This narrow and winding road heads south from park headquarters in Moose , continuing nine miles to Teton Village. It is especially pretty in autumn when the aspens are turning. This is also a good place for wildlife-watching—look for moose and other animals in summer—or for easy cross-country ski adventures on a sunny winter day.
The road is paved most of the way, but a 1.5-mile section is dirt. Keep your speed down to reduce the amount of dust in the air and to keep the backseat passengers from getting ill from all the curves. Moose-Wilson Road is closed to vehicle traffic November 1-April 30, and is not plowed in the winter. No trailers or RVs are allowed.
Two backcountry trailheads —Death Canyon Trailhead and Granite Canyon Trailhead—are accessible from the Moose-Wilson Road.
The Rockefeller family played a pivotal role in establishing Grand Teton National Park , but for many decades they continued to own the JY Ranch, an inholding in the heart of the park. Laurance S. Rockefeller (1910-2004; grandson of John D. Rockefeller) donated the land to Grand Teton in 2001, and today this preserve is a wonderful place to relax and explore.
The distinctive Laurance S. Rockefeller Center (307/739-3654, daily 8 a.m.-5 p.m. late May-Sept.) is down a side road off the Moose-Wilson Road halfway between Moose and Teton Village. Eight miles of trails lead from here through the preserve, across sagebrush meadows, through forests, and along the shores of Phelps Lake. Parking is quite limited, and the lot is often full 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
The visitor center itself is unlike any you’ve ever seen, with a minimalist feeling that reflects Laurance S. Rockefeller’s Buddhist and emotional connections to nature. Instead of the usual array of things to see and gizmos to show you the inner workings of the planet, you’ll find dramatic mountain views and large, high-ceiled rooms with a few memorable exhibits, including an amazing photo mosaic and a surround-sound space where you can sit and listen to a parade of nature noises—from frogs to thunderclaps.
The resource room contains classic natural history books and a fireplace. The building itself was constructed with recycled materials (including old blue jeans for insulation), uses composting toilets, and is heated and cooled from deep geothermal wells.
The visitor center evokes contrasting emotions from visitors. Some love its clean aesthetics and eco-friendly design; others find it sterile and bizarre. Love it or hate it, this is a must-see, and the extraordinary preserve itself is well worth exploring.