10 Elevated Facts About Grand Teton National Park

Grand Teton earned its place as one of the 10 most-visited national parks in the country by welcoming over 2.5 million people to the alpine-esque wilderness of Wyoming each year. Located just 10 miles south of Yellowstone National Park, the popular destination has a history filled with as many highs and lows as the mountain range within its boundaries. Here are a few things you might not know about this 310,000-acre attraction.

1. THE TETON RANGE BOASTS BOTH AGE AND YOUTH.

The park’s iconic feature, the 40-mile-long Teton Range, is the youngest range in the Rocky Mountains. In fact, they are actually some of the youngest mountains in the world. Still, the rocks in the park are some of the oldest in North America.

2. THE PARK WAS ESTABLISHED FOR THE FIRST TIME IN 1929.

Despite extreme opposition, President Calvin Coolidge approved the original 96,000-acre park on February 26, 1929. This act protected the Teton Range and six glacial lakes but not nearby Jackson Hole.

3. PARK CONTROVERSY SPARKED A CATTLE-DRIVE PROTEST.

Although conservation of Jackson Hole was important, residents were opposed to expanding the national park into the valley. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt created the Jackson Hole National Monument by presidential proclamation in 1943, ignoring public disapproval. In response, infuriated ranchers led over 500 cattle across the designated land, led by movie star Wallace Beery.

4. THE PARK WAS ESTABLISHEDAGAIN—IN 1950.

Both during and after World War II, Wyoming and its senators kept fighting to undo the monument’s creation. But every time the senators or the state got close to repealing the designation, it would get vetoed. Eventually, both sides recognized that this fight was going nowhere and both sides agreed to the national monument being added to the original park and Grand Teton National Park was re-established. But in exchange, ranchers were allowed their existing grazing rights, the elk herd would be managed in part by the state which would allow supervised hunting, and Wyoming was exempted from the Antiquities Act that allowed the president to unilaterally designate National Monuments, meaning that any new National Monuments in the state had to be agreed upon by Congress.

5. JOHN D. ROCKEFELLER, JR. WAS PRO-PARK FROM HIS FIRST VISIT.

After John D. Rockefeller, Jr. visited northwest Wyoming in 1924 and 1926, he was convinced to purchase land in Jackson Hole that he would eventually donate to the federal government. Rockefeller created the Snake River Land Company to protect his identity (and keep the land prices reasonable) as he bought the property. He held onto the 35,000 acres for 15 years before threatening to sell it, which many believe prompted FDR to create Jackson Hole National Monument.

6. THE MYSTERY OF AMERICA’S FIRST MOUNTAIN MAN LIVES ON AT GRAND TETON.

John Colter, largely considered to be America’s first mountain man, explored the country’s wilderness after departing from the return trip of the Lewis and Clark expedition in 1806. While historians know where Colter’s journey began and ended, there are no truly accurate records regarding his whereabouts in between. However, a human-head-shaped stone found in Idaho in 1931 could provide some insight. The stone is engraved with “John Colter” and “1808.” The Colter Stone hasn’t been authenticated, but if it’s real, its original location could confirm Colter’s travels through the Teton Pass. The stone has been displayed in a museum at one of the park’s visitor centers.

7. THERE’S A COMMERCIAL AIRPORT ON PARK GROUNDS.

Grand Teton is the only U.S. national park with a commercial airport. The Jackson Hole Airport was built in the 1930s and became part of the Jackson Hole National Monument in 1943. When the monument was absorbed into Grand Teton National Park, the airport came with it.

8. BIRDS OF ALL SHAPES AND SIZES FLOCK THERE.

The trumpeter swan, the largest waterfowl in North America, can be found at Grand Teton. At the other end of the size spectrum, you might also spot the calliope hummingbird, the smallest bird species in North America, as you hike through the area.

9. IT'S HOME TO SOME OF THE WORLD’S SPEEDIEST WILDLIFE.

Jim Sorbie, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Along with dozens of other mammals, pronghorns reside in the park. As the fastest land mammal in the western hemisphere, they are capable of reaching speeds up to 70 mph. (But according to the park’s website, they don’t like to jump fences.)

10. THERE ARE GLACIERS ON THE MOUNTAINS.

When visiting Grand Teton, see if you can find all 12 of the small glaciers in the park’s peaks. About half of them are found in the higher elevations of the Cathedral Group, the name given to a collection of the tallest peaks in the Teton range. Some of the named glaciers include Schoolroom, Triple, Falling Ice, and Skillet. The largest of the glaciers is Teton Glacier, found on the north side of the Grand Teton peak.

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Most People Consistently Visit 25 Different Places in Their Daily Lives
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We move around a lot less during our daily lives than you might expect. Based on data from 40,000 people, a new study on human mobility finds that we tend to frequent only 25 places at any given time in our lives.

In the study, published in Nature Human Behaviour, researchers from City, University of London, the Technical University of Denmark, and Sony Mobile Communications found that people tend to have a maximum number of 25 places that they visit regularly, and if they begin frequenting a new place, they probably stop going to another, keeping their total number of haunts constant.

The researchers used several different datasets to understand how people move through their lives, including studies with college students and university employees, data from a smartphone activity tracker called Lifelog, and a Nokia research project that tracked the behavior of a group of cell phone users living near Lake Geneva in Switzerland between 2009 and 2011.

They found that people constantly face trade-offs between the curiosity that drives us to check out new places and the laziness and comfort that keeps us going back to our regular haunts. As a result, the number of locations we tend to visit stays relatively steady. People “continually explore new places yet they are loyal to a limited number of familiar ones,” the authors write.

Though that number may sound a little low to anyone with wanderlust, it makes sense. People don’t have infinite time or resources. Even the number of friends we’re capable of keeping up with is rather limited—anthropologist Robin Dunbar famously hypothesizes that humans can only sustain around 150 friendships at a time, and only five of those friends will be truly close ones. And if that’s our upper limit for connections we can technically maintain without ever leaving our computers, it makes sense that we would be able to sustain even fewer connections to places, which by nature require some amount of travel. If you find a new restaurant and become a regular, it’s probably at the expense of another restaurant you used to visit all the time.

However, the study found that the number of places you frequent can’t necessarily be explained only by the amount of free time you have. The researchers argue that “the fixed capacity is an inherent property of human behavior.” The 25-place rule held even if they adjusted for the time people spent at each location. They also found that the more social a person was, the more places they visited.

The researchers hope to continue their work by looking at connections between mobility and Dunbar’s work on social ties, figuring out how exactly your social life plays into how you move around the world.

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Interactive Map Shows Where Your House Would Have Been 750 Million Years Ago
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Your neighborhood traveled a long way over several hundred million years to reach the spot it occupies today. To trace that journey over the ages, check out Ancient Earth, an interactive digital map spotted by Co.Design.

Ancient Earth, a collaboration between engineer and Google alum Ian Webster and Paleomap Project creator C.R. Scotese, contains geographical information for the past 750 million years. Start at the beginning and you'll see unrecognizable blobs of land. As you progress through the ages, the land mass Pangaea gradually breaks apart to form the world map we're all familiar with.

To make the transition even more personal, you can enter your street address to see where it would have been located in each period. Five hundred million years ago, for example, New York City was a small island in the southern hemisphere isolated from any major land mass. Around the same time, London was still a part of Pangaea, and it was practically on top of the South Pole. You can use the arrows on your keyboard to flip through the eras or jump from event to event, like the first appearance of multicellular life or the dinosaur extinction.

As you can see from the visualization, Pangaea didn't break into the seven continents seamlessly. Many of the long-gone continents that formed in the process even have names.

[h/t Co.Design]

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