Grand Teton National Park Feature
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Flora and Fauna
Grand Teton's short growing season and arid climate create a complex ecosystem and hardy plant species. The dominant elements are big sagebrush, which gives a gray-green cast to the valley, lodgepole pine trees, quaking aspen, and ground-covering wildflowers such as bluish-purple alpine forget-me-nots. In spring and early summer you will see the vibrant yellow arrowleaf balsamroot and the delicate blue camas, a plant prized by American Indians for its nutritional value. The growing season in Jackson Hole is short, but gives rise to spectacular though short-lived displays of wildflowers. The best time to see these natural displays are mid-June to early July, although the changing of the aspen and cottonwood leaves in early fall can be equally spectacular.
On almost any trip to Grand Teton, you will see bison, antelope, and moose. More rarely you will see a black or grizzly bear or a mountain lion or wolf. Watch for elk along the forest edge, and, in the summer, on Teton Park Road. Oxbow Bend and Willow Flats are good places to look for moose, beaver, and otter any time of year. Pronghorn antelope and bison appear in summer along Jackson Hole Highway and Antelope Flats Road. If animals are crossing the road, they have the right-of-way.
The park's smaller animals—yellow-bellied marmots and golden-mantled ground squirrel, as well as a variety of birds and waterfowl—are commonly seen along park trails and waterways. Seek out the water sources—the Snake River, the alpine lakes, and marshy areas—to see birds such as bald eagles, ospreys, ducks, and trumpeter swans. Your best chance to see wildlife is at dawn or dusk.
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