CLOSE
Original image
Getty Images

Happy Establishment Day, Grand Teton National Park!

Original image
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!

Original image
iStock
arrow
science
Geological Map Shows the Massive Reservoir Bubbling Beneath Old Faithful
Original image
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.

Original image
iStock
arrow
video
31 Facts About National Parks
Original image
iStock

A little over 100 years ago, President Woodrow Wilson signed the National Park Service into law, ensuring that the country’s most remarkable natural landscapes would be preserved for future generations. Today, national parks are more popular than ever, with millions of visitors passing through the system’s 400-odd properties each year. But even if you’re working to check every national park off your bucket list, you may be unfamiliar with some of these facts. For instance, did you know that Dolly Parton is an official ambassador to Great Smoky Mountains National Park? Or that Yosemite campaigned to host the Winter Olympics in 1932?

That’s just some of the trivia John Green shares in this latest video from Mental Floss on YouTube. You can check out all 31 facts above, then subscribe to our channel if you're still hungry for more brain food.

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios