Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve in Grand Teton National Park

Warren Buffet or Mark Zuckerberg or Oprah Winfrey or George Lucas or Larry Ellison or Bill Gates or Michael Bloomberg or Paul Allen or Jeff Bezos or Phil Knight or Charles Schwab or the Walton Family....perhaps one or two of them could follow the lead of Laurance S. Rockefeller and peel off a billion or two and buy up some pricey real estate adjacent to a national park or wilderness area, then donate it to the public trust and help fund trails and facilities for the enjoyment of all.  Why not?
                                                                   ----  Bill Schneider, from “Hiking Grand Teton National Park”

An overcast, drizzly day in Grand Teton National Park—what to do?  I consulted our hiking guide and chose the Laurance S. Rockefeller (LSR) Preserve in the southeast corner of the park for the day’s adventure.  

          What makes the Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve so special?  These 1100 acres within the national park boundaries were owned by the Rockefeller family and used as a dude ranch and private retreat for 70 years.  In 2001 ninety-one year-old Laurance donated the property to the national park service to be returned to its natural state and added to the treasures of Grand Teton National Park.  
Think about it.  Instead of selling off to developers and making tens of millions of dollars, or leaving it to his daughters or son to use for their own exclusive getaways, Mr. Rockefeller donated his ranch to the park system, along with funds for creating a world-class wildlife and natural area preserve.  Thirty ranch buildings, utilities and roads were removed to return the land to a pristine state.  

The LSR preserve contains prime bear habitat.
The aspen trunk on the right shows old bear claw scars.

This black bear was spotted outside the
preserve's entrance.  He's eating his fill of huckleberries
to prepare for his long winter's nap.

          We walked the 2.9 mile loop trail to Phelps Lake; the trail winds through a pine and aspen forest and crosses Lake Creek several times.  Low clouds cloaked the high mountain peaks when we reached the lake, but the calm water, sighing trees, and lack of people made for a striking scene.  

Lake Creek

          The preserve opened in 2008 and today it’s a showcase of impeccable trails and of an astounding variety of plants and animals.  Bear, small animals and birds abound.  Benches on the lakeshore encourage you to sit and stay for awhile—to contemplate the beauty and serenity of the preserve and to thank Mr. Rockefeller for this amazing gift to the American people and to the natural world.  

Tim soaks in the view across Phelps Lake.


  1. What a great example of a gift that provides an enduring legacy! And what a beautiful nature preserve - despite the drizzle, you manage to bring back beautiful photographs yet again!

    Hope the skies cleared for the rest of your trip! Thanks for sharing these exquisite views of this corner of Grand Teton park.

    1. I can unequivocally state that the Tetons are beautiful—even in the rain—as we had three days of drizzly weather on this trip.

      Pictures from the clear-sky day will be coming soon!

      As always, thanks for commenting, Vickie!

  2. Hi Rita,

    As I know you know, being at a place as extraordinary as the Grand Teton National Park is special, and it really doesn't matter if the weather is drizzly or sunny. There is still a plethora of beauty and magic, regardless of the weather conditions.

    It's so uplifting to read about generous and thoughtful people like Laurance S. Rockefeller who donate portions of their fortunes for the good of the general public.

    You might have read that just this week in 2012, hedge fund manager John A. Paulson announced a $100 million gift to the Central Park Conservancy in New York City. This gift is the largest monetary donation in the history of New York City’s park system, and possibly the nation’s! Central Park (in my opinion) cannot compare to the grandeur of Grand Teton. Nonetheless, it's terrific that such a generous donation was made to help preserve a resource that will provide exposure to nature to so many folks who might otherwise not have such an opportunity.


    1. You're right, John, about the plethora of beauty and magic in our national parks and other public lands—all the more reason to appreciate this marvelous gift by the Laurance Rockefeller family to the American people.

      I hadn't heard of the John Paulson gift of $100 million to the Central Park Conservancy. This is another example of a contribution that will leave a lasting legacy; Central Park is a one-of-a-kind place, an oasis of nature in one of the world's great cities. Kudos to Mr. Paulson!

      Thanks for your comments!