12 Interesting Facts About Grand Teton National Park

Grand Teton National Park scenic beauty

Sprawling 310,000 acres in northwestern Wyoming, Grand Teton National Park sits just south of Yellowstone National Park. It boasts some of America’s most idyllic scenery featuring imposing mountain peaks, glistening lakes, and picturesque alpine meadows. Plus, there is so much to discover about the park’s rich history – geological as well as cultural history. So, be sure to check out these 12 intriguing facts about Grand Teton National Park before you plan your trip to this beautiful park.

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Facts About Grand Teton National Park

1. Humans Have Been Living in The Grand Teton Region For More Than 100 Centuries

The human history of the Grand Teton region goes back about 11,000 years when the nomadic tribes of Paleo-Indians first arrived in this area.

They lived in the valley in summer and migrated during the harsh winter to find food and supplies in the warmer areas.

Archaeologists have found evidence of fishing and hunting tools, tipi rings, and fire pits along the shores of Jackson Lake.

2. The First Known Euro-American to See The Magnificent Teton Peaks Was John Colter

John Colter served as a member of the famous Lewis and Clark Expedition between the years 1804 and 1806.

Later, he was hired by Manuel Lisa, a fur trader, to lead a group of fur trappers. On his trapping journeys, he explored the Greater Yellowstone area during the winter of 1807-08.

It is believed that he may have entered the Jackson Hole Valley around the same time. He is considered the first person of European descent to see the Teton Range.

Teton Mountain range
Facts About Grand Teton National Park History

In fact, a rhyolite stone carved in the shape of a human head was discovered near Tetonia, Idaho in 1933.

The stone is engraved with the name of “John Colter” on one side and the year “1808” on the other side. However, the authenticity of the stone is not fully established.

3. The Highest Peak in The Park is Grand Teton At 13,775 Feet Above Sea Level

Soaring more than 7,000 feet above Jackson Hole Valley, Grand Teton is the highest peak of the Teton Range at 13,775 feet. It is also the second highest peak in Wyoming after Gannett Peak.

There are eight peaks in the park that exceed 12,000 feet in elevation. Besides Grand Teton, these peaks rise more than 12,000 feet.

  • Mount Owen: 12,933 feet
  • Middle Teton: 12,809 feet
  • Mount Moran: 12,610 feet
  • South Teton: 12,519 feet
  • Teewinot Mountain: 12,330 feet
  • Thor Peak: 12,033 feet
  • Cloudveil Dome: 12,031 feet

4. There Are Six Glacial Lakes At The Base of The Teton Range

The glacial activities in the park have led to the formation of several natural lakes.

Six of them sit at the foot of the Teton Mountain Range: Jackson, Jenny, Leigh, Bradley, Taggart, and Phelps.

Jackson Lake
Serene Jackson Lake

Jackson Lake is the largest of all at 25,540 acres and Jenny Lake is the second largest at about 1,200 acres.

5. As many as 11 active glaciers are found in the park

There are ten named glaciers in the park and one unnamed glacier near Glacier Peak.

These are the named glaciers: Teton, Middle Teton, Teepee, Schoolroom, Petersen, Falling Ice, Skillet, and East, Middle, and West Trip Glaciers. The Teton Glacier is the park’s largest named glacier.

Teton Glacier
Image: Bryant Olsen | Facts About Grand Teton National Park Geology

Climate change is causing glaciers to melt at a rapid rate. According to the National Park Service, some of the glaciers in the park may have lost so much ice volume that they are no longer flowing and active.

The changes in the ice volume of the glaciers are monitored by the park scientists. You can learn more about it on the Grand Teton National Park glacier monitoring page.

6. The Tetons Were Created By A Series of Earthquakes

The stunning landscape of Grand Teton National Park today was shaped over millions of years by large earthquakes.

The seismic disaster caused the Teton Fault’s west block to rise upward, forming the Teton Range, the youngest range in the Rocky Mountains.

On the other hand, the east block along the fault line dropped more than 7,000 feet to create the Jackson Hole Valley.

7. The Park Has Some of The Oldest Rocks in North America

Here is one of the cool facts about Grand Teton National Park.

Rocks that make the Tetons are nearly 2.5 billion years old, despite it being the youngest range in the Rocky Mountains.

Most of the Teton Range is made up of a metamorphic rock called gneiss.

These rocks were formed when enormous heat and pressure metamorphosed the sediments buried deep into the earth’s interiors.

8. The Valley of Jackson Hole Wasn’t A Part of The Park At The Time of Its Creation

The original park, established by an act of Congress in 1929, included the Teton Range and the six lakes at the base of the mountains. At that time, the lands in the valley of Jackson Hole were privately owned.

Jackson Hole Valley
Facts About Grand Teton National Park Creation

To protect the wilderness of this area, an American philanthropist, John D. Rockefeller Jr., bought land throughout the valley and later donated to the National Park Service.

In 1950, the original park, Jackson Hole National Monument, and the land donated by Rockefeller Jr. were combined to create Grand Teton National Park that we have today.

Fun Fact

As a mark of appreciation for Rockefeller’s conservation efforts, the National Park Service established the John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway in 1972. This parkway connects Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks.

9. Only National Park in The US To Have Its Own Airport

Grand Teton National Park is the only national park in the United States with a commercial airport inside it.

Established in the 1930s, Jackson Hole Airport became a part of Jackson Hole National Monument in 1943 and finally merged with Grand Teton National Park in 1950.

The airport is serviced by some of the major US carriers including American Airlines and Delta Air Lines.

10. The Park Nurtures A Great Variety of Wildlife

Grand Teton National Park is blessed with an amazing variety of wildlife.

There are 61 mammal species, 6 amphibian species, 4 reptile species, and over a dozen fish species.

pronghorn in Grand Teton National Park
Image: Eric Kilby | Pronghorn in Grand Teton National Park

Some of the commonly seen mammals in the park include elk, moose, bison, pronghorn, black bear, and river otter.

The park also supports more than 300 species of birds.

Over 10,000 different species of insects have also been recorded in this area.

Fun Facts About Grand Teton National Park Wildlife

  • The pronghorn is the fastest land mammal in the Western Hemisphere. It can run up to 55 miles per hour.
  • The park is home to the smallest North American bird, Calliope Hummingbird as well as the largest North American waterfowl, Trumpeter Swan.

11. There Are Several Historic Structures Inside The Park

The park has a wealth of historic buildings and structures, erected mostly by homesteaders in the 1800s and early 1900s.

When the valley was opened to homesteading under the Homestead Act of 1862, many people came to live in this remote and wild country.

mormon row barn - interesting facts about grand teton national park cultural history
John Moulton Barn | Facts About Grand Teton National Park Cultural History

They built self-sufficient communities and produced everything they needed for their day-to-day life.

As you explore the park, you will come across several structures left behind by homesteaders.

Some of the park’s famous structures are found in Mormon Row Historic District.

The John Moulton Barn and the TA Moulton Barn are two iconic barns in the park, a must-visit during your Grand Teton trip.

The barns are set against the soothing backdrop of the Teton Range and make for excellent photo opportunities.

12. Several Movies Have Been Filmed in Grand Teton National Park

The natural beauty of the Grand Taton region has not only attracted tourists and photographers but also filmmakers.

Jackson Hole and the Tetons have featured in a number of classic movies.

The list includes – The Big Trail (1930), The Big Sky (1952), Shane (1953), Rocky IV (1985), and Brokeback Mountain (2005).

Further Reading

For national parks travel inspiration, you may like to check out these posts.

The 3 Best National Parks in Southern California.

Top 10 National Parks in The USA For Nature Lovers.

10 Unmissable Attractions in Joshua Tree National Park.

14 Amazing Facts About Death Valley National Park.

10 Must-see Attractions in Yosemite National Park.

11 Very Best Things To See in Death Valley.

10 of The Best Attractions in The Grand Canyon.

12 of The Best Attractions in Yellowstone National Park.

10 Absolute Best Things To See in Zion National Park.

Over To You Now…

We hope you found this post informative.

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