Grand Teton National Park

I can imagine how Grand Teton National Park feels. It must be just like being in High School and having your big sister be the Head Cheerleader. No matter how great you are, everyone pays more attention to that Park next door.

In this case, the park next door is Yellowstone National Park. There’s no denying that with its first-park-fame, fearsome wildlife and explosive geology, Yellowstone is spectacular. But 3,447,727 people visited Yellowstone in 2012 and only 2,705,256 visited Grand Teton. That means that over seven-hundred-thousand people didn’t go to Grand Teton even though they were right next door. Idiots.

chascar's photo from Grand Teton National Park.

Hard to imagine a more beautiful place…Photo by chascar.

How Picturesque Can You Get?

My trip to Grand Teton National Park predated my decision to take no photos, so I have a few snapshot taken with a disposable camera. And they are gorgeous. This doesn’t say anything about my ability as photographer. It’s just hard to go wrong when you’re facing this kind of grandeur.

As one would expect for a National Park, Grand Teton offers fabulous hiking, fishing, boating and camping. But more than anything else, it’s a lovely place to just hang out and contemplate nature’s beauty.

Brian Holsclaw's photo of the Grand Tetons at sunrise.

Sunrise. Photo by Brian Holsclaw.

Geology & History of Grand Teton National Park

In spite of the obviously volcanic leanings of the Park next door, the Grand Tetons are faultblock mountains. Climbing a majestic 7,000 feet above the Snake River valley, the Tetons were formed by movement of the Earth’s crust with upward pressure forcing one of the blocks of crust to rise while the other is pushed downwards.

The 485 square miles of spectacular scenery that makes up the Park is also home to a variety of wildlife, large (moose, elk, deer, bear) and small (beavers, swans, cranes, Canada geese and ducks).

Grand Teton National Park was first established in 1929, but at this time the Park only included the mountains and surrounding lakes. The adjacent valley floors were added in 1950. The final touch was the 1972 addition of the Rockefeller Memorial Parkway which allows visitors easy access to both Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks.

Ed Coyle's photo of a moose in Grand Teton National Park.

Like all National Parks, Grand Teton comes with its share of impressive wildlife. Photo by Ed Coyle.

Grand Teton National Park

Location: Northwestern Wyoming, just north of the town of Jackson and South of Yellowstone.

Dates & Hours: While National Parks are open daily, winter weather may make much of the Park inaccessible. Plan to visit between April and October and check the Park Website for alerts and closures.

Amenities: The Park includes six different visitor centers/ranger stations, six camping areas and two RV areas. Backcountry camping is also allowed with a permit. If camping is not your thing, lodging is available (private rooms, dormitories, or cabins) on the various “ranches” within the Park.

Fees: The entrance fee covers seven days and is good for both Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks. Two for the price of one- hard to beat:

$25 per vehicle
$20 per motor cycle
$12 per person (hiking or biking into the park)

greg westfall's photo of the Grand Tetons.

Grand Tetons. Photo by greg westfall.

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