Heavenly — this word best describes the month of July in Jackson Hole. Warm afternoons coupled with cool evenings and occasional rain showers and thunderstorms have replenished the natural world. With endless summer adventure and recreation options and the great weather, there was a lot of fun being had during this glorious month!
The wet, cool month of June has made for a banner wildflower year! Mid-July is the peak of the flower season and you can find colorful blossoms at all elevations. The spring blooms are peeking through the snow in the high-country while the berries are already maturing in the valley. Mother Nature will lure you up the trail and through meadows along a painted rainbow of flower blooms.
Whether walking, biking, hiking or driving, it’s time to choose your favorite activity and head for the hills. Endless miles of trails offer a chance to discover the beauty, birds and wildlife that call these hills home.
When you live in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, you live with all the native species that roam the land. Being compassionate beings, we want to help when things go awry in nature. When a sow Grizzly and cub became separated this spring, it made the news, and concerned people wanted to reunite them. However it’s not our place to upset nature’s balance and make changes to affect an outcome.
When Felicia (Grizzly 863) emerged from her winter den with two new cubs, people noticed. Adult male bears are known to kill cubs that are not theirs—and sometimes the mother that defends them. To shield cubs from male attacks, mom just has to raise them near an adult bear’s No. 1 enemy: humans. So Felicia heads toward the bustle of Togwotee Pass with her wee ones.
After an altercation with a male Grizzly, she lost one cub and eventually became separated from the other cub. Compassionate onlookers called this little one Pepper. After months of separation and reported sightings of Pepper along the highway, they were naturally reunited this month. This happy ending helps us remember to allow nature to take its course. It’s a hard lesson at times. https://buckrail.com/grizzly-bear-family-reunited-on-togwotee-pass/
July makes me think of county fairs. The Teton County Fair returns each year at the end of July for a full ten days of fun. Endless options abound with 4-H animals, carnival rides, rodeo, pig wrestling, figure eight car races, traditional carnival food, and the traditional pancake breakfast. It is impressive as the fair springs into action, bringing summer fun and laughter, and then in the blink of an eye, it disappears until next year as the semi-trucks take the fun to the next town.
There are a few regional fair options. At the end of July, Cheyenne Frontier Days in Cheyenne, Wyoming, offers “a Celebration of our Western Roots”. They will have ten full days of fun including a pro rodeo, carnival, art shows, and a concert featuring Tim McGraw and Keith Urban. The Montana State Fair, in Great Falls, Montana, also begins in late July. If you are here in late August, you can visit the Idaho State Fair in Blackfoot, Idaho.
Inspiration is inevitable when you play outdoors. Remember John Muir and his amazing connection to the natural world? He said it so well, “With every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks.” Just being outdoors makes us feel better. Go with a focus to breathe, stay present, and reap greater rewards than your efforts. The long days and intense summer sun are great for rejuvenation and inspiration. Notice how great you do feel and give gratitude to this web of life that connects us all. Feel the smile of awareness.
What’s in the Woods
7/9 – Mail Cabin: larkspur, lupine, lousewort, scarlet gilia, columbine, buckwheat, geranium, Indian paintbrush, cinquefoil
7/10 – sunny, blue skies, temperatures in low eighties
7/15 – Grand Targhee: sun and showers- hellebore, geranium, gilia, arnica, groundsel
7/16 – Josie’s Ridge: Sego Lily!, harebell, geranium, scarlet gilia, hawkweed, buckwheat, sunflower, bedstraw, lupine, yarrow, wild roses, chipping sparrow, western tanager
7/20 – bluebird day with lows in the fifties and highs in the eighties
7/20 – Wilson, WY and roadways in Jackson: wild barley blooming along the road edge, beautiful!
7/21 – Hanging Canyon/ Lake of the Crags: bull moose, buck deer, pink-sided junco, swainson’s hawk, alpine sunflower, penstemon, scarlet gilia, balsamroot, sunflower, spirea, flax
7/22 – Wilson, WY-:cow moose with new calf
7/28 – Mt. Glory: geranium, Indian paintbrush, penstemon- many varieties, lupine, sunflower, osha, bistort, stemless goldenweed, silky phacelia, forget-me-not, golden mantle ground squirrel
Visiting this area in mid-summer gives you endless choices for outdoor activities. It’s fun to ask the locals what they like to do and where they like to do it, so inquire with hotel staff, waiters, and people working at the Park entrance stations. Always nice to get a local’s perspective — you would be amazed at the various passions in this valley: some hit the river to fish or to float; others spend all their time high in the mountains whether climbing the peaks or hiking the trails; some love mountain biking and the thrill of speedy downhill travel. You might meet a bear watcher or geyser watcher and gain insight to see something amazing… at just the right time.
I recommend trying a new activity. I’m a hiker but I love to be on the top of mountains so I joined a climbing company to assist me to reach the summit. It’s fun to ride the aerial tram in August and explore the alpine environment. An evening float on the Snake River is a great opportunity to see animals, enjoy the fading light and the sounds of the river. Have fun as you explore all the options.