The month of June was wetter than normal. During the middle of the month, over one inch of rain fell in different parts of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Melting snow keeps the meadows green and the flowers blooming but the occasional shower is the icing on the cake. Moisture at the right time and at the right amount makes nature thrive.
NOAA reports moisture is above average in the US except the West Coast. Tropical moisture is uncommon in June but the plants and animals enjoyed this latest weather system. The valley is bright green and the mosaic of color dances up the hills. The recent moisture dusted the high country with snow. Always the reminder in our high valley, winter is not far away.
In mid-June, the variety of flowers peaks around 8000 feet. The color and diversity fill you with joy. Mother Nature’s palette is natural and awe-inspiring making Her the perfect gardener. The yellow of the balsamroot, sunflower, and groundsel dance with the purple of larkspur, penstemon, and bluebell. Within the color menagerie, you have the red of scarlet gilia and paintbrush and the pink of collomia and geranium. As you look ahead, the shaded pine forest shares burst of white Columbine. Before you know it, you are excited for the next meadow, the next climb and on you go into the wild and beauty of Her creation. With over 1000 species of flowering plants, each view is new and different.
In June everywhere you turn, you see vibrant life. It’s wildlife birthing season. Baby bison frolic about. Chicks leave the nest and call to the adults for food. Ravens guide their young out of the nest then squawk to them to fly, fly, fly. Flowers dance in the wind and color abounds. Water in the streams and rivers flows high due to snow melt and rafting thrills the group. The Bald Eagle soars overhead as it hunts for trout. The graceful Blue Heron stands by the shore like a statue waiting for fish.
Larger animals move to summer territories and dawn and dusk is best for wildlife viewing. Velvet is a thin layer of capillaries that covers the growing antlers so all male members of the deer family have velvet in June. When the light catches the antler, it appears to glow. It’s mating season for bears as they move through the ecosystem replenishing the calories lost during hibernation. Days are long and all life pulses with the vibrancy of summer. You get caught in the frenzy and the joy of discovering all nature has to share.
As summer begins, it’s the climax of the year in Jackson Hole. The mountains have been crystal clear. The stars vibrant. It’s a fun time in our valley. Enjoy!
What’s in the woods
6/3-Atherton Creek- serviceberry, arrowleaf balsamroot, long-plumed avens, larkspur, cutleaf daisy, bluebells, sugarbowl, mosquitos, sand-hill cranes
6/10- Hoback Range- flowers galore at 8000 feet!- arrowleaf balsamroot, mules ears, scarlet gilia, silky phacelia, mountain ash, groundsel, blue penstemon, Indian Paintbrush, columbine, meadow rue, redtail hawk, ravens, western tanager
6/11- Jackson birdfeeder- black headed grosbeak, pine siskin, cassin’s finch, white-crowned sparrow, black-capped chickadee
6/16- rain in forecast
6/17- old pass road, Wilson, WY- sticky geranium, scarlet gilia, flax, arrowleaf balsamroot, arnica, American Dipper, Cow Moose
6/23- Death Canyon- sunflower, scarlet gilia, penstemon, osha, lousewort, currant, gooseberry, clasp-leaf twisted stalk, salomon seal, balsamroot, larkspur, western tanager, baby marmot
6/25- Highway 22- mature bald eagle on power pole, great blue heron, osprey
6/26-Wilson, WY- young mule deer in velvet, young moose in velvet
6/27- Snake River- American white pelicans, great blue heron, bald eagle
6/30- Wilson, WY- mule deer in velvet grazing in the meadow
An early start is the key to park hikes. Beat the crowds and start when temperatures are cool. Death Canyon is a favorite. 8 miles round trip and you will get high enough in the canyon for amazing views, meadows, flowers and it’s great wildlife habitat. Start at the Death Canyon trailhead in Grand Teton Park. If you want something shorter, the LSR Preserve is a great option. At this time of year, you don’t have a bad choice so visit the park visitor center for suggestions. Be prepared since mountain weather can change suddenly. Bear spray is important. Have fun and be safe.