5 Things You Didn’t Know About Grand Teton National Park

by Vibrant Management


Apr 15, 2020

When you visit Grand Teton National Park, or any national park, on one of our luxury tours, our staff act as so much more than tour guides. Your experienced guide will cater your trip to your interests, teaching you about the history, geology, culture, nature or a combination of all of the above.


When you book our Yellowstone and Grand Teton Small Group Tour, you’ll spend two days exploring majesty and grandeur that is Grand Teton National Park. Can’t wait to start learning about this unique national park from your guide? Keep reading to learn 5 facts about the park that you might not know.

1. Grand Teton is the Only U.S. National Park with a Commercial Airport

Part of Grand Teton National Park was once Jackson Hole National Monument. Created in 1943, the monument caused controversy because it encompassed farms, the city of Jackson Hole, businesses, and more. 


Throughout the 1940s, locals and senators protested the monument’s creation. While they weren’t able to eliminate it completely, they did eventually come to an agreement with the government that allowed ranchers to keep their grazing rights and elk hunting to continue, among other arrangements.


One of the agreements was that Jackson Hole National Monument would become a part of Grand Teton National Park. This meant that the Jackson Hole Airport, built in 1930 and incorporated into the national monument in 1950, was now a part of Grand Teton National Park. This makes it the only national park in the United States with a commercial airport on park grounds.

2. Cattle Farmers Once Drove Their Stock Across Jackson Hole in Protest

When Jackson Hole National Monument was founded in 1943, cattle ranchers mounted a protest. They led over 500 cattle into the valley of Jackson Hole. Their charge was led by Wallace Beery, a famous Hollywood actor.

3. The Park is Home to 11 Glaciers

While many people associate the Teton Range with snowy peaks, most don’t realize that some of that snow is actually located on active glaciers. These glaciers are formed when yearly snowfall lasts through the warmer summer months and is covered by another season of snow. When this process repeats itself several years in a row, the snow becomes compacted and turns to ice. As the ice accumulation grows, the ice will begin to slide downhill under its own weight, and a glacier is formed.


In total, Grand Teton National Park is home to 11 active glaciers. While all are still considered “active,” many of these glaciers have lost a lot of their ice volume, so that they are no longer flowing. Of the 11 glaciers, 10 of these are named, while the 11th remains unnamed.


Driving through Grand Teton, you can spot several of these glaciers in the mountains above you. From the roads, the Teton, Falling Ice, and Skillet glaciers are all visible. Ask your guide to point them out during your visit!

4. The Tetons are the Youngest Mountains in the Rockies 

While the rocks that form them are some of the oldest in North America, the Grand Teton Range itself if the youngest set of mountains in the Rockies. Most of the Rocky Mountains were formed more than 50 million years ago. But the Tetons were formed less than 10 million years ago. They continue to rise today, though very slowly, gaining about a millimeter a year in height.

5. One of the Fastest Land Mammals in the World Resides in the Park 

Grand Teton National Park is home to a vibrant array of wildlife. One of the most unique is the pronghorn.


The pronghorn was once found throughout the western United States. This antelope-like species is unique in that its the only living member of the family Antilocapridae. It’s found only in North America, making this mammal more “American” than the bald eagle or the bison, even though it’s relatively unknown to many citizens.


In the 1800s and early 1900s, the pronghorn was hunted almost to extinction. But a century ago, conservation efforts began, and their numbers grew steadily from there. Large segments of the population died off mysteriously in the 1980s. Efforts are underway again to preserve the pronghorn. Today, you can spot them grazing in both Grand Teton and Yellowstone. 


The real treat is to catch them running; the fastest land mammal in North America, they can reach speeds of up to 55 miles per hour. This adaptation is actually largely unnecessary today. The trait developed to help pronghorn outrun prehistoric cheetahs, lions, and saber-tooth cats that they once shared a habitat with. Today, pronghorn’s fastest predators are gray wolves, which can reach top speeds of just under 40 miles per hour.

Planning a Trip to Grand Teton National Park

Grand Teton is one of the most beautiful and unique national parks in the U.S. Rugged and wild, exploring it on one of our luxury tours not only means enjoying your visit in comfort and style, but also a chance to learn things about the park from your experienced guide that you might otherwise have never known. Book your Yellowstone and Grand Teton Small Group Tour or Yellowstone and Grand Teton Private Custom Tour today!


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