As the first wave of warm, spring days give way to the typical windy, brisk days of April, we’re reminded that we are both quite close but also far from the pleasant Wyoming summers we all know and love. The highs lately (in the valley) have been hovering around the low-to-mid 40s, with unusually high wind speeds which lowers the air temperature significantly. However, one notable change has occurred: the New Fork and Green River have opened up slightly down low, which signals that the snow up high is slowly melting and consolidating.
Please note that none of the trailheads into the mountains are open, yet. It’s still quite early, and yesterday when I checked the SNOTEL, the snow depth station at Elkhart Park read 29 inches; Elkhart is slated to receive another few inches with today’s storm. Almost three feet of snow takes longer than one may believe to melt. We’re monitoring conditions closely for the first openings of the trails down low. Believe me, we’re all eager to get into the mountains again!
The biggest reaction to the changing season is the amount of snow consolidation and water melt that’s happening at the upper elevations. The highest gauging station (on the Pinedale side of the Continental Divide) is Gunsight Pass (9820 ft.), which is situated between the Gros Ventures and the Winds, near Union Pass. Looking at the 30-day table for snow depth data, we can see that the snowpack has consolidated roughly three inches – not a lot, but given the weather and time of year, is to be expected. The week before that, the snowpack consolidated five inches, which is more representative of what warm, sunny weather will do to the snowpack.
It’s not unheard of to have four to six feet of snow in places like Titcomb Basin or the Cirque. These alpine basins hold snow this time of year because of the relatively low arc of the sun. Another two weeks, and warmer weather, will surely accelerate this process. I’d conservatively estimate mid-July before access to the high country above 10,500 feet is possible sans snow. If you’re planning a trip before that, grab some maps and see what your options are below 10,000 feet.
Early season options – think, mid-to-late June – for backpacking and hiking are generally possible at some of the lower elevation trailheads. These include Boulder Lake trailhead, Scab Creek trailhead and New Fork Lakes trailhead. For those looking for shorter out-and-back overnight trips or day hikes, recreation is certainly possible at those locales earlier in the summer.
We’ve been busy switching over the shop lately! Winter product has been put away, and summer is on our minds! If you’ve been in before, you may notice something different when you swing by next. Stay tuned to see what’s changed and keep a lookout on social media to see the new products that are coming in for the summer.
Although the trail conditions reports are few this time of season, once trails thaw we’ll be updating the reports once per week. We’ll continue to write periodical updates until that point, so keep a lookout on our website to see when a new report gets published. In the meantime, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us with any gear or itinerary questions regarding the Wind River Range or surrounding area. We’re open seven days a week, from 8AM to 6PM. You can reach us by phone (307) 367-2440 or send us an email, firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to hearing from you!