About the Forest
Bridger-Teton National Forest Mission Statement:
The employees of the Bridger-Teton National Forest are dedicated to sound natural resource management. We care for the land by improving and maintaining healthy forests and rangelands, clean air and water, and diverse habitat for fish and wildlife populations. We serve the people by encouraging responsible use of the resources and habitat our Forest provides because we embrace the professional organization that was modeled by our first Chief, Gifford Pinchot.
We strive to be transparent and innovative leaders in natural resource management. We work effectively as a team, committed to timely completion of projects to meet resource and public needs. We value public involvement, we foster partnerships and we are active in our communities. Bridger-Teton National Forest employees respect each other and the public we serve
Bridger-Teton National Forest Vision Statement:
The Bridger-Teton is home to world-class headwaters, wildlife, Wilderness, and wildlands. Providing for year round recreation and sustainable uses, while conserving these values is our legacy.
We are inspired, passionate, and skilled professionals, collectively working to care for the land by engaging communities for the enjoyment and use of future generations
Plant a Tree Program: The Plant-A-Tree program is a way individuals, groups and businesses can have trees planted on the National Forests to memorialize loved ones, commemorate births, weddings, anniversaries, or other special events
General Forest Information
The Bridger-Teton National Forest is 3.4 million acres and is adjacent to both Grand-Teton National Park and the National Elk Refuge. The Bridger-Teton has three nationally dedicated wilderness areas, which include the Bridger Wilderness, the Gros Ventre Wilderness and the Teton Wilderness.
Wildlife on the Bridger-Teton is diverse. Many of Bridger-Teton's visitors wish to view wildlife. The Forest provides habitat for an abundance of species. Summer visitors are likely to see trumpeter swans, sandhill cranes, coyotes, bald eagles, and elk. Other wildlife less visible during the summer become easier to see in winter as they move to lower elevations. Examples of wildlife more visible in winter include moose, mule deer, and bighorn sheep. Although widely known for its large mammals, including grizzly bears, Bridger-Teton also supports over 355 species of birds.
The GROS VENTRE SLIDE is another natural landmark that visitors to the forest love to see. On June 23, 1925 a one mile wide section of mountain collapsed, damming the Gros Ventre River. Lower Slide Lake formed behind the dam; two years later the dam gave way, flooding the town of Kelly. This unique geologic site is located 18 miles northeast of Jackson. An interpretive trail winds through the area enabling visitors to learn the history and ecology of this massive landslide.
The Bridger-Teton National Forest supports six species of amphibians, six species of reptiles, 74 species of mammals, 355 species of birds and 25 species of fish. Wild animals survive because they have learned where and how to find food, where to rest and sleep in safety, and where to raise their families. Getting too close to wildlife can be dangerous. Observe animals from a distance without disturbing them.
A fed animal is a dead animal. Wild animals should never be fed human food; it is bad for their health. Animals dependent upon handouts can lose their ability to find their own natural food and often die when winter comes and no one feeds them.
Here is a selection of wildlife you may encounter:
These hard working rodents with broad flat tails are famous for building dams and lodges. Look for chewed limbs and tree trunks along streams and their lodges surrounded by water. Beaver trappers were the first Europeans to arrive in Jackson Hole.
These sure-footed animals are found in mountainous rocky areas. Rams have thick curled horns, while ewes have short curved ones. These grayish animals are sometimes mistaken for mountain goats, which are white with slender horns, and not commonly found here. In the winter, sheep can be seen on Miller Butte on the National Elk Refuge and at Sheep Mountain in the summer, among other places.
Commonly referred to as buffalo, bison are a symbol of the West. Bulls can weigh more than a ton and stand six feet tall, whereas cows reach approximately 1000 pounds and five feet in height. Both sexes have permanent horns. While they may look safe to approach, they are not.
Black bears are not always black: a variety of colors may be seen among these bears--cinnamon, black, brown, and beige. The profile of a black bear's nose is straight, and the ears are pointed. Black bears breed in June and July, and cubs are born in the winter den. Black bears may have a litter of one to four cubs, but two is most common. Cubs emerge from the den with their mother in late April or May. Black bears are omnivorous, and feed primarily on plants, berries, small mammals and insects. They are not true hibernators, but go into a deep sleep in the winter. They enter their dens in October or November, and emerge in the spring. Black bears mark trees by clawing them, and can readily climb trees. They are generally solitary. Black bears are less aggressive than grizzly bears, but they may be driven to aggression if threatened, especially a sow with her cubs.
Coyotes are adaptable and live in a wide variety of habitats. You may see them at all elevations. They feed mainly on rodents, rabbits, carrion, plants, frogs, and insects. They form packs where food is relatively abundant. The basic social unit is an adult male, female, and their young.
Most frequently seen at dawn or dusk, these light brown animals can be seen throughout the forest. Mule deer, with large ears, are by far the most prevalent, but white tailed deer may also be seen.
Both golden and bald eagles nest in the Bridger-Teton National Forest. The golden eagle has a deep tan chest and head, while the mature bald eagle has a white head and tail. Both birds take four years to mature and can be difficult to identify before maturation. If you see one, please enjoy from a distance. Bald eagles can often be sighted along the Snake River and the Gros Ventre River.
These large tan members of the deer family are found in high elevations during the summer. The entire Forest is elk habitat. During the fall mating season, you may hear the bulls "bugle". During winter, thousands of elk can be found on Jackson's National Elk Refuge. Feeding grounds are provided because much of the elk's traditional winter habitat is now occupied by man.
This largest member of the deer family is often found in wetlands browsing on willows. They are dark brown and can weigh 700 to 1400 pounds. The bull moose has large palm shaped antlers. Caution: both bulls and cows are dangerous to approach.
Small chirps from a rocky mountain slope may come from this small "rock rabbit" with small round ears and no tail. The pika remains active all winter, surviving on piles of grass that it gathers during summer.
Often seen along sagebrush flats bordering Wyoming highways, these small tan and white animals are the fastest mammals in North America. Both sexes have short, hooked horns.
Majestic trumpeter swans are the largest of all North American waterfowl and inhabit the National Forest year round. Their nests are in wetlands. Binoculars or spotting scopes are important to avoid disturbing these protected birds. If you are fortunate you will hear their trumpeting call.
Bridger-Teton National Forest
The Bridger-Teton National Forest is part of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. It has played an important part in the recovery of species such as the wolf, grizzly bear, and white bark pine.
Situated at the base of limestone cliffs, Periodic Spring discharges about 285 gallons per second. Spring water gushes from an opening for several minutes, stops abruptly, then begins a new cycle a short time later. Intermittent water flows range anywhere from four to 25 minutes and the water is clear and cold. This is a very rare type of spring with only a few known in the world. Unlike thermal geysers, where water is heated and pressurized, the spring has disputed theories as to its perplexing behavior. One theory suggests siphoning action. Water fills a subsurface reservoir and flows freely from the opening until the water level drops below the siphon intake. The reservoir then refills and the process starts all over (Corliss, 1990; Mohlenbrock, 1990).
From Highway 89 in Afton, Wyoming head west on Forest Service Road 10211. This gravel road winds through the canyon for about four miles. The Periodic Spring Trail follows the creek side for a little over 1/2 mile to the Periodic Spring. Take a break and enjoy lunch at the Periodic Spring Picnic Site.
Snake River Canyon
The Upper Snake River is known for its crystal clear waters, unique geology, numerous recreation adventures, and amazing varieties of wildlife. This portion of the Snake River is fee-free.
Each summer from the June to August, the portion of the Snake River between South Park Bridge and Sheep Gulch hosts over 200,000 visitors. This is an extremely crowded and sought after section of the Snake River. In an effort to alleviate some of the crowding, special use permits for non-commercial groups over 15 people and for institutional outfitters are required. There are several river access points and campgrounds along the river. If launching a boat, you are required to use the existing boat ramp facilities at the access points.
The Snake River Canyon is located south of Jackson and runs along Highway 89 to Alpine, Wyoming. At Hoback Junction turn right at the fork in the road and travel across the bridge over the Snake River and onward. Visit the Snake River Canyon page on the Bridger-Teton National Forest web site to learn more about seasonal and safety information.