In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, media around the world pounced on some wishful narratives of environmental successes that sprang from billions of people shutting in.

The beautiful rainbows of color found in Yellowstone National Park’s boiling springs don’t just punctuate the landscape. In simply existing where they do, the organisms responsible for those vibrant hues defy human expectations of where life can and cannot live. Yellowstone’s environment as …

It’s early November and I’m perched high on East Gros Ventre Butte, overlooking Jackson Hole, hunched over my spotting scope, eyes watering in the bright afternoon sun and gusting wind. Far below, the braided channels of Flat Creek cut intricate patterns through the National Elk Refuge’s gol…

On a Monday in July 2016, wildland firefighters learned of a small lightning-caused fire burning slowly on remote Elk Ridge in the forested, mountainous void between the Tetons and the northwestern shore of Jackson Lake.

Morgan Graham inched his way up East Gros Ventre Butte on a late July morning, plopping a hiking pole down every 2 feet as he went, calling out the names of the plants the basket hit.

We get it. People had their summer plans upended, and they came to Jackson Hole looking for fun and the chance to release some pent-up energy after months of being cooped up. This summer will be one for the record books in Jackson, as road trips were the activity of choice. Was 2020 just a b…

Life in Jackson Hole always meant living together with wildlife, and especially with elk. Come winter the earliest homesteaders found themselves face to snout with hungry elk trying to raid the haystacks they depended on to feed their cattle. The encounters weren’t only hostile. The homestea…

A helicopter carries water from a pond to drop on the fire Aug. 4 at the National Museum of Wildlife Art. The fire began with a lighting strike and burned an estimated 80 acres on East Gros Ventre Butte.

Ferdinand V. Hayden, leader of the famed Hayden Survey in 1871, surmised that the orange and red tints at Mammoth Hot Springs were caused by the presence of iron oxide. It wasn’t until several decades later that it was discovered that bacterial thermophiles were responsible for the colors.

Grand Prismatic Spring and neighboring thermal features at the Midway Geyser Basin in Yellowstone National Park contain a variety of thermophiles that produce the springs’ wide spectrum of vivid colors.

Dusk comes quickly in the mountains. The summer sun had just slipped behind the Tetons, the peaks painting a long, dark shadow on the valley floor below as I descended Blacktail Butte in Grand Teton National Park. I was alone as I stepped into an open meadow, and the grizzly bear less than 1…

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Out in the middle of the Kelly hayfields, a family of five Nebraskans, clustered around a Dobsonian telescope, looked up and couldn’t contain their excitement.

After a shift at the Blackrock Ranger Station in fall 1996, Steve Deutsch was driving his Ford Ranger on Highway 26/89/191 near Moran when he swerved to avoid a moose on the road.

Teton County has enjoyed an incredible economic recovery following the Great Recession of 2008, a vibrancy accompanied by one particularly glaring and seldom-discussed environmental consequence: greenhouse gas emissions. Over the past decade the number of people flying into Jackson Hole Airp…

I was sitting in on a Wyoming Public Lands Initiative meeting last year when a veteran Jackson Hole biologist remarked how the scientific literature indicates mountain biking has a significant impact on wildlife. Those meetings attracted a diverse bunch of folks, including many fellow residents who had made it clear that they weren’t enthused about reclassifying lands because that might limit their favorite outdoor activities, be it mountain biking, snowmobiling or whatever.

It’s 9:15 on a summer evening in Jackson Hole. A common nighthawk zips above the cottonwoods, its white wing bars giving it away in the twilight. PEEENT! Hear it? Nearby, a great horned owl perches, eyes fixed on a skunk. People in cars are driving home after a satisfying dinner. Others are …

One plump, native cutthroat trout after another tore into dry flies that skated with the surface of the Gros Ventre River.

To trace how mankind has altered and polluted Jackson Hole’s water, let’s follow one of the valley’s most beloved sources: Cache Creek.

Every western town has a river running through its heart, even towns that lie far from the streambank. It’s this river of the heart I speak of, and for most people in Jackson Hole that means the Snake. But if we zoom in on the town of Jackson itself, we might consider the little stream whose…

On the tail end of an intensive effort to research the how recreating people effect wildlife, Bruce Thompson threw himself into a funk. “I was blown away,” Thompson said, “and I had to do some soul searching.” A former Jackson Hole resident who now lives along the Wind River, he was examinin…

Seeing the Jackson Hole Travel and Tourism Board’s inaugural “Stay Wild” video ad for the first time last winter, I thought it was masterful.

Just eight years ago the Greater Yellowstone Coalition was dealt a legal victory acclaimed by many conservationists and wildlife advocates: Grizzly bears would remain under federal oversight and out of the line of hunter gunfire because nobody knew the true impacts of losing whitebark pine s…

Between Jackson Hole and Bozeman, the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem not only holds one of the largest concentrations of professional non-government conservationists in America, its wildlands have served as launch pads for generations of scientists informing natural resource management.

Conservation has always been a cornerstone of Jackson Hole history. Likewise, it has always been a catalyst for controversy, not because of its meaning and purpose, but through its implementation. Whether someone proposes a commercial development, is trying to expand recreational opportunities or wanting to solve transportation’s Gordian knot, one can bet the effort will run right up against someone’s conservation values.

Directing the upstart Teton Science School back in 1967, environmental educator Ted Major had plenty of leeway when selecting what his students should experience in the field.

It’s a crystal clear summer morning, and I’m guiding a scenic float trip on the Snake River in Grand Teton National Park. While I’m at the oars, one family is sprawled on the carpet, sandals off, binoculars in hand and cameras ready to freeze-frame the Tetons. At the other end of my raft, a …

Visually, the practice of conservation isn’t always glamorous. In the day to day, it might mean sitting in an office, appeasing a donor, answering phone calls, reading through technical documents or streaming a public meeting.

Summer in Wyoming is construction season, and not just on the state’s highways. In the national forests and parks around Jackson Hole it’s also trail-building time, and the summer calendar is filled with “dig days” when volunteers come out to help paid crews create and maintain the region’s trail network.

Jackson Hole’s environmental track record could be much better.We live in a recreationally rich, wealthy, talented and aware community, and pass frequent resolutions about national and global problems like climate change. But we can and should do better. Right now we have many plans, but little action.

What is conservation? Here are a few terms to get you started on the journey through Headwaters.

Conservation in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem is steeped in history, sometimes controversial and — for good reason — quite celebrated.

Hundreds of tourists gather to watch an eruption of Old Faithful at the Upper Geyser Basin in Yellowstone National Park in August 2016, the centennial year of the National Park Service. As the NPS moves into its second century, some are suggesting new strategies to mitigate the impacts of ho…