Bucket List: Big Sky Country

Big Sky Country, Montana and Wyoming

Barns grand tetons.jpg
Come back Shane! photo by Jon Sullivan, PD Photo.

Region: Northern US Rocky Mountains

Logistical Difficulty: Moderate

Hiking Difficulty: Moderately High

Degree of Risk: Moderate

Estimated time required (including travel and logistics): A week.

The Northern Rockies are slightly lower in altitude than their Colorado brethren to the south…but make no mistake about it, this range gets scenically more dramatic as it goes north. Mile upon mile of above timberline hiking await the bold adventurer. But so do many challenges in this rugged range of mountains that was once, and to some extent still is, the American Frontier. There’s a reason they call this, and not Rhode Island, “Big Sky Country.”

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I been fair itchin’ to share some of my old photos of Glacier National Park…like this one taken somewhere near Scenic Point, looking West.

Why Hike Here?

  • The largest intact Mountain ecosystems in the US
  • Approaches the Alps in scenic splendor but bigger, wilder and more remote
  • Three first tier US National Parks…
  • …and the Wind River Range may have superior hiking to any National Park
  • Much more wildlife than in most comparable mountain ranges
  • Landscape well preserved by excellent US National Park System and strong regulations…present administration non-withstanding
  • Elevation less of a factor than in Colorado (though still a factor)
  • In many places no human habitation for miles
  • Land not despoiled by ski slopes, farms, grazing sheep, cable car stations…
  • Dramatic eastward views across the Great Plains
  • The Continental Divide Trail (CDT)

But First Consider…

  • Interior sections of the Rockies are extremely remote
  • Might be difficult to even contact the outside world, let alone get help
  • Trails can go for miles with almost complete exposure
  • Bears are plentiful — including Grizzlies — but attacks are rare
  • Generally poor hiking infrastructure excepting developed areas of parks
  • Public transportation generally does not exist here
  • Refuges, huts not common in the US
  • Long distance hiking here means a heavy pack and bear canister
  • Short (July-September) hiking season
  • Afternoon thunderstorms almost certain in summer
  • Freak weather the norm any time of year

 

Hikes that we have done here:

Highline Trail, Glacier NP (By Brian)

 

Hikes that we want to do here:

Cirque of the Towers, Wind River Range*

Ticomb Basin, Wind River Range

Teton Crest Trail, Grand Teton National Park

 

*On the BucketList!