Intermountain Region Viewing Area
LOCATION and PHOTOS
Sticky geranium (Geranium viscosissimum) and fern-leaf lovage (Ligusticum filicinum) are dominant in this tall forb park in the Swift Creek Research Natural Area. Photo by Susan Marsh, Bridger-Teton National Forest.
Forest: Bridger-Teton National Forest
District: Greys River Ranger District
Description: Swift Creek cuts a narrow, deep limestone canyon into the Salt River Range, just outside of Afton, Wyoming. A gravel road winds up the lower canyon for about four miles. Trails leave this road at the North Fork of Swift Creek, where there is a foot bridge, and at the end of the road; the Swift Creek Trail traverses a steep slope north of the creek, and the Periodic Spring Trail travels along the creek side for about ½ mile to Periodic Spring, a natural cold-water geyser with a cascade racing down the talus to Swift Creek. Wildlife and birds can be seen in the canyon.
Viewing Information: Wildflower season begins in late June to early July and runs through early August. One of the most interesting viewing opportunities in this area is the chance to spot alpine wildflowers in a relatively low-elevation canyon. Wyoming alpine collomia (Collomia debilis var. ipomoea) and Monardella odoratissima, a mint related to lavender, are two plants that can be found blooming in limestone talus along the roadside. For those able to make a longer hike, the Swift Creek research natural area begins upstream from Periodic Spring and is accessed via the Swift Creek trail. This area includes outstanding examples of the tall forb community type, typified in this location by sticky geranium (Geranium viscosissimum), western sweet-cicely (Osmorhiza occidentalis),leafy Jacob’s ladder (Polemonium foliosissimum), and fern-leaf lovage (Ligusticum filicinum).
Peak wildflower season is early July through early August. Trails give access to both north fork and main Swift Creek, where the Swift Creek Research Natural Area is located.
Safety First: Use standard precautions regarding personal safety. Be aware of your surroundings. Plan to have the gear and clothing you need, let your friends and family know where you are going.
Directions: Travel east on the Swift Creek Road (200 N) from the town of Afton. After entering the national forest the road becomes gravel and winds its way up to the Periodic Spring trailhead.
Ownership and Management: U.S. Forest Service, Bridger-Teton National Forest, Greys River Ranger District.
Closest Town: Afton, Wyoming.