Intermountain Region Viewing Area
LOCATION and PHOTOS
Ski Areas in Jackson, Wyoming
Forest: Bridger-Teton National Forest
District: Jackson Ranger District
Description: The ski areas in and around Jackson Wyoming are year-round recreational destinations. The Jackson Hole Mountain Resort and Snow King are easily accessible areas of the Bridger-Teton National Forest. Wildflower viewing complements the other summertime recreational activities at these resorts. The snow that falls in the winter attracts people to the ski areas in the Bridger-Teton National Forest and that same snow influences the wildflowers that bloom during the summer. The interaction of elevation change and openings created by ski runs creates a mosaic of wildflower habitats and flowering times throughout the year. Since temperature and precipitation change with increasing elevation and the openings created by ski runs allows more sunlight to hit the forest floor there is a continual bloom of wildflowers from spring until fall at the ski areas on the Bridger-Teton National Forest. Ski runs at the lowest elevations with open sites receive the most direct sunlight in the spring. They also tend to be the first to experience snowmelt and are usually the first to have spring blooms. As summer progresses, the mid-elevation sites and densely forested areas begin to bloom with their own suite of wildflower species as temperatures warm and the snow melts. Eventually even the highest elevation sites shed their snow and a unique alpine wildflower community emerges in the late summer and early fall.
Wildflower Viewing: In the areas that lose their snow first, the flowers that emerge are a welcome sight to locals and are a sure sign that summer is on their doorstep. Two species of false Solomon’s seal are among the most conspicuous with their large leaves and delicate spray of white flowers. An additional showy spring bloomer is the yellow flowered arrow leaf balsamroot. In the more forested areas, some shrubs bloom in the spring, most notably the two species of snowberry shrub native to Wyoming. If you look carefully, you may see a leopard fritillary, one of the several showy fritillary species in these areas that begin to bloom in the early summer. As the snow turns into run-off, the streamsides of these ski areas begin their blooms, which peak in mid-summer. The bog orchid and streamside bluebells provide color among the fiercely competitive greenwash of newly emerged leaves including the massive leaves of the cow parsnip, which begins to bloom white in July. In the forested slopes you may see a fairy slipper orchid if you are lucky, but if not there are plenty of columbines, phloxes, twinbells, and penstemons to be seen. In open areas at mid-elevations lupines, paintbrushes, geraniums, monument plants, and sunflowers and their look-alikes provide ample color for the landscape. In the alpine zone, the flowers become smaller and less conspicuous as do the plants in general. However, there are still many flowers to be seen; you just have to look hard for them. Alpine forget-me-not, alpine harebell, alpine bluebells, and multiple species of alpine daisy provide splashes of color among the barren rocks that are characteristic of the areas above tree line.
Safety First: The terrain in and around Jackson Wyoming is as dramatically variable as the weather is. Principle among the hazards from weather are rapidly developing storm fronts that can include wind, rain, hail, snow, lightning, and thunder, sometimes all at once. Be prepared with appropriate clothing and footwear and check the weather forecast before you head out on an adventure into the forest. The sun shines brightly during the summer, sunscreen and plenty of water are essential for safety. Be aware of wildlife in the forest, always read and follow posted signs warning of wildlife activity, carry bear spray, and be bear aware. Both ski areas featured here offer multiple summertime recreational activities including mountain biking and horseback riding. Always give way to horses and bicycles if you are walking on a trail. The ski areas in Jackson Wyoming are at high elevation, if you feel dizzy, nauseous, or lightheaded the best thing to do is get to lower elevation until your body gets used to the elevation. Mosquitoes and ticks are present during the summer, insect repellent and appropriate clothing are important preventative measures.
Directions: Jackson Hole Mountain Resort is located 12 miles from the town of Jackson, Wyoming on the Bridger-Teton National Forest. From Jackson take Highway 191 south to Highway 22. Cross the Snake River and turn North on Highway 390. Continue on Highway 390 until you reach the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. All turns are well signed. There is a map of summertime trails located next to the climbing wall. The Valley Trail is a gradual trail that winds through open and forested areas of the ski area and offers great wildflower viewing.
Snow King is located in the town of Jackson, but the majority of the ski area is on the Bridger-Teton National Forest. From the town square go south for 5 blocks on Cache St, turn left (East) onto Snow King Ave. Park at Phil Baux Park, trails start from there. There is a Forest Service interpretive sign with a map of the summer time trail system. Note that some trails are for horses only, these trails will be noted on both the map and on the ground. The hike to the top of Snow King takes about an hour to an hour and a half and is moderately taxing. The views from the top are spectacular and are well worth the effort.
Ownership and Management: Both ski areas operate on the Bridger-Teton National Forest with special use permits. While the vast majority of both ski areas are on public land, there are private in-holdings at the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. Please stay on marked trails.
Closest Town: Jackson, Wyoming.