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