Due to an unseasonably dry November in the Teton region, we start the month with a thin snowpack — currently 54% of average. Snow acts as insulation to help plants, insects and animals survive without being affected by the ambient air temperature. Once covered by about 6-8 inches of snow, the ground will remain at a constant temperature near freezing. It looks like more precipitation is on the way. Hopefully cold temperatures will follow.
As winter begins, nature adapts. The cell structure of trees begins to change in order for them to withstand frigid temperatures without getting damaged by permeating ice crystals. A gradual temperature change is best for the health of trees. Everything we see in nature adapts to winter in order to survive. It’s fun to ponder how and why. Join us on the trail to learn more.
I recently drove across the country from my childhood home in Ohio. It fills my heart to spend time with my family and parents, who are both in their eighties, making our time together even more precious. I happily travelled during a high pressure. In Wyoming, we have a great resource for road conditions. The WYDOT (Wyoming Department of Transportation) travel site is easy to navigate by highway number and the Wyoming 511 app is also a great resource.
As guides, we check road conditions on a regular basis in order to safely transport our clients to tour destinations. Sadly, the state has a shortage of plow drivers again this winter. Recently WYDOT offered a seasonal bonus to help attract drivers. Let’s hope drivers can afford to live in the valley and provide safe roadways for us all.
Founder, The Hole Hiking Experience
Wolverine: Federal Protection under Endangered Species Act
As of January 2, 2024, the largest member of the weasel family, the elusive wolverine, will be protected under the Endangered Species Act and listed as a threatened species. After two decades of consideration, impacts of climate change and loss of suitable habitat are the driving factors. It is also becoming harder for wolverines in the Rocky Mountains and North Cascade Mountains to mate with wolverines north in Alaska and Canada. Habitat fragmentation threatens species and genetic diversity.
When a species’ population declines, it is first listed as “sensitive” then may progress to “threatened” and finally as an “endangered” species. “Threatened” means “likely to become an endangered species within the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of its range.” Protecting species provokes controversy and provides the opportunity for us to protect nature and become stewards for all species.
“I find the great thing in this world is not so much where we stand but in what direction we are moving.”
— Oliver Wendell Holmes
- Wildlife closures are in effect throughout Jackson Hole to protect habitat for wildlife and minimize disturbance during a stressful time of the year. Parts of the valley are closed from December 1 through April 30. Learn more »
- Keep an eye out for the Rough-legged Hawk, a winter resident. They breed in the Arctic and come south for the winter. Learn more »
- Bears are still active so make sure to carry bear spray. They will begin hibernation as food sources become more limited and snow deepens.
- If you are new to the area and winter recreation, take an avalanche course if you plan to play in the mountains. The American Avalanche Institute, Teton Backcountry Guides, Exum and Jackson Hole Mountain Guides offer courses.
- Make sure to be prepared for winter recreation with the proper gear in your pack: extra layers, water and food, first aid kit with fire starter, emergency blanket or bivy sack, hand and toe warmers, sunglasses and goggles. Make sure to tell someone where you are going, check weather and snow conditions, and make conservative decisions.
With our thin snowpack, we can still hike many trails. On average, it takes 6-8 inches of snow to snowshoe. At the start of the season, best to avoid vegetation as the snow accumulates. Bringing poles helps to stabilize your gait. Teton Pass has early ski conditions and Phillips is a nice place to cross-country ski or snowshoe. Options will change with more snow. JH Nordic is a wonderful resource for trail updates.
Join a naturalist this winter!
While valley floor snow depths are shallow, snowshoeing and cross-county skiing is available in the mountains along with wildlife viewing tours in the majestic Grand Teton National Park.