This weekend, the National Park Service will commemorate the biggest addition to Grand Teton National Park since 1950 by annexing 2 square miles of property near the south end of the park.
That doesn't sound like much, but the 1,100-acre parcel is historically significant: It's last part of the JY Ranch, which the Rockefeller family steadily donated to the park in portions over the last 70 years. This final portion contains Phelps Lake, assorted buildings for park service housing, and a brand new 7,500-square-foot visitor center kitted out with the latest in green technology, including composting toilets and solar power.
The National Park Service estimates the land donation alone is worth at least $160 million, and it ranks among the most valuable donations in the park system's history.
John D. Rockefeller, Jr. bought large portions of Jackson Hole in the 1920s and 30s and became instrumental in the park's formation, donating over 35,000 acres to help found Grand Teton National Park. Since then, his heirs have continued to add portions of their famous JY Ranch to park property.
— Ted Alvarez