Braided Channels and Golden Lines: River Guide and Mountaineering Rangers of Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

Authors: Yolonda Youngs*, Idaho State University - Pocatello, ID
Topics: Cultural Geography, Environment, Recreational and Sport Geography
Keywords: national parks, tourism geography, outdoor recreation
Session Type: Virtual Poster
Day: 4/8/2021
Start / End Time: 9:35 AM / 10:50 AM
Room: Virtual 52
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Grand Teton National Park (GRTE), with over 3 million visitors in 2016, has a long, complex, and rich cultural history of outdoor recreation, commercial guide services, and tourism development. The park’s iconic Teton Mountain range and scenic upper Snake River have inspired and shaped mountaineering and river rafting cultures that parallel other commercial guiding industries developing across the American West in the wake of World War II. Military surplus equipment combined with broader changes in society such as an improved economy and increased leisure time fueled a recreation boom after the war. These trends sparked the development of commercial river running and an expansion in mountaineering and climbing in the western United States. However, no geographical studies have explored this topic and traced how the process of cultural diffusion and place attachment shaped Grand Teton NP’s environmental and cultural landscapes. This poster presents the results from a 5-year, transdisciplinary research project and partnership between university faculty and students, federal public land managers, cultural resource officers, and local community members funded by a grant from the U.S. National Park Service. The final products include digital audio and transcripts of oral history interviews, digitized historical and rare documents and photographs, museum displays, outreach activities, and the creation of new archival collections for public access and expanded research on this subject. The findings from this work suggests expanded avenues for geographical research and new insights about the development of and innovation hearths for river rafting, mountaineering, and climbing in the United States.

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