It started with a view. John D. Rockefeller, Jr. hiked to the top of a small knoll and gazed out upon the sea of willows and towering mountain range stretched across the valley. Elk and moose grazed down below. Clouds drifted by, some bringing thunderstorms, others breezing along.
There, Rockefeller ate lunch and took in the astounding environment around him. It dawned on Mr. Rockefeller to purchase the land with the intention of donating it to the U.S. Government so this view could be shared with everyone. His 25 year quest to preserve the land had begun.
Rockefeller’s first visit to Jackson Hole was in 1926. His wife and three sons stayed at the Amoretti Inn and fell in love with the natural beauty of Jackson Hole. By 1929, the mountain peaks and the lakes near the base of the Grand Tetons were established as a national park (the boundaries of the park were later expanded in 1950 to include much of the adjacent valley floor). More visitors continued to travel through Jackson Hole and it was clear that larger accommodations were needed. Rockefeller selected a site near his favorite lunch spot, now called Lunch Tree Hill, and construction began for Jackson Lake Lodge in March of 1953.
Today, over 2.6 million visitors come to Grand Teton National Park each year. Guests from all over the world trek up the paved path off the front terrace of Jackson Lake Lodge to Rockefeller’s favorite lunch spot. The Lodge continues to provide, activities, lodging, dining, shopping and other services for travelers.
“Our goal is to enhance guest experience in the park,” said Bob O’Neil, Grand Teton Lodge Company Director of Human Resources. “It’s really all about the park. How we keep it up to date and modern, but still preserve the Rockefeller’s vision.”
Over 50 years later that vision remains, as the natural splendor of Grand Teton National Park is shared from one generation to the next.
*Join our interpretive specialist on a short, complimentary, interpretive walk up Lunch Tree Hill. Turn back the hands of time to 1926 and walk in the footsteps of John D. Rockefeller Jr. View the exact vistas, in the cool crisp morning air, that inspired Mr. Rockefeller’s decades long passion to preserve this mountain range known as the Grand Tetons. Learn of the important historical struggle for preservation of this unique geological mountain range, view wildlife below in Willow Flats, and take advantage of great photo opportunities in the early morning light. The walk begins at 7:15am on Tuesday, Thursday & Sunday mornings.