As spring bears down upon Pinedale and the surrounding mountains, the time has come to start dreaming up and planning trips into the high country! Although still early, the warmer spring temperatures and the inevitable rain continue to transform the winter snowpack into a more stable spring snowpack. Over the next few weeks, the snow will consolidate, melt off, and send the rivers into runoff. Currently, the snowline hovers around 8600-9000 feet. The Upper Green River area is sitting at 97% of average snow water equivalent. Here’s a handy interactive map you can use to check snow depths, temperature and a variety of other measurements.
For all you skiers out there, heads up; the snow down low is transitioning nicely, but the alpine terrain above 10,000 feet has yet to see the necessary freeze-thaw cycle needed to truly consolidate the snowpack. Expect any weak layers to be still there. Digging a pit and seeing for yourself is the only way to know what’s going on below the surface. Hazards such as falling cornices will be a concern as the temperatures continue to rise. The Bridger-Teton Avalanche Center is a great resource to use to get an idea of what to expect in the backcountry.
Snow totals for the Wind River Range hovered around a 100% average, with the southern end of the range (Big Sandy Opening) trending toward the low end of that average (6 inches of snow at the trailhead as of 5/6/2020). The road currently is driveable to the Lander Cutoff Rd.; past that, the snowmelt has turned the road muddy and undriveable. Time and warm temps will get the road up and running again. Please give the road time to dry out before driving all the way to the trailhead.
Boulder Lake trailhead, being the lowest lying in terms of elevation, is driveable and hikeable a few miles in. Expect snow on the rim, and the closer you get to Blueberry Lake.
Elkhart Park trailhead, situated at 9500 feet, is currently unreachable. Although paved, the winter maintenance ends just past the turnoff for White Pine Ski Resort. Expect snow at the first turns in the road past Lizard Rocks. The Wyoming Snotel reports 21 inches of snow at Elkhart Park. Fortunately, Fremont Lake and the trails on the north side of the lake are open and the lake is melted off, save some left over ice. Lakeside Lodge is undergoing reconstruction, as well as a complete overhaul of the kitchen and bar, but be sure to stop in for a drink or dinner after getting out of the mountains!
New Fork Lakes trailhead is currently accessible. Once you arrive at the trailhead, expect muddy trail conditions past the parking area. The campground in between the lakes is currently snow-free, but not open for camping.
As we drift father towards the northern end of the range, expect a later opening date. Heavy snowfall in the Green River Lakes area has left the valley covered with more snow than normal. As of today, the snow starts at the dirt road and National Forest boundary. As is true every year, the Forest Service asks that users keep off the road until the snow has melted and the road drys out to ensure less work on keeping the road open. Expect around a foot of snow currently at the Green River Lakes trailhead.
We’ve had a few questions concerning closures of the Wind River Range Wilderness. There is no plan that the Forest Service will close the Wilderness. No doubt you’ve heard about the Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone closures. This will not affect the Wind River Range Wilderness. The only changes will be a lack of seasonal staff to help with wilderness management. With this in mind, please be aware of waste disposal rules (burying all human and animal waste), camping regulations (no camping within 200 feet of lakes and trails), and packing out any and all trash. As stewards of Wilderness areas, it’s our responsibility to treat the mountains with respect. Visit the Bridger-Teton National Forest website for closure information and current restrictions. Here’s a handy PDF concerning campground status. All campgrounds in the Pinedale Ranger district will be closed until May 31.
If you have any questions regarding trip planning or gear, feel free to give us a call at (307) 367-2440 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. We carry a full stock of rental backpacking and mountaineering equipment, as well as fishing setups, bear spray and bear-proof containers, fuel and a full assortment of books and maps. Visit us online www.greatoutdoorshop.com to see trip reports, current conditions, or to browse our online store. Our staff is ready to help you plan a Wind River trip or to help with any questions you may have along the way.