The National Elk Refuge and Jackson Hole Community Pathways have announced a tentative reopening date of Thursday, June 22 for the North Highway 89 Pathway north of Jackson after recent flooding affected a portion of the trail.
Precipitation and rapid snow melt due to warm temperatures earlier this month led to high, fast moving water in the Gros Ventre River. According to data from the Natural Resources Conservation Service, the snowpack in the Gros Ventre Range and other areas that melt into the Gros Ventre River System received the highest amount of precipitation this year compared to the last 36 years. The water runoff created flooding conditions along the river corridor, including the northwest corner of the Refuge near Highway 89/191 and a 500-yard stretch of the multi-use pathway.
Despite nearly two weeks of being submerged in muddy water, damage to the pathway appears to be minimal. The erosion potential is limited to a short section and should require minimal efforts to mitigate for any further damage. Jackson Hole Community Pathways will mow the area adjacent to the pathway later this week and sweep the silt and debris from the pathway’s surface. However, subsequent flooding may still occur with more warm temperatures in the current forecast. The fast flowing water in the Gros Ventre River overtopped and eroded a dike on the Refuge, resulting in the potential for more water to spill onto the pathway if water levels again rise.
“We appreciate the public’s patience and respect of the closures when they become necessary,” Refuge Manager Brian Glaspell said. “To ensure public safety, further temporary closures or barricaded sections may be necessary if conditions change.”
The nearby Gros Ventre/Kelly Road located along and near the Gros Ventre River in Grand Teton National Park was also affected by the high water, resulting in significant erosion near the road. For more information about the Gros Ventre Road and other affected areas, please visit the park’s webpage at www.nps.gov/grte, Facebook and Twitter at GrandTetonNPS, or call the park’s road report information line at 307-739-3682.