Injured Climber Rescued from Death Canyon

August 26, 2009
Park rangers used the assistance of a Teton interagency helicopter to rescue a 23-year-old local man from a climbing route in Death Canyon at Grand Teton National Park on Tuesday, August 25. The climber, a resident of Jackson, Wyoming, and his partner were ascending the first pitch on a route called Caveat Emptor when they pulled off several rocks, causing them to fall about 30-40 feet. Although both climbers were wearing helmets at the time of the incident, one received injuries to his face and shoulder and required evacuation by helicopter.

Two off-duty guides from Exum Mountaineering were climbing in the vicinity at the time of the accident and were able to reach the injured man and make an emergency cell phone call to the Teton Interagency Dispatch Center to alert park personnel of the situation. Rangers responded to the scene on foot and by helicopter and provided emergency medical care to the injured climber.

With the assistance of the two Exum guides, rangers lowered the injured climber to a ledge below a route called the Snaz, where he was then airlifted via short-haul to a landing zone near the Death Canyon patrol cabin. A park ambulance then transported the injured man to St. John’s Medical Center in Jackson.

Park rangers salute the Exum Mountain guides for their quick response and assistance during this rescue operation. Other climbers – both professional and amateur – are frequently the first persons on the scene of a backcountry accident; the information they provide to responding rangers, and the assistance they offer, are often instrumental in the positive outcome of a rescue effort.

Chip Seal Project to Begin on Hwy 89 in GTNP

Conditions of park roads have greatly improved from early days of travel
August 17, 2009
Beginning Monday, August 24, motorists traveling on Highway 26/89/191 between Cunningham Cabin (near Triangle X Ranch) and the park’s south boundary (four miles north of Jackson) should expect delays of up to 30 minutes while a chip-seal project is underway. To facilitate the staging of project materials and construction equipment, Teton Point Turnout will be closed as of today, August 17, and remain closed throughout the duration of the project. Weather permitting, road crews plan to complete this chip-seal project before the Labor Day weekend.

The chip-seal application will progress north to south, moving from Cunningham Cabin on the northern portion of Highway 26/89/191 to one mile north of Moose Junction, then concluding with the southern segment of the highway from Moose Junction to Fish Hatchery Hill. Motorists are advised to drive slowly throughout the work zone in order to prevent windshield damage.

Travelers may choose to drive alternate routes to avoid the chip-seal work zone, and flashing message boards will be placed at the Moose, Moran, and Jackson Lake junctions, suggesting appropriate routes. The alternate routes will include the Teton Park Road, Antelope Flats Road, and Moose-Wilson Road, depending on where road work is currently taking place.

Bridge maintenance work is still underway and motorists should expect 15-minute travel delays at two locations: the Buffalo Fork Bridge near Moran Junction and the Spread Creek Bridge just south of Elk Ranch Flats.

Reconstruction of the North Park Road, between Lizard Creek campground in Grand Teton and Flagg Ranch Resort in the John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway, is progressing. Motorists are advised to expect travel delays of up to 30 minutes from now through the end of November.

Drivers are encouraged to plan ahead, and schedule extra time for their travel through Grand Teton National Park during the next several weeks. While road improvement work is underway, every effort will be made to minimize inconvenience to drivers using park roads; however, traffic will be held up for short periods of time. These road construction projects are necessary to improve safety, as well as provide routine maintenance.

For current road construction information, travelers are advised to call the park’s information hotline at 307.739.3614. The park’s newspaper, Teewinot, includes a road construction map for reference; it can also be found online at, or picked up at any entrance station or visitor center.

Temporary Closure of Moose-Wilson Road

August 14, 2009
Superintendent Mary Gibson Scott announced today that a brief travel closure will be in effect on the unpaved section of the Moose-Wilson Road within Grand Teton National Park for about thirty-six hours beginning at 5:00 a.m. on Friday, August 21. The road is scheduled to reopen by 5 p.m. on Saturday, August 22, barring equipment malfunction or rainy weather. The temporary closure is scheduled to allow for dust abatement work to be done on the unpaved roadbed.

Road crews will complete the project in the shortest time possible; however, because this temporary closure prevents the ability to make a “through trip” on the Moose-Wilson Road, local residents and park visitors are advised to plan accordingly and use an alternate route. For those wishing to reach the Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve or Death Canyon trailhead, access will be possible by driving south from the junction with the Teton Park Road near the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center in Moose, Wyoming.

To alert travelers of the expected daytime road closure, electronic signs will be in place on Wyoming Highway #390, beginning Wednesday, August 19. For motorists heading south to Teton Village, signs will also be placed at the junction of the Teton Park Road in Moose.

The product used for dust abatement is a slurry of magnesium chloride. It is the same product that is used to treat dirt roads in and around Jackson Hole. This product coats the road surface, but it can also adhere to the undercarriage of vehicles; therefore, motorists who drive this portion of the Moose-Wilson Road after it reopens on Saturday evening may want to rinse off their vehicles to eliminate any residue.

Roadwork schedules may change, or be delayed, due to weather conditions, equipment malfunction, or other extenuating circumstances.

Rangers Rescue Three Boaters from Snake River

August 12, 2009
Grand Teton National Park rangers rescued three boaters from the Snake River on Tuesday afternoon, August 11, after they flipped their canoe and fell into the river. Will Shafer, age 23, of Ogden, Utah and two of his relatives, a 16-year-old young man and a 5-year-old boy, were canoeing on the river just one mile downstream of the historic Bar BC Ranch when the accident occurred. Only the 5-year-old boy was wearing a life jacket at the time of the incident; Shafer and his other relative were not wearing their life preservers and lost them to the river’s current when the canoe capsized.

After his canoe upset in the river, Shafer was able to hold onto the vessel as it continued to float downstream. He was diverted into a debris-choked side channel where the canoe became pinned against a logjam. This channel lies river left of the main current and is not navigable. The teenager and young boy were swept downstream until, with some difficulty, they were eventually able to grab hold of an exposed tree root and pull themselves out of the river and onto the bank. The two parties lost sight of one another and were unsure about each other’s welfare for several minutes.

A river guide with Triangle X Ranch came upon the stranded canoeists and called the Teton Interagency Dispatch Center at 3:10 p.m. to report the situation. The river guide then proceeded to help the three boaters until a park ranger could arrive by raft to rescue them from their separate locations along the riverbank. The ranger then floated all three canoeists to the Moose Landing where other family members were waiting; the rescued party reached the boat landing at 3:35 p.m.

Rangers give credit to the Triangle X Ranch river guide for his invaluable assistance in this rescue operation, and for his help in directing rescue personnel to the exact location of the stranded boaters. Commercial river guides are often the first responders to river accidents because they consistently float the Snake River; their initial response can be a critical part of a successful river rescue, as was the case in this particular incident.

Rangers remind boaters that life preservers can save lives, and it’s prudent to wear a life jacket whenever floating the Snake River because of its swift current and cold water temperature. According to park regulations, children under 13 years of age are required to be wearing a life jacket whenever a vessel is in motion, and any boat operating on park waters is required to have life jackets for each person on board.

Rangers were unable to dislodge and recover the rental canoe. Additional attempts will be made once the seasonal river flow recedes.

Grand Teton Offers Limited Firewood Permits

August 12, 2009
Grand Teton National Park Superintendent Mary Gibson Scott announced today that about 100 cords of firewood will be offered for personal collection, starting in late August, to facilitate a hazard tree removal project along the Grassy Lake in the John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway. Recent wind storms have caused multiple trees to topple onto the Grassy Lake Road, creating a safety concern for motorists. The tree removal project is designed to reduce a number of dead standing trees—burned by the Glade Fire during the year 2000—and improve driving conditions along a section of this backcountry route.

Individuals interested in applying for a permit to gather the available firewood must submit a written request with their name, address and phone number to: Grand Teton National Park, Firewood Permit, P.O. Box 170, Moose, Wyoming, 83012. Requests to participate in this opportunity must be received by August 24. Names will be drawn by lottery, and those selected will be notified by phone and provided with details regarding the guidelines and regulations of the firewood collection.

Wood collection will begin on August 24 and conclude on October 19, 2009. Successful applicants will be limited to four cords of wood and the cost will be $15.00 per cord.

Interagency fire staff have already felled and limbed the selected hazard trees along the Grassy Lake Road. Successful applicants will simply need to cut the downed trees into manageable lengths and remove the firewood. Standing trees may not be sawed down by firewood permitees.

For further information about this opportunity, please call Thayne O’Brien at 307.739.3447 during business hours.

Shoshonean Cultural Celebration at Colter Bay

August 11, 2009
A Shoshonean Cultural Celebration will take place at the Colter Bay Visitor Center on August 12 and 13. Cultural speakers and exhibits of traditional and modern Shoshonean arts will interpret the rich history and the present-day influence of the Shoshone peoples. Programs, times, and locations for special events are listed below.

August 12
  • 9:00 a.m., Tipi Demonstration, by Laine Thom, behind the Colter Bay Visitor Center
  • 12:00 p.m., We Shall Remain: Goshute, a video playing in the Colter Bay Visitor Center auditorium
  • 3:00 p.m., The Eastern Shoshone Tribe of the Wind River Reservation: Yesterday and Today, by speaker Gloria St. Clair, Colter Bay Visitor Center back deck. The Eastern Shoshone people migrated from the Great Basin to the High Plain to present-day Wyoming during the last 600 years. They became a buffalo hunting culture in the high plains. In the 1800s they were settled on the Wind River Indian Reservation and were later joined by the Northern Arapahoe tribe who now share the reservation.
  • 7:00 p.m., Sacajawea, by speaker Ken Thomasma, Colter Bay Visitor Center amphitheater

August 13

  • 9:00 a.m., Flint Knapping Demonstration, by artist Willie LaMere, Indian Arts Museum guest artist area
  • 12:00 p.m., We Shall Remain: Northwestern Shoshone, a video playing in the Colter Bay VC auditorium
  • 3:00 p.m., The Language and Culture of the Shoshone People of the Fort Hall Indian Reservation of Southeastern Idaho, by speaker Drusilla Gould, Colter Bay Visitor Center back deck. The Shoshone and Bannock are two different tribes with two different languages. Historically, they traveled in small groups and mixed with each other on hunting trips. Today they share the same reservation in southeastern Idaho. The lifestyles of both tribes were influenced by Plains cultures as evidenced by the introduction of the horse for transportation and hunting. The horse allowed them to range farther and hunt more effectively, leading to material riches.
  • 7:00 p.m., Archaeology of Grand Teton NP, by speaker Jacquelin St. Clair, Colter Bay VC amphitheater

Speaker Gloria St. Clair was born in 1954 and raised by her maternal grandparents, Richard and Lydia Engavo of the Eastern Shoshone tribe of Fort Washakie, Wyoming. She attended Central Wyoming College and received her degree in Native American Studies. She was a Shoshonean language instructor at Fort Washakie elementary school and is now the cultural interpretation specialist at the Eastern Shoshone Cultural Center.

Speaker Drusilla Gould is a native speaker of the Lemhi and Fort Washakie Shoshonean dialects and an enrolled member of the Shoshone-Bannock tribes of Fort Hall, Idaho. She has been involved in teaching, preserving, and promoting her native language for more than 25 years.

The Shoshonean peoples of the Eastern Great Basin and Western Plains hunted seasonally in what is now Grand Teton National Park and left behind a rich archeological record. Their modern-day descendants still live in the region and have maintained their languages and cultural practices.

Final Fee-Free Weekend in Grand Teton

August 10, 2009

Grand Teton National Park will once again waive entry fees this Saturday and Sunday, August 15 and 16, in keeping with Interior Secretary Salazar’s decree to allow free entry into national parks on three weekends during the 2009 summer season; the program was designed to provide an extra incentive for visitors to travel to America’s national parks for a cost effective family vacation. As with the previous fee-free weekends, Grand Teton will offer special ranger-led activities to encourage visitors to explore interesting features of the park.

Ranger-led activities scheduled for the coming weekend include:

Lake Solitude Hike
Join a ranger on an all day hike to Lake Solitude in Cascade Canyon for a chance to explore the spectacular Teton backcountry. Visitors will be hike beside Cascade Creek while learning about park wildflowers, wildlife, and the expansive mountain scenery and geology. This is a moderate to strenuous hike that includes an elevation gain of 2,950 feet and a roundtrip distance of 14.7 miles. Approximate time for the hike is eight hours. Due to the length, this hike is recommended for experienced hikers. While the ranger will set a steady pace up to Lake Solitude, visitors can return at their own speed. The hike begins with a shuttle boat ride across Jenny Lake at 7:30 a.m. Boat fares are: $10 for adults (roundtrip); and $5 for children (age 2-11). No reservations are required. Participants are required to bring water, sunscreen, raingear, hiking boots, and a lunch/snacks. For more information please call the Jenny Lake Visitor Center at 307.739.3392.

Astronomy Day
As part of the International Year of Astronomy, Grand Teton National Park and the Jackson Hole Astronomy Club are partnering to provide two “Astronomy Day” programs on Sunday, August 16, at the Colter Bay Visitor Center. Telescope demonstrations will be available throughout the day on the back deck of the visitor center. In addition, there will be an evening ranger program at 9 p.m. at the Colter Bay Amphitheater, followed by a stargazing session on the shore of Jackson Lake. For information on Astronomy Day activities, please call the Colter Bay Visitor Center at 307.739.3594.

Living Simply
Take a deep breath, unwind, and reflect on the simple things in life. Meet on the porch at the Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve at 10 a.m. on Saturday, August 15 to enjoy a relaxing hike with a ranger to discover simpler ways of living in harmony with the environment. The ranger-led stroll is 1.5 miles roundtrip and lasts for 2 hours. For more information contact the Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve at 307.739.3654

Special ranger-led activities are being offered in addition to the regularly scheduled programs that are listed in the park's newspaper, the Teewinot. Please visit online at to see a complete list of ranger-led activities for the 2009 summer season.

The Lorax Visits Grand Teton National Park

August 6, 2009
Special family-oriented Junior Ranger programs inspired by Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax will be offered at Grand Teton National Park during the week of August 9-15. Families with children of all ages are invited to attend one of the unique Junior Ranger sessions designed to highlight the whimsy and love of nature that Dr. Seuss incorporated into many of his literary works.

The Junior Ranger programs will begin each day at 1:30 p.m. and last for 1.5 hours. The specific locations and days for each session are:
Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center: Sunday & Thursday
Jenny Lake Visitor Center: Monday, Wednesday & Friday
Colter Bay Visitor Center: Tuesday & Saturday

An exhibition of the visual art of The Lorax, is currently on display at the National Museum of Wildlife Art located two and a half miles north of Jackson, Wyoming. Exploring the exhibit, The Lorax: Original Illustrations by Dr. Seuss, will fulfill part of the requirements for earning a Junior Ranger badge at Grand Teton National Park. For details about the lively exhibit, call the National Museum of Wildlife Art at 307.733. 5771 or visit online at

The Lorax is a story about an enterprising character named Once-ler who chops down all the Truffula trees and unwittingly changes the environment. The Lorax tries to defend the trees and all the creatures that depend upon the forest. In the end, the Lorax must go away, but not before leaving the Once-ler with one thought-provoking word: “UNLESS.” Later, the Once-ler realizes that it is up to a boy to save the forest, by restoring it to the way it was before. “UNLESS someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not,” reflects the Once-ler.

Roadside Sagebrush Removal Scheduled for Two Locations in Grand Teton

August 6, 2009
Superintendent Mary Gibson Scott announced today that Teton Interagency fire crews will be mowing sagebrush within 30 feet of roadsides at two locations west of Highway 26/89/191 in Grand Teton National Park. Fire crews will mow mature sagebrush along the roads to help minimize the potential impacts of wildfire to developed areas of the park and to valuable wildlife habitat. The work will be done during the first two weeks of August.

Fire crews will use a Bobcat skidsteer with a mower attachment to remove heavy sagebrush concentrations along both sides of the Airport Road and Circle EW Road. The project is designed to aid in the control of wildfires occurring in the sagebrush/bitterbrush habitat along the west side of the highway, as well as to minimize fire size and provide for safer access for fire crews in the event of a wildfire. Removing the sagebrush will convert the roadside areas to a grass and forb vegetation mix, which generally burns with less intensity and is therefore easier to control with fire engines. Treatments at each location will affect approximately 3.8 acres.

As witnessed during the 2003 Blacktail Fire, a wildfire burning across mature and dense sagebrush areas can easily cross roadways. This project will create a buffer area that can be burned out ahead of a wildfire, thereby containing it to a smaller area and increasing firefighter safety.

Crews will mow the sagebrush to match the landscape, creating a scalloped edge; this will provide for enough sage removal while still meeting project objectives.

Voluntary Use of Non-Lead Ammunition Encouraged for 2009 Elk & Bision Seasons in Grand Teton Nat'l Park & National Elk Refuge

August 6, 2009
Grand Teton National Park and National Elk Refuge officials are encouraging hunters currently using lead ammunition to make a voluntary switch to non-lead ammunition during the 2009 elk and bison seasons.

Lead is an environmental toxin well known for its capability to directly impact wildlife. Recently, more attention has been directed to lead poisoning of animals that consume carcasses shot with lead bullets from center fire rifles, such as those commonly used in big-game hunting. Studies by Craighead Beringia South, a local non-profit research institute based in Kelly, Wyoming, reveal that during the fall hunting season, lead levels spike in the blood of ravens and eagles in the Jackson Hole valley. These and other studies have shown that fragmented bullets often stay in the discarded remains of wild game and subsequently enter the food chain as they are consumed by other animals. Lead poisoning can result when wildlife species ingest the toxic material.

Recent documentation of lead bullet fragments found in packaged game meat has also raised concerns that this may serve as a potential source of lead contamination in humans. One of the goals of the voluntary non-lead ammunition program is to raise awareness about the potential risks of lead ammunition so hunters can make informed decisions when selecting hunting ammunition.

Hunters have played a key role in wildlife protection and restoration programs for over a century. Since hunters commonly use lead bullets to harvest big game on public lands, they have an opportunity to assist agency administrators in managing for healthy wildlife populations by reducing the quantity of lead in the environment. Though lead ammunition does not appear to be affecting large-scale population levels of individual species in the Jackson Hole area, a reduction in the amount of lead deposited in the environment during hunting season can help reduce the loss of individual raptors such as bald and golden eagles. Several ammunition manufacturers have responded to the demand for non-lead ammunition by making high performance non-lead bullets available in the most popular rifle calibers.

By reporting non-lead ammunition use this season, hunters will provide Grand Teton National Park and National Elk Refuge staff with a means to measure participation in the voluntary program this year. This will help the agencies explore incentive programs to encourage additional voluntary participation during the 2010 elk and bison seasons. Hunters can note on their hunting permits whether or not they participated in the voluntary program.

Hunters are not required to use non-lead ammunition while pursuing elk in Grand Teton National Park or National Elk Refuge, or while pursuing bison on the National Elk Refuge. This is strictly a voluntary program. However, by participating in this program, hunters can help to maintain support for hunting programs by demonstrating a commitment to safe, quality hunting practices that will benefit the long-term conservation of wildlife.

Menor’s Ferry in Operation at Grand Teton

Bill Menor navigates his ferry
Ranger Nicklas operates replica ferry
August 3, 2009
Grand Teton National Park recently launched a refurbished replica of Menor’s Ferry into the Snake River, and the popular vessel is once again “sea worthy” and available for rides. Park ranger naturalists offer free ferry rides daily between Bill Menor’s general store and Dornan’s on the east bank. The ferry serves as a central feature of the Menor/Noble historic district and is located just north of the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center.

Menor’s Ferry consists of a platform deck which is set upon two pontoons for flotation. The ferry is tethered to a cable system that spans the river and operates by directing the pontoons toward the opposite riverbank, allowing the power of the current to push the craft across the river channel; the system uses river power—rather than motor power—to push the ferry across the water. This type of river travel existed in ancient times and was widely used throughout the United States.

Menor’s Ferry offers a unique way to step back into the past. The ferry played a vital role in providing safe transport for passengers over the swift-flowing Snake River during the late 1800s and early 1900s. Prior to the ferry’s existence, the Snake River was essentially impassable from Wilson to Moran—except during low water periods in the fall and winter months. As a man of vision, Bill Menor saw the need for a more convenient access across the Snake River and built and operated his ferry from 1894 until 1918 when he sold it to Maud Noble. Maud operated the ferry until 1927 when its use became obsolete after a steel truss bridge was constructed across the river, allowing for vehicles and foot traffic to cross without the assistance of a boat.

“Passing of the Ferry” by Ruth Patterson, 1927
The old landmarks are vanishing;
one by one they are passing out.
The tourist with his modern ways
has brought this change about . . .
Many things are changing fast;
even the faithful Menor's Ferry
has been moored to rest at last.

Although many things are changing fast, Menor’s Ferry was never "moored to rest for last." Park visitors can experience a ride across the Snake River just as early residents of Jackson Hole did during previous centuries.

Road Construction Update # 3

August 3, 2009
Bridge maintenance work will be underway throughout Grand Teton National Park and consequently, motorists should expect 15-minute delays in travel at various locations. The Christian Creek Bridge just south of Jackson Lake Lodge will be open to a single lane of traffic only for a few days beginning August 5. Work on the Buffalo Fork Bridge near Moran Junction will follow with one-lane travel restrictions and 15-minute delays. The Spread Creek Bridge, on Highway 26/89/1919 just south of Elk Ranch Flats, will experience similar one-lane closures beginning August 17.

Motorists traveling Highway 26/89/191 between the park’s south boundary (four miles north of Jackson) and Cunningham Cabin near Triangle X Ranch should expect delays of up to 30 minutes during a chip-seal project scheduled to begin on August 24. Work will start on the northern portion of Highway 26/89/191 from one mile north of Moose Junction to Cunningham Cabin, then conclude with the southern segment of the highway from Moose Junction to Fish Hatchery Hill. Weather permitting, road crews plan to complete the chip-seal project before Labor Day weekend. Motorists are advised to drive slowly throughout the work zone in order to prevent windshield damage

During the chip-seal project, the Teton Point Turnout will be closed to facilitate the staging of construction equipment and materials. This closure will begin August 17 and end before Labor Day weekend.

Reconstruction of the North Park Road in Grand Teton—between Lizard Creek campground and Flagg Ranch Resort—is progressing. Work is being done to widen and repave the park road and complete the reconstruction of the Snake River Bridge. Motorists are advised to expect travel delays of up to 30 minutes from now through the end of November.

Important note: Work on the North Park Road will cease on weekends during August—and during the Labor Day holiday—to allow for unfettered traffic flow during peak travel times.

Drivers are encouraged to plan ahead, and schedule extra time for their travel through Grand Teton National Park during the next several weeks. While road improvement work is underway, every effort will be made to minimize inconvenience to drivers using park roads; however, traffic will be held up for short periods of time. These road construction projects are necessary to improve safety, as well as provide routine maintenance, for the many vehicles that use park roads each year.

For current road construction information, travelers are advised to call the park’s information hotline at 307.739.3614. The park’s newspaper, Teewinot, includes a road construction map for reference; it can also be found online at, or picked up at any entrance station or visitor center.