GET OUT: Get your goat in Dry Gulch

By on April 9, 2013
Beginning of Dry Gulch looks like this.

Beginning of Dry Gulch looks like this.

JACKSON HOLE, WYO – I was on my way to Little Jenny Lake. Not the one in the park, but the tiny one up Mill Creek in the Greys River drainage. I never made it. Just before Alpine Junction (1.8 miles from it), while still in the Snake River Canyon, I spied a neat little draw to the north. It’s the last such draw – after Wolf Creek and Red Creek and Cottonwood Creek – that you can head up before you are out of the canyon.

Don’t be mistaken by Sheep Gulch, which I think is signed such. What I’m talking about is Dry Gulch. I don’t think it’s even on most maps.

There’s no trail. You will enter into a brushy mouth of a dryish gulch. Actually, this time of year it will be trickling some with snowmelt but by late next month it’ll be bone dry. Simply follow the rocky rill bed up and up.

Now for the bad news. This is a glute-buster. You’ll steadily gain 2,600 feet in elevation in just 1.3 miles. The payoff? Mountain goat sighting. Guaranteed.

At about 7,500 feet the draw starts closing in pretty good, and it gets steep and slick. All rock. Push on; you’re headed for 8,300 feet where Jordan Canyon hooks into the draw from the west. You could take Jordan out if you had a way to get back to your vehicle. It turns into a road and private development just north of Alpine Junction.

Wildlife biologists say the mountain goat is not native to this part of Wyoming, and they muscle in on bighorn sheep habitat. I don’t know if that’s true. The only place I have ever seen mountain goats in Wyoming is in these draws up the north side of the Snake River toward Wolf Mountain. I never see bighorns here. Maybe that’s why.

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My dogs found it tough going up high toward the junction with Jordan Canyon. It is slippery and steep and one false step means quite a tumble so keep an eye on your four-legged companions if you bring them. As far as the goats, they are fairly fearless of humans. I was able to get pretty close with no sign of alarm from them. I don’t think they see much human activity in their high-mountain perches.

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About Jake Nichols

Jake is a work in progress.

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