Grand Teton National Park Gets Go-Ahead To Makeover Colter Bay Village

Colter Bay Village, long a favorite with park visitors, is in need of a reinvigoration, and park officials have settled on a plan for tackling that. NPS photo of Colter Bay.

A plan to makeover Colter Bay Village at Grand Teton National Park has been approved, although it still needs funding to move forward.

The plan approved by Intermountain Region Director John Wessels includes replacing the existing Colter Bay Visitor Center with a smaller visitor contact station at a nearby location, changing vehicular and pedestrian circulation near the existing visitor center, reducing the number of passenger vehicle parking spaces, and increasing the number of oversized parking spaces near the Colter Bay marina.

Grand Teton officials say none of the proposed actions in the approved alternative will have a significant impact on scenic resources, natural and cultural resources, visitor use and experience, or park operations. However, these changes will mitigate safety concerns, protect natural and cultural resources, and improve visitors' experience of this area, they say.

The National Park Service and the Wyoming Historic Preservation officer signed a memorandum of agreement outlining stipulations that Grand Teton National Park will apply to mitigate any adverse effects to historic structures and cultural landscapes as proposed in the selected alternative.

This plan could lead way to a suitable, museum-standard facility to store the David T. Vernon Collection of American Indian Art. Until recently that collection was stored and exhibited at the current Colter Bay Visitor Center. Laurance S. Rockefeller gifted this collection to the NPS in 1976, with the condition that it remain in Grand Teton National Park.

However, because the existing visitor center at Colter Bay does not meet NPS museum standards—and therefore the collection was at risk—remaining pieces still on display at Colter Bay were transferred in the fall of 2011 to the NPS Western Archeological and Conservation Center in Tucson, Arizona for treatment and temporary storage.

The collection will remain at WACC until a permanent storage and exhibit facility that meets NPS museum standards is available at Grand Teton. The Colter Bay Visitor Services Plan/EA is a prerequisite to a subsequent planning effort that Grand Teton will undertake in the next 3 to 5 years to address a new facility that can suitably house the Vernon Collection and accommodate museum storage and curatorial functions within the park.