Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Grand Teton National Park Foundation Celebrates 20th Anniversary

Grand Teton National Park Foundation, Grand Teton National Park’s primary fundraising partner, celebrates twenty years of successful partnership with the park in 2017. Since 1997, the organization has raised more than $65 million in support of projects and programming that vastly improve visitor services, preserve park resources, and provide outreach to a wide variety of audiences.

In 1997, Jack Neckels, Grand Teton National Park’s superintendent, approached Jerry Halpin, the owner of Lost Creek Ranch, with the idea of forming a nonprofit that would raise funds to build a new park visitor center. Grand Teton National Park Foundation took shape under the leadership of Halpin as board chair and a group of founding board members that included the late Clay James and his wife Shay, Rob Wallace, Ed and Lee Riddell, Brad and Kate Mead, and Bob and Nancy Jaycox.

Leslie Mattson joined the team in 2004 as the president and led the effort to raise $25 million (which included an $8 million congressional appropriation) for the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center, which opened its first phase in August 2007 and the subsequent auditorium addition in 2011. The completion of this facility not only laid the groundwork for the partnership that exists between the organization and Grand Teton today, it also created a sizeable and growing network of supporters. From annual initiatives supporting youth engagement and wildlife research, to the multiyear transformation that is underway at Jenny Lake and the recent protection of 640 acres of critical habitat on Antelope Flats, this partnership has had a tremendous and long-lasting impact on Grand Teton and the nearly five million annual visitors.

“The fledgling Foundation would not have evolved into what it is today without the entrepreneurial spirit of our park friends and the ongoing support of thousands of people who love Grand Teton. I thank all of you,” Foundation President Leslie Mattson said. “I also want to recognize Jack Neckels and the founding board members whose vision twenty years ago resulted in an organization that has an enormous impact on our wonderful park and serves as a national model for park partnerships.”

"The 20-year partnership with Grand Teton National Park Foundation has been, to say the least, amazing. We greatly appreciate their efforts at building capacity within the park historically, and into the future,” Grand Teton National Park Superintendent David Vela said. “The Foundation is a leader and model with National Park Service units across the country, and we are extremely proud to have them as our partner, neighbor, and friend."

Highlights from the last 20 years:

• Built a state-of-the-art visitor center designed by world-renowned architect Peter Bohlin and exhibit designer Ralph Appelbaum Associates.

• Transformed Jenny Lake through safe and sustainable trails, new bridges, lake overlooks, and modern interpretive exhibits.

• Helped purchase a 640-acre inholding on Antelope Flats that has critical wildlife habitat, iconic views of the Teton Range, and was threatened with potential development.

• Advanced conservation and research for gray wolves, grizzly bears, black bears, pronghorn, bison, osprey, bighorn sheep, mountain goats, mule deer, and more.

• Preserved cultural treasures including Menor’s Ferry, Maud Noble Historic District, Mormon Row Historic District, Lucas Fabian Homestead, and more.

• Employed 220 high school students during 11 seasons of the Youth Conservation Program. Participants improve trails, learn about stewardship, and gain insight into park service careers.

• Engaged more than 400 local Latino youth and family members in Pura Vida—a program that introduces this population to Grand Teton’s resources and recreation.

• Introduced 418 diverse college students to NPS careers through NPS Academy.

• Brought diverse Mountains to Main Street and Tribal Youth Corps students to the park for internships and leadership training.

About Grand Teton National Park Foundation:

Grand Teton National Park Foundation provides private financial support for special projects that enhance and protect Grand Teton National Park's treasured resources. Since 1997, the organization has raised more than $65 million for youth outreach, trail renewal, cultural initiatives, wildlife research and protection, and most recently, the purchase of a $46 million privately owned inholding that was threatened with potential development. This tract of prime wildlife habitat was the Interior Department’s highest priority project in 2016 and the largest land protection deal in the country. The Foundation continues to be a model in national park partnership, solving challenges and creating a solid future for Grand Teton.

To learn more about Grand Teton National Park Foundation, visit www.gtnpf.org or follow the organization’s updates at www.facebook/gtnpf.



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

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Rehabilitation work to begin in the area of 2016 Lava Mountain Fire

As temperatures start to turn warmer and creeks begin to rise, questions have been asked about what impacts spring run-off will have on the scared area left after last year’s Lava Mountain Fire on the Wind River Ranger District of the Shoshone National Forest.

Last fall, a Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) team assessed the risk to resources that might be caused by spring run-off and/or heavy rains. The BAER team concluded that the road system is at high risk due to the potential for increased sediment delivery, flood flows, and debris flows. To reduce this risk, the following steps will be taken once the snow clears:

* Stabilize roads with rolling dips, waterbars, outsloping, and ditch cleaning,

* Replace undersized culverts, and

* Remove existing culverts; create low-water crossings where practicable.

To complete the necessary work, short term road closures or delays will be implemented on some roads during early summer.

A gate will be placed on Forest Service Road 732 (the road west of the gravel pit); this gate will close the road for the next two to three summers. The BAER team determined that the hillside above Teton Valley Ranch Camp was very unstable and susceptible to sliding. There is a concern that after road work is complete, use during wet periods could create ruts causing water to channel to undesired locations and down the hill, possibly triggering slides. Keeping the road closed will greatly reduce the chances of ruts developing before vegetation is established. Once the vegetation on the hillside has established this risk will be reduced. There will not be any restriction on winter use as that use would not create any ruts in the road.

District personnel will monitor the area regularly to check conditions. The public is encouraged to contact the Wind River District office (307-455-2466) for the latest information or to report any issues they observe.



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

Friday, May 19, 2017

Yellowstone Seeks Additional Public Input on Effects to Historic Mt. Washburn Lookout

Yellowstone National Park seeks additional public input on potential direct and indirect effects of a project involving the historic Mt. Washburn Fire Lookout. The park proposes to erect a three-sided mounting structure around the lookout. This effort, which is part of a larger project to improve the park’s wireless infrastructure, may have adverse effects per Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act. The law requires agencies take into account effects on historic properties.

The park believes the effects from most of the project to improve wireless infrastructure (in other areas) would be negligible based on visual simulations; the exception being the visual effects to Mount Washburn.

The park is seeking public comment on whether the construction of this mounting structure would cause an adverse effect to the historic fire lookout. Information on this project is available online through the Planning, Environment and Public Comment (PEPC) system.

Submit comments through PEPC, by hand-delivery, or by mail. Comments will not be accepted by fax, e-mail, or by any other means. Comments must be received by June 22, 2017.

Hand deliver comments during business hours to:

Albright Visitor Center
Attention: Mt. Washburn Determination of Effect
Mammoth Hot Springs
Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming 82190

Mail comments to:

Yellowstone National Park, Compliance Office
Attention: Mt. Washburn Determination of Effect
 P.O. Box 168
Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming 82190

Public Comment Considerations

• Bulk comments in any format (hard copy or electronic) submitted on behalf of others will not be accepted.

• Before including your address, phone number, email address, or other personally identifiable information, be aware that your entire comment – including your personally identifiable information – may be made public at any time. You may ask us to withhold your personally identifiable information from public review, but we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so.

• The park has already completed a 45 day public comment period for environmental resource impacts related to this project which included comments on effects to historic properties



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

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Don’t Rush to Rescue Young Wildlife

Although this was published specifically for the state of Colorado, this information and advice applies to anywhere:

Spring has come to Colorado bringing blooms and rain showers, and of course the young wildlife of the year. As birds and mammals give birth, Colorado Parks and Wildlife wants to remind citizens that newborn wildlife may be found in backyards , along trails, or in open spaces. The best course of action is to leave them alone.

Each year, Colorado Parks and Wildlife receives scores of calls from concerned humans about wildlife that has been "abandoned" by adult animals. Many are tempted to "help" a young animal by picking it up or trying to feed it, however it is critical that people understand there is no substitute for their natural parents.

Wildlife experts agree that it is quite normal for adult animals to leave their young in a safe place while they go forage for food. And often baby birds are learning to fly, near their nests when they are deemed "abandoned." While well-meaning people sometimes gather up this baby wildlife and bring them to wildlife rehabilitation facilities, it is often the wrong thing to do.

"Baby mammals are scentless in order to prevent predators from finding them," said Janet George, senior terrestrial biologist for CPW. "When humans touch these animals, they are imparting them with a scent their adults will not recognize or even fear. This can result in true abandonment of healthy offspring."

Because birds do not have a highly developed sense of smell, baby birds are a different story. They can be picked up and moved out of harm's way or placed back in the nest if they are songbirds. However, do not try this with raptors! Great-horned owls and other raptors are territorial and have been known to fly at humans seen as a threat to their young.

If you find young wildlife, enjoy a quick glimpse, leave the animal where it is, and keep pets out of the area. Quietly observe the animal from a distance using binoculars and don't hover so close that the wild parents are afraid to return to the area.

"If twenty four hours go by and the parent does not return, or the young animal appears sick and weak, it is possible the newborn was abandoned or the parent is dead (hit by a car, for example)," said Jenny Campbell, customer service expert with CPW. "Call our office and we will work with our volunteer transport teams to get animals to a certified wildlife rehabilitation center to get aid for the wildlife if possible. Don't move the animal yourself!"

Donna Ralph of the non-profit Ellicott Wildlife Rehabilitation Center agrees. "Many of the animals we get should have never been picked up in the first place," said Ralph. "They would have had a better chance for survival if left in the care of the parent animal."

"The sooner the animal can be released back to where it came from the better," she explained. "Make sure you provide your contact information so we can let it go in the same place you found it."

Ralph said her center has already taken in many small mammals this year including several fox kits. "Baby foxes don't look like most people would expect them to look like. They are very small, very dark (almost black) and appear to be very kitten like. People who find them think they might be baby raccoons, skunks, or something else."

Ralph's advice: Don't try to feed them. Don't put anything into their mouths. Contact the CPW, a veterinarian, or licensed wildlife rehabilitator to give these babies the care they need.

"Whatever you do, don't try to keep the animal as a pet," she said. "It is illegal to keep wild animals in captivity unless you are a licensed wildlife rehabilitator."

In addition to potential harm for wildlife, humans need to recognize the potential harm to them, as well. There can be risks associated with the handling of wildlife animals, including disease transmission of rabies, distemper or other illnesses. Wildlife can also carry fleas that might subsequently spread disease to humans or pets.



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

Friday, May 12, 2017

Spring Construction Update in Grand Teton

Several construction projects will be underway this summer in Grand Teton National Park. Here's a rundown of what to expect this summer:

Trails
The 2016-2017 winter saw above-average snowfall in the Teton Range, which means many trails will not be snow-free until much later than usual. The high moisture content and weight of this snow means park trail crews will be busy during the first part of the season repairing bridges and clearing debris such as fallen trees and rocks. As the season progresses, they may reroute small portions of some trails to avoid problematic areas.

Roads
The Signal Mountain Summit Road will be closed from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Monday through Thursday from May 15 through early June to support a fuels reduction project. Visitors may also encounter 15-minute delays along U.S. Highway 89 throughout the park during May as road crews will be re-striping the road. Motorists on the Pacific Creek Road will encounter 15-minute delays in July and August as road crews resurface the road.

Historic Buildings and Districts 
The University of Wyoming will replace the Berol Lodge roof beginning in late August. Also in late August, two Lupine Meadows cabin foundations will be replaced. The Mormon Row interpretive path, the Murie Residence, and Menor’s Ferry Store will all experience minor repairs this summer.

Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve Center
Removal of the front porch roof which was damaged this winter began May 1 and is expected to last two weeks. Once the roof has been removed, potable water supply restored, and building safety checks completed, the building will open to the public—likely by early June. The work is being funded by Jackson Hole Preserve, Inc. and completed by Dembergh Construction of Wilson, WY. The area around the building is closed to the public during the construction activities.

Moose Water and Wastewater Infrastructure 
Replacement of the aging and inadequate water system which supplies the Moose and Beaver Creek areas is continuing this summer. The contractor, RSCI Group of Boise, Idaho, and their subcontractor, Westwood Curtis Construction of Jackson, Wyoming, are replacing the water transmission line from its origin at Taggart Creek to Moose. The contractors will install water distribution lines at 4 Lazy F Ranch and Moose, as well as replace the storage tank at Taggart Creek.

Construction of the new Moose wastewater treatment plant is also underway. The new plant will be located just northwest of the Moose Post Office. Visitor impacts associated with the Moose water projects include potential 15-minute delays on the Teton Park Road, a temporary reroute of the multi-use pathway between the Moose Entrance Station and the Chapel of the Transfiguration Road during July, trail reroutes near the Taggart Lake Trailhead, and closure of the 4 Lazy F Ranch Road during May.

Pilgrim Creek Water Infrastructure 
Installation of a new water supply system for Jackson Lake Lodge and Colter Bay Village and placement of a new water transmission line to Jackson Lake Lodge will continue this summer. Bairco Construction, Inc. of Lovell, Wyoming, will remove the Pilgrim Creek wells from the floodplain and bring the entire water supply system closer to the developed highway corridor. The Grand View Point Trailhead may be closed for one or two weeks, and visitors to this trailhead may experience brief delays throughout the summer (you can use this trailhead instead).

You may also want to note that the entire Moose-Wilson Road has opened to motor vehicles for the season. Schwabacher and Deadman's Bar roads opened over the past couple of weeks, and of course the Teton Park Road opened on May 1. Other roads such as the Grassy Lake Road and Signal Mountain Summit Road will open when road and weather conditions permit, which will likely be early-June.



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

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Celebrate International Migratory Bird Day with a Ranger

Grand Teton National Park will host a bird-watching caravan on Saturday, May 13, 2017 to celebrate International Migratory Bird Day. Led by park ranger and skilled naturalist Andrew Langford, the caravan will visit areas throughout the park that provide the best opportunities to locate, identify, and record birds. The activity is free and reservations are not required.

Anyone interested in birds is welcome to participate in the bird-watching excursion, which begins at 8:00 a.m. at the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center in Moose. The tour through the park will end by 4:00 p.m. at Christian Pond near the Jackson Lake Lodge.

Throughout the day, participants will take short walks at various locations. Participants may join the caravan anytime during the day—a schedule of the times and locations visited can be found at the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center in Moose or by calling 307-739-3399.

Those attending should wear comfortable shoes and bring a lunch, drinking water, warm clothing, and rain gear. Bird field guides, binoculars, and spotting scopes are also recommended items.

International Migratory Bird Day is observed each year in May to celebrate and support avian conservation. The event serves as the hallmark outreach event for Partners in Flight, an international conservation program whose goal is to reverse declining populations of migratory birds by bringing attention to factors that contribute to worldwide declines.

The theme of this year’s International Migratory Bird Day is "Stopover Sites: Helping Birds Along the Way." The journey between non-breeding sites across the Americas and the Caribbean to nesting sites in the United States and Canada can be a long one. Birds need to rest and refuel at stopover sites along the way. The health and safety of these sites is critical to the survival of migratory birds.

Participants in the caravan are reminded that park entrance stations are open, therefore a park pass is required for travel through these fee stations.



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

Friday, May 5, 2017

Waterton and Glacier Achieve International Dark Sky Status

Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park, with the support of its partner the Glacier National Park Conservancy, announced last week that it has achieved provisional Gold Tier designation as Waterton-Glacier International Dark Sky Park through the International Dark Sky Association.

Dark skies are integral not only for human health and enjoyment, but play an essential role in wildlife health. Unnatural light can disrupt migration and other natural processes, putting wildlife at risk. Night skies are also important culturally, and are prominently featured in regional tribal creation stories. Recent studies suggest that upwards of one-third of the world’s population is unable to see the Milky Way due to light pollution around populated areas. The park’s night sky programs are the most popular programs in the park with some Logan Pass star party programs attracting upwards of 700 participants to a single programming event.

To achieve the designation, each park completed a significant number of lighting improvements to reduce light pollution as well as committing to completing further lighting retrofits in the coming years. The parks will also continue to educate visitors about the importance and significance of the dark night sky resource. The provisional designation means that the two parks will now have three years to attain a 67% retrofit rate of their non-compliant lighting fixtures.

To date, Glacier National Park has retrofitted approximately 29% percent of its fixtures. The park received significant philanthropic support from the Glacier National Park Conservancy to make this designation a reality, including: 1) completing the lighting inventory required in the application process, 2) completing the joint application for both park areas, and 3) funding continued retrofits of lighting fixtures. The Conservancy will kick off a campaign this summer to raise funds for the remainder of the needed improvements that must be completed by 2019.

Parks Canada and the National Park Service have been working cooperatively to achieve Dark Sky Status since 2006, but with the support from the Glacier National Park Conservancy, the parks overcame the final hurdles required to submit their application to the International Dark Sky Association last year. “The night sky provides perspective and inspiration, allowing us to reflect on our humanity and our place in the universe,” said John Donovan, Glacier National Park Conservancy Board Member and donor to the dark sky designation program. “Dark skies have become an endangered resource in their own right, and we are incredibly proud to help preserve and protect them to be enjoyed and experienced now and by future generations.”

As part of the application, the City of Columbia Falls, the City of Whitefish, the Waterton Natural History Association, University of Redlands, and members of the Big Sky Astronomy Club wrote letters of support.

“This is another significant step forward in our ongoing partnerships with Waterton Lakes National Park and the Glacier National Park Conservancy,” said Glacier National Park Superintendent Jeff Mow. “In a time when one third of the world’s population can no longer see the Milky Way, protecting this resource is essential. Through this partnership, our sister park to the north will join us in pursuing dark sky friendly infrastructure and programming. Here in Glacier, our philanthropic partner Glacier National Park Conservancy has served as a steadfast supporter of dark skies, supporting not only our application, but also our ongoing star parties, solar viewing, and other dark sky initiatives.” This coming year, the Conservancy will support the popular solar viewing and night sky viewing parties that regularly see 30,000 visitors each year.

"Dark night skies are a source of awe and wonder that many people cannot experience in cities and are integral to the health of nocturnal wildlife," said Waterton Lakes National Park Superintendent Ifan Thomas. "Parks Canada is proud to collaborate with the U.S. National Park Service to achieve the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park's provisional designation as the first trans-boundary IDA International Dark Sky Park. We are committed to protecting and presenting the natural wonder of the night skies."

International Dark Sky Association Executive Director J. Scott Feierabend commented that “the International Dark Sky Places Program has been a program of many firsts in its history, but today’s joint announcement of Glacier National Park and Waterton Lakes National Park as a provisional IDA Dark Sky Park is a first of special significance. In the spirit of the peace park and its history, we’re especially pleased that dark skies are a shared resource that furthers the sense of amity and goodwill between the United States and Canada. The new Dark Sky Park is the embodiment of the sense that all of humanity shares just one night sky that knows no limit at international boundaries.”

As a Dark Sky Park, collectively Waterton and Glacier will serve as a leader in dark sky preservation, promoting public dark sky programming, engaging with neighboring cities about the importance of dark skies, and continuing to upgrade and install night sky friendly lighting fixtures within the parks.

This summer, the parks will host a series of star parties and solar viewing programs for the public to learn more about this new designation.

About the IDA Dark Sky Places Program:

IDA established the International Dark Sky Places conservation program in 2001 to recognize excellent stewardship of the night sky. Designations are based on stringent outdoor lighting standards and innovative community outreach. Since the program began, 15 Communities, 46 Parks, 11 Reserves, 2 Sanctuaries and 3 Dark Sky Friendly Developments of Distinction have received International Dark Sky designations. For more information about the International Dark Sky Places Program, visit http://darksky.org/idsp.



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

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

South Jenny Lake Area Temporarily Closed for Helicopter Operations

Beginning today, May 3, a temporary area closure will be in effect for the South Jenny Lake area of Grand Teton National Park. The temporary public closure is necessary to ensure public safety during construction activities involving helicopter transport of heavy material to trail locations on the west side of Jenny Lake. The duration of the temporary closure is weather-dependent and may last through Friday, May 5.

The following locations will be temporarily closed to all public access during this time: the south Jenny Lake developed area; the multi-use pathway north from Lupine Meadows Road; and trails to backcountry locations including Moose Ponds, Hidden Falls, and Inspiration Point. Signs will be posted throughout the closure area, and park staff will be positioned to suggest alternate routes to those visiting the area.

Areas not affected by this temporary public closure include: Cascade Canyon access from the String Lake Trailhead, Teton Park Road, Jenny Lake Scenic Loop Road, Lupine Meadows Trailhead, and the String Lake area. The Teton Park Road, which is the primary access route to the south Jenny Lake area, is open to motor vehicles.

Additional closures will be implemented over the summer in the south Jenny Lake area as construction continues. Park managers appreciate the public’s cooperation in observing all posted closure notices in the area.



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

Monday, May 1, 2017

Bear Awareness Program at Montana WILD

Do you trail run or mountain bike? Hike or backpack? Camp, hunt or fish? Float or trail ride? Join us at MT WILD in Helena for an update on the latest in bear awareness. Bill and Marti Cook, MT WILD volunteers, will be teaching about new, state-of-the-art bear safety products and the latest research on defense against bear attacks. Plus, hands-on instruction on how to use bear spray and information about grizzly populations.

Program is for youth 9+ years-old and adults. The free event is set for 6 – 7:30 p.m. on May 24 at the Montana WILD Education Center at 2668 Broadwater Ave. No reservation required. For more information call Montana WILD at 406-444-9944.



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

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
TetonHikingTrails.com
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com
HikingintheSmokys.com

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
TetonHikingTrails.com
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com
HikingintheSmokys.com

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
TetonHikingTrails.com
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com
HikingintheSmokys.com

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
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com
HikingintheSmokys.com

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
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com
HikingintheSmokys.com

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
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com
HikingintheSmokys.com

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