Fourth of July Fireworks Restrictions Apply

June 30, 2011

As the Fourth of July holiday approaches, visitors and local residents alike are reminded that fireworks are not permitted in Grand Teton National Park, on the Bridger-Teton National Forest, or in Teton County.  It is essential that everyone comply with this regulation, especially given the warmer temperatures and drying conditions taking place across the greater Jackson Hole area. 

Besides the fireworks prohibition on public and county lands, campers are reminded that unattended or abandoned campfires can easily escalate into wildfires; therefore, it is important that all campfires are completely extinguished and cold to the touch before leaving a site. Campers and day users should never leave a fire unattended, and should always be prepared by having a shovel on hand and a water bucket ready for use.

Despite the unusually wet and cool spring this year, abandoned campfires and fireworks can still lead to an unwanted wildfire. As of Wednesday, June 29, at least two human-caused fires have occurred on the Bridger-Teton National Forest and 12 unattended or abandoned campfires were discovered and extinguished by Teton Interagency fire staff and law enforcement officials at forest camp sites.

With the arrival of the annual fire season, area residents and visitors are requested to report a fire or smoke by calling 307.739.3630. For more fire information, please visit 

Film Festival Highlights Nature & Celebrates New Craig Thomas Visitor Center Auditorium

Yosemite: The Fate of Heaven, a stunning and artistic piece
on this beloved icon aires Thursday, July 7 at 8 p.m.

Sky Island about New Mexico's Jemez Mountains &
narrated by Meryl Streep aires Saturday, July 9 at 8:30 p.m.

American Beaver by Jackson filmmaker Jeff Hogan
aires on Saturday morning, July 9 at 10 a.m.
June 28, 2011

Grand Teton National Park Superintendent Mary Gibson Scott invites the public to a special three-day film festival to be held on July 7 – 9 in the new Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center auditorium at Moose, Wyoming. Modeled after similar events like the Telluride and Banff film festivals, the inaugural Grand Teton Film Festival will feature an exciting slate of films profiling environmental issues, and highlighting parks and protected areas from the Alaska Peninsula to North Carolina's Outer Banks, and from the high Sierras of California to the high desert of New Mexico. All films explore and interpret humankind's place in the natural world, and most will be screened in high definition. The festival offers an opportunity for visitors and area residents to experience the visitor center’s new 150-seat auditorium with its state-of-the-art projection and large screen. The festival is free and open to the public, with seating available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Grand Teton National Park thanks the Grand Teton National Park Foundation for their help in making this film festival possible through generous financial assistance.

The Grand Teton Film Festival schedule includes:

Thursday, July 7 — 8 p.m.
Yosemite: The Fate of Heaven (60:00)
Quite possibly the finest film ever made about the National Park Service (NPS) and its seemingly paradoxical mission, Yosemite: The Fate of Heaven is also an illustration of how a non-fiction film can transcend its documentary format to attain an artistic level. Intelligent, funny, poignant and beautiful, this film about a beloved international icon was featured on PBS' American Experience and won an Earthwatch Film Award for master documentarian Jon Else. The chance to experience comments by Carl Sharsmith—longest serving ranger in NPS history—is a delight. Robert Redford's acquaintance with Sharsmith led to the production of this brilliant film.

Crown of the Continent (28:00)
Alaska's Wrangell-St.Elias National Park is a wild, remote alpine landscape of incomprehensible grandeur, containing the highest coastal mountains in the world, peaks with greater vertical relief than the Himalayas, and the greatest assemblage of glaciers outside the polar icecaps: a national park larger than Switzerland, with higher mountains. Follow one man's journey back to his own childhood when his father brought the family to Alaska after being inspired by the writings of Jack London and expeditions of Israel Russell.

Friday, July 8 — 8 p.m.
Red Gold (54:00)
The Bristol Bay region of southwest Alaska is home to the most prolific sockeye salmon runs in the world. Two mining companies have proposed what would be the largest open-pit copper and gold mine in the world at the headwaters of the salmon rivers between Lake Clark and Katmai national parks. The estimated value of the minerals is more than $300 billion; the value of the salmon run to commercial and sport fishermen, and to the cultural identity of the Alaska natives of the region, is incalculable. Red Gold is alternately disturbing, hilarious, melancholy and hopeful. Considering the genius of this film, it is surprising to learn that the two young producers, Travis Rummel and Ben Knight, had no formal training in film-making—just a deep love of fly fishing and a dedication to telling a complex story with wit, verve and beauty.

Katmai Country (25:00)
Award-winning filmmaker and NPS producer John Grabowska will show clips from an environmental film currently in production on Katmai National Park and the Alaska Peninsula. This evolving video highlights the greatest concentration of the largest bears on earth: bears that depend as much on the red salmon runs as do the people of the region.

Saturday Morning, July 9 — 9:30 a.m.
Lost but Found, Safe and Sound (12:00)
This charming video follows seven-year-old Kelly on a camping trip with her family. When she runs ahead and gets off the trail, she remembers the time that a park ranger came to her school and explained to her class what to do if they ever got lost in the woods. A smart girl and a search and rescue dog make for a happy ending. Produced by the Association of National Park Rangers.

American Beaver
Castor canadensis attracted the first mountain men to the valley that became known as Jackson Hole. This classic wildlife film, shot in Grand Teton National Park, follows nature's tireless engineer as it struggles to survive while facing the challenges of predators and the difficulties of weather and natural elements. Using a custom-designed camera system, Jackson filmmaker Jeff Hogan tracked the American beaver for one year to discover how its constant need to build changes its habitat and affects other species.

Wings of Thunder (28:00)
The abundance, beauty and fragility of life on the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge are portrayed in this breathtaking film of avian life in Utah. The title comes from a journal entry by explorer John Fremont, who described Bear River Bay as "animated with multitudes of waterfowl...rising for the space of a mile...with noise like distant thunder."

Showdown at Elktown (7:00)
A raucous look at how not to photograph wildlife during the fall rut. Filmed at Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone National Park.

Saturday Afternoon, July 9 — 1 p.m.
Rivers and Tides (90:00)
Who would meticulously create astounding sculptures out of natural materials, only to watch them disintegrate with the tide? The ephemeral environmental art of Andy Goldsworthy is all part of the mystery and allure of this captivating, meditative, meandering journey through an artist's personal relationship with the natural world. Through the course of this gorgeously photographed film, you will see nature through Goldsworthy's perceptive and subtle eyes, while admiring his beguiling sculptures made from leaves, dandelions, rock and thorns.

The Plow That Broke the Plains (27:00)
A classic of documentary film about uncontrolled and unsustainable farming techniques that combined with an economic and ecological breakdown to create the Dust Bowl. This landmark conservation film of the Dirty Thirties was captured in iconic images by filmmaker Pare Lorentz, whose free verse script was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize for poetry. The film summarizes President Roosevelt’s New Deal. It broke new cinematic ground and influenced Hollywood from image-making to film scores. Virgil Thomson's expressive music is a lesson in Americana; with wit and affection, it quotes traditional folk songs and religious hymns from "Praise God, from Whom All Blessings Flow" to "Streets of Laredo."

A Place in the Land (32:00)
Nominated for an Academy Award for Documentary Short Subject, A Place in the Land examines the history of conservation stewardship in America as reflected at Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park, and through the work of George Perkins Marsh, Frederick Billings, and Laurance S. Rockefeller who were successive residents of the estate. Produced by Charles Guggenheim.

Canyon Voices (22:00)
The striking Edward Curtis photographs of Canyon de Chelly established in the public mind a romanticized image of the Navajos and their vanishing world. This quiet, modest, graceful film listens carefully to the DinĂ© people who still live in, and treasure this captivating space—the heart of the Navajo homeland. Canyon Voices makes you feel completely at home while transporting you to a place utterly foreign to most of us.

Saturday Evening, July 9 — 8 p.m.
Ribbon of Sand (26:30)
The famed Outer Banks of the Carolina coast are a slim and moving line of sand in the open Atlantic. Many travelers think they know these islands, but south of Ocracoke Inlet there rises a luminous bar of sand almost sixty miles in length, with no roads, bridges or hotels. The wild, remote beaches of Cape Lookout are one of the few remaining natural barrier island systems in the world. At once an exaltation and elegy, Ribbon of Sand profiles this seascape and the transitory islands at risk of disappearing. The film features writings by environmental pioneer Rachel Carson and is narrated by Academy Award-winner Meryl Streep. The Washington Post describes this film as, "poetic, sensitive, both intimate and sweeping.” Produced by John Grabowska and coordinated by Grand Teton National Park Deputy Superintendent Bob Vogel, who served as superintendent at Cape Lookout when the film was made.

Sky Island (26:30)
In Northern New Mexico, a range of mountains rises up from the high desert. The volcanic Jemez Mountains are isolated from all the nearby ranges: an island in the sky surrounded by a desert sea. Sky Island profiles an enchanting landscape—a wild, rugged land of the Faraway Nearby—as it explores humans and their place within it, and describes the dramatic climate change that affects the transformation of desert and alpine ecosystem. The Smithsonian described it, "As much art film as documentary, a lyrical and expressive portrait of a landscape." Narrated by Academy Award-winner Meryl Streep and Pulitzer Prize-winning Native American author N. Scott Momaday, and presented by filmmaker John Grabowska.

Environmental filmmaker and NPS producer John Grabowska served as curator for the selections offered during the three-day Grand Teton Film Festival. Grabowska will present the films, including his new production Sky Island, which Jackson area audiences will see in a sneak preview just before its national premiere on PBS.

Grabowska has produced films from the subarctic to the subtropics that have won awards at festivals around the world. His work is often broadcast as prime time specials on PBS. Grabowska has been a guest lecturer at the National Geographic Society and the Smithsonian Institution and led environmental media workshops in Argentina and Panama. He also co-founded the American Conservation Film Festival. The Washington Post describes him as "one of the virtuoso environmental filmmakers in the country." Grabowska has been producing environmental films with the Harpers Ferry Center of the National Park Service since 1991.

Grand Teton to Welcome Dr. Bob Smith as Part of Summer Speaker Series

June 27, 2011

Grand Teton National Park will welcome Dr. Bob Smith, distinguished professor and professor emeritus of geology and geophysics at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, to the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center auditorium at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday evening, June 30 for a retrospective presentation on his prominent work in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.  The lecture is the third in a new summer speaker series sponsored by the park. Smith’s presentation titled, A Living, Breathing, Shaking Career, will provide a window into his career researching and studying the powerful forces that have shaped the Teton and Yellowstone landscapes.

Dr. Smith has made outstanding contributions in the field of geology, specifically in association with Grand Teton and Yellowstone national parks. Smith’s lengthy career in studying and interpreting earthquakes, fault zones, and volcanoes—and their impacts on the geologic evolution of northwestern Wyoming—has generated a greater appreciation for, and increased knowledge of, the dynamic forces at work in the physical landscape of the world-renowned Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.

Smith holds a Ph.D. from the University of Utah and has served as a visiting professor at Columbia University, Cambridge University and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, Switzerland. His popular book with Lee Siegel, Windows Into the Earth: The Geologic Story of Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks (2000, Oxford University Press) explains the geology of the parks, and he regularly provides ‘real-time’ feedback to personnel in both parks about seismic events throughout the region to encourage effective response planning to natural geologic hazards.

In 2008, he retired from teaching at the University of Utah, where he was a key founder of the university’s seismic network—a system that operates more than 200 regional and urban seismic stations serving Utah, eastern Idaho, and western Wyoming (including Grand Teton and Yellowstone national parks). Smith was a founder of, and remains a coordinating scientist for, the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory—a facility that monitors volcanic and seismic activity in the greater Yellowstone area. He has also been integrally involved in planning and implementing the National Science Foundation-led EarthScope initiative, which uses high-precision instrumentation to explore the structure and evolution of the North American continent and the processes responsible for earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.

In acknowledging Smith’s impressive work, Superintendent Mary Gibson Scott said, “Dr. Smith supplies invaluable scientific information to help our staff, partners, and the visiting public better understand the physical forces that influence the landscapes that define this natural area”.

The discussion is free and open to the public. Seating is available for the first 150 guests on a first come-first served basis.  For further information, please contact the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center at 307.739.3399.

Rangers Rescue Climber from Guides' Wall

 Injured climber and attending ranger during
short-haul evacuation from Guides' Wall.
Guides' Wall: a popular Teton rock climbing route.
June 26, 2011
Grand Teton National Park rangers short-hauled a 47-year-old injured climber off of Guides' Wall in Cascade Canyon on Saturday, June 25. Dagmar Rapp of Farmington, Connecticut was on a guided trip with Exum Mountain Guides when she fell about 15 feet on the Flake pitch, the fifth pitch of six on the route.

The Exum guide notified Teton Interagency Dispatch Center of the injured climber at 2:40 p.m. Battling gusty winds and maneuvering cautiously with minimal clearance from the rock face, a Teton Interagency contract helicopter inserted one ranger at Rapp’s location; the ranger then prepared Rapp for a short-haul extrication using an aerial evacuation suit, a soft harness-like body suit. Three other rangers, who were in the vicinity, hiked to the base of Guides' Wall and staged there, in case winds prevented a short-haul operation from being possible.

Rapp, with a ranger attending, reached the valley floor just after
5 p.m. A park ambulance then transported her to St. John’s Medical Center in Jackson for further treatment.

Baxter’s Pinnacle and Southwest Descent Gully Closed for Nesting Peregrine Falcons

Climbers on Baxter's Pinnacle
Photo Coutesy of Landon Wiedenman

June 24, 2011
Grand Teton National Park Superintendent Mary Gibson Scott announced that beginning Friday, June 24, Baxter’s Pinnacle and its southwest descent gully are closed due to a peregrine falcon aerie. Baxter’s Pinnacle is a popular climbing route in Cascade Canyon. This closure is in effect to protect both climbers and the falcons.

Peregrines are territorial and aggressive birds especially while nesting. Grand Teton wildlife biologists have received reports, and witnessed near misses, of this peregrine pair dive-bombing climbers on the route and in the descent gully. Baxter’s Pinnacle will remain closed until the young birds have fledged or biologists determine there is no longer a risk to either climbers or the falcons. A nearby climb called No Perches Necessary remains open.

The peregrine falcon is among the world’s fastest birds, flying at 40-55 mph and diving at more than 200 mph while defending territory or striking prey. This poses a safety risk to climbers who could be knocked off the route and injured. Peregrine falcons are particularly sensitive to human disturbance and will abandon their nests to defend their territory. This can lead to nest failure and low reproductive success. The especially aggressive behavior of this falcon pair concerned Grand Teton’s wildlife biologists.

“The aggressive behavior shows us that this peregrine pair feels threatened by climbers near their nest site,” said Grand Teton Wildlife Biologist Sue Wolff. “We want to keep climbers safe and increase the chances for a successful aerie.”

Peregrines were delisted from the endangered species list in 1999, but remain a species of concern in Grand Teton National Park where only three other nesting pairs exist.

Seasonal and temporary closures for wildlife protection are common in Grand Teton to protect both wildlife and park users. Entering a posted wildlife closure is a violation under the code of federal regulations that can result in a citation and fine.

Fourth Annual Grand Teton Music Festival Concerts in the Park

June 24, 2011
Grand Teton National Park and the Grand Teton Music Festival have once again joined together to host the fourth year of special programs promoting the connection between nature and music. Created through a special partnership, the “Music in Nature” concert series runs from June 28 through July 22. The Grand Teton Music Festival’s Axiom Brass Quintet will perform 30-minute programs of music inspired by nature; a park ranger will host each performance. The concerts are free and open to the public. 

Inaugural performances of the brass quintet will take place at the Colter Bay Visitor Center amphitheater Tuesday, June 28 and Wednesday, June 29 at 11:30 a.m., with a second performance at 12:30 p.m. each day. These musicians will delight listeners through their recitals, continuing a musical tradition inspired by the beauty of Grand Teton National Park and its majestic scenery.

“The ‘Music in Nature’ concerts create a unique, relaxing atmosphere that allows visitors to enjoy the picturesque Teton landscape in a truly personal and moving way,” said Grand Teton National Park Superintendent Mary Gibson Scott. “We are excited to partner again with Grand Teton Music Festival to bring a special musical experience to our visitors.”

Concerts are scheduled for the Colter Bay Visitor Center auditorium, Jackson Lake Lodge lobby, and the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center in Moose. Time and locations of concerts are:

Tuesdays and Wednesdays beginning June 28
11:30 a.m. Colter Bay Visitor Center Amphitheater    
12:30 p.m. Colter Bay Visitor Center Amphitheater     

Wednesdays beginning June 29
5:00 p.m. Jackson Lake Lodge lobby
6:00 p.m. Jackson Lake Lodge lobby

Thursdays and Fridays beginning June 29
11:30 a.m. Craig Thomas Discovery & Visitor Center (Moose)
12:30 p.m. Craig Thomas Discovery & Visitor Center(Moose)                                                

Summer Speaker Series Begins

June 24, 2011
Grand Teton National Park will host a series of special presentations this summer in the new auditorium at the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center in Moose, Wyoming. Beginning Monday, June 27, local residents and park visitors can join a fascinating group of speakers to learn about migration corridors, regional and park history, geology, and meteorology. All talks are free and open to the general public.

Lectures will be presented by specialists in a variety of subject areas; speakers will share their expertise and knowledge on a range of topics and lead discussions about various changes affecting the park’s natural and cultural resources. Lectures begin in late June and continue through August. June and July lectures include: 

June 27 (3 p.m.) — Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative
Conservationist and photographer Harvey Locke will explain the importance and value in preserving a continuous wildlife corridor that connects Yellowstone National Park with the Yukon country in Canada. Locke is recognized as a global leader in the field of parks, wilderness and large landscape conservation issues. Additionally, Locke was named one of Canada’s 21st century leaders by Time Magazine Canada.

June 28 (3 p.m.) — Two Toms: Lessons from a Shoshone Doctor
Anthropologists and authors Tom and Helen Johnson will recount a tale about Tom Wesaw, an 83-year-old Shoshone doctor and religious leader from Wyoming’s Wind River Reservation. When Wesaw could no longer drive and make house calls, young Tom Johnson drove him to his patients and cooked, pumped water, and built fires for sweat lodges. In exchange, the elder Tom showed Johnson his medical skills. The Johnsons’ will share details about Shoshone culture, as they chronicle the story of the friendship between these two men.  A second program will take place at 7 p.m. at the Colter Bay Visitor Center auditorium. 

June 30 (6:30 p.m.) A Living, Breathing, Shaking Career
Dr. Bob Smith will deliver a retrospective of his distinguished and lengthy career conducting research on the dynamic forces (earthquakes, fault zones, and volcanoes) at work in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Smith holds a Ph.D. from the University of Utah and has served as a visiting professor at Columbia University, Cambridge University and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, Switzerland. His popular book with Lee Siegel, Windows Into the Earth: The Geologic Story of Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks (2000, Oxford University Press) explains the geology of the two national parks, and he regularly provides ‘real-time’ feedback to park personnel about seismic events throughout the region to encourage effective response planning to natural geologic hazards.

July 13 (3 p.m.) John Colter: Mountain Man Superhero
Dr. Barbara Mueller, professor of anthropology at Casper College, will describe the life and travels of John Colter, widely considered to be the first mountain man of the American West. Colter was a valued member of the famed Corps of Discovery Expedition with Captain Meriwether Lewis and Captain William Clark. After the expedition ended, Colter spent time exploring and fur trapping across the Wyoming territory, and his travels likely brought him through parts of present-day Grand Teton and Yellowstone national parks.

For more information about the summer speaker series, call the Colter Bay Visitor Center at 307.739.3594, or the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center at 307.739.3399.

Teton Interagency Firefighters & Equipment Respond to Southwest Fires

Teton Interagency fire engine works local fire.
Teton Interagency firefighters fill portable water tank.
June 21, 2011
Sixty-four firefighters from the Bridger-Teton National Forest and Grand Teton National Park, along with essential firefighting equipment, have responded to support wildfire response in the Southwest and southern United States. Teton area firefighters are available to assist firefighting efforts on large-scale fires across the country because local conditions in Wyoming remain exceptionally green after a prolonged winter and a wet, cool spring.

Currently, four Teton Interagency Fire engines with crews and one Sublette County fire engine and crew are on assignments in Arizona, New Mexico and west Texas. One engine just returned after a two-week assignment on the Wallow Fire in Arizona. Fire engines from Kemmerer and Moose are waiting for fire assignments, and a Teton Interagency contract helicopter left Monday with a crew of six for the Pacheco Fire in New Mexico. In addition, a 20-person hand crew mobilized Sunday for the Wallow Fire in Arizona.

An additional 16 people from Bridger-Teton National Forest and Grand Teton National Park are on fire assignments, primarily in supervisory roles.

The total number of Teton Interagency Fire personnel supporting fires in other states stands at 64.

“Out-of-area resources often help us when we are experiencing a busy fire season in the greater Jackson Hole area and other parts of Wyoming, so it’s good that we can return the favor,” said Chip Collins, fire management officer with Grand Teton National Park. “When the 20-person Teton crew goes out to a fire, we are able to get folks from other program areas on assignment. It’s a great opportunity for people to get important fire experience.”

Teton Interagency Fire began sending resources to Texas and the Southwest in April. Fire assignments typically last 14 days, with additional travel days factored in. Firefighters are dispatched through a national resource ordering system, and trained using National Wildfire Coordinating Group standards. Rigorous physical fitness standards are also required.

Late Season Avalanche Hazard Cause for Concern in Snowy Teton Range

Large wet avalanche in Garnet Canyon on June 13th. 

June 17, 2011
The Teton Range contains an unprecedented amount of snowpack for this time of year. Unusual conditions exist due to an unseasonably cool and wet spring following a record winter snowfall with 732 inches recorded at the Raymer plot on Rendezvous Mountain (elevation 9,300 feet). The normal transition from winter to spring to summer is substantially delayed, and the snowpack has not yet consolidated. Avalanche danger is expected to remain elevated during this slow transition period. As a consequence, Grand Teton National Park rangers advise extreme caution for any backcountry travel (hiking, skiing or climbing), as well as for backcountry camping.

Generally by mid June, the snowpack has markedly decreased in the Teton Range and many locations have shed their accumulated winter snow during springtime avalanches. This year, however, several cornices and deep snow pockets remain throughout the mountains. These areas may be prone to releases over the next several weeks, producing potentially large avalanches. The avalanche danger increases rapidly during periods of intense sun, a quick rise in temperature, or during and just after a period of high precipitation. These are the very conditions that may occur as more seasonable weather finally arrives in Jackson Hole.

Because of atypical conditions, local residents and park visitors who choose to head into the Teton Range are advised to follow several guidelines to increase their margin of safety. Backcountry hikers and skiers should:

  • Be prepared for more winter-like conditions than are typical for June.
  • Carry appropriate avalanche equipment and basic emergency items.
  • Get an exceedingly early start on a backcountry trip.
  • Travel with others and not go alone.
  • Avoid being on or underneath steep, snow-covered slopes during the heat of the day.
  • Be particularly alert to changing conditions and surroundings (i.e. cornices on cliff areas above a trail or travel route).
  • Select a backcountry campsite well away from avalanche run out zones.
  • Consider route finding abilities and snow assessment skills before heading onto Teton trails.
  • Contact Jenny Lake Ranger Station at 307.739.3343 or review trail conditions at before heading into the backcountry.
The final avalanche hazard report provided on June 12, 2011 by the Bridger-Teton National Forest Avalanche Center stated, “… At the upper elevations, the new dense snow has accumulated on warm wet old snow surfaces. At the mid elevations the snowpack is rain soaked and unstable. Wet loose and wet slab avalanches are possible on very steep slopes at mid and upper elevations. These wet snow avalanches could release naturally, be triggered by a cornice failure, or by humans. Once triggered these wet slides could entrain large volumes of snow and become destructive.”

Grand Teton Offers Free Entry in Celebration of Summer Solstice

Historic entrance station near Jenny Lake. Entry fees
will be waived on June 21 to mark the first day of summer.
June 16, 2011

In celebration of summer solstice and the first day of summer, Grand Teton National Park—along with other national parks across the country—will offer free entry on Tuesday, June 21. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar directed the National Park Service to waive entrance fees on several days during 2011 as part of an initiative to encourage people to visit, explore and enjoy America’s national park areas. 

“The longest day of the year is the perfect time to take a short trip. Celebrate an extended Father’s Day with dad, the start of summer break with the kids, or a job well done with your favorite graduate,” said National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis. “With 394 national parks across the country, you could opt to visit an old favorite or explore a new place. Find a reason to get outside and enjoy the extra sunshine at a national park near you.”

To further highlight the first day of summer and free entry into Grand Teton, park rangers invite visitors to join them in family-oriented activities that focus on First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move Outside” initiative: a national campaign to end childhood obesity within a generation. This program is underway in national parks across the United States. Several programs designed to promote  healthy lifestyles and physical activity in the great outdoors will take place in Grand Teton on June 21st and throughout the summer months. These include:
  • Taggart Lake Hike: Trek to scenic Taggart Lake at the base of the Teton Range and learn about the geology and biologic communities that adorn the Teton Landscape. Bring water, binoculars, cameras, rain gear and insect repellant. Meet 9 a.m. at Taggart Lake trailhead for a three-mile hike (moderate difficulty).
  • Swan Lake Hike: Walk through forest and wetland communities while learning about the plants and animals living near Jackson Lake and Colter Bay. Bring water, binoculars, cameras, rain gear and insect repellant. Meet 8 a.m. at Colter Bay Visitor Center flagpole for an easy three-mile hike.
  • Inspiration Point Hike: Trek to Hidden Falls and a viewpoint above Jenny Lake to learn about Teton geology and the work of glaciers. Meet 8:30 a.m. at the Jenny Lake Visitor Center flagpole for an uphill two-mile hike (moderate difficulty).
“The Teton Range is just beginning to emerge from an unprecedented winter snowpack, and the snow-covered peaks create a sharp contrast against the greening Jackson Hole valley. Early season wildflowers  and newborn wildlife add a special touch to visiting Grand Teton National Park at this time of year,” said Superintendent Mary Gibson Scott. “The first day of summer is an ideal time to visit the park, and free entry provides an added bonus to the annual June attractions.”

Additional fee free days in 2011 are scheduled for National Public Lands Day on Saturday, September 24 and Veterans Day weekend from November 11-13.

National Park Foundation Awards Grant To Grand Teton National Park

Pura Vida participants learn about radio telemetry and
wildlife tracking with park biologists on a chilly spring day.

June 15, 2011
Superintendent Mary Gibson Scott announced today that Grand Teton National Park was chosen to receive a grant sponsored by the National Park Foundation (NPF) to support an innovative program for multi-cultural youth. This grant is part of the NPF’s America’s Best Idea  initiative: a nationwide program that connects underserved populations across the United States with national parks through meaningful and innovative ways.

The NPF grant will fund a Pura Vida Youth Leadership Program recently launched at Grand Teton with assistance from the Grand Teton National Park Foundation (GTNPF). This program is designed to encourage multi-cultural students to become leaders in their local community in support of park stewardship. The grant will augment support already provided by GTNPF, Teton Science Schools, Teton County School District, and other generous donors.

“We’re pleased to receive such a beneficial grant,” said Superintendent Scott. “Through our Pura Vida program, we’ll be able to engage students from diverse cultural backgrounds and help them to become leaders in their local community. We hope to inspire these young people and expand their understanding and support for conservation efforts. We also hope they will become ambassadors for national parks and serve as future community leaders.”

Pura Vida Youth Leadership Program is a year-long course aimed at empowering multi-cultural youth to become active leaders in their community. Participants will gain an understanding and appreciation for the significance and purpose of the National Park Service, and learn about career opportunities in the Service. More than half of the participants for the year-long program will be selected from a two-week Pura Vida program in July, which is affiliated with Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move Outside” initiative. The July Pura Vida session is specifically designed to reach out to the Latino population in the park’s gateway communities and introduce youth to the park’s unique resources while providing leadership development and mentoring opportunities. The rest of the students for the year-long program will be selected from various local youth groups.

“We must create opportunities for all Americans to have access to and enjoy their national parks,” said Neil Mulholland, President and CEO of the National Park Foundation. “With these grants, we’re connecting more and more people to the national parks, while building and strengthening long-lasting support, appreciation and commitment to protecting ‘America’s Best Idea’.”

Inspired by the epic Ken Burns documentary The National Parks: America’s Best Idea, the NPF, in partnership with Lowe’s Charitable and Educational Foundation, the Anschutz Foundation and the Ahmanson Foundation, awarded America’s Best Idea grants to 19 national parks across America. The NPF grants support interactive and engaging projects that strengthen Americans’ connection with their national parks. A full list of grantees and project descriptions is available on the NPF website at

Chartered by Congress, the NPF is the official charity of America’s national parks. The NPF works hand in hand with the National Park Service to connect all Americans to their national parks, and to make sure that they are preserved for the generations who will follow. The National Park System includes 84 million acres of the world’s most treasured landscapes, ecosystems, and historic sites—all protected in nearly 400 national park units.

For further information about this grant and others with the NPF, contact Alanna Sobel, 202.354.6480, Join NPF online at, or on Facebook at, and Twitter                                    

Grand Teton Prepares for Potential Flooding

High water on the Snake River during runoff.
Snake River exceeds its bank near confluence with Buffalo Fork.
June 9, 2011
As the record winter snowpack melts, Grand Teton National Park is making preparations for potential flooding along the Snake River and its tributaries. A high-water incident management team has been assembled to prepare for possible flooding and other weather-related damage throughout the park. This team will direct the response to situations that may arise as the snowpack recedes in the Tetons and melt-waters swell the creeks and streams.

As part of flood preparations, park staff will assemble a line of portable flood protection walls between the westbank of the Snake River and the Moose headquarters complex starting as early as Saturday, June 11. Temporary flood protection walls will also be place around the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center on the south side of the Teton Park Road. These temporary flood walls consist of a product called HESCO Bastion Concertainer® —named for the British company that developed the structures in the late 1980s. This product is a modern gabion: a cage, cylinder, or box filled with soil or sand used in civil engineering, road building and military applications. HESCOs consist of a collapsible wire mesh container and heavy duty fabric liner; they are installed, among other uses, as a temporary to semi-permanent dike or barrier against high water. The HESCO units can be quickly assembled using a forklift and front loader, which lessens the physical labor required for sandbag preparation. As an added precaution, park assets that can be moved prior to a high water event will be relocated to areas not prone to flooding.

To assess changing conditions, park personnel are monitoring on a daily basis Pacific Creek, the Buffalo Fork of the Snake River, Gros Ventre River, Cottonwood Creek, Lake Creek and other tributary streams. The high-water incident team is taking appropriate steps to deal with various scenarios that could occur until the runoff subsides. The team will assess the water levels in the front county and monitor the snowmelt and related damage in the backcountry as well. The team has already documented damage to trails and backcountry bridges from the heavy snow. A mudslide on the westshore of Jenny Lake, a new rockfall at the mouth of Death Canyon, and damage to bridges across Cascade Creek near Hidden Falls will require early season trail work once conditions stabilize.

The Snake River reached a high water mark of 15.2 feet and a flow of 25,000 cubic feet per second (cfs) at the Moose Bridge during the 1997 spring runoff—which was the last year that Jackson Hole experienced substantial flooding. Currently the Snake River stands at 13 feet at Moose.

Superintendent Mary Gibson Scott said, “We may ‘dodge the bullet’ on flood damage when all is said and done. However, it’s important for us to take every deliberate step in anticipation of potential flooding and to be prepared for possibilities that may arise with the unique set of conditions this year." Superintendent Scott also stated, "Public safety and park employee safety will remain paramount throughout the flood response, and park employees will be vigilant in their daily activities as conditions change."

Communication about potential flooding and possible area closures due to flooding will be provided to the visiting public and area residents through the park visitor centers, entrance stations and the public affairs office.

Annual Cattle Drive to Cause Minor Traffic Delays near Moran Junction

Pinto Ranch wranglers drive cattle to
Elk Ranch pastures in Grand Teton National Park.
June 7, 2011
Motorists may experience a minor travel delay along Hwy 26/89/191 from Moran Junction to the Elk Ranch flats (one mile south of the junction) on Saturday morning, June 11, between the hours of 6:45 and 8:30 a.m. The temporary delay will allow for the safe movement of cattle from the Pinto Ranch of Buffalo Valley to the Elk Ranch pastures, which lie south of Moran Junction and the Buffalo Fork River. Park rangers will provide traffic control for the cattle drive. 

Pinto Ranch wranglers will drive a herd of about 250 cattle westward from the ranch using a right of way along Highway 26/287. When the cattle drive reaches Moran Junction, the animals need to cross the Buffalo Fork Bridge, causing a delay of 30 minutes while cattle clear both the bridge and a swampy area just south of the bridge.

To avoid the temporary road delay during the cattle drive, local residents and park visitors may choose to travel an alternate route through Grand Teton National Park using the Teton Park Road between Jackson Lake Junction and Moose Junction.

Every effort will be made to minimize any inconvenience to travelers who may be using Highway 26/89/191 to access Moran Junction during the early morning cattle drive on Saturday.

Several years ago, Grand Teton officials requested that the Pinto Ranch shift their cattle from an historic, free-range Pacific Creek grazing allotment north of Moran to the fenced Elk Ranch pastures in order to minimize potential conflicts with predators in the Pacific Creek drainage.

In accordance with the 1950 Grand Teton National Park enabling legislation, certain historic grazing privileges were retained. Since that time, the fenced and irrigated Elk Ranch pastures have been used for cattle grazing.

Annual Roadside Clean-up on Thursday, June 9

June 7, 2011
Grand Teton National Park employees will join with park partners and concessioners to conduct the annual roadside clean-up on Thursday, June 9 from 8 a.m. to noon. This date is a bit later than previous years due to late season melting from a record winter snowpack.

Anyone driving through Grand Teton during Thursday morning should be alert for people walking along the roads and give clean-up crews a wide berth. Slow moving and parked vehicles may also be encountered. 

Each year before the summer season is in full swing, park staff and Grand Teton Association  employees—along with staff from the Grand Teton Lodge Company, Signal Mountain Lodge, Triangle X Ranch, and Flagg Ranch Resort—set aside a day to remove trash and unsightly debris from roads and turnouts to beautify Grand Teton before summer visitors arrive. 

"Visitors and local residents can keep roadsides clean throughout the year by taking the time to place litter in garbage cans and dumpsters located throughout the park. As an added benefit, this simple, but responsible act also helps reduce the chance that bears may get food rewards,” said Superintendent Mary Gibson Scott. “Everyone is encouraged to do their part in keeping Grand Teton National Park free of unsightly litter.”

The Craig Thomas, Jenny Lake, Colter Bay, and Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve visitor centers and park bookstores, as well as the interagency communication center and law enforcement patrols will continue normal operations while the clean-up work is underway.

Jackson Resident Rescued From Teewinot

June 4, 2011
Grand Teton National Park rangers enlisted the help of Teton County Search and Rescue (TCSAR) and their contract helicopter to rescue a backcountry hiker/skier who was seriously injured after taking a tumbling fall about 8:30 a.m. Saturday, June 4, while ascending Teewinot Mountain (elevation 12,325 feet) with two companions. Jesse Stover, age 39, of Jackson, Wyoming slipped and fell approximately 2,000 feet. Stover and his partners were well equipped with helmets, ice axes, and crampons, and were wearing avalanche beacons at the time of the accident. Stover also had a whippet (a ski pole with an ice axe style head): a commonly used tool when skiing on hard and steep snow.

Stover and his two companions left the valley at 4:00 a.m. Saturday morning with the intention of summiting Teewinot and skiing down its east face. About 500 feet below the summit, Stover slipped on the snow and took a tumbling fall.

Teton Interagency Dispatch Center received a 911 call at 8:32 a.m. Saturday morning from a skier who witnessed Stover’s fall. The witness, who is a wilderness emergency medical technician (W-EMT), skied down to where Stover came to rest and provided him with emergency medical care until help arrived. Two Grand Teton National Park rangers hiked up to Stover and reached the scene at 11:20 a.m.  Rangers then prepared a site for TCSAR to insert one of their members, Dr. AJ Wheeler, to the patient's location on the mountain.

TCSAR’s  rescue team reached Stover at 11:36 a.m. and prepared him for a short-haul evacuation to the valley floor at Lupine Meadows where a park ambulance then transported Stover to
St. John’s Medical Center in Jackson for further treatment.

While attending to Stover on Teewinot, TCSAR members and Grand Teton rangers avoided a small wet avalanche that came down the gully where Stover was located. The team was able to move Stover and themselves from harm’s way with the help of two avalanche spotters higher up on the peak.

The Bridger-Teton National Forest avalanche report rated the avalanche danger on Saturday as “moderate” to “considerable” as warmer afternoon temperatures create unstable snowpack. For up-to-date avalanche forecasts, visit , or call the avalanche center at 307.733.2664.

Backcountry users are advised to stop in or call a visitor center or ranger station the day of travel to obtain the most current trail, route, and snow conditions. Hikers should also note that many injuries are a result of a slip on snow or ice and often occur on the descent.

Grizzly Bear Research Trapping Begins in GTNP Public Advised to Heed Posted Warning Signs

June 2, 2011
Wildlife biologists with the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team (IGBST) will begin trapping operations in Grand Teton National Park to capture grizzly bears and gather data for research purposes. These operations will begin June 8th and continue through the end of July. To alert the public of these trapping operations, warning signs will be posted at major access points where capture activities are underway. It is critical that all members of the public heed the warning signs and remain well away from the posted areas.

Trapping operations are a part of ongoing efforts required under the Endangered Species Act to monitor the population of grizzly bears in the Yellowstone Ecosystem. Monitoring of grizzly bear distribution and other activities are vital to recovery of grizzlies across the Yellowstone Ecosystem. 

To attract bears, biologists utilize natural food sources such as fresh road–killed deer and elk.  Potential trapping sites are baited with these natural foods, and if indications are that grizzly bears are in the area, culvert traps will be used to capture the bears. Once trapped, the bears are sedated and studied in accordance with strict protocols developed by the IGBST.

Whenever bear trapping activities are being conducted for scientific purposes, the area around the site will be closed to public entry and posted with bright warning signs. These signs are posted along the major access points to the trapping site. It is important that the public comply with the closure signs and not venture into an area that has been posted. 

For more information regarding grizzly bear trapping, call IGBST at 406.994.6675 or Grand Teton National Park at 307.739.3393.