Springtime Backpacking in the Rockies (of Yellowstone and Wyoming)

As in much of the north temperate zone, springtime in the Rockies is a diverse season, but more so than in other places. It’s usually a moist season, and occasional warm sunny days may be followed by driving wet snowstorms or temperatures falling to extreme lows: I’m talking single digits or even below zero in some locations as late as well into April.

By May, though, below the snow line it’s a green and growing world. In the mountains, May and June are the best months for wildlife viewing. That’s because the high country is still buried under snow, and large ungulates such as mule deer, elk, moose and bighorn sheep — plus their predators — have yet to spread out over their expansive high summer ranges. So they’re concentrated in the low and mid-elevations, with many animals on relatively few acres. Thus, for folks smart enough to head for the springtime hills while others wait for the high passes to clear out, the reward is a great opportunity to see wildlife. Spectacular blooms of spring wildflowers are another early season bonus. And the green landscape is something to behold beneath massive snow-draped peaks. Sure, the late spring weather can be unstable, but that’s a small price to pay for experiencing the magic of springtime in the Rockies!

Our two late Spring backpack treks into the Big Wilds are the Northern Yellowstone Wildlife and Wildflower Extravaganza Backpacking Trip and the Gros Ventre Range, Jackson Hole Wyoming Wildlife Bonanza Hiking Trip. Over the years, the Gros Ventre has been our best trip for seeing wild animals. And the spring wildflower blooms are great in Northern Yellowstone backpacking. trekking and hiking in Yellowstone and the nearby Gros Ventre Wilderness is wonderful in June! Both of these moderate treks explore country where critters are most abundant in the spring. On these hikes in the past, we’ve seen it all, including tons and tons of Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem animal biomass. One year we watched a mule deer doe chase a wolf right past our group! How embarrassing (for the wolf)! And for the guide, too, who was busy trying to identify a duck through his binoculars when the carnivore drama first unfolded. I’m pretty sure the duck was a Barrow’s Goldeneye, and I did look up in time to watch the determined deer and the confused wolf disappear into the woods. We do not, however, guarantee that you’ll see similar scenarios on future Big Wild treks. What we do guarantee though, is an unforgettable wilderness experience in a season in which four-leggeds outnumber the two-leggeds by a huge margin.

So don’t miss out on the Rocky Mountain Spring!


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