Gros Ventre Mountain Range
Gros Ventre Mountains nearing the headwaters of the Gros Ventre River east of Kelly, Wyoming
Ventre Mountain Range is situated west of the Continental
Divide in western Wyoming
and is a member of the Central Rocky Mountain chain. Located in western
Wyoming, it runs west-east
from the town of Hoback Junction to the Green River at the northern
end of the Wind
Joyce took this picture from a pullout along Gros Ventre Road which follows the Gros Ventre River from Kelly, Wyoming deep into the Gros Ventre Wilderness. We were probably 15 to 20-miles east of Kelly, Wyoming when she took this picture.
Expect summer time temperatures to range from highs in the 70s-80s during the day to lows of around 30 at night. Afternoon thunderstorms with lightning and rain showers are common in the summer. It can snow any day of the year and has, so visitors should come prepared for a wide variety of weather and temperature conditions. Remember Murphy's Law and pack accordingly. We were in our Saturn when we headed up Gros Ventre Road heading for the headwaters of the Gros Ventre River. Joyce prepared us a pack lunch and we certainly enjoyed it. You should think seriously about doing the same and take plenty to drink. If you reach the upper end of the Gros Ventre River you will be out for an adventure lasting a few hours depending on how often you want to stop and take pictures. We left from the Gros Ventre Campground about 2-miles southwest of Kelly.
Granite Hot Springs is a pool built by the WPA in the 1930's below the towering peaks of Granite Canyon. It makes a nice destination when exploring the southern part of the range, in winter it is a 10 miles one way by cross country skies, dog team or snowmobile but is well worth the effort. It is a godsend for those returning from a wilderness trip to Turquoise Lake at the head of Granite Creek. We have yet to do Granite Hot Springs but it is on our bucket list.
The Gros Ventre Mountains contain vast areas of arid exposed limestone
The Gros Ventre Mountains can be accessed from Jackson from Game Creek, Cache Creek, Flat Creek, and Curtis Canyon. From the south access is along the Hoback River's feeder creeks, Granite Creek, Poison Creek, Camp Creek, Jack Creek, Dell Creek, and Fisherman's Creek. From the Upper Green River to the east you can access the Gros Ventre from Tosi Creek. Access to the northern portion is along the Gros Ventre River on Gros Ventre Road, Crystal Creek, Goosewing Creek, Big Cow Creek and Clear Creek.
Roads to trailheads are single lane gravel roads that are passable to passenger cars, although higher clearance vehicles are recommended. Keep in mind that we accessed these area in our Saturn. Trailheads and parking areas are remote and primitive, with no services or phones.
There are a variety of trails through the area that offer an exceptional backcountry experience in unspoiled, pristine country. Backcountry visitors are asked to practice Low Impact Camping to protect the pristine values of the wilderness area.
Aspen grove high in the Gros Ventre Range east of Kelly, Wyoming
Those aspen will be beautiful in the Fall. One day we are going to be here when the leaves change color.
Sage brush covers much of the high altitudes in the Gros Ventre Mountains
The 300,000 acre Gros Ventre Wilderness, on the Bridger-Teton National Forest, became a part of the National Wilderness Preservation System in 1984.
The Gros Ventre's are composed of high craggy peaks, glacier scoured valleys, and rolling sagebrush foothills. Some say the name is from the French word for "big belly", and originated from Indian sign language meant to convey the idea of "always hungry".
The higher elevations are usually free of snow around mid-July and open until mid-September. Elevations range from 7,000 to over 11,000 feet. Expect summer time temperatures to range from highs in the 70s-80s during the day to lows of around 30 at night. Afternoon thunderstorms with lightning and rain showers are common in the summer. It can snow any day of the year, so visitors should come prepared for a wide variety of weather and temperature conditions.
The Gros Ventre Wilderness area can be accessed from the Hoback Canyon near Granite Hot Springs to the south and from the Upper Green River to the east. Access to the northern portion is via Jackson and the Gros Ventre River. Roads to trailheads are single lane gravel roads that are passable to passenger cars, although higher clearance vehicles are recommended. Trailheads and parking areas are remote and primitive, with no services or phones. Cell phone reception virtually nonexistent throughout the Gros Ventre Wilderness.
The area is home to elk, moose, deer, black and grizzly bear, and many other species. It is considered to be essential calving ground for the Jackson Hole elk herd. There are a variety of trails through the area that offer an exceptional backcountry experience in unspoiled, pristine country. Trails within the wilderness area are for foot travel. Mechanized vehicles, including mountain bikes and snowmobiles, are not allowed. Horses, mules and llamas are permitted. Views from the high country include the Tetons, Absarokas, Wind River Mountains and the Wyoming Range.
The Gros Ventre Mountains receive much less use and impact than the more well known Wind River Range. Backcountry visitors are asked to practice Low Impact Camping to protect the pristine values of the wilderness area.
The Gros Ventre Wilderness area has fewer lakes than the nearby Wind River Mountains, but still offers satisfying fishing experiences for several species of trout. For those who want a relaxing end to their backcountry experience, remote Granite Hot Springs makes a nice conclusion to a trip.
Licensed outfitters and guides offer summer pack trips, hiking, backpacking, llama tours and full service hunting trips. The area has seasons for elk, mule deer, grouse, mountain goat and bighorn sheep.
Deep in the Gros Ventre Mountains along Gros Ventre Road east of Kelly, Wyoming
In the upper reaches of the Gros Ventre Wilderness along Gros Ventre Road things can get a bit dicey at times. We thought this spot may end our trek toward the headwaters of the Gros Ventre River but the trail around this mud hole proved to be just fine.
Snowpack runoff from Gros Ventre Mountains about to enter the Gros Ventre River east of Kelly, WY
The Gros Ventre (gro-VONT) Range is named for the Gros Ventre tribe of Native Americans. The tribe was nomadic and routinely journeyed through this area after visiting as far north as the Blackfoot tribe (Montana) or returning from the Arapahos on the Front Range plains of Colorado. Anthropologists consider them a branch group of the Arapahos due to linguistic similarities though the sharing of members with the Flathead, Shoshone and Nez Perce blurs the distinction. The name Gros Ventre is a French Trapper term which translates "fat stomach" (gros is "fat", as in obese; gras as in "Mardi Gras" is "fat", as in grease). Communication amongst these peoples was through sign language and the sign referring to this tribe involved a gesture with hand in front of the stomach rotating at the wrist; hence the name, in French.
We have also read that the name Gros Ventre was a French Trapper term for "Big Nose" Gras for big or fat and Vente for a vent (the nose). Both sound plausible to me but I have no idea which is correct. The choice is yours. VBG
The Snow King ski area (downtown Jackson, Wyoming) is one of the oldest on the continent and brought lift-served skiing to Wyoming in the 1930s followed by one of the first chairlifts in the world at the end of World War II. It is the fourth-largest in the state in acreage and the third-tallest measured vertically.
With the building of the backcountry ski cabin on Jackson Peak in the 1950s, the glisse trend currently sweeping the country became an institution amongst residents very early on. Thus, backcountry skiing continues to make Jackson Hole a flashpoint amongst ski mountaineers worldwide.
Goose Wing Ranch deep in the Gros Ventre Mountains on the Gros Ventre River east of Kelly, Wyoming
The buildings you see on the far side of the Gros Ventre River belong to the Goose Wind Ranch located on the northern edge of the Gros Ventre Wilderness. We are on a bluff overlooking the Gros Ventre River about 20-miles east of Kelly, Wyoming on Gros Ventre Road.
Arid Wilderness in the northeastern reaches of the Gros Ventre Mountains east of Kelly, Wyoming
Situated directly between Wyoming's two best-known theaters of mountaineering (Tetons and Wind Rivers), the main range of the Gros Ventre Mountains are commonly overlooked with most mountaineering activity centered in the immediate Jackson area.
The main crest of the Gros Ventre Mountain Range is composed of limestone (solid in places, loose in others) and shales.
The Gros Ventres have long been known for the nation's largest migratory herds of elk, and antelope as well as plentiful moose, bear and a radio-collared wolf pack. Climbers tend to concentrate in the western end of the range on visible peaks and practice rocks in the section that provides the SE border of Jackson Hole. The most concentrated use occurs near the Gros Ventre Slide, Granite Hot Springs, and areas immediately adjacent to Jackson. The high peaks are not heavily visited.
This range is more renowned for trophy hunting, fishing and snowmobiling, as the dozens of outfitters permitted to operate in the Gros Ventre area will attest. It is also known for its powder skiing at its westernmost point, the Snow King ski resort; and throughout the backcountry, which is largely composed of glades below timberline and snow-catching basins above.
The Gros Ventre Slide 6-miles east of Kelly, Wyoming
The average tourist's introduction to the Gros Ventres is likely to occur at either Granite Hot Springs (near Hoback Canyon) or at the Gros Ventre Slide. The slide, above the town of Kelly, is plainly visible from much of the southern portion of Grand Teton National Park.
A massive landslide moving down the side of the range in 1925 damming the Gros Ventre River and creating Slide Lake. The Gros Ventre Slide caused this popular geologic anomaly that is easily visible from US-26 north of Black Tail Butte. In 1927 the newly-formed "slide" dam burst causing a destructive flood on the Gros Ventre River destroying the small town of Kelly and causing damage in Jackson Hole.
The range is also home to the world's largest elk herd. The annual migration to lower Flat Creek and the wintering herd at the National Elk Refuge are legendary. To see this large elk herd you need to visit Jackson, Wyoming in December or January when the elk are wintering on the National Elk Refuge in Jackson Hole.
Sawtooth Mountains of the Gros Ventre Range as seen from Willow Lake
We have not visited the Willow Lake area in the Gros Ventre Range but have it on our list of things to do in future visits. This picture makes me want to find time to do it this summer but time ran out.
Until next time remember how good life is.
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Until next time remember how good life is.