Grand Teton, Wyoming on the map. National Park Grand Teton (Wyoming state) on the map of US

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Grand Teton, Wyoming on the map. National Park Grand Teton (Wyoming state) on the map of US

Facing page: The majestic peaks of the Tetons create a dramatic skyline.

Below: The clear blue waters of the mountain lakes mirror the Tetons, doubling their prominence.

Grand Teton, Wyoming

Established: 1929   Acreage: 310,516

Towering more than a mile above the floor of the valley known as Jackson Hole, the Grand Teton rises to 13,770 feet above sea level. Seven Teton peaks reach above 12,000 feet. In contrast to the abrupt eastern face, the west side of the range slopes gently, showing the angle of tilt of this block resulting from the faulting process that created these mountains. Because of the way the mountains formed, no foothills hide jagged peaks and broad canyons.

More than any other erosional force, mountain glaciers of the last major glacial period shaped the Teton skyline. Upon leaving narrow canyons, the larger glaciers spread onto the valley floor, while melting at a speed equal to their flow. A huge volume of unsorted rock formed natural dams. These now encompass Leigh, Jenny, Taggart, Bradley and Phelps lakes.

The geologic forces and natural systems that interact to produce the inspiring scenery also nurture a remarkable diversity of animals. During the summer months, nearly

3000 elk migrate to the park, where they gain enough weight to sustain them through the harsh winter months. A few inches of snow triggers their return to the National Elk Refuge south of the park. A small herd of buffalo also summer in the park. Moose, pronghorn, coyote, black bear, and even an occasional grizzly are found in the river bottomlands, sagebrush flats and canyons.

Historically, Jackson Hole was a buffer zone between territories claimed by various Indian tribes, such as the Shoshone, Gros Ventre, Flathead, Blackfeet and Sheepeaters. The harsh winters prevented any one tribe from living there year round. Fur trappers were the first white men to explore the Teton Country —John Colter was probably the first. With the decline of the fur trade in the late 1830s, Jackson Hole was forgotten until the military and civilian surveys of the 1860s and 1870s rediscovered the region. By the late 1800s, Jackson Hole had acquired a reputation for its splendid hunting and fishing, and soon tourism flourished. In 1925, Pierce Cunningham, a local rancher, circulated a petition calling for the preservation of the area and the wildlife that inhabited it. Four years later much of the Teton range was protected with the establishment of a national park. Following years of debate, Congress added the Jackson Hole portion in 1950.

Grand Teton, Wyoming on the map. National Park Grand Teton (Wyoming state) on the map of US