Teton Pass has long been a popular backcountry ski destination, but has recently begun to attract large numbers of national and international visitors. A counter at the north and south trailheads of Teton Pass during the 2018-19 season found that the total traffic entering and exiting the Teton Pass backcountry from November 21, 2018 to January 13, 2019 was 11,709 people, with the highest single day of use, December 12, tallying 611 people. It is estimated that skiers and snowboarders currently take about 150,000 runs on Teton Pass each winter season. Given the growing interest in backcountry skiing and riding, we anticipate that winter use of Teton Pass will continue to increase in the future. Several key issues have emerged as a result of increased recreational use. These include:
- skier and snowboarder triggered avalanches off Mount Glory endangering commuters and other recreationists;
- parking congestion and road foot traffic;
- the management of dogs and dog poop.
To help address these issues, TBCA has engaged in several initiatives:
- Teton Pass FLAP Grant (Ongoing): TBCA cooperated in a multi-agency effort to submit a $5.2m grant to the Federal Lands Access Program for improvements to safety and access on Teton Pass. If funded, the project will include:
- construction of an official USFS trailhead at the top of the Pass
- construction of a hitchhiking/chain-up pullout below Trail Creek Road
- addition of pedestrian caution signs at the summit of the Pass
- construction of a pedestrian underpass at Coal Creek
- purchase of vans for a Teton Pass shuttle system
- support of a comprehensive Teton Pass Corridor Plan that will explore issues of carrying capacity and additional infrastructure projects to improve access and safety (update March 2021: FLAP awarded Teton County, Wyoming, with $300,000 t0 initiate the corridor planning process).
- Volunteer Pass Ambassador Program (Ongoing): In 2020, TBCA launched the Volunteer Pass Ambassador program to complement the work of longstanding ambassador, Jay Pistono. Volunteer Ambassadors greet visitors, share information, spread enthusiasm, and help manage trailhead parking.
- Teton Pass film (Ongoing): TBCA is collaborating with Stio to produce a film featuring Teton Pass Ambassador Jay Pistono which will depict responsible recreation on Teton Pass.
- Collaboration with agencies (Ongoing): TBCA meets regularly with management agencies, such as the Wyoming Department of Transportation and the Bridger-Teton National Forest, to help with signage and to ensure users’ concerns and needs are addressed during agency decision making.
- Flyers, social media, and website (Ongoing): TBCA has collaborated with the Bridger-Teton National Forest and partner organizations to create flyers, social media posts, and web material to educate Teton Pass skiers and snowboarders about responsible and safe recreation on Teton Pass.
- AED Defibrillator (2020): TBCA installed a small hut containing an AED defibrillator on Teton Pass for use in the case of an accident.
- Free Shuttles/Pass Bash events (2020): In order to test the interest and demand for a Teton Pass shuttle service, TBCA organized “Winter Pass Bashes” that provided free transportation from Wilson to the summit of the Pass.
- Online survey (2019): In 2019, TBCA administered an online survey to document winter recreationists’ concerns and possible solutions to current issues on Teton Pass. The survey drew 1020 participants. For full details, click here.
- Public meetings (2018-19): TBCA held public meetings in Wilson and Victor to raise awareness about Teton Pass issues. Meetings were well attended and generated constructive discussion.