The new preserve sits at Phelps Lake’s low-lying east end.
It's a sight once reserved for a legendary family: turquoise Phelps Lake stretched out at the base of 10,552-foot Albright Peak. But the alpine spectacle opens this fall to anyone willing to sidle off Moose-Wilson Road into Grand Teton National Park's new Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve. Visitors who stroll the four miles of trails through lodgepole pines can spy the 525-acre lake, along with elk, ospreys, and even an occasional moose. Or they can roam the intimate new visitor center, where separate sight, sound, and tactile exhibits reveal highlights of the spectacular Teton terrain.
The 1,106-acre preserve is the Rockefeller clan's latest gift to the park. In the 1920s, John D. Rockefeller Jr. bought up vast tracts near the range, and in 1950 he gave 33,562 acres to the park—but kept the 3,300-acre JY Ranch. As generations of Rockefellers hunted, fly-fished, and even honeymooned there, John D.'s late son Laurance looked ahead. Today, the family's old log lodges are gone.
"What Laurance Rockefeller envisioned when he donated this land was for people to slow down and connect in a profound way to the natural world," says Jackie Skaggs, park public affairs officer. The preserve is set to open in early September; call to verify before visiting. (307) 739-3300, www.nps.gov/grte.
Photography by Irene Owsley
This article was first published in September 2007. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.