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It’s hard to do an all-encompassing post about any national park, forest, or other wilderness area as there is so much within each one. So much land, so much vegetation & wildlife, so many geological features, so many trails and recreation opportunities…How do you begin to write about a place you haven’t even been able to fully explore?
Bridger-Teton National Forest surrounds the Jackson Hole valley, encompassing around 3.4 million acres. I couldn’t possibly experience all of it unless I lived there for a while longer. What I can do, though, is give you an overview of the bits I experienced when I lived in Wyoming.
There are access roads into the forest in many places throughout the area, but I took Gros Ventre Road past Kelly, though Grand Teton National Park. Stopping along the way to Bridger-Teton inside the park boundary is well worth it. Once I crossed over into the national forest, it was like a whole other world to explore.
The gravel road required a slow pace, but that allowed me to see all of the incredible landscapes as I drove. Rolling green hills led to forested mountains which then led to red and grey hills. So many colors in one place. I was driving eastward, but stopping to look back west revealed a grand view of the Tetons.
The reason I wandered over to this area in the first place was to see the Gros Ventre Slide. This is a geologic area in the forest marking an event that occurred in 1925. 50,000,000 cubic yards of debris rushed down the mountain, blocking the Gros Ventre River and creating what is known today as Lower Slide Lake. There is a short interpretive trail that shows some of the rubble and the “scar” up on the mountain.
Looking down over Lower Slide Lake is a crazy feeling. To think that this serene, turquoise blue lake wouldn’t be here if it hadn’t been for a geological disaster almost a century ago. People use the lake for recreation now, which I guess is what you call “making the best” of a terrible situation. Earth is one fragile place, though, and many natural wonders wouldn’t exist without turmoil.
Like I said, I only experienced a tiny portion of the Bridger-Teton National Forest, but every little inch just encourages me to continue exploring as much of the outdoors as I can.