Celebration in Grand Teton to mark 40th anniversary of JDR Parkway

John D. Rockefeller, Jr. and wife Abbey boat on Jenny Lake in Grand Teton National Park in 1931. (Grand Teton National Park file photo -click to enlarge)

John D. Rockefeller, Jr. and wife Abbey boat on Jenny Lake in Grand Teton National Park in 1931. (Grand Teton National Park file photo -click to enlarge)

From Staff Reports

Visitors driving between Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks might not realize that they’re traveling through a unique and distinctive National Park Service unit that isn’t a part of either park, but which has elements of both. More importantly, it serves as a crucial connection between the two parks, helping unite them into a common ecosystem.

The John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway turns 40 years old on Saturday. It was created by the U.S. Congress on August 25, 1972 to honor Rockefeller and his contributions to the conservation of remarkable places throughout America.

To commemorate the milestone, Grand Teton National Park will hold a series of special activities. Grand Teton Superintendent Mary Gibson Scott and her staff invite visitors and local residents to celebrate the life and contributions of John D. Rockefeller, Jr. and mark the 40th anniversary of his namesake.

Rockefeller’s conservation efforts helped protect such places as Acadia, Grand Teton, Great Smoky Mountains, Mesa Verde, Shenandoah, Yosemite, Yellowstone and even the Virgin Islands.

In 1972, Congress established the JDR Memorial Parkway to commemorate Rockefeller’s contributions as well as “to provide both a symbolic and desirable physical connection between the world’s first national park, Yellowstone, and the Grand Teton National Park, which was made possible through the efforts and generosity of this distinguished citizen.”

Today, the JDR Memorial Parkway encompasses 24,000 acres of land connecting Yellowstone and Grand Teton, as well as almost 80 miles of Highways 89 and 191 from Grand Teton’s south boundary to West Thumb in Yellowstone.

A series of programs will take place on Saturday, Aug. 25. The day’s main program will begin at 10 a.m. at the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center in Moose, Wyo. in Grand Teton National Park. The program will feature:

  • Presentations by local high school students taking part in the Pura Vida Latino outreach program.
  • An announcement about a new program that will connect the Jackson area Class of 2016 with Grand Teton National Park and the John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway.
  • An announcement about a scholarship competition for local students.
  • A keynote address by Clay James, retired CEO of Grand Teton Lodge Company, who will recount his lifetime experiences working with Rockefeller.
  • The introduction and distribution of a new publication which offers a driving tour of Rockefeller-related sites in Grand Teton and the JDR Memorial Parkway.

Cake and refreshments will also be provided, complements of the Grand Teton Association.

Additional programs will include:

1 p.m. – Colter Bay Cabin Walk: Join Grand Teton Lodge Co. historian Mary McKinney to learn about development of Colter Bay and the role of the Rockefeller family. Meet at the Colter Bay cabin rec hall.

9 p.m. – For Future Generations: The Story of America’s National Parks: Join Ranger Doug Crispin for a slide-illustrated program about the history of America’s national parks featuring Rockefeller’s contributions. Meet at the Colter Bay Amphitheater, just west of the Colter Bay Visitor Center

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