Conservation Fund and the last 23 million was raised in private funds from 5,421 donors). The proceeds of this sale will benefit Wyoming Public Schools. Grand Teton National Park is still in negotiations for the purchase of the Kelly Parcel which totals an additional 640 acres from Wyoming. Moulton Ranch Cabins, a one acre inholding along the historic Mormon Row, was sold to the Grand Teton National Park Foundation in 2018. In 2020, the National Park Service in partnership with the Conservation Fund acquired a 35-acre parcel located within Grand Teton National Park. This parcel is located near the Granite Canyon Entrance Station.

"The youngest mountain range in the Rocky Mountains, the Teton Range began forming between 6 and 9 million years ago. It runs roughly north to south and rises from the floor of Jackson Hole without any foothills along a 40-mile-long (64 km) by 7- to 9-mile-wide (11 to 14 km) active fault-block mountain front.The range tilts westward, rising abruptly above Jackson Hole valley which lies to the east but more gradually into Teton Valley to the west. A series of earthquakes along the Teton Fault slowly displaced the western side of the fault upward and the eastern side of the fault downward at an average of 1 foot (30 cm) of displacement every 300–400 years. Most of the displacement of the fault occurred in the last 2 million years. While the fault has experienced up to 7.5- earthquake magnitude events since it formed, it has been relatively quiescent during historical periods, with only a few 5.0-magnitude or greater earthquakes known to have occurred since 1850.

In addition to 13,775-foot-high (4,199 m) Grand Teton, another nine peaks are over 12,000 ft (3,700 m) above sea level. Eight of these peaks between Avalanche and Cascade Canyons make up the often-photographed Cathedral Group. The most prominent peak north of Cascade Canyon is the monolithic Mount Moran, (12,605 ft-3,842 m), which rises 5,728 ft (1,746 m) above Jackson Lake. To the north of Mount Moran, the range eventually merges into the high altitude Yellowstone Plateau. South of the central Cathedral Group the Teton Range tapers off near Teton Pass and blends into the Snake River Range."

Oxbow Bend

Oxbow Bend is a type of meander river called an oxbow lake because it has been cut off from the rest of the Snake River, but still remains filled with water.

Oxbow Bend is without a doubt the most photographed place in the entire park. The image of the Snake River with Mount Moran's reflection is iconic and is probably the most recognized image of Grand Teton National Park throughout the world. To give you an idea of just how popular this image is, it's comparable to Old Faithful Geyser in Yellowstone National Park or Wild Goose Island on St. Mary Lake in Glacier Niational Park. This image probably has been photographed millions of times, and you can bet that when you first lay your eyes on this spectacular view, you'll be snapping photos too!

I wished the beaver would have swum across a little closer.

A group of pelicans has many collective nouns, including a "brief", "pod", "pouch", "scoop", and "squadron" of pelicans. If pelicans are fishing as a group, as these were, they are called a fleet.

American White Pelican arrives in Wyoming in April. The nesting cycle begins in late April to early May, and is generally synchronized within a colony.

They kept moving back and forth together as a group.

lots of splashing

more and more flew in

I am not sure what they were eating but they stayed together as a group.

I needed my 2X extender for these shots. The pelicans were still too far away to get a good shot but I tried and tried!

Jackson Lake

During the warm summer months, locals and visitors alike enjoy a variety of water sports on Jackson Lake, such as boating, fishing, wind-surfing, and swimming. Although jet skis are prohibited, Jackson Lake is the park's only lake that allows water-skiing, wakeboarding, sailboats, and wind-surfing.

Jackson Lake Dam is a concrete and earth-fill dam at the outlet of Jackson Lake. The chief purpose of the dam is to provide water storage for irrigation in the Snake River basin in the state of Idaho as part of the Minidoka Project. Jackson Lake is a natural lake, but its depth was increased by the dam to provide water storage.

The first Jackson Lake Dam was a log-crib dam constructed in 1906–07 across the outlet of Jackson Lake, a natural lake. That dam raised the lake level by 22 feet (6.7 m), but the dam failed in 1910. A new concrete and earthen dam was constructed in stages between 1911 and 1916, raising the maximum lake level to thirty feet (9 m) above the lake's natural elevation, providing a storage capacity of 847,000 acre feet (1.045×109 m3). The new dam was designed by Frank A. Banks who would later supervise the construction of Grand Coulee Dam.

Moose and beaver habitat

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