Spring has sprung in Jackson Hole, and there is a lot to keep your eyes out for.
Even though the towering peaks of the Gros Ventre, Snake River, and Teton Ranges are still snow-covered, reminding us of the winter season that is slowly bidding us farewell, the color palette of the valley is becoming increasingly diverse as spring rolls in. The flora of the area is beginning to wake up as the daily dose of sunshine increases. From budding trees to early wildflowers, this rainbow of color is hard to ignore. The wildflowers are some of my favorite markers of the changing season, and these days it seems as if there are new varieties every time I step out my door. The end of April means that flowers such as shooting star, star flower, queen cup, sagebrush buttercup, and other low-lying, early bloomers emerge. I have also noticed the first shoots of the green gentian popping up among the sagebrush in Coyote Canyon.
The trees in the valley are giving the flowers a run for their money when it comes to eye-catching beauty. The fresh shoots from the willow trees create large swaths of bright yellows, oranges, and reds, outlining the riparian communities in the valley. Also in the riparian communities, the cottonwood trees are sending out new buds. Further up the slopes, the aspen trees are also beginning to pop with new leaves of the greenest green, coming alive when hit by rays of scattered sun.
Animals of all kinds are on the move. Some animals have been active here all winter long, while others escaped the elements by either hibernating or migrating away. These days, it is not uncommon to see moose, elk, bison, and pronghorn scattered about in the sagebrush lining the major roads here in Jackson Hole. Both black and grizzly bears have emerged from their long winter torpor to greet the spring, and numerous sightings have been reported in Grand Teton National Park. Any day now the young of our favorite mammals will be out and about melting the hearts of the many people who will surely flock to the area for baby season.
Birds are also bustling about the valley. Robins have been showing up for at least a month and are beginning to lay their sky blue eggs. The mountain bluebird is back as well, darting through the sagebrush, and can easily be seen on a drive up Coyote Canyon. The ravens that are a staple on the Jackson Campus of Teton Science Schools have been present all winter long and now have nests filled with eggs. Birds of prey are also easy to spot this time of year. Bald eagles and osprey line the Snake River, while red-tailed hawks can be seen just about anywhere.
From black bear to bluebird, from star flower to willow, Jackson Hole is a bustling place for all things wild. Teton Science Schools is embracing the new season too, as we shed our snowshoes and winter gear to enjoy the warmer days and take notice of the many neighbors with whom we share this beautiful place. There is never a static moment in this corner of Wyoming; this is a forever-changing place and is always worthy of our full attention and awe.