East of Jackson Hole, Wyoming is the spacious Gros Ventre Wilderness (287,000 acres). The Gros Ventre Range (pronounced "Grow Vahnt") is of much different character than the famed hard rock of the Teton Range to the west of Jackson in Grand Teton National Park.
Relentlessly sedimentary and colorful, the Gros Ventre is a wilderness in a different way than the backcountry of the Teton Range. Rock climbers are absent. Tourists are not abundant, or at least more sophisticated about scenery.
This Wilderness area was established by Congress in 1984 (Public Law 98-550) after a long battle against the oil companies who threaten the area's margins today as they use foreign events as an excuse for their plunder.
The Gros Ventre River and Darwin Peak
The ample Gros Ventre country fills much of the space between Jackson Hole and the famous Wind River Mountains further to the southeast. Trails are numerous, but the streams they ford can be tough until mid-summer; and some, like Crystal Creek, a thrill even then.
A late July ford of Crystal Creek.
© Ralph Maughan
headwaters basin of the Gros Ventre River
© Ralph Maughan
Elk, moose, deer, and black bear are abundant. In recent years grizzly bears have begun to inhabit the area. Five were identified in the Gros Ventre River drainage during the summer of 1996. Grizzlies were observed again in 1997, 1998 and 1999 from the northern end of the Wilderness all the way south to Union Pass (a low spot that separates the Gros Ventre Range from the Wind Rivers). By 2002 grizzly bears had become aboundant thought the Gros Ventre Wilderness.
The Gros Ventre has also become an area for wolves. The Gros Ventre Pack which formed in the fall of 1988, had pups and has since inhabited the recesses of the Gros Ventre. The size of the pack is not known. I has been extremely difficult to track and trap for radio collaring.
On the downside, in recent years wintertime violations of the wilderness space by snowmobiles have become frequent. Please give any help you can bringing these miscreants to justice.
patterns in the limestone of high altitude Tosi Creek Basin
copyright Ralph Maughan