Teton Uplift

Clouds blowing across the top of the Grand Teton

Teton Uplift

The main Teton range is categorized as a fault block mountain range and is part of the Teton fault. The fault line is difficult to spot because it is covered in debris from erosion and glaciers. You can see the Teton fault in the steep and straight mountain faces, no foothills, and the lack of symmetry within the Teton mountain range. The rock layers at the top of Mount Moran are the same as those that can be found 24,000 feet under Jackson Hole—a full 30,000 feet of separation.

The Teton fault is classified as a normal fault, which means the crust is pulling apart; some crust goes up and some crust slides down. The Tetons are considered young on a geologic timescale; they are about 9 million years old. The range is made up mostly of gneiss with some granite and dikes of diabase with limestone and sandstone rock on top—besides the sedimentary rock, those hard rocks take a lot of time to weather away. In fact, the Tetons are uplifting faster than they can erode! Over the course of their lifetime, they grew an average of one foot every 350 years, but in the last 150,000 years they grew one foot every 100 years. The Tetons are still getting larger and earthquakes are common even though they are typically small. Even though Jackson Hole and the Tetons seem still and content, they are still under stress and in motion.

Written by Celia Karim
PC: Anne Guzzo

Oxbow Bend

Alpenglow on Mount Moran with the snake beneath

Oxbow Bend

At the Oxbow Bend Turnout located on Highway 191 near the Jackson Lake Junction, you can see stunning views of Mount Moran. Formed by erosion and changing soil deposits, this outlook can be crowded, especially during the months when the park is the most crowded. Depending on the weather and time, you can photograph beautiful reflection shots of the mountains on the Snake River. Photographers not only appreciate this turnout for the scenic view of the mountains, but also because it is home to wildlife, such as birds, moose, otters, and the occasional bear sighting!

Mount Moran, the dominant peak in view, was named after Thomas Moran, who was a prominent landscape artist known for his paintings at Yellowstone National Park (YNP) and Grand Canyon National Park (GRCA). Moran was invited to be a part of the USGS team to explore the unmapped land out west.

Written by Anna Cressman
PC: Anna Cressman

Mormon Row

A large barn beneath the Tetons

Mormon Row

Mormon Row is located on Highway 191. Heading north, just past Moose Junction, you will turn right onto Antelope Flats Road. You may see bison and moose roaming in the flat fields, as well as the occasional pronghorn.

The story begins with followers of the Church of Latter-day Saints wanting to expand their population outside of Salt Lake City, Utah. Established in the 1890s, Mormon Row has become one of the most popular historic sites in the park. The Moulton Barn on the property has become the most photographed barn in the United States. The owner, John Moulton, settled in the area where he spent thirty years perfecting his barn.

Written by Anna Cressman
PC: Anna Cressman

Jackson Lake

The old AMK dock with snow-covered Tetons reflecting on the serene lake beyond it

Jackson Lake

Jackson Lake was enlarged by the construction of the Jackson Lake Dam, located on Teton Park Road. The dam was first constructed in 1906, but later enforced in 1911 but again enlarged in 1916 (USBR). The final reconstruction extended the lake thirty feet higher and the northern shoreline by six miles. The dam at Jackson Lake was intended to control lake levels for irrigation to farmlands in Idaho and was a part of the Minidoka Project, one of the oldest Bureau of Reclamation projects that would control the water flow from Snake River to the farmers in Idaho.

Those who have visited or stayed at the AMK Ranch know the wonders of Jackson Lake and all if has to offer. The lake is over 400 feet deep and approximately 7 miles wide. Jackson Lake is perfect for spending a day out on the water, watching for wildlife, and fishing for trout. With several different islands present in Jackson Lake, Cow Island and Moose Island are easily accessible from the AMK Ranch by kayak or canoe, but please always make sure to wear a life vest!

Written by Anna Cressman
PC: Anna Cressman

Schwabacher’s Landing

A flowing river and treeline beneath jagged mountains

Schwabacher’s Landing

Schwabacher’s Landing gives visitors easy access to the Snake River as well as a beautiful view of the Grand Teton. This is a popular destination for photographers at sunrise and during moments when the water is calm. This scenic space gives tourists a chance to capture amazing images of the mountains, as well as some popular wildlife in the area. Moose especially enjoy roaming around the aspen grove and the field nearby, but keep your eyes out for coyotes, bald eagles, and river otters!

Since the Snake River is easily accessible from Schwabacher’s Landing, where many outdoorsy and adventurous visitors enjoy fishing and river rafting. Schwabacher’s Landing also features a trail which is an easy, approximately two-mile out and back hike.

Written by Anna Cressman
PC: Anna Cressman

Leigh Lake

Deep purple sky reflecting off of a flowing lake at early dawn

Leigh Lake

Leigh lake is a popular destination for those visiting Grand Teton National Park (GTNP). The entrance to the parking area is found at the North Jenny Lake Junction. The Leigh Lake trailhead offers an easy 1.8 mile hike with breathtaking views and different angles of the mountains. You can also get to the String Lake Loop trailhead by turning at the same junction, just keep your eye out for the String Lake parking lot! This hike is an easy 3.7 loop hike which will offer great views of the different peaks.

If you are a more avid hiker looking for some difficulty, Leigh Lake trailhead eventually meets the Paintbrush Canyon trail. On this out and back trail, you can hike to Holly Lake, which is approximately 13 miles, or you can do the even more strenuous Paintbrush-Cascade Loop trail, which is approximately 19.7 miles total. 

When hiking both short and long distances in GTNP, please always carry bear spray and water. For those looking to do a more advanced hike like the Paintbrush-Cascade loop, be sure to prepare yourself physically and mentally. Take note of the weather conditions and pack the necessities! If you ever need assistance, call ranger dispatch at (307-739-3399).

Written by Anna Cressman
PC: Anna Cressman

Snake River

a shining river twisting in between trees and prairie beneath jagged mountains

Snake River

The Snake River starts in Yellowstone National Park and wraps through Grand Teton National Park for 50 miles out of its total 1,056 miles—414 miles are celebrated as wild and scenic. It feeds into Jackson Lake before going on through Bridger-Teton National Forest. The Snake River was named after the Snake Indians (Shoshone) around 1812 and has had many names; there are even names for different parts of the river. It is the largest tributary (feeder river) of the Columbia River, which is famous for being the largest river in the Pacific Northwest. There are many recreational opportunities that the Snake River provides, including fishing, rafting, wildlife spotting and sight-seeing. Ansel Adams even visited the Snake River and took the famous picture, “The Tetons and Snake River.”

The Snake River is unique because the river is a result of the Two Ocean Plateau on the Continental Divide where two creeks, the Atlantic Creek and the Pacific Creek, split off from Two Ocean Creek and feed into their corresponding oceans: the Atlantic and the Pacific. The Snake River is fed by the Pacific Creek, eventually making it to the Oregon coast via the Columbia River. Jim Bridger, a mountain man, was the one that found this “northwest passage” in 1827 after people had been searching for a path flowing from the Atlantic to the Pacific oceans for centuries to no avail. However, it could not benefit North American commerce because of this geographic phenomenon causing the water to flow in opposite directions. Jefferson’s Lewis and Clark expedition along with the many others searches for a connection between the Atlantic and Pacific did not account for this possibility. Fish are the only ones who can use this passageway, this is also how the Cutthroat trout and other fish species came to Yellowstone.

Written by Celia Karim
PC: weesam2010 on Flickr: https://flic.kr/p/YcgPfo