Six Quick Facts About Grand Teton National Park
By Chris Kassar
Grand Teton National Park supports a rich array of wildlife and stunning scenery, including the iconic, rugged mountain range that gives the park its name. Sometimes overlooked due to its proximity to Yellowstone National Park, Grand Teton is a hidden gem teeming with history, geologic mystery and majestic creatures.
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Here are six quick facts you might not know about Grand Teton National Park.
- Grand Teton National Park was established in 1929 and then again in 1950. In 1929, President Calvin Coolidge went against enormous public opposition and approved the original 96,000-acre park, which encompassed the Teton Range and six glacial lakes. In 1943, President Franklin D. Roosevelt established the 210,000-acre Jackson Hole National Monument to protect the remaining federal lands on the valley floor. In 1950, President Harry S. Truman and Congress merged the monument, the national park and a 35,000-acre donation from John D. Rockefeller to create the 310,000-acre Grand Teton National Park we visit today.
- Earthquakes gave rise to the 40-mile-long Teton Range, which sits on a fault line. Over millions of years, earthquakes shook the land, causing blocks of land on both sides of the fault to slip past each other. The west block of land rose upward to form the mountains while the east block of land dropped down to form the valley called Jackson Hole. The Tetons are the youngest range in the Rocky Mountains and some of the youngest mountains in the world.
- Starting 2 million years ago, glaciers formed and began sculpting the land. Ice up to 3,500 feet thick flowed across the valley floor and down the mountains, carving U-shaped canyons and jagged peaks like the Grand Teton. Twelve small glaciers—half of them found within the Cathedral Group, a collection of the tallest peaks in the range—remain in the national park today.
- A wide variety of birds flock to Grand Teton National Park. Birders can find avian species of all shapes and sizes, from the trumpeter swan (the largest waterfowl in North America) to the calliope hummingbird (the smallest bird species in North America) in the park.
- Archeologists have evidence that the first humans arrived in the Jackson Hole valley about 11,000 years ago. They lived in the valley from spring to fall but left during the winters.
- Eight peaks towering above 12,000 feet exist within the park. The highest peak, the Grand Teton, rises 13,770 feet above sea level.
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Header Credit: Henry Holdsworth
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