Thursday, April 27, 2017

Montana Recreational Trails Program Grants Awarded

Montana State Parks announced today that 54 trail organizations, communities, and various land-managing agencies throughout Montana will receive federal Recreational Trails Program (RTP) federal grant awards for their projects in 2017.

69 RTP applications were received this year from a variety of eligible applicants, including federal and state agencies, towns, cities, counties, and private trail clubs and organizations.

The funds are appropriated to the states through legislation passed by Congress called the FAST Act (Fixing America’s Surface Transportation) that provides funding for the program through 2020. The Recreational Trails Program current awards total approximately $1.66 million in federal funds. Funds have been approved and will be allocated to the highest-scoring 54 projects based upon their relative scores and State Trails Advisory Committee recommendations.

Foys to Blacktail Trails Inc. secured the $90,000 award to complete the trail connector between Herron Park and Blacktail Mountain. Building the final segment of the Foy’s to Blacktail Trail is the culmination of 16 years of persistent work by Flathead County and the volunteer-driven nonprofit Foy’s to Blacktail Trails (FTBT), formed in 2001 with the goal of preserving historic CCC trail linkage between Herron Park and Blacktail Mountain. Bridger Ski Foundation received $70,000 to assist with upgrading trail grooming equipment and West Yellowstone Ski Education Foundation received $60,000 to complete trail improvements and provide additional connector trails on the popular Rendezvous trail system.

The RTP Program awards grants through an annual competitive application process. Projects can range from construction and maintenance of trails, development of trailside and trailhead facilities, avalanche education and trainings, and interpretive programs.

A list of the successful 2017 Recreational Trails Program grant recipients is available here: http://stateparks.mt.gov/recreation/rtpGrants.html



Jeff
HikinginGlacier.com
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Monday, April 24, 2017

Grand Teton National Park is Significant Economic Driver for Local and Regional Economies

A new report concludes that visitors to Grand Teton National Park in 2016 spent an estimated $597 million in local gateway communities. The ripple effects of that spending had a cumulative benefit to the local economy of over $779 million and supported 9,365 jobs in nearby communities. The overall economic impacts of visitor spending during the National Park Service Centennial year increased seven percent from 2015 levels.

Grand Teton National Park Superintendent David Vela said, “In 2016 park staff and the global park community welcomed over 3.3 million recreational visitors to Grand Teton National Park. Visitors from around the world experienced all that this majestic place has to offer while contributing significantly in economic benefits to our nearby communities.”

National park tourism is a significant driver in the national economy, returning more than $10 for every $1 invested in the National Park Service. Grand Teton National Park ranked among the top five national park areas in terms of economic benefit along with Blue Ridge Parkway, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Grand Canyon National Park and Denali National Park.

The peer-reviewed visitor spending analysis was conducted by economists Catherine Cullinane Thomas of the U.S. Geological Survey and Lynne Koontz of the National Park Service. The report shows $18.4 billion of direct spending by 331 million park visitors in communities within 60 miles of a national park. This spending supported 318,000 jobs nationally; 271,000 of those jobs are found in these gateway communities. The cumulative benefit to the U.S. economy was $34.9 billion.

According to the 2016 report, most park visitor spending was for lodging (31.2 percent) followed by food and beverages (27.2 percent), gas and oil (11.7 percent), admissions and fees (10.2 percent), souvenirs and other expenses (9.7 percent), local transportation (7.4 percent), and camping fees (2.5 percent).

Report authors also produced an interactive tool to illustrate their findings. Users can explore current year visitor spending, jobs, labor income, value added, and output effects by sector for national, state, and local economies. Users can also view year-by-year trend data. The interactive tool and full report are available at the National Park Service Social Science Program webpage at go.nps.gov/vse.

The report includes information for visitor spending at individual parks and by state. In Wyoming, national park visitors spent an estimated $945 million in local gateway regions while visiting National Park Service lands. These expenditures supported a total of 13,431 jobs, $392.1 million in labor income, $684.9 million in value added, and $1.2 billion in economic output in the Wyoming economy. There are several sites affiliated or managed by the National Park Service in Wyoming, including Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area; Devils Tower National Monument; Fort Laramie National Historic Site; Fossil Butte National Monument; Grand Teton National Park; John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway; and Yellowstone National Park. Visit https://www.nps.gov/state/wy/index.htm for more information about National Park Service sites in Wyoming.



Jeff
HikinginGlacier.com
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Saturday, April 15, 2017

Well-Known Wolf Severely Injured and Killed in Yellowstone

On April 11, 2017, hikers discovered a severely injured wolf inside Yellowstone National Park near Gardiner, Montana.

Park staff investigated the situation and concluded the wolf was in shock and dying from the injuries. “Staff on scene agreed the animal could not be saved due to the severity of its injuries. The decision was made to kill the animal and investigate the cause of the initial trauma,” said P.J. White, Chief of the Wildlife and Aquatic Resources Branch. At this time, the nature of the initial injuries is unknown. An investigation into the cause of the injuries has begun which will include a necropsy.

Park staff identified the wolf as the white female of the Canyon Pack, one of three known white wolves in the park. This wolf lived to 12 years, twice the age of an average wolf in the park and had a broad range that extended from Hayden Valley to the Firehole River area to the northern portion of the park. For these reasons, the wolf was one of the most recognizable and sought after by visitors to view and photograph.

Anyone with information about this incident is encouraged to call the Yellowstone National Park Tip Line at 307-344-2132. For more information, visit http://go.nps.gov/tipline.

The park will provide more information about the investigation when it is available.



Jeff
HikinginGlacier.com
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First Day of Summer in Grand Teton National Park

I realize that we're still a few weeks away from the first day of summer. I'm just reusing the title that Finley Holiday Films used for their outstanding short film highlighting Grand Teton National Park. This excellent short video shows what this beautiful park looks like in June as the snow melts, and the wildflowers and wildlife begin to emerge from a long winter:



With more than 240 miles of trails meandering throughout the park, hiking is the absolute best way to see Grand Teton National Park. Fortunately the park offers a wide variety of outstanding day hikes. If you do plan to visit Grand Teton this year, please note that our hiking website also offers a variety of accommodation listings and other things to do to help with all your vacation planning.



Jeff
HikinginGlacier.com
TetonHikingTrails.com
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com
HikingintheSmokys.com

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Snowboarder Rescued After Avalanche in Granite Canyon

Grand Teton National Park rangers, Jackson Hole Mountain Resort ski patrol, and the Teton County Search and Rescue helicopter coordinated a rescue effort for Alex Thompson, 26, of Jackson, Wyoming on Sunday, April 9 after he was caught in a soft slab avalanche in Granite Canyon.

Thompson was snowboarding in the park’s backcountry with three companions after exiting an open backcountry access gate at the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort ski area. Thompson was traversing across the top of Air Force Couloir when the slab broke above him. The sliding snow carried him approximately 1,000 feet downhill until he came to a rest atop the snow. Thompson suffered injuries during the fall due to collisions with rocks.

One of Thompson’s companions called Jackson Hole Mountain Resort ski patrol around 11:30 a.m. shortly after the slide. Ski patrol launched initial rescue efforts and called the Teton Interagency Dispatch Center as the incident was within park boundaries. Three ski patrollers skied down to Thompson’s location with a rescue toboggan and medical gear. They assessed Thompson’s condition and prepared him for ski-toboggan transport to the bottom of Granite Canyon and eventual aerial rescue.

Meanwhile, park rangers met the Teton County Search and Rescue helicopter and prepared to fly to the patient. With two park rangers on board, the helicopter landed near Thompson’s location and the rangers brought him aboard. Thompson was flown out to a temporary staging area along the Chapel of the Transfiguration road at 1:47 p.m., just as deteriorating weather conditions made visibility increasingly difficult. Thompson was transferred to a park ambulance and transported to St. John’s Medical Center in Jackson, Wyoming.

The avalanche crown left behind was six to twelve inches deep and measured 30 to 50 feet across. Rangers caution backcountry recreationists that recent snow squalls have deposited pockets of unstable snow at high elevations in the Tetons. Relatively small avalanches can still have serious consequences as they can carry victims long distances over terrain that can include trees, rocks, and cliff bands.

Thompson’s group was aware of the avalanche hazard for the day, which was listed as moderate by the Bridger-Teton Avalanche Center. They were adequately equipped for winter backcountry travel, wore helmets, and carried avalanche beacons, shovels, and probes.



Jeff
HikinginGlacier.com
TetonHikingTrails.com
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com
HikingintheSmokys.com

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Is June a good time to visit Glacier National Park?

Shhh! Don't tell anyone, but June is really a great time to visit Glacier National Park! Obviously July and August are by far the most popular months for visiting the park; however, if you wish to avoid the crowds, you may want to check-out the month of June. Sure, the Going-to-the-Sun Road likely won't be open all the way to Logan Pass until later in the month, but that doesn't mean there aren't plenty of things to do. In fact, all of the services outside of the park, as well as almost all of the concessioners within the park, will already be open.

So why visit in June? For one, June is an absolutely great time for observing wildflowers. Whitewater rafting is also at its best during this time period. Other popular activities include horseback riding, fly fishing, and as a result of far fewer motorists on park roads, June is also a great time for cycling. And there's nothing like taking a cruise on one of Glacier's lakes to soak in the splendid beauty of the snow-capped mountains. For more information on many of these activities and others, please visit our Thing To Do page.

Although the nights are still relatively cool, temperatures usually reach into the 70s during the day, which makes for nearly perfect hiking conditions. While trails in the higher elevations will still be closed due to snow, there are still a ton of great hiking opportunities around the park. Here are just a couple of suggestions (many of which are normally part of the June ranger-led hikes program - which, by the way, are free):

West Glacier / Lake McDonald:

* Avalanche Lake

* Apgar Lookout

* Johns Lake Loop

* Rocky Point Nature Trail


St. Mary:

* Beaver Pond Loop

* Virginia Falls

* St. Mary Area Waterfalls Hike


Many Glacier:

* Redrock Falls

* Swiftcurrent Lake Nature Trail

* Belly River

* Apikuni Falls

* Grinnell Lake


Two Medicine:

* Rockwell Falls

* Aster Park Overlook

* Running Eagle Falls


And in case you need one more reason to visit in June: rates on accommodations are much lower when compared to peak season! If you do plan to visit Glacier this June, or anytime this year, please note that our hiking website also offers a wide variety of accommodation listings to help with all your vacation planning.



Jeff
Hiking in Glacier National Park

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Heavy Snow Appears to Cause Porch Roof Collapse at Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve Center

A heavy snow load appears to have caused the collapse of the front porch roof on the Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve Center in Grand Teton National Park. The collapsed roof was discovered mid-morning Thursday, March 23, 2017. The seasonally-used building is closed each winter from late September through late May and was unoccupied at the time of the porch roof collapse. The main building structure and its contents appear to be undamaged upon initial evaluation.

The collapsed porch roof was discovered by two park maintenance employees conducting a routine wintertime building check. Maintenance crews have been busy this winter clearing large amounts of snow off park buildings. Area measurements show the current snow water equivalent is around 150 percent of median, and recent rain and warm temperatures may have contributed to the weight of the snow on the roof.

In order to facilitate more thorough assessments of the building’s structural integrity and eventual reconstruction of the porch roof, park road crews are clearing the snow from Moose-Wilson Road between the winter closure at Death Canyon Road junction and the Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve access road. This section of the Moose-Wilson Road will remain closed to motor vehicles until its normal scheduled opening in mid-May.

Park managers’ priority is to ensure the continued safety of park employees and visitors. The immediate vicinity around the preserve center is closed to the public. Visitors should comply with the posted closure notices and temporary fencing around the affected area. Once the snow melts and the area dries, the porch roof will be safely demolished and a comprehensive building inspection conducted before opening the building for summer visitation.

The Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve was donated to the National Park Service in 2007. Laurance S. Rockefeller’s 1,106 acre gift to the American people was a continuation of the Rockefeller family’s tradition of philanthropic conservation in Jackson Hole, which began when John D. Rockefeller, Jr. donated 33,000 acres to the park in 1943. The preserve center serves as refuge for physical and spiritual renewal as well as a jumping off point for further hiking and exploration of the preserve.



Jeff
HikinginGlacier.com
TetonHikingTrails.com
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Thursday, March 23, 2017

McDonald Creek Overlook: Must Stop on the Going-to-the-Sun Road

Below is a short video highlighting the McDonald Creek Overlook. Anyone who's been here knows this is one of the "must stops" along the Going-to-the-Sun Road:



In addition to cruising the Going-to-the-Sun Road, one of the best ways to see Glacier National Park is to take a hike along one of the many hiking trails that meander throughout the park. Prospective visitors may also want to note that our hiking website also offers a wide variety of accommodation listings and other things to do to help with all your vacation planning.



Jeff
HikinginGlacier.com
TetonHikingTrails.com
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com
HikingintheSmokys.com

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Glacier to lift restrictions on hand-propelled boats with invasive species inspections this season

Glacier National Park announced yesterday that hand-propelled, non-trailered watercraft including kayaks, canoes, and paddleboards will be permitted in the park with mandatory inspection beginning May 15 for Lake McDonald and the North Fork and June 1, 2017 for all remaining areas of the park. Last November, park waters were closed to all boating as a precaution after invasive species of non-native mussels were detected in two popular Montana reservoirs east of the park.

Hand-powered boat users will be required to have their craft certified mussel-free (“clean, drained, and dry”) by Glacier staff under a new inspection program with stations in four popular locations in the park. (Local users who live in more remote locations will be directed to the nearest ranger station for inspection.) This is a change from last season, when hand-propelled watercraft required visitors to complete an AIS-free self-certification form before launching into Glacier’s lakes.

Privately owned motorized and trailered watercraft brought into the park will not be allowed to operate on Glacier’s waters this summer while a comprehensive assessment of the threat from mussels is underway. Among other measures, this will include comprehensive testing of waters in the park and elsewhere in Montana for the presence of quagga and zebra mussels. These non-native mollusks reproduce quickly and can wreak havoc with lake environments, water quality, native wildlife, lake infrastructure, and cause significant economic harm to infested regions.

“We are continuing to evaluate the emerging threat of aquatic invasive mussels to Glacier’s lakes and streams,” said Jeff Mow, superintendent of the park. “To prepare for lake recreation after the spring thaw, we are implementing a rigorous inspection process for human-powered boats, which have a lower risk of transporting these harmful mussels. This will allow many out of town visitors and local residents to continue enjoying this very popular activity in the park.” Hand-propelled watercraft aren’t typically left on the water for extended periods of time and lack the bilges, complex engines, live wells and other common features of motorized boats that can harbor live invasive species. “

Glacier National Park sits at the headwaters of three continental scale watersheds that drain into the Pacific Ocean, Hudson’s Bay, and the Gulf of Mexico. Contamination of park waters by invasive mussels would mean not only devastating effects on the park’s thriving and diverse aquatic ecosystem, but also detrimental impacts to recreation, waterways and communities downstream.

It is estimated that if the infestation were to spread into the Columbia River Basin, affected states and provinces would be expending hundreds of millions of dollars annually to mitigate the impacts of infestations to infrastructure such as irrigation canals, hydroelectric dams, and utility systems.

The park is coordinating its response to the discovery of invasive mussels in the state with Montana’s Mussel Response team, the Blackfeet Tribal Business Council, Waterton Lakes National Park, the Flathead Basin Commission, the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribe, the province of Alberta, the City of Whitefish, and all the states downstream on the Columbia River.

Inspection stations for hand-propelled watercraft will be located on the west side of the park in Apgar Village (for Lake McDonald and North Fork area lakes), and the east side of the park at Two Medicine, St. Mary, and Many Glacier Ranger Stations. With additional funding in 2017 through the Glacier National Park Conservancy and a match from the NPS Centennial program, the goal is to provide additional capacity for inspections in more remote locations.

The only recreational motorized watercraft allowed in the park this year will be the concession tourboats and the concession motorboat rentals. These are boats that remain in the park year-round and have not been and will not be launched on bodies of water elsewhere.

For more information about boating procedures, location of inspection stations in the park, and hours of operation, please see: www.nps.gov/glac. For information about the statewide response see: http://musselresponse.mt.gov/.

Glacier first closed park waters to all boating in November after state inspectors found invasive mussel larvae in water samples from Tiber and Canyon Ferry Reservoirs, about 100 miles east of the park. Such closure is specified as the first in a series of actions in the park’s Aquatic Invasive Species Response Plan. Glacier adopted this plan in 2014 to protect the park’s natural resources and public enjoyment of its lakes if invasive mussels were ever detected within the state.

The park’s threat assessment activities will continue throughout the spring and summer, including testing of samples taken in Glacier’s lakes and lakes and reservoirs across Montana this summer as waters warm. Glacier will update the public with any findings and conclusions available when testing results are available later next fall.



Jeff
HikinginGlacier.com
TetonHikingTrails.com
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Thursday, March 16, 2017

Teton Park Road Winter Use Season to End

On Monday, March 20, 2017 Grand Teton National Park road crews will begin the annual spring plowing of the Teton Park Road between Taggart Lake Trailhead and Signal Mountain Lodge. The plowing operations mark the end of over-snow access on the 14 mile stretch of road for the season. Visitors may continue to use other areas of the park for winter recreation such as cross-country skiing, skate skiing, and snowshoeing until snow conditions are no longer favorable.

For safety reasons, visitors may not access the Teton Park Road while plowing operations are underway. Rotary snow removal equipment and plows may be working at any time, and the roadway is therefor closed to all users at all times until further notice. Park rangers will enforce the temporary closure to ensure safe conditions for plow operators and visitors. Skiers and snowshoers using areas adjacent to the roadway are cautioned to avoid the arc of snow blown from the rotary equipment because pieces of ice and gravel can be thrown great distances.

Depending on weather, snow conditions, and plowing progress, the roadway will become accessible to activities such as cycling, roller skating, skateboarding, roller skiing, walking, jogging, and leashed pet-walking within the next few weeks. This change in road status will be announced publicly and signs posted at the road gates will be updated as appropriate. The road will open to vehicle traffic on Monday, May 1, 2017.

Other park roads such as Moose-Wilson Road, Signal Mountain Summit Road, Antelope Flats Road, River Road, East Boundary Road, Mormon Row Road, Two Ocean Road, and Grassy Lake Road remain closed to vehicle traffic when posted or gated in the spring. The opening dates of these roads vary from year to year and are dependent on weather, snow conditions, plowing progress, wildlife activity, and road conditions.

The paved multi-use pathways in the park are open whenever they are predominately free of snow and ice. For the most up to date information on park roads, visit https://www.nps.gov/grte/planyourvisit/roads.htm.



Jeff
HikinginGlacier.com
TetonHikingTrails.com
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Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Record Visitation to America’s National Parks in 2016

The U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke recently hailed 331 million recreation visits to America’s national parks in 2016 – a third consecutive all-time attendance record for the National Park Service. Zinke made the announcement during a stop at Glacier National Park where he met with Park Superintendent Jeff Mow to discuss the park’s maintenance backlog and received a traditional spiritual blessing from members of the Blackfeet Nation. In 2016, Glacier broke attendance records attracting nearly three million visitors.

“Our National Parks are our national treasures, and it’s important to recognize that they are more than just beautiful landscapes,” said Zinke. “Growing up near Glacier National Park, I understand the value these places bring to local economies and in preserving our heritage. As we enter into a second century of service and visitation numbers continue to increase, we will focus on maintenance backlogs and ensuring these special places are preserved for future generations.”

Half of all national park visitation was recorded in 26 parks, but visitation grew more than 10 percent in parks that see more modest annual visitation. Mike Reynolds, Acting Director of the National Park Service pointed out, “That shows the breadth of support for parks and, I think, that the Find Your Park campaign launched with the National Park Foundation reached new audiences.” The National Park Services’ centennial and Find Your Park initiative combined with other popular events, such as the Centennial BioBlitz and other national park anniversaries, good travel weather and programs such as “Every Kid in a Park” helped drive record visitation.

National Park System 2016 visitation highlights include:

• 330,971,689 recreation visits in 2016 – up 7.7 percent or 23.7 million visits over 2015.
• 1.4 billion hours spent by visitors in parks – up 7 percent or 93 million hours over 2015.
• 15,430,454Overnight stays in parks – up 2.5% over 2015.
• 2,543,221 National Park campground RV overnights – up 12.5 percent over 2015.
• 2,154,698 Backcountry overnights – up 6.7 percent over 2015.
• 3,858,162 National park campground tent overnights – up 4.8 percent over 2015.
• 10 million recreation visits at four parks – Golden Gate National Recreation Area in San Francisco, Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina and Virginia, Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee and North Carolina, George Washington Memorial Parkway in Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C.
• More than 5 million recreation visits at 12 parks (3% of reporting parks)
• 80 parks had more than 1 million recreation visits (21% of reporting parks)
• 382 of the 417 parks in the National Park system count visitors and 77 of those parks set a new record for annual recreation visits. This is about 20% of reporting parks.
• 4 parks were added to the statistics system and reported visitation for the first time. They added about 300,000 visits to the total: Belmont Paul Women’s Equality National Monument in Washington, D.C., Keweenaw National Historical Park in Calumet Township, Mich., Manhattan Project National Historical Park in Oak Ridge, Tenn., and Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park in Paterson, N.J.

While at Glacier, Zinke was joined by members of the Blackfeet Nation including Chairman Harry Barnes, Secretary Tyson Running Wolf, Timothy Davis, Carl Kipp, Nelse St. Goddard, and Robert DesRosier, who performed a traditional spiritual blessing.

“I’ve had the honor of working with the Blackfeet Nation for a number of years as a State Senator, Congressman, and now as Secretary of the Interior,” said Zinke. “The ceremony was very moving. I appreciate the blessing and know it will provide me with guidance and strength as I face the challenges ahead.”

Here are some additional highlights:


The Top 10 Visitation in National Parks

Great Smoky Mountains National Park – 11,312,786
Grand Canyon National Park, Ariz. – 5,969,811
Yosemite National Park, Calif. – 5,028,868
Rocky Mountain National Park, Colo. – 4,517,585
Zion National Park, Utah – 4,295,127
Yellowstone National Park, Wyo. – 4,257,177
Olympic National Park, , Wash. – 3,390,221
Acadia National Park, Maine – 3,303,393
Grand Teton National Park, Wyo. – 3,270,076
Glacier National Park, Mont. – 2,946,681


Top 10 Visitation - All Units in the National Park System:

Golden Gate National Recreation Area, San Francisco, Calif. – 15,638,777
Blue Ridge Parkway, Asheville, N.C. – 15,175,578
Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Gatlinburg, Tenn. – 11,312,786
George Washington Memorial Parkway, McLean, Va. – 10,323,339
Gateway National Recreation Area, Staten Island, N.Y. – 8,651,770
Lincoln Memorial, Washington, D.C. – 7,915,934
Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Boulder City, Nev. – 7,175,891
Grand Canyon National Park, Ariz. – 5,969,811
Natchez Trace Parkway, Tupelo, Miss. – 5,891,315
Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Washington, D.C. – 5,299,713

For an in depth look at 2016 visitation figures please visit the NPS Social Science website.



Jeff
HikinginGlacier.com
TetonHikingTrails.com
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com
HikingintheSmokys.com

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Annual Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex Public Meeting

The public is invited to the annual Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex (BMWC) Public Meeting on Saturday, March 18 starting at 10 AM at the Seeley Lake Community Hall in Seeley Lake, Montana.

“This is a great annual opportunity to meet with the National Forest Wilderness Managers and Montana Fish and Wildlife staff”, says Deb Mucklow, Spotted Bear District Ranger. “This is an annual meeting to talk about managing wilderness. All of the participants will be encouraged to interact with the managers present and have time for one on one questions. In addition, updates will be provided on specific activities and projects, and ongoing monitoring across the BMWC. The wilderness managers will be sharing the updates on the specific monitoring and actions that are a piece of the Limits of Acceptable change for the BMWC and now being utilized with the Wilderness Stewardship Performance Standards.”

The BMWC plan was developed by interested individuals, partners and agency representatives. The BMWC is comprised of the Bob Marshall Wilderness, Great Bear Wilderness, and Scapegoat Wilderness and jointly they are an area of more than 1.5 million acres. This is the third largest wilderness complex in the lower 48 states. The complex is managed by three national forests (Flathead, Lolo, and Helena / Lewis & Clark) and five ranger districts (Spotted Bear, Hungry Horse, Seeley Lake, Lincoln, and Rocky Mountain).

Recently the Forest managers and Fish and Wildlife staff prepared the annual BMWC newsletter which is available on the Flathead National Forest Web page under Special Places (http://www.fs.usda.gov/attmain/flathead/specialplaces). This newsletter gives background and highlights of information that may be shared at the public meeting.

For additional information, please contact the Spotted Bear Ranger District at (406) 387-3800.



Jeff
HikinginGlacier.com
TetonHikingTrails.com
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com
HikingintheSmokys.com

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

The Top 6 Reasons to Visit the Great Smoky Mountains

The Great Smoky Mountains is the most visited park in the country. More than 10 million people visit the park each year to take-in the spectacular scenery. Although it may seem crowded during certain seasons, it’s very easy to escape the crowds by heading off on one of the more than 800 miles of trails. Here’s a quick rundown on why the Smokies are a hiker’s paradise.

Fall Colors
The Great Smoky Mountains are one of the best places in the country to see fall colors. From late September through early November autumn slowly creeps down from the highest elevations to the lowest valleys in the park. As a result of its rich diversity of trees – roughly 100 species of native trees live in the Smokies - park visitors will enjoy a myriad of colors, from spectacular reds and oranges, to brilliant golds and yellows. Although driving along the park roads is a popular way of seeing fall colors, hiking amongst the trees is by far the best way to enjoy them. At any point during the autumn cycle almost every trail will offer great viewing opportunities. We’ve published a guide that highlights some of the best trails as the season progresses.


Grassy Balds
One of the great mysteries of the Southern Appalachians, which includes the Great Smoky Mountains, is whether or not the treeless mountain tops and ridges, known as “balds,” are natural or if they were manmade. No one knows for certain how they came into existence. Even their age is unknown. The general consensus, however, seems to be that the early settlers in the region cleared many of these areas for grazing purposes so that the lower elevations could be used for growing crops during the summer months. Some of the best examples of grassy balds in the Smokies include Gregory Bald, Spence Field, Russell Field, Silers Bald, Andrews Bald, Parsons Bald and Hemphill Bald. However, Andrews Bald and Gregory Bald are the only two balds that are maintained by the park. The others have been left to eventually be reclaimed by forest.

One of the great annual events in the Southern Appalachians is the spectacular flame azalea, mountain laurel and rhododendron blooms of late spring. Some of the best examples of these beautiful displays from Mother Nature occur atop these balds. In particular, Gregory Bald, Andrews Bald, Spence Field and Rocky Top offer some of the best displays of these flowers. Moreover, these are among the best hikes in the park, all of which offer sweeping panoramic views of the Smoky Mountains.


The Mt. LeConte Lodge
Although there are a handful of other national parks that offer hike-in lodging, one of the great traditions in the Great Smoky Mountains is an overnight excursion at the Mt. LeConte Lodge. Sitting near the top of 6593-foot Mount LeConte, the lodge offers an excellent opportunity to enjoy a backcountry experience in relative luxury (compared to roughing it!) for those that don’t like to backpack. The only way to reach the lodge is by taking one of 6 trails that meander up the third highest mountain in the park. The most popular route is the Alum Cave Trail. If you take the Trillium Gap Trail don't be surprised to see a pack-train of llamas. The lodge is resupplied by llamas with fresh linens and food three times a week.


Early Settler History
The Great Smoky Mountains has done an excellent job of preserving its rich history of settlement prior to becoming a national park. All across the valleys, from Cades Cove, Elkmont, Big Creek, Smokemont, Deep Creek and everywhere in between, you can find the homes, farms and churches of the early settlers, as well as the remnants and relics leftover from the Civilian Conservation Corp in the 1930s, and the logging boom of the early 1900s. There are many outstanding hikes that visit these historical sites, including the Rich Mountain Loop, which visits the home of John Oliver, a veteran of the War of 1812. He and his young family were among the first white settlers to settle in the Cades Cove area. His cabin dates from the 1820s and is one of the oldest structures in the Great Smoky Mountains. You could also take the Little Brier Gap Trail to visit the Walker Sisters Place, the home of the five Walker sisters. The last surviving sister was one of the last remaining homesteaders to live within the park boundaries.


Waterfalls
On average the lower elevations of the Smokies receive roughly 55 inches of rainfall each year, while the highest peaks receive more than 85 inches, which is more than anywhere else in the country except the Pacific Northwest. With all that rain the park is naturally blessed with an abundance of streams. Using modern mapping technology scientists have recently determined that the park contains roughly 2900 miles of streams. With elevations ranging between 6643 feet 840 feet, there are several waterfalls located throughout the park. Grotto Falls has the distinction of being the only waterfall that you can walk behind. Although Abrams Falls is arguably the most scenic and impressive waterfall in the Smokies, I personally like the hike along the Middle Prong Trail to Indian Flats Falls.


Wildflowers
The Great Smoky Mountains are home to more than 1600 species of flowering plants. During each month of the year some forb, tree or vine is blooming in the park. During the spring wildflowers explode during the brief window just prior to trees leafing out and shading the forest floor (from about mid-April thru mid-May). Although there are many parks that are larger, the Great Smoky Mountains has the greatest diversity of plants anywhere in North America. In fact, north of the tropics, only China has a greater diversity of plant life than the Southern Appalachians. Wet and humid climates, as well as a broad range in elevation, are two of the most important reasons for the park's renowned diversity. Hikers can enjoy wildflowers on almost any trail in the park. We’ve published a guide that highlights some of the best wildflower hikes during the spring season.


With more than 800 miles of trails meandering throughout the park, hiking is the absolute best way to see the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. In addition to the hikes listed above, the park offers a variety of other outstanding hikes. If you do plan to visit the Smokies this year, please note that our hiking website also offers a wide variety of accommodation listings to help with all your vacation planning.



Jeff
HikinginGlacier.com
TetonHikingTrails.com
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com
HikingintheSmokys.com

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Search and Rescue Teams Save Life of Skier

Grand Teton National Park rangers and Teton County Sheriff’s Department Search and Rescue members saved the life of a backcountry skier with resuscitation efforts on Friday evening, March 3rd.

At approximately 3 p.m. on Friday, March 3rd, Teton Interagency Dispatch received a call about a backcountry skier that was having significant chest pains and assistance was requested. The reporting party, located on the Southwest Ridge of Maverick Peak in the park, had a cell phone and was able to provide GPS coordinates. The skier, Mike Connolly, age 61, from Idaho Falls, was skiing with three other family members and friends when the incident occurred.

Park rangers requested the Teton County Sheriff’s Department Search and Rescue helicopter. The helicopter with three county search and rescue members conducted a quick aerial reconnaissance of the area and then landed to configure for a short-haul operation. A park ranger and county member with basic life support equipment were inserted via short-haul to the scene.

Connolly went into cardiac arrest while rescuers were flying to the scene, and as the rescuers arrived, CPR efforts were in progress by the other members of the party. Connolly had no pulse, and was not breathing. Rescue personnel used an automated defibrillator shocking Connolly one time. He successfully regained a pulse and began breathing. A short time later he was able to verbally communicate to those around him.

As resuscitation efforts were being conducted, the helicopter short-hauled additional search and rescue personnel and medical supplies, and a litter to the scene. Search and rescue personnel packaged Connolly to be flown via short-haul to the Portneuf Medical Center Air Ambulance that was located near the north end of the Moose-Wilson Road. Connolly was then transported to Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center in Idaho Falls, Idaho.

A family member, search and rescue members, supplies and equipment were short-hauled from the scene. A park ranger skied with the remaining members of the skiing party and safely returned to a trailhead parking area along the Moose-Wilson Road.

Grand Teton National Park Superintendent David Vela said, “The persistent training and teamwork with the Teton County Sheriff’s Department Search and Rescue Team helped to obtain the outcome that we always strive to achieve during these incidents. As a result of this well-orchestrated effort, our skier has a very hopeful second chance in life.”



Jeff
HikinginGlacier.com
TetonHikingTrails.com
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com
HikingintheSmokys.com

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Mountains 101: A Free Online Learning Experience

Parks Canada, in partnership with the University of Alberta, has recently announced the launch of Mountains 101, a free online series of courses that will provide a comprehensive overview of mountain studies. Mountains 101 was designed to inspire people around the world to learn and explore Canada’s mountain heritage, and to understand how Parks Canada protects, conserves and shares these special places.

Mountains 101­­ is a 12-lesson Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) teaching a comprehensive overview of Mountain Studies. It will cover an interdisciplinary field of study focusing on the physical, biological, and human dimensions of mountain places in Alberta, Canada, and around the world. The course will provide online students with a broad and integrated overview of the mountain world, including:

• the geological origins of mountains, how they’re built-up and worn-down over time
• the importance for biodiversity and water cycles, globally and locally
 • the cultural significance of mountains to societies around the globe, and how that relationship has evolved over time
• how mountains are used, and how they’re protected

Mountains 101­­ will also share general tips and tricks to safely enjoy time in the high alpine environment. Outdoor experts will also provide a smart and useful "Tech Tip" at the end of every lesson -- from how to pick the best footwear for hiking, to making smart decisions in avalanche terrain.

For more information on the course and to sign-up, please click here.



Jeff
HikinginGlacier.com
TetonHikingTrails.com
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com
HikingintheSmokys.com

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Out For a Drive Along the Going-to-the-Sun Road

Last summer Glacier National Park published this short video, showing what it's like to drive across the historic Going-to-the-Sun Road. The Going-to-the-Sun Road is the only road to cross Glacier from east to west. It carries travelers through some of the most spectacular scenery the park has to offer. This engineering marvel spans more than 50 miles across the park's interior, and takes passengers over the Continental Divide at Logan Pass. Along its route the road passes glacial lakes and cedar forests in the lower valleys, and windswept alpine meadows and sweeping mountain vistas atop the 6646-foot pass. Although the road is still encased in snow and ice right now, here's your chance to enjoy it vicariously from the comfort of your home or office:



In addition to cruising the Going-to-the-Sun Road, one of the best ways to see Glacier National Park is to take a hike along one of the many hiking trails that meander throughout the park. Prospective visitors may also want to note that our hiking website also offers a wide variety of accommodation listings and other things to do to help with all your vacation planning.



Jeff
HikinginGlacier.com
TetonHikingTrails.com
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com
HikingintheSmokys.com

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Missing Skier Found and Rescued

A missing skier has been rescued after spending two nights in the backcountry of Grand Teton National Park after exiting a backcountry gate leaving the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort in Jackson, Wyoming.

Two skiers were reported overdue by friends at approximately 7 p.m. Monday night, February 20, when they did not return from skiing at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. The men were identified as 30-year old Chris Prem from Destin, Florida, and 31-year old Mike Syverson from Telluride, Colorado.

The emergency call to 911 prompted a conference call with Teton County Sheriff’s Office and Teton County Search and Rescue with Grand Teton National Park to initiate a search for the men. Information to help determine a search area was very limited, other than it was believed the men planned to exit the resort and ski the nearby backcountry. At approximately 10 p.m. the Teton County Sheriff’s Office successfully got a cell phone ping to help determine that the missing skiers were in the Granite Canyon area of Grand Teton National Park. This information greatly helped to narrow the search area.

The National Park Service took the lead with the search. Due to avalanche danger and darkness, resources were gathered to begin an aerial and ground search for early Tuesday morning.

At approximately 1:30 a.m. Tuesday, February 21, a resort tram operator spending the night near the top of the tram was awakened by one of the missing skiers, Prem. An emergency call was made to alert rescue personnel. Prem was uninjured, and communicated that he had separated from Syverson because he had gear that would allow him to travel back to the summit for help. He also had a GPS coordinate from a phone app that could help to locate his friend. Prem spent the night atop the mountain.

Park rangers and resort ski patrol personnel interviewed Prem at approximately 7:30 a.m. Tuesday atop the mountain to gather information to assist in locating Syverson. Four park rangers skied into Granite Canyon to begin the search, and found no signs.

Weather conditions were extreme, including 50-60 m.p.h. winds with gusts up to 80 m.p.h. and heavy snowfall. Due to these extreme weather and increased avalanche conditions, at approximately 12 p.m. the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort closed for the safety of their staff and guests.

The park rangers searching for the missing skier also returned due to deteriorating and unsafe conditions, and increased avalanche danger. They remained near the top of the tram waiting for conditions to improve. As conditions worsened, search personnel returned to the base of the resort. Aerial search efforts were called off throughout the day due to unsafe flying conditions.

The search was suspended until Wednesday morning or when conditions improved. The Wyoming Civil Air Patrol was requested to provide a Forward-Looking Infrared (FLIR) flight to help locate the missing skier.

Early Wednesday morning, the search resumed in the Granite Canyon area, and the Teton County Search and Rescue helicopter conducted an aerial reconnaissance of the area. At approximately 8 a.m. the missing skier was visually located from the aerial flight near Cardiac Ridge. The helicopter inserted park rangers and county personnel about a quarter mile from the individual. The rescue personnel skied to Syverson’s location and evaluated him for injuries and transport out of the backcountry.

At approximately 10:15 a.m. Syverson was flown to the Teton County Search and Rescue Hangar and transported to St. John’s Medical Center in Jackson for a thorough medical evaluation and treatment for cold-related conditions.

Grand Teton National Park David Vela said, “We are joyous on the outcome of this search and rescue operation, and that Mr. Prem and Mr. Syverson are safe and able to return to their family and friends.” Vela also expresses his pride in all the rescuers and the cooperation with Teton County Sheriff’s Office and Teton County Search and Rescue, and Jackson Hole Mountain Resort to successfully execute a search and rescue operation with unforgiving terrain and challenging weather and avalanche conditions. He said, “Rescue personnel safety is a priority in each and every incident.”

Park rangers remind skiers to “Know Before You Go” and be well prepared for any backcountry adventure. Please be prepared with appropriate equipment and skills, and always let someone know your planned route and estimated return time. Recreationists should have some familiarity with the terrain and area they wish to enjoy.



Jeff
HikinginGlacier.com
TetonHikingTrails.com
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com
HikingintheSmokys.com

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

The Top 5 Reasons to Visit Rocky Mountain National Park

Encompassing more than 265,000 acres, and with more than sixty peaks topping out above 12,000 feet, Rocky Mountain National Park is home to some of the most spectacular scenery on Earth. From wooded forests to alpine tundra, these majestic mountains provide habitat to more than 60 species of mammals, while more than 280 species of birds visit or reside within the park. With more than 350 miles of trails meandering throughout the park, Rocky Mountain is also widely recognized as a hiker’s paradise. Here’s why you should plan to visit Rocky sometime this year:

The Continental Divide
One of the best things about Rocky Mountain National Park is its accessibility to the high country. No other park in the country allows visitors to gain lofty elevations so easily. Roughly one-third of the park is above tree-line, and more than 60 peaks top out above 12,000 feet, including 14,259-foot Longs Peak, the highest peak in the park. In addition to trails like the Flattop Mountain Trail or the route to Mt. Ida, visitors can also drive over the Continental Divide along the highest continuous paved road in North America. With a maximum elevation of 12,183 feet, and more than eight miles traveling above 11,000 feet, Trail Ridge Road connects Estes Park with Grand Lake. The road also provides access to outstanding tundra hikes such as the Ute Trail, the Tundra Communities Trail and the Alpine Ridge Trail.


Wildflowers
Wet springs can bring exceptional wildflower blooming seasons in Rocky Mountain National Park. Even during normal years the park explodes with a variety of wildflowers. Some of the varieties visitors might enjoy include Alpine Clover, Rock Primrose, Western Wallflower, Sky Pilot and Alpine Sunflowers in the tundra areas of the park, as well as Mountain Iris, Lupine, Mariposa-lily and Colorado Columbines in the lower elevations. Some of best wildflower hikes include Big Meadows, Cascade Falls, Emerald Lake and the Lumpy Ridge Loop, among many others.


Longs Peak
At 14,259 feet, Longs Peak is the highest mountain in Rocky Mountain National Park. The iconic sentinel is seen from almost anywhere in the park, as well as from many locations around northern Colorado. It’s also one of most popular “fourteeners” for hikers and climbers to tackle in a state that boasts a total of 53 peaks above 14,000 feet. Although considered a mountaineering route, thousands of hikers attempt to summit the peak each summer using the famous Keyhole Route. Personally, I don’t want anything to do with the narrow ledges and steep cliffs along the upper portions of the route. I much prefer safer climbs such as Hallett Peak and the Chapin-Chiquita-Ypsilon Mountains route to cure my big mountain summit fever.


Elk Rut
The annual elk rut is one of the premier attractions in Rocky Mountain National Park. Each fall elk descend from the high country to the lower elevation meadows during the annual breeding season. During the rut, bull elk compete with one another for the right to breed with herds of females. Mature bulls compete for cows by bugling, posturing, displaying their antlers and herding, while occasionally fighting off young challengers. The peak season for the rut generally lasts from mid-September to mid-October in Rocky Mountain National Park.


Fall Aspens
Just as the elk rut is kicking into high gear, another annual event that draws tourists to the park during the autumn are the brilliant fall colors of aspens. Each September the leaves of quacking aspens turn from green to orange and golden yellow throughout the park. Some of best hikes for viewing fall aspens include Bierstadt Lake, Alberta Falls, Cub Lake, Finch Lake, Adams Falls and Chasm Lake, among many others.


In addition to the hikes discussed above, Rocky Mountain National Park has many other outstanding hikes that take-in the best scenery the park has to offer. If you do plan to visit Rocky Mountain this year, please note that our hiking website also offers a wide variety of accommodation listings and other things to do to help with all your vacation planning.



Jeff
HikinginGlacier.com
TetonHikingTrails.com
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com
HikingintheSmokys.com

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Glacier Begins Accepting Backcountry Reservation Requests Next Month

As a reminder to anyone planning a backpacking trip in Glacier National Park this summer, the park will begin accepting backcountry reservation requests on March 15th. As always, applications are processed on a first-come, first-served basis. For more information, please click here.



Jeff
HikinginGlacier.com
TetonHikingTrails.com
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com
HikingintheSmokys.com

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Skier Fatality in Couloir on South Teton

Park rangers recovered the body of a backcountry ski mountaineer at the bottom of a couloir on the south aspect of the South Teton Wednesday, February 15, at approximately 6 p.m. The skier is identified as John “Jack” Fields Jr., age 26, a current resident of Jackson, Wyoming.

Teton Interagency Dispatch Center received a call for assistance at approximately 11a.m. Wednesday with a report of a backcountry skier who fell in the area of the Amore Vida Couloir and was not responding via his radio. The three other members of the party remained above the couloir and made the call for help.

Park rangers requested the Teton County Search and Rescue helicopter and conducted an aerial reconnaissance of the area. The victim was visually located. The three park rangers on board the helicopter were flown to Snowdrift Lake, and skied and hiked to the scene. Upon arrival at approximately 1:45 p.m. Fields was determined to be deceased. It is believed he died from injuries sustained in the fall. His body was removed via a helicopter long-line operation and transported to the Sawmill Ponds Overlook near the north end of the Moose-Wilson Road. The body was turned over to the Teton County Coroner’s Office.

Fields was in a party of four that had summited the South Teton and planned to ski down via the Amore Vida Couloir. On the approach to the Amore Vida Couloir, Fields fell and slid out of sight from the other individuals. He fell approximately 1,400 vertical feet in an unnamed couloir between Amore Vida Couloir and the southeast face of the South Teton.

As the body was being recovered, the other three individuals in the party waited at a location approximately 1,300 feet below the summit of the South Teton. They waited for snow conditions to improve before ascending back to the summit of the South Teton and making their descent down Garnet Canyon. The party arrived safely at the Taggart Lake Trailhead at 10:30 p.m.

Park rangers report highly variable conditions in the backcountry at this time. Snow can vary from soft and wet surfaces to rock-hard wind slab or breakable crusts with subtle changes in aspect and elevation.



Jeff
HikinginGlacier.com
TetonHikingTrails.com
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com
HikingintheSmokys.com

Monday, February 13, 2017

Grand Teton Warns Motorists About Bison on Roads

Due to snow accumulations and above normal winter conditions, bison within Grand Teton National Park are moving to find food and recently have been using U.S. Highway 89 as their travel pathway. Grand Teton National Park Superintendent David Vela said, “It is imperative that motorists traveling Highway 89 between Moose and Moran Junction remain alert and slow down due to migrating bison in and along the roadway.”

Due to deep and dense snowpack, and to conserve energy, several groups of bison have been traveling roadways in the past week. Vela said park rangers, wildlife biologists and road crew members have been helping the bison navigate safely and to provide plowed areas for them to move about.

A bull bison was killed early Saturday morning north of Deadmans Bar. Due to evidence at the scene, park rangers believe the animal was hit by a semi-truck.

On Saturday, park road crews plowed the Antelope Flats Road to facilitate safe movement of bison. The road remains closed to vehicle travel, other than a one-mile section that is routinely plowed from U.S. Highway 89. Variable message signs have been placed along U.S. Highway 89 alerting drivers to be alert to bison on the road and drive with caution. If motorists meet bison on a roadway, please reduce speed and when safe, pass animals slowly to avoid further stress on the wildlife.

Bison move to lower elevations in the winter to find food, especially when snow depths increase and it becomes difficult to access food. They have large shoulder and neck muscles that allow them to swing their heads from side to side and clear snow to find vegetation. They have thick skin and underfur, long guard hairs and layers of fat that help to keep them warn throughout the winter. They tend to be social animals and form herds, or travel with other bison. On average, a male bison may weigh up to 2,000 pounds, while a female will weigh approximately 1,000 pounds. The Jackson bison herd is estimated at approximately 670 animals that reside throughout the year in the park, Bridger-Teton National Forest, and National Elk Refuge.

Always be on the lookout for wildlife on and near roadways and observe posted speed limits, including a 45 mile-per-hour night time speed limit on U.S. Highway 89. When winter road conditions exist, please drive accordingly. Any collision with wildlife must be reported as soon as possible to Teton Interagency Dispatch Center at 307.739.3301.

Visitors are required to maintain a safe distance when viewing bison, 25 yards at a minimum. The safe viewing distance for bears and wolves is 100 yards, while all other wildlife should be given at least 25 yards of space. Please use a pullout or parking lot to view wildlife, and use binoculars and telephoto lens. It is important to not disturb or create excess depletion of an animal’s energy during the winter.



Jeff
HikinginGlacier.com
TetonHikingTrails.com
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com
HikingintheSmokys.com

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Yellowstone Opens Bighorn Pass Trail Bridge

The Bighorn Pass Trail bridge over the Gallatin River is now available for use. The bridge is roughly a half mile from the Bighorn Pass Trailhead, near US-191, in the Northwestern section of the park.

Trail crews removed the damaged bridge in 2014 because of unsafe conditions for hikers and skiers. Thereafter, they built a new bridge in the same location to provide for safe, year-round access to the popular trail. The bridge was reopened for public use in October 2016.

Based on public feedback and analysis of the area’s natural resources, managers determined the replacement of the bridge was the best alternative to protect resources and provide for visitor use and safety.



Jeff
HikinginGlacier.com
TetonHikingTrails.com
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com
HikingintheSmokys.com

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

The Top 5 Reasons to Visit Grand Teton National Park

Rising more than 7000 feet above Jackson Hole, the high peaks of Grand Teton National Park provide one of the most dramatic landscapes in the world. Although many people seem to treat it as an afterthought, only visiting the park as a side trip while visiting its more famous neighbor to the north, more time and focus should be given to this stunning landscape. Within its 310,000 acres the majestic mountains of the Teton Range are home to a wide variety of wildlife, eight peaks that top out above 12,000 feet, more than 100 alpine and backcountry lakes, and more than 240 miles of trails that provide intimate access to all of this incredibly beautiful scenery.

Cascade Canyon
The Cascade Canyon Trail is widely touted as one of the best hikes in the entire National Park System. In addition to the stunning views of 12,928-foot Mt. Owen, the trail visits Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point. The route is also known for the wide variety of wildlife that is frequently seen, especially bears and moose.


Lake Views
Lying along the eastern base of the Teton Range is a series of glacially-carved lakes. Rising sharply above their western shores, the views of the rugged mountains are stunning and dramatic. From the shores of Jackson, Leigh, Jenny, Phelps, Bradley and Taggart Lakes, hikers will enjoy some of the most striking views in the park.


Wildlife
Although Yellowstone rightfully receives a lot of attention for its wildlife viewing opportunities, the Grand Tetons are also known for its diversity of wildlife. The rugged mountains provide habitat to a wide variety of wildlife, including black bears, grizzly bears, elk, bison, bighorn sheep, moose, pronghorn, wolves, fox, lynx, bobcats and mountain lions. There are also more than 300 species of birds, including trumpeter swans, ospreys and bald eagles. A drive along Moose-Wilson Road is a popular way of spotting mega fauna such as bears and moose. However, hikes such as Amphitheater Lake, Hermitage Point, Moose Ponds and the Emma Matilda Lake Loop are all great choices for possibly seeing wildlife in the backcountry.


Photography
The abrupt rise of the Tetons from the valley floor arguably makes them one of the most photogenic mountain ranges in the world. As a result, professional and amateur photographers alike will enjoy a multitude of photo opportunities around the park. Some of the best spots for getting that perfect shot include Mormon Row, Oxbow Bend, Schwabacher’s Landing, as well as the Snake River Overlook, which was made famous by Ansel Adams' 1942 photograph. Of course all of the backcountry locations mentioned above will also provide outstanding photo opportunities.


Snake River Float Trip
The Snake River meanders along the sage brush flats below the Teton Range, and provides park visitors with the unique opportunity of enjoying the majestic mountain scenery from a raft. Although outfitters offer trips throughout the day, I highly recommend the morning trips, as the mountains typically look their finest when bathed in the glow of early morning sunshine. Morning is also the best time to view wildlife along the river banks, including bald eagles.


With more than 240 miles of trails meandering throughout the park, hiking is the absolute best way to see Grand Teton National Park. In addition to the hikes listed above, the park offers a variety of other outstanding hikes. If you do plan to visit Grand Teton this year, please note that our hiking website also offers a wide variety of accommodation listings as well as other things to do to help with all your vacation planning.



Jeff
HikinginGlacier.com
TetonHikingTrails.com
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com
HikingintheSmokys.com

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Annual Great Backyard Bird Count Marks Its 20th Year

A lot has changed since the first Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) was held in 1998. Each year brings unwavering enthusiasm from the growing number of participants in this now-global event. The 20th annual GBBC is taking place February 17-20 in backyards, parks, nature centers, on hiking trails, school grounds, balconies, and beaches—anywhere you find birds.

Bird watchers count the birds they see for at least 15 minutes on one or more days of the count, then enter their checklists at birdcount.org. All the data contribute to a snapshot of bird distribution and help scientists see changes over the past 20 years.

"The very first GBBC was an experiment," says the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's Marshall Iliff, a leader of the eBird program. "We wanted to see if people would use the Internet to send us their bird sightings. Clearly the experiment was a success!" eBird collects bird observations globally every day of the year and is the online platform used by the GBBC.

That first year, bird watchers submitted about 13,500 checklists from the United States and Canada. Fast-forward to the most recent event in 2016. Over the four days of the count, an estimated 163,763 bird watchers from more than 100 countries submitted 162,052 bird checklists reporting 5,689 species–more than half the known bird species in the world.

Varying weather conditions so far this winter are producing a few trends that GBBC participants can watch for during the count. eBird reports show many more waterfowl and kingfishers remaining further north than usual because they are finding open water. If that changes, these birds could move southward.

Also noted are higher than usual numbers of Bohemian Waxwings in the Pacific Northwest and northern Rocky Mountains. And while some winter finches have been spotted in the East, such as Red Crossbills, Common Redpolls, Evening Grosbeaks, and a few Pine Grosbeaks, there seem to be no big irruptions so far. A few eye-catching Snowy Owls have been reported in the northern half of the United States.

Jon McCracken, Bird Studies Canada's National Program Director, reminds participants in Canada and the U.S. to keep watch for snowies. He says, "The GBBC has done a terrific job of tracking irruptions of Snowy Owls southward over the past several years. We can't predict what winter 2017 will bring, because Snowy Owl populations are so closely tied to unpredictable 'cycles' of lemmings in the Arctic. These cycles occur at intervals between two and six years. Nevertheless, there are already reports of Snowy Owls as far south as Virginia."

In addition to counting birds, tens of thousands of stunning images have been submitted since 2006. For the 20th anniversary of the GBBC, the public is invited to vote for their favorite top photo from each of the past 11 years in a special album they will find on the GBBC website home page. Voting takes place during the four days of the GBBC.

To learn more about how to participate and what scientists have learned from the Great Backyard Bird Count over the past 20 years, visit birdcount.org The GBBC is a joint project of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society with partner Bird Studies Canada and is made possible in part by sponsor Wild Birds Unlimited.



Jeff
HikinginGlacier.com
TetonHikingTrails.com
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com
HikingintheSmokys.com

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

2017 Glacier Entrance Pass Now Available

The 2017 Glacier National Park annual entrance pass is now available at park entrance stations and the park headquarters building in West Glacier.

The pass depicts the image of Francis X. Guardipee, the first Blackfeet Native American to serve as a ranger in Glacier National Park. Guardipee became a ranger in 1930. His duties took him throughout the park, including Two Medicine, Nyack, and winters in East Glacier. He retired in 1948 and spent his retirement in Browning with his wife, Alma. He was a dedicated Boy Scout troop leader, and when he died in 1970, had spent more than half a century leading Boy Scout Troop 100. Chief Lodgepole Peak was named in honor of Guardipee in 1973. The peak is located in the Two Medicine area of the park.

The Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act (FLREA) is the legislation that allows the park to collect entrance and camping fees, and retain 80 percent of the collected revenue. The remaining 20 percent is distributed throughout the National Park System. Basic park operations are funded by direct appropriations from Congress.

The entrance pass in 2017 will be $50. The $5 fee increase over the $45 2016 annual pass reflects input from the civic engagement process Glacier National Park implemented in November 2014 following a nationwide National Park Service review of fees. No other entrance or campground fees will change this year.

The funds generated by fees are used for projects that enhance visitor services and facilities, including interpretive programs at campgrounds, the backcountry campsite reservation program, repair and restoration of trails, restoration of wildlife habitat, improvement and replacement of restroom facilities, preservation and maintenance of roads, and shuttle bus operation and maintenance. To learn more about the types of projects funded with user fees, please visit: https://www.nps.gov/glac/learn/management/yourdollarsatwork.htm.

For more information on entrance and camping fees, please visit https://www.nps.gov/glac/planyourvisit/fees.htm.

With more than 740 miles of trails meandering throughout the park, hiking is the absolute best way to see Glacier National Park. The park offers a variety of outstanding hikes. If you do plan to visit Glacier this year, please note that our hiking website also offers a wide variety of accommodation listings as well as other things to do to help with all your vacation planning.



Jeff
HikinginGlacier.com
TetonHikingTrails.com
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com
HikingintheSmokys.com