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Summer Wildlife in Jackson Hole and Grand Teton National Park

Summer Wildlife in Jackson Hole and Grand Teton National Park

Summer Wildlife in Jackson Hole and Grand Teton National Park

Jackson Hole and Grand Teton National Park are excellent places to view wildlife at any time of the year, but during the summer there are even more ways to see get out in the good weather and view the elk, bison, bears and other animals found in this beautiful area of Wyoming. Traveling to the Teton area, you can view animals from a boat, bike or specialized vehicle designed to take you into the back country.

The biologists on staff at the non-profit Teton Science Schools conduct wildlife expeditions in vehicles that have been customized to allow guests to go off the main road while still maintaining a level of comfort inside the vehicle. The biologist-guides who conduct the tours are regularly out in the field around the area, so they have expert knowledge of where animals might be, (You can hear a radio interview with one of the biologist-guides here) . The guides also have a lot of information they can pass on, and always conduct the observations in ways that don’t disturb the animals. Binoculars and spotting scopes are provided as well as snacks and beverages.

Summer Wildlife in Jackson Hole and Grand Teton National Park

Summer Wildlife in Jackson Hole and Grand Teton National Park

For those who enjoy biking, or simply getting out in the open air, Teton Mountain Bike Tours is an excellent option. There are a variety of guided tours available, but you can also just stop by and rent a mountain bike, comfortable beach-cruiser style bikes with gears, or racing style bikes, depending on what type of experience you want to have. One nice thing about renting from this outfit is that the location at the edge of town on North Cache Street means you can park, rent a bike, and then hop straight onto the trails right from the shop without having to transfer the bike anywhere. There are mountain bike, dirt path and paved paths that can be picked up just across the street from the store. For those who are not hardcore bikers, a good option is the paved path that goes up through the National Elk Refuge, into Grand Teton National Park and up to Jenny Lake.

Another option for wildlife viewing is a float trip from the water while going down the Snake River with Mad River Boat Trips. This is particularly a great way to see a variety of birds, including bald eagles. For those who want a relaxing ride while just taking in the scenery, the float trip is a good choice. The trip is a 13 mile float and includes a hot breakfast.

The area surrounding Jackson Hole contains an amazing number and variety of wildlife and there are plenty of different outdoor options to view them while also having a fun time.

Teton Science Schools


700 Coyote Canyon Road  Jackson,WY

Teton Mountain Bike Tours


545, North Cache St.,  Jackson,WY

Mad River Boat Trips


1255 South US Highway 89,  Jackson,WY

A Strange Unearthly Ranch



Nearly 30 years ago I had the privilege of being one of a group of three visitors invited to witness UFO activity on Pat McGuire’s ranch east of Bosler, Wyoming. Bosler has a population of 8 people. East of Bosler has more antelope than people. That is where McGuire’s high-country barley ranch (with some cattle) was located. This rancher had reported cattle multilations all during the 1970’s. He had been interviewed by Professor Leo Sprinkle, a paranormal psychologist whose speciality was studying UFO abduictees, at the University of Wyoming in Laramie. My former Graduate student, Greg Bean, worked as a reporter for the Casper Star Tribune. He suggested to me that he would arrange a visit to the McGuire ranch and bring along a photographer.” Would I like to come along,” he asked. “Sure,” I said.

His front page article in the Sunday, June 29, 1980 issue of The Casper Star-Tribune deftly reports details of our late night observance of strange objects blinking in the sky and gyrating in impossible patterns up and down and sideways as though they were putting on a show for us at 3 am. The show lasted for perhaps 5 minutes or so. But what happened previous to this display of agility and speed and blinking colors was not reported as it might have been too unbelievable for newspaper readers.

We three arrived at this lonely ranch with all of McGuire’s family constituting a population greater than the town of Bosler and with more antelope than humans to boot. We decided to set up our tents on a prairie ridge overlooking his trailer house, well and utility buildings so that we would have an unobstructed view.

We chatted with all of his children who had seen UFO’s hovering right over their trailer house and small calves being lifted up into the spacecraft. Pat later explained that he thought that the ufolk (as he called them) wanted to examine cow organs for radioactive pollution caused by humans and their incessant testing of weapons. He asked us to stay put up there on the ridge line because you never know what you might see. Well we brewed some coffee and sat outside our tents and noticed a dust devil forming way out by Bosler. In the meantime odd gusts of wind played strange tunes as they whistled through our exterior tent poles. Weird clouds formed to the east resembling bearded human figures like something out of biblical times. These clouds hovered over us all afternoon.

The dust devil snaked its way slowly toward the McGuire ranch and finally came right up the prairie ridge to knock down one of our tents! We quickly set up the tent again to have gusts of wind play strange tunes with our tent poles. Again another dust devil formed way out by Bosler. It snaked its way toward us and came up the ridge to knock down our tent for the second time. We were getting mad. We set up the tent again and a third dust devil formed. This time all three iof us stood up and held on to the tent. The third dust devil snaked its way right up to us and lifted the three of us off our feet and we rolled down the other side of the ridge, rolling in canvas. We laughed out loud saying McGuire’s UFOs are made of canvas!

I thought to myself if ufolk really exist they sure as hell have a sense of humor. We had some supper and continued talking with Pat until it became dark but nothing else happened until 3 am when a five-minute dance of multicolored UFOs took place. Pat insisted that they deliberately put on a show for us. Their gyrations were so quick and erratic that Richard, the photographer, could never quite get a focus on them.The next day we thanked the McGuires and returned to Laramie to my house for lunch. My wife Maura said that we all looked very strange and distant. She had never seen three people who quite behaved as we did as though we were from some other planet. It took us all afternoon to regain our composure from this visit to a strange, unearthly ranch. The remains of this ranch currently lay beyond a barbed wire enclosure with no trespassing signs.

P.S. I might add that as I typed this article weird things happened that caused the computer to stop in its tracks in the middle of a number of sentences. It took me three times as long to type.

Climbing Medicine Bow Peak, West of Laramie, WY

Medicine bowl peak, cr-Wikipedia

Medicine bowl peak, credit-Wikipedia

The climber is given key information about the Lewis Lake Trail to the summit of this snow-lined peak at 12,013 feet, the highest point in southern Wyoming’s Snowy Range.

The two-mile long trail to Medicine Bow Peak in the Snowy Range forty miles west of Laramie, Wyoming begins at Lewis Lake just beyond the parking lot that holds thirty or so cars. There is no other way to get here other than by private car. The starting point of the Lewis Lake Trail is 10,750 feet above sea level and just 800 feet shy of tree line. Hikers should register just beyond the parking lot at the beginning of the trail.

Be Aware of Possible Sudden Snow Storms

The best times to climb Medicine Bow Peak are between late June and mid-September. Be aware of sudden snow storms that can occur as late as the latter part of June and as early as Labor Day in September. The worst times to climb this peak would be from mid-September through late June.

There are no man-made hazards on this two-mile trail, but the hiker should bring along walking sticks to assist him/her over angled snowfields higher up toward the summit. Once the hiker is on the way, she will descend slightly to cross the Lewis Lake outlet whose shoreline is usually laced with sub-alpine wildflowers.

Striking Views of the Snowy Range and Brown’s Peak

As the hiker walks along the trail past rocky up-crops, he is afforded constant views of the granitic Snowy Range with the high- rising bald summit of Brown’s Peak directly eastward with sparkling Lewis Lake directly below. Less than a quarter mile from the trail head begins a very lush shoreline marsh laced with bright yellow marsh marigolds and white-yellow glacier lilies. Just beyond the marsh, the trail bounds upward through narrow rocky crags at a forty-degree angle. The rocks are lichen-covered in varying colors of orange, green and rust. In sheltered spots one may find clusters of blue columbines. The spruce trees at this point are quite dwarfed and twisted by winter winds. As the trail approaches a high and treeless plateau, one cannot help but notice many chunks of white quartzite, sometimes pinkish in color on either side of the trail.

A Grand View of Medicine Bow Peak and the Sugar Loaf

After about one mile, the trail winds across a high plateau where one can see Medicine Bow Peak rising to the northwest and the trail-less Sugar Loaf (11,400 feet) rising directly to the south. The Sugar Loaf is so called because of the abundance of white quartzite chunks up and down its slopes. At the north side of the plateau, the trail begins to switch back and forth as it gains elevation on the flanks of the Snowy Range. The hiker should pause along these switchbacks to appreciate the panoramic views of Lewis Lake below and Lake Marie to the west and the Colorado Rockies to the south.

Snowfields Await the Climber at 11,500 Feet and Upward

The trail straightens out at about 11,500 feet when one begins to look down on the summit of Sugar Loaf. It is in this zone that one might encounter in June and July snowfields angled at forty degrees on so. Use extra caution while crossing these snow-covered portions of the trail. They may be as long as thirty or forty yards. Use your walking sticks for balance! The trail winds its way through rock slabs until it reaches the final ridge-line. From here to the summit, a quarter mile away, one will encounter a perpetual snowfield that is crusty and usually around three or four feet deep.

Panoramic Views of Colorado’s Rawah Range and Wyoming’s Sierra Madre Mountains

Once on the summit marked with a rock cairn and stake, the climber can enjoy sweeping panoramas southward to the Rawah Range of Colorado, westward to the Sierra Madre Range of Wyoming, northward to Elk Mountain and eastward to the Laramie Plains. The hike takes up to two hours with a vertical gain of 1,263 feet. Bring sufficient water as there are no sources of water along the trail nor are there any restrooms. You can pick up a trail map at Medicine Bow National Forest Headquarters in Laramie or download one from Medicine Bow National Forest web page.