Gros Ventre Wilderness
Slide Lake in Gros Ventre Wilderness
The Gros Ventre Wilderness is an integral part of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. This wilderness was declared partially because it is essential calving ground for the Jackson Hole elk herd. This location between the Wind River Range, the National Elk Refuge and Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks provides important connections for the elk, moose, bighorn sheep, deer, grey wolves, grizzly and black bears, bison, and mountain lions that call this area home.
While the rock these mountains are formed from solidified in place about 300 million years ago, the uplift causing the Gros Ventre Range began only about 50 million years ago. The folds in the rock have created a large, asymmetrical arch with the fault breaks making for lots of exposed strata. This has been a bonanza for geologists and old-time prospectors. This spectacular countryside contains everything from lush mountain meadows to steep limestone pinnacles. Elevations vary from a low around 8,000' to Doubletop Peak at 11,682'. Because of all the folding and faulting of the ground, landslide evidence is everywhere. One landslide in 1925 saw 50 million cubic yards of material carried down off Sheep Mountain, forming a dam and creating Lower Slide Lake. In 1927, a major flood washed out part of that natural dam and as the water level in the lake dropped precipitously, the town of Kelly downstream was washed off the map. The area of that landslide is now a designated National Geological Area at the edge of the Wilderness.
The 317,874 acres of the Gros Ventre Wilderness offer about 250 miles of trails, with probably half the human visitors these days coming in the fall big game hunting season. The high country can hold snow on the ground into early and mid July. That means the runoff from spring snowmelt goes on well into summer making many stream crossings hazardous. The Forest Service clears the downfall off the main routes as early in the summer season as possible.
Sheep Mountain, the source of the landslide that created Slide Lake
Gros Ventre Wilderness area map
Grand Teton National Park - Wyoming Centennial Scenic Byway
Teton Wilderness - Washakie Wilderness - Bridger Wilderness - Fitzpatrick Wilderness
Jackson Hole Mountain Resort - Snow King Ski Resort - White Pine Ski Area