Reminder of Seasonal Road Closures & Hours

October 26, 2010
Jackson residents and park visitors are reminded that two roads within Grand Teton National Park will close to vehicle traffic for the winter season beginning Sunday evening, October 31, 2010. Vehicle closures include the length of the Teton Park Road between Taggart Lake parking area and the Signal Mountain Lodge parking lot, as well as the Moose-Wilson Road between Granite Canyon and Death Canyon trailheads.

In addition to the annual road closures, the Moose, Moran and Granite Canyon entrance stations will temporarily close for the month of November and early December; they are scheduled to reopen on December 15 for the winter season. The Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center in Moose, Wyoming is open year-round; however, hours of operation for the winter season will be adjusted to 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.

Annually, the Teton Park Road is not plowed after the first of November. During the time that the Teton Park Road remains free of snow, visitors are welcome to use the roadway for non-motorized recreation such as walking, bicycling, and in-line skating. Once the snow begins to accumulate on the roadbed, winter season activities such as cross-country skiing, skate skiing and snow-shoeing become possible.

Pets are permitted on park roadways; however, pet owners are reminded that dogs must be leashed and under physical restraint at all times. Dog owners are required to clean-up their pet’s waste, and mutt mitt stations are provided for that purpose during the off season months.

In addition to road closures in Grand Teton National Park, the Grassy Lake Road within the John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway will close for the winter season with the first major snowstorm.

Grand Teton Begins Fall Pile Burning Operations

October 25, 2010
With the recent snowfall and seasonal moisture, Teton Interagency fire personnel initiated pile burning operations at certain locations in Grand Teton National Park. Pile burning activities began today near the 4 Lazy F Ranch. Other primary target areas include Flagg Ranch, Shadow Mountain, Signal Mountain campground, Death Canyon Road, and the Murie Ranch in Moose, Wyoming.

The slash piles are located in and around developed areas where fire crews previously completed fuels reduction projects that involved the thinning and removal of lower limbs from trees and the removal of dead wood and brush from the forest floor.

The fuels reduction projects were designed to increase firefighter and public safety, reduce the risk of losing structures to a wildfire, and increase open spaces to help moderate fire behavior during a wildfire. Firefighters place the forest debris in tepee-shaped piles and let them cure for a year before burning them.

Smoke will be evident from these scheduled pile burns during the day of the operation. Please check for updates on the pile burning activities in the coming days and weeks.

Kayakers Rescued on Snake River by Moonlight

Reduced flow of the Snake River requires longer float time
October 24, 2010
Grand Teton National Park rangers rescued two local kayakers from the Snake River during an operation that took place by moonlight on Thursday night, October 21. Jackson resident Dave Muskat and Ann Marie Letko of Moose, Wyoming, became stranded, about 7 p.m.—a half hour after sunset—on an island between two channels of the river near the historic Bar BC Ranch after Letko struck a snag, flipped her kayak and lost it to the current. Rangers located the uninjured boaters at approximately 9 p.m. and subsequently launched a raft to reach the two and ferry them safely to the western bank of the river, about three miles upstream from the Moose Landing.

Rangers initiated a search and rescue operation at 7:15 p.m. after a call for help was received by the Teton Interagency Dispatch Center. Muskat was unsure of their exact location on the river. That uncertainty—coupled with the late hour—caused rangers to use the headlights from their patrol vehicles in an effort to pinpoint the kayakers’ position on the river. In their search for the boaters, two rangers traveled by foot along the river bank south from Schwabacher’s Landing, while two other rangers hiked from Glacier View turnout on Highway 26/89/191 to reach the river and begin  searching upstream toward Schwabacher’s Landing. In addition, four rangers drove along the River Road—a gravel road on the west side of the Snake River—to determine the site of the stranded boaters. After searching for well over an hour, rangers eventually found the kayakers near the historic Bar BC Ranch and launched a raft to rescue them from the island in the stream where they were stranded. The rescue operation concluded about 9:35 p.m. after Muskat and Letko were driven by patrol vehicle from the Bar BC area to the Moose Landing.

The current flow on the Snake River between Deadman’s Bar and Moose Landing is running about 635 cubic feet per second, which means that a river trip requires a significantly longer period of time to complete than during the higher flows of summer and early fall. Boaters should make every attempt to complete their river trip before darkness falls, since natural obstacles such as snags and logjams are difficult to see after sunset— even with the diffused light of a full moon.

Stranded Climber Rescued from Teewinot

Aerial view of Teewinot Mountain
October 21, 2010
Grand Teton National Park rangers rescued a stranded climber from the east face of Teewinot Mountain on Wednesday evening, October 20 with the assistance of a Teton Interagency contract helicopter. Eric Steinmann, age 26, of Wilson, Wyoming called a friend via cell phone to report that he was in a location on the mountain from which he could not continue climbing without risk of falling. The friend then contacted Teton Interagency Dispatch Center at 3:55 p.m. to report Steinmann’s predicament, and rangers launched a rescue mission to reach Steinmann and bring him to safety. Due to the late hour of the day, rangers ultimately used a helicopter-assisted evacuation.

During a reconnaissance flight at 4:50 p.m., Steinmann was located on a steep pinnacle, high on the east face of Teewinot. With little remaining daylight and predicted cold overnight temperatures, a decision was made to insert one ranger via the short-haul technique and place Steinmann in an aerial evacuation suit for a short-haul extraction from the peak. The ranger reached the stranded Steinmann at 5:55 p.m. and prepared him for a flight to the Lupine Meadows rescue cache. The rescue concluded at 6:20 p.m.—just 40 minutes before “pumpkin hour,” the designated time beyond which the ship cannot fly according to FAA regulations.

Steinmann told rangers that he intended to climb the 4th class route up the east face of Teewinot Mountain. Being somewhat new to mountaineering, Steinmann had climbed multiple peaks in the park this summer with various partners; however, this was his first solo climb in the Teton Range. When Steinmann realized that he could no longer continue to climb without great risk of falling, he made the prudent decision to call for help.  

Although mountain rescue operations have become relatively routine for Grand Teton National Park rangers, these operations demand a high level of preparation, technical skill and expertise—as well as focused safety deliberations—before a mission is executed. Many variables can delay or impede a rescue operation and climbers should never take for granted that a rescue is possible. Consequently, climbers should be prepared to initiate a self rescue as a first option.

Park rangers remind climbers to become familiar with the intended route and carry a route description along during their climb. Also, mountaineers should never climb into a position from which they cannot safely retreat: in other words, get “cliffed out.” Furthermore, rangers recommend that climbers go with a partner or partners as an added measure of safety.

Rangers also stress that backcountry users should carry extra clothing, food and water in the event of an unexpected night out in the Tetons. Ultimately, the responsibility for a mountaineer’s safety rests with himself/herself and their climbing partners, plus their experience and preparation.

Bear-resistant Food Storage Boxes Installed

Bear-resistant food storage boxes get installed
at Grand Teton campgrounds
October 21, 2010
Superintendent Mary Gibson Scott announced today that
52 new bear-resistant food storage boxes were recently installed in Grand Teton National Park, thanks in part to financial support from the Grand Teton National Park Foundation (GTNPF) and concessioner franchise fees. Durable bear-resistant food boxes provide an important and convenient method for visitors to properly store human foods away from the reach of bears, and the acquisition of these sturdy boxes has been a high priority of the park’s bear management program for several years. To date, a total of 208 boxes have been purchased and placed at campgrounds and picnic areas located throughout the park. The latest boxes were installed at Flagg Ranch, Lizard Creek, Colter Bay and Signal Mountain campgrounds.

In an effort to help reduce human-bear conflicts, the GTNPF began a target campaign in 2008 to secure money for the purchase of food storage boxes; the Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to assisting Grand Teton National Park by raising funds for special programs and projects. In addition, the Grand Teton Lodge Company, an authorized park concessioner, supplied further funding in 2008 through a campground improvement program required under their concessions contract. Other funding was supplied by the National Park Service through concessioner franchise fees.

More than 3.5 million visitors come to Grand Teton each year—most during the summer months—and thousands of them picnic or stay overnight at one of the park’s 1,230 campsites. Rangers document almost daily violations of food storage regulations by careless or uninformed visitors during the course of the tourist season. Although overall compliance with food storage regulations is high, it only takes one incident of a bear obtaining food for it to get “human food-conditioned” and become a potential nuisance bear. For public safety reasons, it often becomes necessary to euthanize food-conditioned bears.

Proper food storage is vital to prevent bears from becoming human food-conditioned as they search for available food sources throughout the park; however, nearly 75% of the park’s front country campsites lack these important food storage containers. The park has identified approximately 800 front country sites that are suitable for the placement of bear-resistant food storage boxes. By being widely available for visitors to use, these boxes can prevent bears from becoming food-conditioned and better ensure that they remain wild, naturally foraging animals.

Bear-resistant food storage boxes cost approximately $1,100 each. The GTNPF donors have generously provided funding for 94 boxes since their bear box campaign began in 2008. The generosity of individual GTNPF donors is often acknowledged though the placement of recognition plaques on a particular box. For further information about the bear box campaign, contact Leslie Mattson at 307.732.0629, or email

Injured Hiker Rescued from Amphitheater Lake

October 11, 2010
Grand Teton National Park rangers rescued an injured hiker from the Amphitheater Lake area on Saturday afternoon, October 10, using the Teton Interagency contract helicopter. Ashley Hymel, age 23, from Moose, Wyoming was hiking with a party of two hikers on a section of trail with a sloping ledge when she fell about 20 feet and landed on her back.

Hymel was hiking on an unmaintained trail near the base of Disappointment Peak from Amphitheater Lake to an overlook of the Teton Glacier when the incident occurred just around 4 p.m. A hiker in a nearby separate party witnessed the entire event and was able to call for help on a cell phone after running down the trail for cell reception. One member of Hymel’s party was able to safely scramble down and assist her until rescuers arrived.

Teton Interagency Dispatch Center received the report at 4:06 p.m. and immediately initiated a short-haul rescue response. Two rangers were flown to a helicopter landing zone near Amphitheater Lake and they hiked a short distance to the accident site. Rangers provided Hymel with emergency medical care, and then placed her into a rescue litter for an aerial evacuation. Just after 6 p.m., Hymel and an attending ranger were flown via short-haul to Lupine Meadows where a park ambulance was waiting to transport her to St. John’s Medical Center in Jackson.

Short-haul, a technique to insert rescue personnel into or extract injured persons from a remote accident site where safe helicopter landings are not possible, involves the use of a rescue rope attached to a helicopter's center of gravity. It allows rescuers to expeditiously remove a seriously injured person from an inaccessible location.