Forest roads may not be passable on May 1
Late winter conditions may delay accessibility to backcountry
by Bridger-Teton National Forest
April 24, 2017
While winter wildlife restrictions will lift on the Bridger-Teton National Forest on May 1. 2017, most forest roads will not yet be drivable or open.
"We still have a long period of snowmelt ahead and we are seeing several issues our roads and highways already." said Jackson District Ranger Dale Deiter. "While we will be lifting the winter wildlife closure on May 1, roads may still be snow drifted, heavily saturated, or impassable," he said. "Visitors should be prepared to walk into areas or take their horses. There will no longer be restrictions to human presence, but the reality is that access roads may not be drivable or may be closed to prevent resource damage." he said. "We are also concerned with the overall wet forecast between now and May 1st." Lastly, Deiter stated, that "we are committed to opening roads as soon as practical because we want to have people out enjoying their public lands."
People come to the Bridger-Teton from faraway places such as Wisconsin, Gillette WY; Maybell and Rifle, CO; and even closer communities like Rocksprings and Dubois, WY to look for antlers that have been dropped as wildlife moves from the winter ranges to higher ground.
The current status of roads on the Jackson Ranger District for those planning to venture out on May 1 is the following:
• Gros Ventre road – lower gate may open at midnight depending on conditions; regardless the road will be closed to motorized vehicles until June 1st above the gate near Red Rock Ranch; non-motorized use is allowed. Several landslides near Atherton Creek and Russold Hill are being repaired this week.
• Flat Creek road – the gate on the National Elk Refuge opens at midnight April 30th and people will be able to drive to the Forest trailhead; the road will be closed past the trailhead
• Curtis Canyon road – the gate on the National elk Refuge will probably open at midnight depending on conditions and people will be able to drive up to the campground/overlook area; the upper part of road will remain closed due to snow and wet road conditions
• Shadow Mountain north and south roads – closed due to snow
• Ditch Creek road – closed due to snow
• Fall Creek road – closed due to snow
• Granite Creek road – closed due to snow
• Mosquito Creek road – closed due to snow
• North Fork Fall Creek – closed due to snow
Visitors to the Bridger-Teton National Forest can obtain free copies of motor vehicle use map by visiting http://www.fs.usda.gov/main/btnf/maps-pubs . No wheeled motor vehicle travel is permitted off of designated roads and motorized trails. The higher elevation roads take a long time to dry out after the winter. Even at lower elevations, pockets of wet areas can keep an entire road closed.
Depending on spring warm up and drier weather, the Bridger-Teton may be able to report the opening of some lower elevation roads by May 1, but some years the wet conditions prevent that from happening. When roads are wet, vehicle travel can cause considerable resource damage by creating deep ruts. Road widening can also occur when vehicles drive around deep pools of water. The chances of getting stuck are higher earlier in the season.
Once roads open remember to not attempt routes more beyond your skill level or vehicle capabilities and be prepared in case you get stranded. Be mindful of the damage driving on wet roads can cause as the Forest has limited capacity for repairs and impacts may persist through the summer and fall. Changes in weather can result in impassable conditions even when roads are open. To learn if a road is open or closed please call the Bridger-Teton National Forest at 307-739-5500 or visit http://www.fs.usda.gov/recmain/btnf/recreation for the latest in trail, road and campground conditions.