Traffic snarled on Jackson Hole roads Wednesday as winter weather oozed through the area, a driver jackknifed on top of Teton Pass and highway crews shut the Hoback Canyon for avalanche mitigation.
The trouble started around 9 a.m., when commuters ground to a halt a few hundred feet west of the summit of Teton Pass. As they started calling their employers and grumbling about the latest iteration in a season-long quagmire — illegal trailers flowing over the pass like water before getting stuck, or stopping traffic — skiers and snowboarders preparing to hike up the Glory bootpack heckled the stuck driver.
“Did you not see any of the signs?” one of them yelled down, as the driver and a few passersby attempted to dislodge the vehicle, which was spread across both lanes of traffic and into the pullout where skiers park.
From Nov. 15 to April 1, the Wyoming Department of Transportation bans all hitched vehicles from using the pass: vehicles towing boats or snowmobiles, camping trailers and commercial vehicles with a trailer. As drivers head into Wyoming they pass five or six signs warning of the restrictions.
“This is going straight on TetonPassholes,” one skier said in the pullout, referring to an Instagram account that shames drivers disobeying the regulations.
In November, its founder nailed the tour bus for the Boston rock band Guster for illegally hauling a trailer over the pass on the way to a show at the Center for the Arts. But it has also called attention to a chronic problem: The number of violations has increased, while law enforcement has struggled to keep up.
You can read more about the issue on the cover of this week’s Jackson Hole News&Guide, or at JHNewsAndGuide.com. Efforts to further regulate the problem have stalled.
About 20 minutes later — and after Wyoming Highway Patrol arrived on scene — traffic started flowing.
The early morning snafu came amid a warm spell that melted snow below 8,000 feet, leading the Bridger-Teton Avalanche Center to bump its hazard rating for the lower elevations to “considerable,” warning about wet slide avalanches.
At higher elevations, a weak storm dropped 5 to 7 inches of fresh snow overnight.
Two hours after the trouble on top of Teton Pass, WYDOT announced that an avalanche had fallen on Highway 89, blocking a travel lane between Pritchard and Dog creeks.
The department closed the road at 1 p.m. for avalanche mitigation, and reopened it a few hours later before rush hour.
The Wednesday morning slide was one of many that have let loose at lower elevations in the past few weeks. Avalanches have broken on Highway 89 south of Jackson Hole and Spring Gulch Road, covering the highway and byway, respectively. Earlier, skiers triggered a slide on East Gros Ventre Butte in a gully known as Taco Bell Couloir, dumping debris into Flat Creek and flooding a townhome complex’s parking lot.— Kate Ready contributed to this report.
Billy Arnold has been covering the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem and the people who manage it since January 2022. He previously spent two years covering Teton County government, and a year editing Scene. Tips welcomed.
Welcome to the discussion.
Please note: Online comments may also run in our print publications.
Keep it clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Please turn off your CAPS LOCK.
No personal attacks. Discuss issues & opinions rather than denigrating someone with an opposing view.
No political attacks. Refrain from using negative slang when identifying political parties.
Be truthful. Don’t knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be proactive. Use the “Report” link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with us. We’d love to hear eyewitness accounts or history behind an article.
Use your real name: Anonymous commenting is not allowed.
The News&Guide welcomes comments from our paid subscribers. Tell us what you think. Thanks for engaging in the conversation!