3 Ways to Enjoy Grand Teton National Park this Spring

Welcome springtime in Grand Teton National Park! There are already signs of a new season approaching. With the arrival of the spring melt we see the Snake River  rushing, river otters playing, trumpeter swans swimming, and moose munching on willows. These are all sure signs that Jackson Hole and Grand Teton Lodge Company are coming out of winter hibernation!

Three moose seen this April munching on willows

If you have Spring Fever and are ready for your summer vacation in the mountains, let us help you plan your mountain getaway for family and friends with our Grand Teton National Park packages.

The Grand Adventure Package

A Grand Teton National Park Exploration

The Grand Adventure Package is an all-inclusive package that offers a true discovery of Grand Teton National Park.  This package was designed for the family to explore the majestic scenery, wildlife and activities of the Park for all ages. The key to this package is the amount of activities to participate in; from river rafting on the beautiful Snake River, hiking and horseback riding in one of Americas most treasured and historic National Parks to boat cruises on Jackson Lake below the statuesque Teton Mountain Range to touring our neighboring town of Jackson or Yellowstone National Park.  Create a family experience to last a lifetime.

Hot Dates: May 20-June 20, 2011 and September 15-October 1, 2011 ~ Receive 20% Off Lodging!

Stay & Play Package

A Grand Teton National Park Skins and Fins Experience

Yes you read it right! Where is a more fantastic place on earth for dedicated golfers and fisherman than Grand Teton National Park?  This is a package created for that special outing with friends that may come only every so often. Golf at the beautiful Jackson Hole Golf & Tennis Club located just outside of the Park. Don’t be surprised to see moose munching on nearby greens while gazing at the entire Teton Mountain Range on iconic 13th hole. Spend a day hiking in the inspiring mountains. Catch the “big one” with an incredible day of fly fishing on the Snake River with a private guide. Grab your friends and let the adventure begin!

Give & Getaway Package

A Way to Give Back in Grand Teton National Park

A new year is here and so is a brand new Give & Getaway package.  This summer from June 6th through 9th, volunteers who work alongside Teton Science Schools employees to preserve the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem will receive 20% off their lodging.  Working, on Vacation? With this package volunteer your vacation time to give back to the environment. Experience the Jackson Hole Region on a whole different level by participating in a Willow Restoration Program and a Trail Extension Project. In addition to volunteering partake in an interactive education class about the ecology, plant communities, and wildlife of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.

Find a getaway that sounds right for you? Call one of our Package Specialist for more information at 800-628-9988. For more mountain vacation options visit our packages web page, please click: Packages

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…Where the Pronghorn Play!

A common confusion for the guests of Grand Teton National Park is calling a pronghorn an “antelope.” 

 

Pronghorn in Grand Teton National Park
Pronghorn in Grand Teton National Park

 The pronghorn has had to live with this mistake for quite awhile, so I thought I’d help clear this matter up!

Fun Fact One:  Family

Antelope are a member of the Bovidae family, which also includes cows, bison and sheep.

Pronghorn are the last surviving membe rof the Antilocapridae family.

Fun Fact Two:  Territory

Antelope are found in Africa, Asia and occasionally the middle east.  Their habitat range from grasslands to marshes.

Pronghorn are found in western North America, from Canada to northern Mexico.

Fun Fact Three:  Horns or Antlers

Antelope have a traditional horn which consists of a bony core with a Keratin coating.  (That’s the same stuff our nails are made of!)  Their horns do not branch in any form and they have one set for life.

Pronghorn have keratin growing on a bony core that is pronged in the male and is also shed annually. 

A true classification for ther term “horns” in animals is they are always unbranched and never shed (like the Antelope).  They are also covered with skin like the horns of a giraffe!

Fun Fact Four:  Speed vs. Height

Antelope come in such a variety that some like the Gazelles are very fast, while others like the Nilgai are very slow.  They are also, primarily, decent to great jumpers.

Pronghorn are the second fastest land mammal, second only to the Cheetah!  They have a very high endurance for racing but are very poor jumpers!

Fun Fact Five:  Young

Antelope typically have just one baby at a time.

Pronghorn are known to most commonly have twins!
Bonus Fun Fact: Pronghorns outnumber people in the state of Wyoming!

From Melissa’s Corner!

Wells on Wildflowers

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Nature greets the arrival of spring as enthusiastically as we do, and celebrates it with a festival of color.  Even Grand Teton’s sub-zero winters and blinding snowstorms eventually yield to the pink earthly stars of the Spring Beauty, and gigantic yellow flowering Arrowleaf Balsam Root.  Soon thereafter Lupine, Camas, Larkspur, Oregon Grape, and Yellow Violets paint the spectrum of a land rainbow that banishes the memory of winter’s monotone grays and whites.

 

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Armed with what seems to be pounds of wildflower field guides and plant books in our packs, my wife and I hike off to destinations like Taggart and Phelps Lake, Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point, Pilgrim Creek, Antelope Flats, Heron Pond and Swan Lake, eagerly awaiting colorful surprises along the route.  Never disappointed, referring to our guides along the way, spring is a wonderful time to visit the backcountry.

We appreciate wildflowers for their beauty and trumpeting the arrival of spring.  We may also consider them as chronicles of time and place.  They tell a fascinating story, acting as interpreters of the natural world they inhabit.  Grand Teton’s geologic past shaped a varied landscape, where a series of transformations culminated in various ecological systems that support the wildflowers we admire today.  Our population of flowers reveal ancient tales of the landscape dating back millions of years and provide us with lessons in geology, climate, wildlife biology, fire history, and an array of other scientific information. 

 

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As always, collecting specimens of animals, trees, minerals, or archeological artifacts are strictly prohibited in all National Parks and Monuments. Collecting wildflowers are equally protected.  So, study the plants where they grow, take home photographs and memories, but leave them to display their brief beauty for the enjoyment of those who will follow.

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Posted from Don’s Corner, Photographs by Don Wells

 

Do you know what these wildflowers are? Please leave us a comment and let us know! If your answers are correct you could be eligible to win a prize from Grand Teton Lodge Company!

 

We have been receiving your answers! Keep them coming, at the end of the week we will enter all the correct answers into a drawing. Thanks for your participation!

Bison Calves

Calving season is upon us in Grand Teton National Park. A herd of Bison are hanging out near Gros Ventre Campground, with a couple calves and yearlings.

It’s estimated that over 50 million American bison once roamed the Great Plains before they were nearly hunted to extinction by settlers. Size does not slow down the largest land mammal in North America. Even at 750-2500 pounds, Bison can run up to speeds of 35 mph. See these mammals roaming the Park, as calves are being born.

 

 

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Bison Calf
 
 

Adult Bison

 

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Young Adult Crossing the Road

 

 

 

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New Life in the Park

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Spring fever is raising temperatures and melting the snow in Grand Teton National Park. The season is in full swing, as new life joins us in the Park. Herds are beginning their migration from lower winter feeding grounds to higher summer grounds and females are beginning to give birth, providing the opportunity to observe and study Mother Nature at her finest. 

Below is a breakdown for understanding the process of life for some of our larger mammal populations in the Park:

 
Moose:

As the male moose emits a deep, grunting call, his rutting season begins in September and extends into October.  Bulls guard their right to mate through intimidation and fights.  Around mid-May to early June, one or two calves are born to the cows and will remain close, weaned in winter or the following spring.

Bison:

Showing dominance through bellowing, wallowing, and fighting, bull bison mate in late July and August.  During rut, one bull will remain with one female until she is ready to mate.  One calf will be born in late April and May and may be suckled through its second winter.  Calves are able to keep up with the herd soon after birth.

Elk:

The cool fall air from August to mid-October echoes with the bugling of mature bull elk, signaling their rut season.  Bulls equipped with mature antlers, guard their opportunity to mate with their harem through aggressive intimidation and fights.  One calf will be born the following spring from May to June, and weaned in 4-5 weeks.

Grizzly Bear:

Usually having several partners, the male grizzly (boar) will mate from May to early June.  Mother Nature delays the implantation of the embryo to assure the female (sow) to reach the den and assure chances for a successful birth.  Entering the den beginning in mid-October, normally, one to three cubs will be born between January and February, during hibernation.  Female and cubs generally emerge from the den beginning in April.  A mature female will usually breed every three years after chasing off the previous young, to protect them from attacks from the mating boar. 

Black Bear:

Usually having several partners, the male black bear (boar) will mate from May to early June.  Mother Nature delays the implantation of the embryo to assure the females chances for a successful birth.  Entering the den beginning in November, normally, one to three cubs will be born between January and February, during hibernation.  Female and cubs generally emerge from the den beginning in March.  The cubs normally winter with their mother and are weaned the following September.  A mature female will usually breed in alternate years. 

Each morning, I peer through the windows of the upper lobby of Jackson Lake Lodge to observe the expanse of nature surrounding us. Not far from where I stand, elk and moose cows are migrating to Willow Flats to give spring birth.  What a fulfilling sight to experience Mother Nature’s wonder.  As these populations assemble, so do others.  We are beginning to observe the gathering of wolves and grizzly bears. Spring calves provide an ample food source for predators and this season will be no different.  By visiting, you are experiencing part of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, one of the largest intact temperate-zone ecosystems on Earth today.  We invite you to come and witness this spectacle for yourself.

 

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Seeking a great resource on information about the seasonal timeline of our Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, which encompasses Grand Teton National Park? “For Everything There Is A Season,” by Dr. Frank C. Craighead, Jr., Ph.D., provides a wonderful outline of what a year entails here.

 
Posted from Don’s Corner ~ GTLC Interpretive Specialist

The Moose Are Moosin’ Around

Cow Moose and Calf Moose Munch on Willows
Cow Moose and Calf Moose Munch on Willows

 

Dinnertime at Jackson Lake Junction
Dinnertime

 

Springtime in Grand Teton National Park brings a sense of rejuvenation to Jackson Hole. Wildlife are coming out of hibernation and raising their young. The snow is beginning to melt, revealing silvery-green big leaf sagebrush growing on the valley floor. Narrow leaf cottonwood and willows thrive along the Snake River and in marshes. Wildflowers, such as the bright yellow glacier lily and the deep purple sky pilot, paint the alpine zone with color. The world is alive and active once again.

As temperatures start to rise in the valley, flora begins to grow near the roads first, bringing wildlife to feed closer to cars and other vehicles.

On a late Sunday afternoon, I am driving from Signal Mountain to Jackson Lake Lodge. A couple is standing alongside the road photographing in the direction of the Tetons. Thinking they are just capturing the mountains on a cloudless day, I continue to drive past. It isn’t until I glance at the roadside that I realize why the couple stopped. At Jackson Lake Junction, a cow moose (female) and her calf are grazing on the shoulder of the road.  A perfect moment for a family photo.

 

Calf at Jackson Lake Junction
Calf at Jackson Lake Junction

 

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Cow Moose

 

The National Park Service (NPS) “Mammal-Finding Guide” offers a few precautions for wildlife viewing and photography:  

“Maintain a safe distance of at least 300 feet from large animals such as bears, bison, moose and elk. Do not position yourself between an adult and its offspring. Females with young are especially defensive. Repeated encounters with people have cumulative effects including stress and behavior changes, such as an avoidance of an essential feeding area after frequent approach by people.”

 

Hungry Moose
Hungry Moose

 

Not wanting my subjects to flee the scene, the photo opportunity calls for a 75-300mm lens. This allows me to witness the behavior of the moose without the influence of my immediate presence. I snap a few (well, maybe 30) shots as the pair munch on their dinner of willows, a moose diet staple.

Following NPS advice brings me to this conclusion: better photos and happy moose. 

 

Cow Moose at Jackson Lake Junction
Cow Moose at Jackson Lake Junction

 

Cow Moose
Cow Moose