July pulses with summer’s energy. Days are hot. Town is busy. The fair arrives with rides, animals, snow cones, and funnel cakes. The rodeo is in full swing. Restaurants are crowded and traffic slows. It’s the busiest month in our little valley. The 2010 census reported 21,000 people in Jackson Hole or Teton County, Wyoming. During busy summer months, numbers reach 60,000 people so town is hopping.
A wonderful asset to Jackson Hole is the public land. It’s really why our valley is special. We are located in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Grand Teton Park is approximately 310,000 acres. Yellowstone is 2.2 million acres and larger than the states of Rhode Island or Delaware. The Bridger-Teton National Forest is 3.4 million acres and contains three wilderness areas. In the lower 48 states, the Teton Wilderness is the one spot in the USA that you are furthest from a road. All this land means outdoor recreation with endless options. Home to wild creatures. You can hike for days. Climb the peaks. Bike the trails. Fish or float the rivers. Camp. Bird watch. Breathe and immerse yourself in the beauty of wild nature. Can’t be beat!
July is the month of wildflowers. You can find blossoms throughout all the different elevations. The colors are rich and vibrant. Mother Nature is quite a gardener and the colors pull you up the trail. We continue to have showers so meadows are thriving. Beautiful flowers mean beautiful bugs so loose-fitting clothing is nice in July. Join us for a hike to learn about plant qualities, medicines, foods, and the role they play in this dance, this web of life.
The mountains can be a bit hazy in July. Summer is the season of fire. Winds carry the smoke great distances so the haze this month is due to fires in British Columbia. August and September are the main fire months for our forest. It’s the time when vegetation gets dry since most of our moisture comes in the form of snow.
Fire has a very important role in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem since it finishes the nutrient cycle by depositing nitrogen and phosphorous, the by-products of fire. Jackson is a very dry climate. With minimal humidity, trees do not naturally rot. Fire rejuvenates our forest and leaves nutrients.
On August 1, I received an interagency press release from Grand Teton Park, the Bridger-Teton National Forest and the National Elk Refuge stating fire danger has increased too high. The press release states 56 campfires have been abandoned this summer. Not good. For the latest information go to www.tetonfires.com and make sure to put your fire out, dead out.
As August begins, our town prepares for the solar eclipse. Jackson is located in the “line of totality” so a prime spot to watch the eclipse. Town is preparing for a LARGE increase in visitation. If you are watching the eclipse in Jackson, you will have over 2 minutes to experience the darkness as the moon covers the sun. Exciting times!
Have fun and enjoy the pace of summer. Fall isn’t far away. The Fireweed is blooming so folklore says six weeks until the first snow.
What’s in the woods
7/9- Glory- snow on the ridge- alpine lily, sunflower, black-rosy finches, not many blooms at 10,000 feet, lower- geranium, gilia, lupine, larkspur, bluebells, columbine, elderberry, snowberry
7/10- coal creek- snow in the high meadow, stream running high, upper crossing challenging- white crowned sparrows, juncos, red tail hawk, lousewort, cow parsnip, osha, indian paintbrush, scarlet gilia, geranium, lupine, sunflower- and bugs
7/18- hay cutting in the valley- ravens, magpies and hawks feeding on rodents
7/19-Shadow Mountain-fireweed, sunflower, geranium, lupine, bedstraw, groundsel
7/21- smoky haze in valley
7/22-Sheep Mountain- Indian Paintbrush, Osha, delphinium, groundsel, columbine, scarlet gilia, townsendia, penstemen
7/25- Munger Mountain- Great Gray Owl
7/29- Ski Lake-scarlet gilia, Indian paintbrush, osha, columbine, larkspur, bluebells, lupine, sunflower, groundsel, elderberry
7/30- Highway 390- Bald Eagle on power pole, cow elk feeding in meadow
August is a great month to ride the aerial tram at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. The tram takes you to 10,450 feet or the top of Rendezvous Mountain. You can enjoy the cooler temperatures and the view. Have a waffle. Hiking options are also endless. You can access the Teton Crest Trail/Marion Lake in Grand Teton Park or hike Rock Springs or head south into the forest and hike to Moose Creek or Coal Creek. Flowers will continue to thrive at higher elevations and temperatures are cooler. It’s a great August option. July is a fun time to play in the water. Swim at String Lake in Grand Teton Park. Float the river with many rafting companies or go play on Jackson Lake. Have fun and enjoy the height of summer.