The flip of the calendar to May on Saturday brings with it the usual seasonal changes in Northwest Wyoming.
In Grand Teton National Park, the new month means that the park’s interior becomes much more accessible via Teton Park Road. The 14-mile stretch of road between the Bradley and Taggart lake trailhead and Signal Mountain opens to motorized vehicles that morning, as does the Moose-Wilson Road to the south.
Also Saturday, the doors to the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center will open for the first time in 2021. It’s the first major public facility to open in Grand Teton National Park. The Colter Bay Visitor Center comes next, with a May 7 opening date.
May 1 also marks the onset of vast seasonal changes in the Bridger-Teton National Forest.
Five-month-long winter closures that prohibit human entry lift Saturday, opening large swaths of the land, especially around Jackson, up the Gros Ventre River drainage, and in the southern valley near Munger Mountain and the Camp and Horse Creek areas. Find maps of affected areas online at FS.USDA.gov/main/BTNF/maps-pubs.
The Bridger-Teton issued a special order this year that nudges the opening time forward until just before sunrise. Historically the closure has lifted at midnight, but to cut down on confusion and align with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s antler gathering opener, the time was moved to 6 a.m.
That time — 6 a.m. Saturday — is also when National Elk Refuge staff will lead a motorcade of shed hunters down Refuge Road, where they will peel off at just-opened Curtis Canyon and the Flat Creek trailhead to comb over adjacent forest land to search for the pointed protuberances that shed off thousands of bull elk in recent weeks and months.
Ahead of the closure, the town of Jackson has instructed shed hunters to gather at Teton County Fairgrounds parking area. The motorcade will depart from the fairgrounds and the trail of vehicles will be the first allowed to enter Refuge Road. Overnight on-street parking in East Jackson is not allowed.
Some state lands in the region also open up Saturday. Among these areas are the elk feedgrounds at South Park, and Horse, Camp and Dell creeks, which all become accessible at 6 a.m.