The Clearing of “The Devil’s Rope”

 
photo by Don Wells
photo by Don Wells

The history of Range Land in the American West could be defined simply as “before wire and after wire.”  Many historians believe one of the defining moments in the history of the West came when a small bunch of wild longhorn steers stopped and backed away from eight slender strands of twisted wire equipped with sharp barbs. This event happened in 1876 when John W. (Bet-a-Million) Gates erected an enclosure on the Plaza in San Antonio, Texas to demonstrate to gathered ranchers, that newly-invented “Devil’s Rope” could securely contain wild livestock. From that moment on, the West would never be the same again.  This defining event ended the era of open range and the use of free graze which had reigned supreme since the earliest settlers began to populate mid-America.

As early pioneers moved into the Jackson Hole area of Wyoming, the need to use fencing as a range management tool was already well understood.  Even though smooth and barbed wire was available, it was expensive.  And besides that, fence postholes were nearly impossible to dig in this cobble/gravel soil left by our early glaciers.  Our earliest settlers turned to the abundant supply of Lodgepole Pine trees to construct our iconic “Buck and Rail” fences.  Later, with increased modernization, the “Devil’s Rope” would weave its way into Jackson Hole as well.

 photo by Don Wells
photo by Don Wells

John and Frank Craighead began studying Grizzly bear in Grant Teton and Yellowstone National Parks in the late 1950’s.  It became clear through their research that our animal population didn’t understand the concept Park boundaries.  Their studies reflected a significantly larger habitat study area defined as the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.  From that date forward this ecosystem, the greatest intact temperate zone ecosystem remaining in the world, has and will continue to host scientific studies of all facets of this ecosystem.

Of study interest are the migratory habits of many of our large mammals.  Each year Elk and Pronghorn migrate through this ecosystem.  Pronghorn constitute the second largest migratory heard in the Western Hemisphere – second only to Caribou. Current herd estimates are around 40,000 animals.  Elk seasonally migrate from the National Elk Refuge, North of Jackson, to the Yellowstone Plateau.  Our challenge is the existence of non-used fences that remain in this migratory habitat, dating back to our early pioneer days.  These unused fences block heard travel and often entrap newborn calves.

Each year Grand Teton Lodge Company along with Jackson Hole Wildlife Foundation, (www.jhwildlife.org)  volunteer to remove miles of both old buck and rail fence line and unused wire fencing.

photo by Don Wells
photo by Don Wells

Take advantage of Grand Teton Lodge Company’s Give and Getaway Program on September 22-23, 2009 and enjoy a private interpretive tour of the Menor’s Ferry Historic District along with the opportunity to participate in the removal of a mile of fence line to improve wildlife migration in Grand Teton National Park.  For more information on this program please call 800-628-9988.  Rates start at $120 per room at Jackson Lake Lodge.

From Don’s Corner

A Walking History of Colter Bay Village

 
A Colter Bay Cabin
A Colter Bay Cabin

An historic walk through Colter Bay Village with Grand Teton Lodge Company Historian Mary McKinney is a fascinating walk back through time.  Listen how the valley began to develop and dude ranches dotted the landscape.  Hear how John D. Rockefeller Jr’s vision and generosity assisted in preserving this wonderful landscape.  Compare the differences of how these early dude cabins were constructed and with what unusual materials.  Laugh at how our housekeeping cabins were once “Chic Sales”.      

Colter Bay Village actually represents an eclectic collection of cabins from various sites around Jackson Hole. The cabins at Colter Bay serve as a window into the past, giving guests the chance to experience a bit of history during their stay. Though the cabins have been modified to accommodate plumbing and electrical needs, they have been restored and maintained to reflect as close a representation of their original construction as is possible. Many of the cabins were constructed in the 1920’s and 1930’s, but some date back to the late 1800’s. 

As tourism in Jackson Hole began to flourish in the early 1900’s, accommodations began to sprout up all over the valley. The result of this influx of tourists was the beginning of dude ranches in Jackson Hole.   A typical dude ranch was composed of a central building surrounded by many smaller guest cabins.   The largest of these resorts was the Teton Lodges at Moran, located at the site of the old town of Moran below Jackson Lake Dam. 

As one of the driving forces behind conserving Jackson Hole, John D. Rockefeller Jr. had bought thousands of acres of property with the intent of donating it as part of a national park. When Grand Teton National Park was expanded in 1950 with Rockefeller’s donation of 34,000 acres, it became apparent that guest accommodations in the park were inadequate. With funding from Rockefeller, the park service began to develop new visitor facilities and remove older resorts as they wanted to restore much of the park to its natural state. After the completion of the new Jackson Lake Lodge in 1955, the Colter Bay visitor site went into development. Cabins were transplanted to Colter Bay from the Teton Lodges at Moran, the old Jackson Lake Lodge resort, and the Square G Ranch (located near Jenny Lake) among others. In 1957 the cabins at Colter Bay Village were opened to the public. Over the years many of the other dude ranches and resorts closed or were donated to the park, and Colter Bay Village grew with the addition of the cabins from these various sites. 

Craftmanship of a Unique Cabin
Craftmanship of a Unique Cabin

Today there is no trace to be found of many resort sites that now makeup Colter Bay Village. All the cabins from the old Jackson Lake Lodge that were not transplanted were destroyed. After picking up much of the town of Moran and transporting it to Colter Bay, the remaining structures were demolished in 1957. Only the post office still survives, transported to present-day Moran near the park’s east entrance.

Mary McKinney
Mary McKinney

Ms. McKinney’s interpretive historic walk is complementary and is scheduled each Tuesday and Friday afternoon at 5pm.  Meet Mary for a wonderfully delightful afternoon at the Colter Bay Village Cabins Guest Lounge.
 

 

From Don’s Corner -Adapted from “A Brief History of Colter Bay Village” by Mary McKinney (GTLC Historian)

Introducing Our New Friend…

We have a new friend at Grand Teton Lodge Company. A fury moose has joined us in the office and he’s quite the explorer. The stuffed guy enjoys hiking, horseback riding, float trips, biking, rock climbing… there really isn’t an activity that he won’t try. He also likes to take time out to relax by the Jackson Lake Lodge swimming pool or grab a drink up at the Blue Heron. He’s a bit of a romantic, taking strolls along the shoreline of Elk Island and catching sunset at Lunch Tree Hill. He’s also been known to take a lady or two out to a special dinner at Jenny Lake Lodge.

 What's My Name?

This moose is quite the environmentally-friendly fellow. He is part of the Fuzz that Wuzz family. This means he is made from 100% recycled plastic bottles. Approximately two million plastic bottles are used in the U.S. every ten minutes and 51 billion go into landfills annually. It takes 700 years before plastic bottles start to decompose and less than 30% of plastic bottles in the U.S. are actually recycled. Each Fuzz that Wuzz member keeps over ten bottles out of landfills.

 

Our fluffy friend will be out and about in Grand Teton National Park. Keep you eyes open, if you spot him in our photos and tell us where he is, you could when a prize from Grand Teton Lodge Company.

The moose is missing just one thing, a name! We are asking for your help in selecting one. Please leave a comment with your suggestion and we will review potential candidates. The contender with the name we select will win a $50 gift certificate.  We look forward to hearing your ideas by Monday July 27th!

Welcome to Recycling

Amy Kozlowski Finds Artwork While Sorting Through Recycling
Amy Kozlowski Finds Artwork While Sorting Through Recycling

 

Four sorters, forty trash bags and a bail of cardboard. The day begins for the Grand Teton Lodge Company (GTLC) Recycling Department. “We start out at Jackson Lake Lodge, pick up cardboard from the back dock and the kitchen recycling. The Blue Heron has a bunch of bottles, so we pick up all that,” said Amy Kozlowski, GTLC Recycling Attendant. The crew also picks up recycling at Colter Bay Village, Jenny Lake Lodge, Gros Ventre Campground and Jackson Hole Golf & Tennis.   “Then we come back in the afternoon and bail our cardboard in the big bailer. Right now we have about 40 bails of cardboard, we get one everyday at least.”

 

The Bailer
The Bailer

 

Kozlowski is a second year Recycling Attendant. “I have maintenance experience on my resume so Engineering called and said they have openings for recycling,” said Kozlowski. “I said that would be awesome because I really like to be green and I’m very concerned about the environment, so I jumped on that right away.”

Recycling and waste reduction continues to be the hallmark of Grand Teton Lodge Company’s sustainable operations and the direct link to our green house gas emission reductions. Recycle, reduce, reuse is considered in every aspect to lessen our impacts on the environment.

Yet sorting through recycling bags is no easy task. A lot of trash and other items end up in recycling.  The department takes glass, aluminum, tin, paper and corrugated cardboard—but not paperboard. “All recycling we sort through goes to Jackson, so we can only recycle what they recycle in town.”

Since 2005 more than 600,000 single-use bottles have been saved from landfills.
We have installed bulk dispensers for shampoo, soap and lotion in all Jackson Lake Lodge and Colter Bay Village Rooms. Our goal is to continue a minimum 50 percent diversion rate by recycling materials within our waste system. 

All sorts of treasures have ended up in recycling and the department is outfitted in gloves and eye protection while sorting. “We find some cool stuff that we can keep. We’ve found an inflatable raft and a lot of times people throw away magazines and books so we get to keep those.”

In 2008, GTLC recycled 229,587 total pounds of material, including 116,800 pounds of cardboard and 63,000 pounds of glass. This does not include the materials from our Jackson Lake Lodge renovation project, which had a 97 percent diversion rate. 

 

Just Some of the Bailed Cardboard
Just Some of the Bailed Cardboard

 

“We can do only as much as the people give us,” said Kozlowski. “I see people all the time throwing stuff into the trash that’s recycling.” Recycling awareness is one of the department’s biggest tasks. Work gets divvied up between four attendants and no one argues, they just get it done. “We get to be outside in a beautiful place and be doing something you can feel really good about.”

The Recycling Department continues to get the word out, hoping that every recyclable item will not end up in the trash, but rather the recycling bins.

“It’s something I can feel really good about when I go home,” said Kozlowski. “I know that what we are doing is helping a lot of efforts.  I think if I was working anywhere else I would feel guilty that I wasn’t working in recycling.”

GTLC Incorporates Green Practices in Renovation

Guestroom at Jackson Lake Lodge
Guestroom at Jackson Lake Lodge

 

With sustainability in mind, Grand Teton Lodge Company completed major renovations this year. $5.4 million in projects included guestrooms at Jackson Lake Lodge, guestroom baths at Jenny Lake Lodge, and a complete transformation of the former Chuckwagon restaurant at Colter Bay Village. Each project strived to be environmentally friendly and put GTLC’s green practices to the test.

 

Jackson Lake Lodge Guest Bathroom Lighting Fixtures
Jackson Lake Lodge Guest Bathroom Lighting Fixtures

 

 

Redesigned Headboards at Jackson Lake Lodge
Redesigned Headboards at Jackson Lake Lodge

 

Walk into one of Jackson Lake Lodge’s 385 guestrooms and you will be greeted by fifties modern décor with a hint of western flair. Designed by Cole Martinez Curtis and Associates, the new look of the guestrooms at Jackson Lake Lodge honors both the National Historical Landmark designation and a commitment to sustainability. A variety of green products and practices were put into place. Low or zero VOC paints, recycled-content carpet padding, low wattage lamps, and the reuse of furniture were efforts to reach a waste diversion of 98%. Double-sized headboards were retrofitted to accommodate queen-size beds, resulting in the saving of 17,136 board feet of wood. Left over furniture, fixtures and equipment was donated to local organizations.

 

Jackson Lake Lodge Guest Bathroom
Jackson Lake Lodge Guest Bathroom

At Jenny Lake Lodge the bathrooms bring the outdoors in with elegant western charm. The 31 cabins at Jenny Lake Lodge are complete with redesigned guest bathrooms. They reflect the modern grace and serene environment that surrounds Jenny at the base of the Tetons.

 

John Colter Ranch House at Colter Bay Village
John Colter Ranch House at Colter Bay Village

 

John Colter Ranch House Bar
John Colter Ranch House Bar

 

If you look for the Chuckwagon restaurant of Colter Bay Village, you will find a new treat. The restaurant has undergone a complete renovation and in its place is the John Colter Ranch House, honoring the early settlers and mountain men of Wyoming.  The restaurant now features a bar with an atmosphere reflecting the ranching way of life and highlights the original homesteaders whose settler’s cabins are located at Colter Bay Village. Come in for a hearty breakfast, healthy lunch options such as a soup and salad bar, and a variety of dinner entrees including mesquite-grilled flatiron steak, honey BBQ pork ribs and blackened salmon.

 

Outside John Colter Ranch House
Outside John Colter Ranch House

 

The new look of Grand Teton Lodge Company is ready to be seen, as the lodges and village prepare to open for the summer on the following days:

 

Jackson Lake Lodge: May 18

Colter Bay Village: May 22

Jenny Lake Lodge: May 30

 

Join us for summer 2009! For reservations, call 800-628-9988.

Posted from Katie’s Corner

Give Back While Getting Away in Grand Teton National Park

Summer Wildflowers with the Tetons
Summer Wildflowers with the Tetons

 

Not one to sit around on a vacation? Looking for something a little more exciting than a facial? Grand Teton Lodge Company (GTLC) is hosting an opportunity to give back while getting away. The Conservation Vacation volunteer package provides guests with the chance to explore and enjoy the magnificence of Grand Teton National Park at a discount, while helping preserve its beauty for generations to come.

“Grand Teton National Park was founded on the Rockefellers’ vision that natural splendor should be educational, enjoyable and treasured for years to come,” said John W. Rutter, GTLC Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer.  “This package reinforces his sentiment, and gives guests a chance to learn while participating in the preservation of this national treasure.”

A variety of conservation projects are available to all fitness levels and anyone over the age of 16 can participate. Help maintain the grandeur of the Park by joining in brush clearing to reduce fires, trail maintenance and preservation of historical cabins at Colter Bay.

 

Be a Leader and Volunteer in the Park
Be a Leader and Volunteer in the Park

 

The Conservation Vacation volunteer package is available September 20 through 26. Participants receive a welcome reception, three meals per day, accommodations, work tools for projects, and educational presentations by guest speakers and GTLC management. The package price is $120 per person per night based on double occupancy and space availability at Colter Bay Village, and is inclusive of tax and gratuities. It is not applicable to groups or conventions. Advance reservations are required and can be made by calling 800-628-9988.

Experience the spectacular Grand Tetons and help preserve this natural treasure for the future!

Posted from Katie’s Corner

 

Help Preserve the Park's Natural Beauty
Help Preserve the Park's Natural Beauty

Kids Walk on the Wild Side

For kids, Grand Teton National Park can be a pretty exciting place to explore. From their first Snake River float trip to seeing a 2400 pound bison, there are endless experiences to be shared.

Wildwalk Field Guide is a program that GTLC developed for families to discover the unique nature that surrounds us in the Park.

 

20090512113315728.pdf - Adobe Reader
Wildwalk Field Guide (available in color)

 

Illustrated and written by our employees, the guide features activities to educate kids on Park etiquette, adventures, the Junior Ranger Program, and much more. Kids follow Ranger Pat and Butterfly as they color, word search, check off, and photo hunt their way through the Park.

The guide provides a strong emphasis on Leave No Trace principles, an education program that teaches outdoor enthusiasts how to protect the places they love. Kids learn about the Leave No Trace principles including:

Plan ahead and prepare

Dispose of waste properly

Travel and camp on durable surfaces

Minimize campfire impacts

Respect wildlife

Be considerate of other visitors

When the guide is completed, kids can sign a Certificate of Achievement for learning and practicing these principles. The guide creates a fun and interactive way for kids to learn about and explore the Park.

Other great activities for families to enjoy:

Wagon Ride: Seasonal based on Jackson Lake Lodge to Colter Bay Village Wagon Road accessibility; interactive ride with wagon driver.

Snake River Wild & Scenic Float Trip: Participants must be large enough to fit the life vests properly (typically 6 yrs or older); interactive float – guide may allow assistance with oars as river safety allows.

Guided fishing on Jackson Lake: Originating at Colter Bay Marina – a great activity for the whole family; guided fly fishing excursions on the Snake River are also available.

Horseback Rides and Pony Rides: Horseback rides originate at Jackson Lake Lodge and Colter Bay Village – riders must be 8 years old to participate in the guided trail rides; riders under 8 yrs old can take a pony ride around the corral area instead.  Riding helmets are available.

Jackson Lake Cruise: Get your Jr. Boat Captain License by driving the Rendevous or Teewinot Cruisers; breakfast and dinner cruises include a meal on Elk Island with lots of areas to explore; activity originates at Colter Bay Marina.

Interpretive Bus Tour: Guided tours of Grand Teton and/or Yellowstone National Parks.

Jackson Lake Lodge Swimming Pool:  Open early June to early September – weather permitting.  The complex includes a full size outdoor pool, wading pool and playground.

Pool BBQ:  A Western-style BBQ dinner designed for the family is held at the Jackson Lake Lodge pool complex from late June through mid-August.  Enjoy live music and eating outside while taking advantage of lots of opportunities to make new friends.

Hiking: Over 250 miles to explore by foot.

National Park Service Interpretive Talk: Located on the west terrace at Jackson Lake Lodge, as well as other ranger programs at the Visitor Centers and the Laurance S. Rockefeller (LSR) Reserve.

History Walks: Join our company historian at Colter Bay Village.

Junior Park Ranger: Offered by the National Park Service at the Visitor Centers. 

 

Grand Teton National Park is the ultimate playground. For first time visitors of all ages, it is a breath-taking place. You feel an overwhelming sense of awe when you walk up the stairs of Jackson Lake Lodge and look through the 60 foot windows.  They unveil the magnificent peaks that appear as if you can just reach out and touch them. You have to pinch yourself and ask am I really here? When kids experience this at a young age it instills an appreciation for our environment and national parks that they will carry and share with their own families. We invite you to come play and stay awhile. All those “Are we there yets?” are worth every moment here.