Grand Teton National Park - Wyoming
Located in northwestern Wyoming, Grand Teton National Park lies in the heart of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem - the largest, intact natural environment outside of Alaska. Adorned with glaciers and snowfields, the Teton Range is unquestionably the park's central feature. As the mountains abruptly rise above the sagebrush valley of Jackson Hole, they create a rugged, picturesque backdrop. Photographed by millions of visitors each year, this world-renowned western scenery also offers opportunities for a variety of recreational pursuits.
A diverse array of wildlife complements the impressive mountain landscape. Visitors often see moose, elk, bison, pronghorn antelope, wolves, coyotes, and bears (black and grizzly). Twelve distinct, biotic communities host more than 900 species of flowering plants. These plant communities provide habitat for 60 species of mammals such as marmots, snowshoe hares, pikas, and chipmunks, and 300+ species of birds such as peregrine falcons, trumpeter swans, sand hill cranes, and ravens.
Pristine lakes and the meandering Snake River add to the natural beauty of the area. A 50-mile-long section of river winds its way through the park on its 1,056-mile-long journey to the Pacific Ocean, providing habitat for one of the last wild, inland populations of native cutthroat trout. Braided river channels create wetlands that support beavers, otters, white pelicans, ospreys, and bald eagles.
First established in 1929, today's Grand Teton National Park emerged only after a complicated and controversial series of events. Through a visionary plan by Yellowstone Superintendent Horace Albright, and the generosity of John D. Rockefeller, Jr., legislation passed in 1950 that merged the original 1929 park with lands from the Jackson Hole National Monument, creating a present-day size of 310,000 acres.
Grand Teton Trivia
1. Grand Teton National Park celebrates its 75th anniversary on February 26, 2004. The highest peak in the Teton Range is the Grand Teton at an elevation of 13,770 feet. The range also includes 12 peaks over 12,000 feet and 12 mountain glaciers.
2.The coldest temperature ever recorded in the park was -63' F. Snow blankets the Teton landscape from early November to late April with approximately 400 inches of yearly snowfall in the mountains and 175 inches on the valley floor. The park's semi-arid climate brings summertime highs of 93' F and 20 inches of average annual rainfall.
3. About 4 million people visit the park annually.
4. Grand Teton served as the host site in September 1989 for a World Summit Meeting between U.S. Secretary of State James Baker and Soviet Minister of Foreign Affairs Eduard Shevardnadze, which eventually led to the end of the Cold War.
Grand Teton Attractions
Springtime in Jackson Hole is for the birds; each weekend in April, you can join a naturalist on an early morning trek to observe the unique mating rituals of sage grouse. Spring also means that snowplows begin to uncover the Teton Park Road. Once plowed, this road opens to non-motorized use only (walking, rollerblading, and bicycling) for the month of April. The road opens to vehicle traffic on May 1st.
Summertime is the most popular time to visit and experience the many recreational activities. Educational opportunities for adults and children alike occur each day and evening as park naturalists conduct interpretive hikes, talks and evening slide programs. To answer all your questions, rangers staff four visitor centers and an Indian Arts Museum. Summer activities include climbing, hiking, backpacking, camping, wildlife observation, fishing, horseback riding, bicycling, boating, rafting, and photography.
Big Bend National Park - TexasFall is a special time for visitors and wildlife. Aspens and cottonwoods turn golden yellow and crowds thin, as elk begin to bugle and gather in harems during their mating season. Each September evening, naturalists lead caravans of visitors to view wildlife. Hiking and photography are favored activities during this "short but sweet" season.
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Winter is a time of silence and pristine splendor. Cross-country skiing or snowshoeing on the Teton Park Road and nearby trails offers a chance to experience both the beauty and rigors of the season. Ranger-led snowshoe hikes are offered each day, except Wednesdays, from December 26 to mid-March. This free activity provides snowshoes and basic instruction for beginners and experienced alike.
About the Author
Rick Chapo is with http://nomadjournals.com