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Happy Establishment Day, Grand Teton National Park!

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Getty Images

On February 26, 1929, President Calvin Coolidge established Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming (he technically used an executive order, but with congressional backing). At the time, the park was about 96,000 acres and excluded the valley of Jackson Hole, which was designated a scenic preserve, allowing ranching operations to continue there. But John D. Rockefeller, Jr. had a plan to change that.

Rockefeller first toured the region in 1926, guided by Yellowstone Superintendent Horace Albright. Of course, Yellowstone National Park is just 10 miles north of Grand Teton, so Albright knew his way around—and he wanted the Grand Teton area to be added to Yellowstone. (Not incidentally, Yellowstone was the first National Park, established in 1872.) At the time, the area around Jackson Hole was a popular tourist destination, where ranchers catered to eastern tourists ("dudes") who wanted to check out real western cattle ranches.

Rockefeller so enjoyed the Grand Teton experience that he spent the next few decades quietly buying up land in the area through his Snake River Land Company, ultimately acquiring 35,000 acres of Jackson Hole land—much to the consternation of local ranchers. He donated that land to the federal government in 1949, and it was added to the park along with some additions made by FDR in 1943. In 1972, Congress named the John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway, connecting Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks, to commemorate his massive gift. Today the park encompasses almost 310,000 acres.

Although visiting the park is the best way to enjoy it, the magic of YouTube can get you part of the way there. Here are some videos for your enjoyment!

TIMELAPSE

This beautiful timelapse video from National Geographic shows the quintessentially western landscape of the park.

RELAXATION VIDEO (4K)

This slow, beautiful Ultra HD video pairs scenic park footage with relaxing sound design.

VARIOUS SCENIC VIEWS (4K)

This video shows various views of the park in Ultra HD. For details of each location, check the YouTube description.

MORE INFORMATION

For more on Grand Teton National Park, check out the official website. Be sure to check out the History and Culture section!

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This Just In
Meet Betty Reid Soskin, the Country's Oldest Park Ranger
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

There’s no age limit for enjoying the outdoors, switching careers, or speaking out against injustice—and Betty Reid Soskin is living proof. As Travel + Leisure reports, the 96-year-old California resident is the nation’s oldest active national park ranger, a late-in-life vocation she embarked on just over a decade ago.

Soskin, who originally hails from Detroit, works at the Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front National Historical Park in Richmond, California. The national park preserves the history of the U.S. home front during World War II, including the businesses, innovations, and people that helped make victory possible. (Richmond was once home to more than 56 different war industries.)

Today, Soskin gives interpretive tours of the park. But long ago, she worked as a World War II file clerk for the all-black Boilermakers A-36. Soskin—the great-granddaughter of a freed slave—gained local prominence as an activist, and fame as a songwriter, during the Civil Rights Movement. But history ended up being just as important to Soskin as current political events when she served as a consultant with the National Park Service for the Rosie the Riveter Park in the early 2000s.

Soskin was the only person of color at the planning table, according to NPR. She ensured that the historic park didn’t erase memories of the segregation that had once existed at factories and shipyards, as doing so would also erase the history of the area’s African-American population.

Word of Soskin and her activist efforts spread, especially when she publicly denounced the 2013 federal funding crisis. In 2015 she was formally recognized by President Barack Obama, who gave her a silver coin with the presidential seal. Sadly, Soskin’s presidential coin was stolen in 2016 in a violent home invasion, but she returned to work three weeks after the attack, saying in a press conference that she “wanted to get back into routine life.”

Fans of Soskin can keep up with her via her blog, where she’s written about her life and job since 2003. You can also learn more about her, in her own words, in the video below.

[h/t Travel + Leisure]

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science
Geological Map Shows the Massive Reservoir Bubbling Beneath Old Faithful
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iStock

Yellowstone National Park is home to rivers, waterfalls, and hot springs, but Old Faithful is easily its most iconic landmark. Every 45 to 125 minutes, visitors gather around the geyser to watch it shoot streams of water reaching up to 100 feet in the air. The punctual show is one of nature’s greatest spectacles, but new research from scientists at the University of Utah suggests that what’s going on at the geyser’s surface is just the tip of the iceberg.

The study, published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, features a map of the geological plumbing system beneath Old Faithful. Geologists have long known that the eruptions are caused by water heated by volcanic rocks beneath the ground reaching the boiling point and bubbling upwards through cracks in the earth. But the place where this water simmers between appearances has remained mysterious to scientists until now.

Using 133 seismometers scattered around Old Faithful and the surrounding area, the researchers were able to record the tiny tremors caused by pressure build-up in the hydrothermal reservoir. Two weeks of gathering data helped them determine just how large the well is. The team found that the web of cracks and fissures beneath Old Faithful is roughly 650 feet in diameter and capable of holding more than 79 million gallons of water. When the geyser erupts, it releases just 8000 gallons. You can get an idea of how the reservoir fits into the surrounding geology from the diagram below.

Geological map of geyser.
Sin-Mei Wu, University of Utah

After making the surprising discovery, the study authors plan to return to the area when park roads close for the winter to conduct further research. Next time, they hope to get even more detailed images of the volatile geology beneath this popular part of Yellowstone.

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